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Nokia G21 Review: Ideal budget smartphone?

Nokia G21 has been launched in India and here's our review of the new budget offering from the Finnish company.

Pros

Build, Display, Performance, Stock Android, Headphone Jack, Battery Life

Cons

Cameras

Nokia’s budget smartphone portfolio has been slowly expanding in India off late. The latest one the Finnish company added to its G-series family of phones is the Nokia G21. The Nokia G21 price in India starts at Rs 12,999 and looks to be a promising smartphone. But how does that convert to practical usage? Let’s have a look.

Nokia G21: Design & Build

Nokia G21 Review

The Nokia G21 has a similar design to other smartphones that are being offered in the country from other brands. The G21 reminds me of some of the recently launched Motorola devices. It has a triple camera system at the back along with a flash inside the camera array.

Nokia G21 review

The device has a plastic build with a pattern on the back. It is light and comfortable to hold in the hand with a tight grip. The power and volume buttons are on the right while there’s a dedicated Google Assistant button on the left. The USB-C port, a mic and a speaker reside at the bottom. There’s a headphone jack up top for those who use wired earphones.

Nokia G21 notch display

The fingerprint scanner that is embedded inside the power button works accurately and is quick to unlock the device. Apart from that, the buttons have a decent tactile feel to them while clicking. Nokia is also providing a clear silicone case inside the box which is a welcome addition.

Nokia G21: Display

The Nokia G21 sports a 6.5-inch HD+ IPS LCD display with a 90Hz refresh rate, 400 nits peak brightness, and a 20:9 aspect ratio. The display on the Nokia G21 looks sharp enough and the 90Hz smoothness just adds to the overall experience. The colours could have been slightly better but having said the overall experience wasn’t bad The viewing angles aren’t good though as the brightness totally drops when looking from extreme top or extreme bottom. Talking about brightness, the display gets bright enough for clear readability outdoors.

Nokia G21: Software & Performance

The Nokia G21 comes with a Unisoc T606 processor under the hood with up to 6GB of RAM and up to 128GB of storage. The top model we got had 6 gigs of RAM but that didn’t seem enough for some reason as I often had apps loading from scratch. The device gets Stock Android with not a lot of bloatware out of the box.

Nokia is promising 2 years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security patches. As the device comes with Android 11 pre-loaded, you will get OS updates till Android 13. This is a bit disappointing as Android 12 should be the new normal for every smartphone at this point. Further, you get the March security patch which is not the latest of course but is only a month old and that’s acceptable considering some flagships such as from Asus were sitting with patches that are 2-3 months old.

Moving on, the performance of the device on a daily basis was smooth for the most part. I did face some bugs in the UI though where the device wouldn’t register my touch and I had to lock and unlock the device to make it work. Rest of the performance was fluid. As for gaming, you cannot put a heavy load on the device as the processor just isn’t capable of holding up games like Call of Duty mobile. Yes, they are playable but do not expect a great experience and that’s fine considering the price of the device.

As for connectivity, the device does support 5Ghz Wi-Fi band and I didn’t face any issues with either mobile data, Wi-Fi connectivity or calling. In addition, the single mono speaker at the bottom is decent.

Nokia G21: Battery

The Nokia G21 packs a 5,000mAh battery which supports 18W fast charging. Nokia promises up to 3 days of battery life but only with 5 hours of daily usage as per the company’s claims. In our usage though, we were easily able to get past a day of usage and ended with around 18% on our second day.

My usage included texting, social media scrolling, streaming videos, and light gaming. It gave me more than 5.5 hours of SOT which is again commendable for a smartphone. The device took approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes to charge from 0 to 100% using an 18W fast charger which is fine for a battery this big. Do note that you get a 10W charger inside the box and you will need to purchase the fast charger separately.

Read More: Nokia G21 launched in India with 90Hz display, Unisoc T606 processor

Nokia G21: Cameras

Nokia G21 cameras

The Nokia G21 sports a triple camera system at the back including a 50-megapixel f/1.8 wide camera, a 2-megapixel f/2.4 macro sensor and a 2-megapixel /2.4 depth sensor. A wide-angle sensor could have been placed instead of a macro or depth sensor but why doesn’t a brand do so is a debate for another day.

Nokia G21 review

The 50-megapixel sensor produces average shots under artificial lighting with very little detailing. The photos are super soft resulting in a smudging effect. The colours also look faded. Under outdoor conditions, the shots are well detailed with very natural colours. The photos are adequately sharp but the only thing that bothered me is that the exposure level doesn’t stay consistent and can change the overall look of the shot in a major way.

Portrait shots aren’t very nice to see despite the dedicated bokeh sensor. The edge detection is often inaccurate and the camera app just doesn’t let me focus on the subject despite me clicking on it in the viewfinder multiple times. The colours and sharpness though, are on the better side.

Macro shots from the 2MP sensor are totally disappointing. The colours look faded and there’s no sort of detailing. There’s the smudge effect all over the photo and it looks grainy as well. Selfies on the other hand are also not very good. The colours were totally off and again, the photos were very soft with no sharpness at all. However, edge detection in selfie portraits was decent.

Under low light, the situation gets worse as the camera struggles to hold up. Again, these photos turn out to be blurry and have some noise. The colours, however, have been kept as natural as possible.

Night mode shots look fine if you don’t go zooming in. Of course, there are very little details but then again, this isn’t a mid-ranger or a flagship and this is expected. For a budget device, the shots are decent. Turning on night mode didn’t make much of a difference in the photo in my opinion.

Nokia G21

Nokia G21
  • ChipsetUnisoc T606
  • RAM (GB)4, 6
  • Storage64, 128
  • Display6.5-inch (720x1600)
  • Front Camera8MP
  • Primary Camera50MP + 2MP + 2MP
  • Battery5050mAh
  • Operating SystemAndroid 11

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Build & Design
7
Display
7
Performance & Software
8
Cameras
6
Battery Life
8.5

SUMMARY

The Nokia G21 is definitely a good smartphone for its price and offers a very good battery backup. Having said that we feel camera performance could have been slightly better.

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The Nokia G21 is definitely a good smartphone for its price and offers a very good battery backup. Having said that we feel camera performance could have been slightly better.Nokia G21 Review: Ideal budget smartphone?