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Nokia G21 REVIEW: A future proof smartphone that lasts for days

By Dandi Galvez Published May 31, 2022 12:59 pm Updated May 31, 2022 9:37 pm

Say hello to your new smartphone for 2022. The Nokia G21 promises a return to form for the Finnish telecoms company, packing in the essential features that consumers want from a modern smartphone.

Back in the day, cellphones were (mostly) synonymous with the name “Nokia,” which absolutely dominated the market in the ’00s. To this day you will find people that will swear by their durability and dependability. Present company included. Back then my first Nokia was the 3210 (ask your parents, kids), which looked like a fragile, gentle little thing, but I can’t count how many times I’ve dropped it and it still worked perfectly for five days straight without needing a recharge.

However, my absolute favorite was the E63. An upgrade over the previous models in every way. For a writer such as myself, I thought it was perfect—with its physical QWERTY keyboard, bright, wide screen and early 2G/3G internet accessibility, it was the birth of the modern smartphone.

Sure, there were similar products at the time, but most were too specific with their audience. None catered to a broad market while targeting specific needs the way Nokia did with their phones.

But I digress. I only bring it up because Nokia is back at it again with a smartphone for everyone while having the important key features which keep it secure, convenient, and reliable to use.

At a glance

The Nokia G21 is an Android 11 smartphone running on a Unisoc T606 chipset. It has a 6.5” HD+ display with a 90Hz refresh rate; 50 megapixel triple camera at the back with 2 megapixel macro and 2 megapixel depth cameras; and an 8 megapixel front selfie camera. It also boasts a powerful 5,050mAh non-removable battery.

Nokia G21.

Here are the detailed specs:

OS: Android 11 (64bit)

CPU: Unisoc T606 (2xA75 and 6xA55 1.6G)

Memory and storage: 6GB RAM, 128GB internal storage; MicroSD card slot supports up to 512GB

Display: 6.5” HD+ 20:9 V-notch display; 90Hz refresh rate; Brightness 400 nits

Camera and flash: Main: 50MP AF plus 2MP Macro plus 2MP FF Depth, Single LED Flash; Front: 8MP

Connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ (2.4/5G dual; band); Bluetooth 5; GPS/AGPS+GLONASS+GALILEO

Sensors: Ambient light sensor; Proximity sensor; Accelerometer; Side fingerprint sensor; NFC

Charging: Up to 18W quick charging compatible (USB PD 3.0 compatible)

Battery: 5,050mAh, non-removable

Ports: USB Type-C (USB 2.0); 3.5mm audio jack

SIM slot: Dual Nano SIM plus MicroSD hybrid slot

Other: Biometric face unlock; Dedicated Google Assistant key; OZO audio capture

In the box

Included in the Nokia G21 package is a USB type-C cable with 10W charger, wired stereo earbud headphones with mic, and a quick start guide.

One of the coolest inclusions is an already attached screen protector, and a separate jelly case which you can use if you’re not keen on looking for a third-party case. I highly recommend using the included case because it looks perfect on the G21’s already premium looking polycarbonate shell.

The user experience

The included 10W charger is already quite fast when juicing up the G21—took about a couple of hours to fully charge the unit. However, hunting down an optional 18W charger won’t hurt, but not necessary unless you have the need to constantly have your devices at 100 percent all the time.

Battery-wise, the G21’s 5,050mAh power source delivered on its promise of three days without charging. As a consumer of mostly streaming media, I watched a couple of hours on Netflix and YouTube, took photos, called, browsed the net, played with different features and, by day’s end, I still had about 70 percent of battery left.

Speaking of browsing the net, the G21 has a dedicated Google Assistant key on the left of the unit. Press it and the Google Assistant pops up from the bottom of the screen, ready to take your voice command, whether it be scheduling an alarm or asking what a “Solicitor General” is.

Nokia G21.

Leaving the G21 on for the entire night, the next morning saw a repeat of the same watching and fiddling until it finally went down to 25 percent battery. To be honest, that’s not bad for normal use. Technically, the G21 can reach about two-and-a-half to three days with the help of the Super Battery Saver mode before kicking the bucket, but most normal people would already charge the thing after a day or so.

Still, if you find yourself in a situation where you forgot your charger or simply forgot to charge, the G21 would definitely have enough in it after a couple of days to get you out of a pinch. And for a day’s normal—or heavier than average—use, the G21 has enough to close out the day. Just remember that this is normal for a brand new battery and your mileage may vary. Performance may falter in time.

Let’s talk about that HD display. The 6.5” screen is beautiful to look at and the 90Hz refresh rate is no joke. Scrolling through apps and windows wasn’t just fast, it was smooth with no ghosting and very responsive to touches and swipes. My personal Netflix premium subscription offered HD streaming, and even on a six-inch screen the visuals on shows like Love Death + Robots and the latest season of Stranger Things remained sharp and vibrant.

On the camera side of things, the G21 provides an adequate result with its 50 megapixel sensor. Out of the box the image quality is pretty good. Details are sharp and depth of field isn’t exaggerated. Colors are a bit light on saturation, but this is perfectly normal if you plan to post process the images later on a photo editing app.

CLOSE

Video outputs at 1080p for both the main and selfie cameras. Turning down to a lower quality, like 720p, can be done in the settings.

Security features

The G21 has, so far, been ticking the right boxes in terms of features. What impressed me the most is its future-proofing—at least for the next two years. Nokia says that the G21 is Android 12-ready when it comes down the line, and the company promises two years of OS upgrades and three years of monthly security updates.

Security-wise for the here and now, the G21 has a fingerprint scanner and a face unlock feature that can recognize your face even with a facemask on. A good convenience in these pandemic times.

Further security when it comes to browsing comes in the form of a 30-day ExpressVPN trial. Useful when you’re browsing questionable sites for, ahem, “research.” Or at the very least, be able to watch Disney Plus ahead of us plebes who are still waiting for the service to come to our neck of the woods.

Verdict

Nostalgia aside, the G21 is a solid smartphone with key features in battery life, display, imaging, operating system, and security. Nokia has always been known to churn out quality products that genuinely feel premium in your hands, and the G21 is exactly that.

It’s also a step in the right direction, especially with a P9,990 price tag. The G21 is an affordable smartphone with a great battery, beautifully responsive touchscreen display with security features and future-proofing that represents two- to three-years of absolute value, which is more than one can say for most smartphones out right now that’ll be ready to be replaced within a year and a half.

If you’re looking for a brand new phone this year, you won’t go wrong with the Nokia G21. Get your own unit at the Nokia Philippines (nokiaphstore) Shopee store here.