In early April 2021, HMD global, the home of Nokia devices launched 6 new devices. These new devices came with a new naming scheme. The X series, for now, seem to represent the higher end category.
As the market for Nokia branded smartphones shrink in most part of the world, the availability of these devices also becomes limited in many major market. In Malaysia, once a stronghold for Nokia made devices, the likes of Apple iPhone, Samsung, Xiaomi and others seem to have made Nokia a relic from the past. Youths these days are spoilt for choices in the low end and midrange segments by the value for money offering by this relatively infantile companies.
HMD global has failed to hype up interest for Nokia devices by missing key releases here, with the absence of Nokia 9 Pureview, Nokia 8 Sirocco, Nokia 8.3 5G and most likely the Nokia X20. For Nokia fans, still clinging on to the glory days of Nokia, the only option to get these devices is by purchasing it from abroad.
With that said, this is my review of the Nokia X20 5G. Is it actually a midrange device?
Ever since the Nokia X20 was announced in early April, I have been in touch with Macpie Distribution ( official distributor of Nokia made devices in Malaysia) for confirmation regarding the availability of the X20. Unfortunately, the not so convincing reply that I got seem to suggest that this is another missed opportunity for HMD global.
I was on the hunt to replace my Nokia 7 plus, a device that I feel best represents the Nokia DNA among all HMD global made devices. The SD660 processor, mated with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage and a very capable camera system with a relatively fast charging battery means a reliable device for work and play.
I was lucky that despite Nokia X20 not officially available in Malaysia, I was able to purchase it through online retailers. This particular unit is from Hong Kong, which supports GMS so it closely resembles global version of Nokia device. It took about 10 days for the device to arrive from Hong Kong. And at a price of RM1799, this certainly isn’t priced anywhere close to any midrange device from the other manufacturers. A quick check through E Bay shows the Nokia X20 can be bought at a price of RM2000( minus shipping and import taxes). So, read till the end to find out if its worth the hassle.
The Box and its contents:
A simple box packaging, highlighting the Midnight Sun color of Nokia X20 and the new wallpaper screams for little attention. While in most markets where the chargers are replaced with a 100% compostable case, I am very glad that the Hong Kong variant not only has this eco friendly case, it also includes an 18W charger. The Nokia X20 also comes with screen protector applied on, although a tempered glass would have been more apt for the pricing. In the mean time, this is my unboxing video.
It also comes with a USB C charging cable, wired earphone and user manual.
It is not a coincidence that the Nokia X20 looks quite similar to the Nokia 8.3 5G, from the circular camera arrangement on the rear to the side mounted finger print scanner on the outside. But the similarities ends here.
The Nokia X20 feels plasticky in hand. This is not the same as the polycarbonate feel that was synonymous with Lumia device. It’s a far cry from Nokia 7 plus with its matte metal back with copper accent, or the glassy back of Nokia 8.1. The “useful” Google assistant button seems to be standard this days on the left side of the device. The front display has a center placed front facing camera at 32MP.
On the right side of the device, the volume rocker and the ingenious power button with built in sensor sits in. No notification light unfortunately.
On the bottom end sits the USB C charging port ,a 3.5mm head jack and bottom firing speaker and a mic. On the top end, it houses only a single mic. However these 2 microphone isn’t enough to give it a full suite of OZO audio recording.
Display and Performance:
The 6.67 in IPS LCD FHD+ display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. Its not vibrant but its not dull looking either. The newer architecture of SD480 5G means better performance and this is generally true while executing daily tasks. Launching apps are snappy and browsing is a breeze. The 8GB of RAM means more robust performance from your device. No complaint here as HMD Global made devices runs on Android One without bloatware.
The 128GB storage, expandable with a micro SD card is useful especially now that Google Photos no longer supports free upload of High Quality images from 1st of June 2021. The haptic feedback from the device is also great but it’s a tad too intrusive for my taste.
If you are familiar with Nokia, then camera is one department that Nokia has had great success with. Unfortunately the lackluster performance of Nokia 9 Pureview simply means that HMD Global is playing safe in the camera department by having a more conventional setup. The 64MP primary sensor at the back is complimented with a less exciting 5MP wide, 2MP depth and 2MP macro. A part from the primary sensor, the other cameras are similar to what the Nokia 5.3 and Nokia 5.4 offers.
The Nokia X20 is capable of shooting in RAW format which is typically reserved for the higher end device category. It is also capable of shooting in 64MP at 4:3 ratio. Unfortunately the Android 11 running Nokia X20 does not support 4K recording via its front and rear camera. I do hope that this would be enabled via future updates though the chances are slim. The addition of cinema mode is definitely a welcome here. Again , no 4K recording is available, but you would be able to record a high bitrate video in a cinema format with better stabilization.
You can read our detailed camera review of Nokia X20 5G by clicking here. We have also compared Nokia X20 5G camera samples against the samples from Google Pixel 3X, Nokia 8.3 5G and Nokia 5.4 for evaluation.
The mammoth 4470 battery would easily last you a day. No doubt about that. The 18W fast charging does come in handy. The 18W does fast charge and it takes roughly about 90 minutes to fully charge the device. Unfortunately, due to the lack of 5G infrastructure here at the moment, it is hard to say how 5G will take a hit on the battery performance,
Nokia X20 comes with a bump in terms of camera pixel count, and 5G support, but it still lacks compelling features to make this device stand out of the crowd. Instead, the Nokia X20 represents a new generation of lower end of the midrange category, but one that is priced high.
On the plus side, it has a 64MP primary sensor with Zeiss branding optics, an above average RAM configuration, a large battery with an acceptable fast charging and the promise of 3 years of software update. For some, these seals the deal, for others it may be a little less than what they hope for.
The Nokia X20, is certainly a breath of fresh air, however, if HMD Global wants to remain relevant in the smart phone market, it needs more than just the Nokia branding.
- Big battery
- Good haptic feedback
- Zeiss optics and OZO audio recording
- Cinema mode recording
- Clear audio output
- Screen protector and case included
- 5G connectivity
- Limited availability
- Questionable built quality
- Finger print magnet