If there’s been one consistent trend over the last three years, it is that smartphone prices have seen a steady rise. Just consider the Redmi Note series — one of the most popular in India according to various research reports. While they used to start at Rs 9,999 till back in 2019, now most variants are starting at Rs 15,000 plus. And this is true for most brands. If you want better specifications, get ready to pay more.
But there are brands like Nokia from HMD Global still offering devices in the Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000 segment. The latest Nokia G21 is one such option with a starting price of Rs 12,999. But does it offer a good enough performance without too many compromises? Here’s our review.
Nokia G21 specifications: 6.5-inch HD+ LCD panel with 90Hz refresh rate | Unisoc T606 processor | 4GB RAM or 6GB RAM| 64GB or 128GB storage with 512GB expandable storage support | 50MP+2MP+2MP camera | 8MP front camera | 5050 mAh battery with 18W charging | Android 11
Nokia G21 price in India: Rs 12,999 for the base 4GB/64GB variant and Rs 14,999 for the 6GB/128GB variant.
Nokia G21 review: What’s good?
Never judge a book by its cover, they say. Perhaps in the world of smartphones, this could apply to specifications. Frankly, when I started using the Nokia G21, I didn’t expect much in terms of performance, but the phone delivers well. The company sent me the 6GB RAM option for review. It handled games like Asphalt 9, Sky easily without any noticeable stuttering or lag.
I didn’t run Asphalt 9 at the highest settings, but there were no glaring problems with the performance as such. Even for daily tasks and apps such as Facebook or Instagram, Netflix, and browsing on Google Chrome, the phone worked without any stutter.
The Nokia G21 gets an HD+ resolution display with an adaptive refresh rate. The maximum refresh rate offered is 90 Hz, and by default, the phone is set to an adaptive option. Now, the display resolution is let down in this age, where users have come to expect a full HD+ screen across prices. When watching some shows on Netflix with this phone, the experience was acceptable. Yes, the display struggles in bright sunlight and is very reflective so keep that in mind.
The phone also comes with a 5050 mAh battery with 18W charging. The battery size means the device will last a day with heavy-duty usage. The problem is that HMD Global is shipping a 10W charger in the box, so be prepared to put aside three hours to charge this device to 100 per cent.
The Nokia G21’s camera also delivers good results, especially for photos taken in bright daylight. The colours are vivid, the details are largely preserved. However, when used indoors, you can see it struggles with colour accuracy, and it is a bit slow to process the picture.
One key differentiator is that the Nokia G21 runs stock Android with very little bloatware. Yes, it comes preloaded with apps like LinkedIn, Spotify, Netflix, but this is still very little compared to what most other phones offer in budget segments. This also means less annoying notifications, and an ad-free experience, which is a problem on phones across other brands.
Nokia G21 review: What’s not so good?
The display is a little underwhelming in today’s competitive market. The camera, while it delivers good results for the price, is nothing extraordinary. In low-light it is slow, and for shots taken in indoors with artificial lighting, you can see the colour accuracy is off. The portrait mode is also unimpressive because it does not keep the details of the person in sharp focus. The selfie camera really is unable to retain details and reminds me of the pre-2019 era.
Finally, the phone is still on Android 11, which is not so great to see. This is supposed to be a ‘clean’ Android phone, but I wish HMD Global had installed the latest 12 version at least.
Nokia G21 review: Verdict
If your budget is strictly in the Rs 12,000 range, and you want Android without bloatware experience, the Nokia G21 is an option to consider. This is perhaps okay for someone getting their first smartphone. But remember, Motorola also has its G31, now available at a lower starting price of Rs 10,999. This one too has a ‘clean’ Android experience to offer coupled with a better processor. Nokia G21’s other problem is that many of the older Redmi 10, and Realme 8i are retailing in a similar price zone, and offer better processors and specifications.