REVIEW: Nokia X20
Another quad-camera determined to make you snap in budget territory
As you read this, HMD Global has continued with its biggie ways: It just launched a whopping six new smartphones in the X, G and C series. And you may have an idea which of those is the star (clue: It has the 'X' factor).
Yup, it is the X — the Nokia X20, specifically. It's a sturdy device that promises all-around performance at a fraction of the price. Let's dig.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Before we proceed, a little disclaimer: We don't have the boxed version of the X20, but we were fortunate enough to be sent a pre-release sample. The specs aren't complete to the strictest sense, and we'll update it should there be any major things we missed out. Thank you, HMD Global.
Anyway, this one looks good on paper — especially if you consider how pocket-friendly it is. It also doesn't have a direct predecessor, so there's that.
Nokia's latest device — it hasn't been termed as a flagship, but it's the 'baddest' of the six new ones released today — is a clean-looking, matte-finished smartphone. It's big at 6.67 inches and has smooth curved edges, but with rather thick bezels that takes the sheen off a bit because it somewhat makes it look and feel, well, thick (optical illusions). Right on the right are the volume rocker and power button with a fingerprint sensor, while left on the left (get it?) are the card tray, which can hold either two nano SIMs or one of them and an SD card, and the, as usual, dedicated Google Assistant key. Below are USB-C and 3.5mm audio ports.
Right behind, dead centre, is the iconic Nokia logo, just below the quad-lens camera ring, barely protruding out of the device and giving it an even more minimalistic look. Make some little taps on it, however, and you'll quickly realise that it's build is plastic; we have nothing against this material, especially if it has a nice finish as in this case, but durability will always be a factor. And better if those little disclaimers below weren't there (it's 2021 already).
It's also pretty nice to handle as it doesn't have any slippery feel to it. Its size, however, can be an issue for a certain set of users; for perspective, it's even bigger than the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. And its weight is fair enough.
The X20 is a 5G phone, and it's powered by the Snapdragon 480 5G chip, which was launched earlier this year as an alternative to the higher-end 5G processors in Qualcomm's range. Ergo, it's the brain to more affordable 5G devices.
Safe to say that the X20 is doing a pretty good job at the performance sector, with no significant lags. You will notice, however, that it isn't as buttery-smooth compared to the bigwigs. Not that it actually affects how you'd use it.
More importantly, the X20 is still part of the Android One programme. For the uninitiated, it means that it's a pure Android experience and guaranteed three years of immediate security updates.
Yet again, we have a quad-camera phone happily being donned by a sub-Dh1,500 device; don't you just love the the laws of commodities?
Anyway, good ol' Zeiss Optics is back to lead the X20's camera rush, bannered by a 64MP main snapper, which promises crisp shots. And some glitter balls caught my attention.
At the default 1x view, images appear solid. You can go all the way to 8x.
The X20 gives results that reflect the actual, natural feel of the scene, but given the proliferation of smartphone cameras putting emphasis on lighting, it could be a bit dark for some.
The one on the left was taken with the standard photo mode, while the other used night mode. The latter indeed put in some more detail, which does the same when the lights are down.
Make no mistake, the X20's camera is good. It's a well-rounded performer taking all colour, depth and feel into consideration.
The X20's got a fairly big battery at 4470mAh. In our standard one-hour YouTube-at-full-brightness test, it lost 10 per cent, which is a good number for a mid-ranger. Speaking of brightness, the screen doesn't irk your eye at its peak. With a nice mixed-use run, it was able to last until midday the following day.
Charging, meanwhile, is what is quite expected.
Could've done better, with other brands having their own take on fast-charging capabilities. But practically 100 per cent in about an hour-and-a-half is pretty fair enough and standard.
It's a well-rounded device. The Nokia X20 has a potentially big audience awaiting it as it checks many boxes those set of users want — especially in the price tag talk.
The pure Android experience is also a big come-on from Nokia; come on, no one needs those bloatware apps or sometimes-cartoonish overlays on their system. There is some work to be done, however, on trying to make it a little smoother, because it tends to feel a little stiff. And it may sound redundant, but the X20 is a very ideal device for those on a budget but want a handful of those top-tier specs in their daily routine.
EDITOR RATING: We'll be saving this for the final, in-the-box sales pack.
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