The Nokia X20 5G is certainly an exciting device, targeted as a capable mid-ranger, equipped with a massive 4470mAh battery, a 64MP primary camera sensor, capable of 5G speeds and enough RAM to dwarf even modern computers. But the numbers are just one side of the story. My journey with HMD Global made Nokia device started with Nokia 8, impressed with its sleek metallic design, I shifted to Nokia 9 Pureview which had its ups and downs. The Nokia 8.1 which became my daily driver after that was simply a bliss to use sans the slow charging speed.
The Nokia 7 Plus which I used next was just as exciting. And it served me the longest, surviving my hectic life schedule with solid build, solid battery life and solid performance for a mid-range. But with each passing day, HMD Global seems to show a pattern, a shift in strategy and focus. It is simply hard to get by “premium” Nokia devices these days in this part of the world. Devices like Nokia 9 Pureview, Nokia 8 Sirocco, Nokia 8.3 5G and even the Nokia X20 5G isn’t available here and many other key markets officially. When factored in the bloated price of the device due to import charges and the lack of official warranty, purchasing a Nokia device these days is becoming even harder to justify. So, this is where the journey begins for most. Is it worth the effort?
Availability and Pricing:
This is the elephant in the room that needs to be addressed before dwelling further. The Nokia X20 5G is available through 3rd party imports at a price tag of USD 400 here without any official warranty. It is not brought in officially for reasons unknown. This have to be the hardest argument to justify its purchase. Simply put, if you aren’t a fan, you won’t be going the extra mile to own one. If you are lucky, 3rd party vendors will import the device for additional charges. These days, at USD 400, one can simply purchase flagship grade device with OLED display with high refresh rate, fast charging capability, a more capable processor and even added software features. But, only a few of these devices could promise the same build quality as Nokia or even guarantee timely software updates.
Design and Build Quality:
The Nokia X20 5G design resembles the Nokia 8.3 5G closely, with the quad camera arrangement over the back and the fingerprint scanner within the power button. It feels slightly hollow compared to the well-built Nokia 8.3 5G and the lack of attention to its details is apparent. A slightly matte looking color and plasticky build is certainly far from the brilliantly build Nokia 8.1 and even Nokia 7 Plus. Having said that, the device seems capable of taking a couple of hit. The addition of the environmentally friendly case is a great welcome as it feels unique and will certainly have added protection for your device. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work well with the USB C chargers with thicker shoulders as the case prevents a secure fit. Often, you would have to remove the case to charge the device or simply use USB C cable with a smaller shoulder.
The Display, Performance and Battery life:
We won’t be dwelling with numbers here as numbers are just half the story here. I will base this on my experience with the 2 most reliable mid-ranger I had used before, the Nokia 8.1 and Nokia 7 Plus. The display on the Nokia X20 5G is sharp, and unless you have been spoiled with high density screens, you won’t notice the pixels much. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said on its color reproduction. Not the worst, but certainly could be better for the asking price. Colors are flat and lacks the punch if you are familiar with Puredisplay technology on the Nokia 7.2, Nokia 9 Pureview and on the Nokia 8.1 though not stated officially. But certainly, better than the ones on Nokia 5.3.
Nokia X20 5G redeems here by having good performance in general. It launches apps quickly, faster than even the Nokia 8.1 in most scenarios, able to handle well with many apps running in the background thanks to the 8GB RAM. But this speed seems to be somehow as a result of stressing the processor to do more than what its comfortable at. The occasional hiccups when launching apps with slight distortion in the animation during app transition reminds the limit of the processor. Gaming performance is adequate, having tested the PUBG at an above average setting with no frame drops and smooth game play which should satisfy your gaming needs. But certain apps simply seem to be not optimized. Insta reels and facebook videos more frequently than not throws a seizure. At first, I honestly thought it should be a new filter but unfortunately its not. This has to do with some software issue as each time I try to screen record it, the video plays just fine! So, to sum up, the SD480 chipset gives decent general and gaming performance but at a cost.
As stated above, the SD480 seems to be pushed to work more than it’s designed for. Despite the large battery, it barely lasts a day with moderate usage. My daily routine includes browsing the net, reply to e mails, less than 30 minutes of video consumption, less than 10 photo shots per day due to the current pandemic situation and no gaming. Despite that, it barely survives a day. I gave the benefit of doubt hoping the battery life will improve once the device settles down after a couple of use but that’s not the case here, even with adaptive battery mode on. The device seems to be constantly discharging at a rate of 1-2% per hour with no use which is more than what is expected for a device of its class. This might be due to lack of optimization of the software or simply having the processor in overdrive. And this is with the device locked to 4G network due to lack of 5G infrastructure here. The 18w charging speed is acceptable but it is nowhere close to what the competition offers. In real life, all this translate to a single day use and leaving the device to charge overnight.
To be honest, the first thing that excites me is the camera setup of a device, which explains my constant change of device in search of whats next. After spending some considerable amount of time with the Nokia X20 5G, this is what I have to say. It should satisfy the needs of many. Over the years of using Nokia device, it is hard to accept anything less than above average for Nokia device. The 64MP sensor produces image which aims to capture true to life details which lacks the usual punchy color tones one would prefer, especially those coming from another branded device. As someone who doesn’t like over sharpen photos, it is quite shocking to see the lack of details in the 16MP output, compared to the 64MP ones which is compensated by sharpening. While this may not be an issue with daytime images, night images paint a different story. As long as there is adequate light, images from the night mode looks amazing and it will certainly not disappoint but when the lights get less, the lack of details and inconsistent processing produces images you may not want to share. Despite this inconsistencies, the Nokia X20 5G has one of the better RAW performance on a Nokia branded device and it will certainly put the Nokia 8.3 5G a run for its money.
RAW( converted to jpg):
Cropped from the same image, check out the mudcrab!:
Video recording is another area that would remind you where the device truly belongs. The lack of 4K recording is baffling as its available on devices like Nokia 5.3 costing less than half. This is compensated by a smooth 1080p at 60fps recording which should be enough for many. The addition of cinema mode is another value-added feature to justify its purchase though one can argue similar setup is available on Nokia 5.4, again, costing less than half.
But considering in a stable 1080p recording with smooth frame rate ,coupled with OZO audio recording, the Nokia X20 5G certainly gets the job done. You will be more often than not be satisfied with what this device can accomplish.
The white-balance of the primary camera tend to be slightly off, cooler than it should be in most cases. The color shift from primary to the ultra-wide sensor is also something that needs to be addressed. The macro-mode probably is there to just fill up the quad camera requirement.
16MP jpg Ultrawide 5mp, good details but annoying color shift
While I hope that the camera gets some refined software update to improve the level of details, addition of AI mode to boost the color vibrancy when needed, and a better night mode, would be more than welcomed. For now, the night mode is good but it lacks details and is often noisy when the lights get dimmer.
Low light performance from the primary sensor
Standard mode 16mp:
Night mode 16mp:
The Nokia X20 5G seems to be a device to get things done. It may not last 2 days or more as claimed but it executes the tasks given without any hassle. The quad camera sensor of the back with Zeiss branded optics produces above average quality images. Cinema mode and RAW capture should satisfy the creator in you for most. Nokia X20 5G would certainly have a better reception if the device is brought to more markets with a lesser price tag. At the current price, its more palatable if it comes bundled with one of the recent Nokia wireless earbuds.
While its not certain if the X represents their high-end offerings, it’s safe to say that Nokia is in the right track to deliver good phones. For now, HMD Global should focus on delivering updates on time and consider bringing in newer camera features across the board like the good old Lumia days!