Nokia had a quiet year considering the popularity of the models they’ve launched this year. This year the brand announced an ‘X’ new series back in April 2021. This series of smartphones primarily focus on business-level software experience as it provides 3 Years of Android OS upgrades as well as security patch upgrades. This seemed quite interesting as the competing brand usually provides only 2 years of OS upgrades for their smartphones of this price range. Is good software experience alone make up for the overall experience? Let’s check out this long-term review where we cracked every usage experience of using the Nokia X20.
Nokia X20 Technical Specifications:
- Display: 6.67-inch (2400×1080 pixels) FHD+; 20:9 aspect ratio display; up to 450 nits peak brightness
- Processor: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 480 8nm SoC with Adreno 619 GPU
- RAM/ROM: 6GB / 8GB LPDDR4x RAM with 128GB (UFS 2.1) storage with expandable memory
- Hybrid Dual SIM (triple slot)
- Android 11
- Rear Cameras: 64MP rear camera with LED flash, ZEISS Optics, 5MP ultra-wide camera, 2MP depth, 2MP macro camera,
- OZO Audio
- Front Camera: 32MP front-facing camera
- Side-mounted fingerprint sensor
- 3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio
- IP52 Splash resistant
- Weight: 220g
- Connectivity: 5G SA/NSA, Dual 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi (2.4GHz + 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.0, USB Type-C
- Battery: 4470mAh battery with 18W charging
Nokia X20 Review: Design And Build
The Nokia X20 may disappoint those hoping for a change from Nokia’s usual form factor. From a Nokia perspective, it’s business as usual, with a simple approach compared to the likes of Realme and Xiaomi, which tend to peacock with their offerings, offering gleaming finishes, curved displays, and more to entice customers.
That isn’t to say it’s uninteresting; the Nokia X20 has a reflective matte finish on the back that looks great, feels great in the hand, and helps to keep fingerprints at bay. However, with a thickness of 9.1mm and a weight of 220g, it is unquestionably one of the thicker smartphones on the market.
The premium metal band that runs around the exterior, matching the color of the back – either bronze-tinted Midnight Sun or deep Nordic Blue – and the Zeiss-branded circular camera housing on the back, are small details that help the X20 shine.
It’s clear that this isn’t an entry-level Nokia, though if Nokia had gone with a glass back instead of plastic, the line would have been more clearly defined.
Volume rockers and a fingerprint reader are located on the right side of the 6.67 display, while a SIM card tray and the Google Assistant button are located on the left. It’s also not remappable, like every other Nokia, so it’s largely useless unless you use Google’s virtual assistant frequently.
On the front of the Nokia X20 is a 6.67-inch IPS LCD display with a Full HD+ (2400 x 1080) resolution and a 319ppi pixel density. The display is bright and detailed, with a maximum brightness of 523 nits in my tests, making it ideal for scrolling through social media and watching videos, though it lacks the punch of OLED and AMOLED-enabled counterparts.
The 20:9 aspect ratio, while not quite as wide as the 21:9 ultrawide used in Hollywood blockbusters, means the display is large without being too wide to use one-handedly – though reaching the very top of the display with your thumb may be difficult. With bezels and a noticeable Nokia-branded chin, it’s not quite an edge-to-edge experience.
The refresh rate is capped at 60Hz, which is disappointing when compared to cheaper smartphones like Redmi Note 10 Pro. While high refresh rate displays were once considered premium technology, this is no longer the case in 2021, and it’s disappointing that the Nokia X20, which is the most capable of Nokia’s new X-range smartphones, lacks them.
The rear-facing Zeiss-branded camera system is one of the Nokia X20’s main selling points. It has a quad-camera setup with a main 64MP sensor, a 5MP ultrawide sensor, and dual 2MP depth and macro sensors – a fairly standard camera setup for a mid-ranger in 2021. Check out some of the photos taken with the Nokia X20.
The main 64Mp snapper is, unsurprisingly, the most powerful of the bunch. It uses pixel-binning technology to combine pixels and produce a 16MP image with improved detail, and it works well in most cases. However, if you really want to, you can take huge 64MP images.
Check our our full review for more camera samples
We’ll concentrate on the 16Mp output because it’s what most people will use, and the good news is that it’s a joy to use, capturing detailed, vibrant images with a wide dynamic range – especially in well-lit situations.
As light levels drop, the performance drops, with creeping noise and less detail, but there is a dedicated night mode that tries to squeeze every last drop of light out of a scene. There’s a chance for decent (though not industry-leading) low-light images if there’s enough ambient light for the phone to focus, but you’ll probably have to try more than once to get the perfect shot.
The main snapper, when combined with the depth sensor, produces excellent portrait mode photography. The bokeh effect can really add a professional feel to your shots, and the line recognition is generally accurate, even along hairlines.
The bad news is that performance does not extend to the 5MP ultra-wide, which produces noticeably softer images due to the low resolution and wide-angle lens. It’s the same with the 2MP macro lens, which is largely unsatisfactory – in fact, the less said about low-resolution macro lenses on mid-range phones in general, the better.
Despite Nokia’s apparent focus on on-camera performance, which includes a “bothie” system and a dedicated Cinema video mode, the X20’s video resolution is limited to [email protected]
While it’s debatable whether you need a 4K video on a phone with an FHD+ resolution, the footage will appear soft if you play it on your 4K TV at home. And, more importantly, it’s a feature found on cheaper phones like the Moto G 5G Plus from 2020, so its absence from Nokia’s X-range is surprising.
On the front of the phone, there’s a single 32-megapixel camera. It’s great for selfies and video calls, but it’s not going to be able to take the place of the rear cameras anytime soon.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G processor is at the heart of the Nokia X20. Nokia has defied the trend by shipping both 6- and 8GB variants of the X20 with the same 128GB of storage that can be expanded via microSD. Although the Snapdragon 480 has advantages, such as 5G connectivity, it is not Qualcomm’s most capable chipset. It’s also underpowered when compared to similarly priced competitors like Snapdragon 750G or 765G. Benchmarks are useful for comparing devices, but they aren’t always representative of real-world usage.
The Nokia X20 isn’t going to be able to compete with flagship devices anytime soon, but it’s adequate for everyday use. It can easily handle social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, as well as some light gaming, but don’t expect it to run high graphic consuming mobile games like Genshin Impact, Call of duty, etc., at full graphics. However, there is an occasional stutter when opening and closing apps, highlighting the Snapdragon 480’s limitations.
While the performance may not be the best for the money, you will get stock Android 11 – a much cleaner experience than Xiaomi’s MIUI – and Nokia has promised three full OS upgrades and three years of security updates. That’s a lot better than most competitors, especially at this price point, so the Nokia X20 can look forward to Android 12, 13, and 14 updates, as well as all the new features that each update brings.
There’s 5G, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 5, NFC, a USB-C port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack for connectivity, as well as a fingerprint scanner built into the power button for added security. When talking about 5G, the Nokia X20 has n1, n2, n3, n5, n7, n28, n38, n41, n66, n78 SA/NSA/Sub6 bands which makes this smartphone futureproof.
With average use – that is, scrolling through social media, messaging, and taking the occasional photo – the Nokia X20 has a 4,470mAh battery that will last around 1.5 days, though you could probably get a full two days out of it with lighter use.
While not as fast as the 65W fast charging found in more premium options, the 18W fast charging is more than enough to get you untethered from the wall fairly quickly. During testing, the Nokia X20 went from zero to 40 percent in 30 minutes, and a full charge will take around 90 minutes.
What’s the catch? The box does not include a charging brick. It’s not surprising, given that Apple and Samsung have been doing it for a long time, though Nokia does offer a biodegradable case in its place.
If you really need a wall charger – and Nokia claims the average UK household has three – you’ll be able to buy one from Nokia soon, with profits going to Clear Rivers, a charity that helps keep rivers and oceans clean. However, it does not appear to be available on the Nokia Store at the time of writing.
Nokia promises three years of software updates, security updates, and an extended warranty for the X20. So if you’re focused on buying a smartphone with great software experience… this one’s for you but for that, you might have to miss something in terms of hardware.
There are cheaper phones with brighter displays, better cameras, faster charging, and a better overall smartphone experience, making the Nokia X20 difficult to recommend to anyone except the most ardent stock Android fans. Don’t get us wrong: Nokia’s extended support is a huge improvement over most manufacturers’, but the hardware needs to be more competitive to get a recommendation.