Review: Nokia X20 puts full focus on support

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HMD Global has been releasing smartphones under the Nokia brand for several years now. With the Nokia X20, the Finnish company is breaking new ground and focusing on support, durability and longevity. In this review, we discover how this works out.

The strategy of the new X-series revolves around the ‘3-3-3 promise’: 3 years of Android upgrades, 3 years of security updates and 3 years of warranty. In doing so, HMD Global is going back to the roots of Nokia, which is pre-eminently known for its reliable products. Add to that the fact that Nokia is the only serious European smartphone manufacturer and that the brand puts extra focus on sustainability these days, and you get a product that could be very interesting for the business market. Especially in the public sector, HMD Global expects much from its new Nokia smartphones, as the company recently indicated in an interview with Techzine.

The strategy is clear and certainly has potential. However, such a strategy won’t work without actual good products. The Nokia X20 is Nokia’s current ‘flagship model’, even though the smartphone, with its recommended retail price of 379 euros, is clearly in the middle of the range. In this review, we find out what the Nokia X20 is like.

Main specifications

BodyPlastic
Display6,7″ IPS LCD, 1080×2400 pixels. 60Hz refresh rate
Network support5G
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 480 (8nm, 2GHz octa-core)
Memory6GB/8GB RAM, 128GB storage
Battery4470mAh, 18W fast charge
SoftwareAndroid One based on Android 11
Camera64-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel wide-angle camera, 2-megapixel macro camera, 2-megapixel depth sensor. 32-megapixel front camera

Sustainable design

Externally, the Nokia X20 is characterised by its round cameras on the back and a Nokia logo on the front. Nokia is the only smartphone manufacturer that dares to print its logo on the front, which we don’t really like the look of. Luckily, the design of the Nokia X20 is otherwise sober and solid, as you would expect from a Scandinavian company. The back is sleek and made of matte plastic, and the edges have a metallic finish. The smartphone is available in Midnight Sun and Nordic Blue, two striking and beautiful colours.

Apart from that, the focus is mainly on sustainability. Nokia says that 91 percent of the smartphone can be recycled and has even published an environmental profile of the smartphone. The included charger has been replaced by a 100 percent compostable case, which should also improve the environmental impact of the product. Furthermore, the smartphone looks solid and we can imagine that it will stay in one piece for a long time. However, some protection against water would have been a nice touch, which can be found on some other smartphones in this class.

Functionally-wise, the Nokia X20’s design ticks the boxes. The smartphone has an audio jack and a nice fingerprint scanner on the side. On the other side, there is a Google Assistant button, which unfortunately is too easily pressed by accident. There are no stereo speakers in the Nokia X20, but the single speaker on the bottom sounds alright.

Simple hardware

HMD Global is a relatively small smartphone manufacturer that can’t rely on economies of scale when it comes to sourcing components. Unfortunately, this is reflected in the Nokia X20’s hardware: an LCD display with a refresh rate of 60Hz and a Snapdragon 480 chipset are not exactly specifications to write home about in this class.

Fortunately, the smartphone does make good use of the available hardware. The smartphone never feels sluggish and even performs a bit faster than the more powerful Samsung Galaxy A52 that competes directly against this Nokia. Moreover, the smartphone supports 5G, and in that respect, it is ready for the future. The display, however, is clearly inferior to that of other smartphones in its class; the colours are a bit bland, and the backlight is not completely even. The relatively low refresh rate is also a shame. Still, the screen is more than sufficient for daily use and doesn’t pose any annoyances.

What Nokia does have going for it is the battery. The manufacturer promises a battery life of 2 days for the device. Provided that you do not use it too intensively, this is perfectly feasible; a nice achievement. Even the most intensive user will not drain the device within a day. On the charging side, the device does not score so well: the maximum charging speed is 18 watts, which is quite slow by today’s standards.

Excellent software

Where this Nokia X20 really stands out is the software. The smartphone runs on Android One, Google’s program that provides a clean Android interface and fast updates. The update promise of the Android One program is two years, but Nokia goes a step further by offering three years of Android upgrades in addition to three years of monthly security updates. So with the Nokia X20, you are guaranteed an upgrade to Android 12, Android 13 and Android 14.

For the business market, it is nice that the Nokia X20 has been admitted to the Android Enterprise Recommended programme. This means, among other things, that zero-touch enrollment is standard. We find it strange that Nokia includes apps from Netflix and Amazon as standard. In our opinion, this detracts from the solid and businesslike character of the smartphone and will only get in the way of many users. Other than that, the Nokia X20’s interface is nice, and the phone is pleasant to use.

Zeiss camera

The Zeiss logo is proudly displayed on the back of the Nokia X20. The collaboration between Nokia and Zeiss goes back many years and has resulted in some of the best camera phones on the market. Unfortunately, the Zeiss logo on the Nokia X20 merely appears to be branding.

The main camera is a 64-megapixel camera that takes 16-megapixel photos as standard thanks to pixel binning. These photos – if taken in the right circumstances – are rich in detail and colour. However, when it gets darker, and you have moving subjects in your photo, things quickly go south. Taking a good photo of a person indoors, for example, is a challenge. In addition, the image processing is quite aggressive, which sometimes makes photos look a bit fake. None of these are flaws that are unique to this price range, and we would rate the X20’s main camera as adequate, but it is certainly not one of the best camera phones in its class.

Unfortunately, the other three cameras on the back of the smartphone are not that great. The 5-megapixel wide-angle camera can come in handy, but the resulting pictures look too green. Furthermore, Nokia has added a macro camera, but it only has a resolution of 2 megapixels, and the quality is not very good either. The 2-megapixel depth sensor should help take better portrait photos, but that can also be done completely by software these days.

Conclusion

HMD Global is breaking new ground with the Nokia X20, and it’s working out great for the right target audience. Buyers who want a solid and secure no-nonsense smartphone for their employees will find the Nokia X20 to be a good choice. With its price of 379 euros, the smartphone is relatively affordable and Nokia guarantees three years of security updates and a standard three-year warranty. The fact that the smartphone is a relatively sustainable product from European soil, is a positive bonus.

The hardware of the Nokia X20 is in and of itself not very competitive for its price, but the user experience largely is. The Android One software works well, the smartphone is fast enough and it has an excellent battery. The design is solid and pleasant. The display and camera system of the X20 really lag behind, but in many cases, these are nice-to-haves rather than essentials.

In short, the Nokia X20 delivers exactly its promises and fits the Nokia brand perfectly. It is a nice, solid and durable smartphone from European soil that is worth a look, especially because of its excellent update policy.

8
  • Durable and sustainable
  • Android One
  • Excellent support
  • Good battery life
  • Disappointing display
  • Not the greatest camera