Nokia G21 review: A hardworking budget phone with great battery life

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  • Rating: 6/10
  • Dimensions: 164.6mm x 75.9mm x 8.5mm
  • Weight: 190g
  • Display: 6.5in 720 x 1600 (HD+) with adaptive 90Hz refresh rate
  • Battery: 5050mAh
  • chipsets: 1.6GHz octa core UNISOC processor
  • YOU: Android 11
  • Camera: Rear 50 MP Main 1/2.76“ CMOS, 0.64um, 5P lens, f/1.8, 2 MP Macro, 2 MP Depth; Front 8MP

Nokia is very good at creating good-looking budget phones. The G21 is no different, offering everything you want from a phone at this end of the market.

It offers a sophisticated enough silhouette, which borders on the boxy but stays clear of looking like a Rothko painting. The textured back is a winner, elevating the look and feel of the G21 while helping to stave off some of the dreaded smudge marks we greasy organisms invariably subject our phones to. Happily, Nokia knows that a big logo is a no-no, so the tag is subtle despite it being located in the middle of the back.

Beyond the aesthetic, it’s a light, sturdy phone, although there’s no word on water and dust proofing. There’s space for two nano SIMs and a microSD card, and Nokia has helpfully provided a headset port, while the fingerprint unlock works well, and is still a nice touch for the price. Overall, it’s the sort of phone that you wouldn’t mind getting out at the dinner table or dropping on the street. It’s a win-win.

Display and sound

While the G21’s design delivers on Nokia’s stellar reputation, the phone’s display and sound bring it back into the comforting embrace of the budget market.

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The biggest downside (although it’s by no means a deal breaker) of the G21 is unfortunately its screen. It’s not the crispest picture by any stretch, and the colors don’t particularly pop: the display in general actually seems quite low quality for the price, although this might just be because we expect better from Nokia.

The 90Hz maximum refresh rate is something rarely seen at this price point, but is let down by the 720p resolution on offer. It’s certainly not the worst screen we’ve seen on the market, but if you’re looking for a super-crisp experience, we suggest bumping up your budget a little.

The G21 offers mono sound, only emanating from the bottom of the phone when in landscape mode. Again, this is no different from the rest of this end of the market. The sound quality is fine, if a bit bass-light, and loses a little body compared to slightly higher-end phones. Overall, the G21’s display and sound do a job, but it’s nothing to especially write home about.

Performance

The clean Android 11 OS is a boost, providing an attractive blank canvas for your needs. It also means you won’t have to spend the first moments of your new phone’s life looking for and deleting sneaky pre-installed apps.

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The G21 has enough processing power to keep up with the pre-installed Android 11, making regular usage a pretty hassle-free experience. Any more taxing processing and you might see the phone slow down a little as it tries to manage, but most gaming is also doable, if slightly affected by the display quality.

The battery does what it says on the box, lasting for a couple of days of normal use. Battery life obviously depends on how often you’re absentmindedly scrolling through social media, but the G21 offers a perfectly reliable companion for active weekends away from the sofa. The G21 also offers adaptive battery, flagging when a certain app is draining energy and reacting accordingly. Top marks for a budget phone.

Camera

The camera setup brings the G21 back into the good books, with a sophisticated range of features that makes for solid shots across the board, even if lighting is a slight issue. Video does a good job, too, with minimal blurring and sharp detail.

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Portrait mode is especially impressive for the price, with much of what you’d expect from a higher-bracket phone. Background blur is subtle (no frosted glass effect, here), while your subject of choice remains crystal clear without there being any hint of jarring contrast.

The verdict: Nokia G21

the Nokia G21 is a decent phone. It looks good, feels nice in the hand and does the basics well enough to warrant consideration. The biggest advantage the G21 holds, of course, is the massive battery underneath the textured hood – with sensitive use, it lasts much longer than the average handset, to the extent that you almost forget you haven’t charged it in a couple of days .

The trade-off for this is a slight lack of processing power and lower-quality display and sound performance, most notably with the rather dull display. The camera setup is neat, perfect for the odd social media post – with portrait mode in particular a refreshing highlight – but don’t expect to win at the National Geographic Photography Awards.

However, if you’re looking for a phone that will get you through a weekend of calls, internet and WhatsApp without much thought of finding a plug socket, the G21 deserves to be on your shortlist.

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