Nokia X20 review
- Long battery life
- Good performance
- Good value for money
- Below average camera
- Bad speakers
- Confusing specs
HMD Global, under the Nokia banner, has consistently produced competing phones. The Nokia X20 is another competitively priced phone, with enough grunt and minimalism to please everyone.
Design and build
The Nokia X20 is a very big phone. It’s quite difficult to operate with one hand, and that’s thanks to the large 6.67-inch screen and even larger bezels.
The phone is not very thick or very heavy, it’s just that it has a huge presence thanks to these bezels. The bezel on the top and sides are the same size, while the bottom has a much larger bezel adorning the Nokia brand.
Once you get past the size you realize that the X20 is actually a pretty good looking phone. The camera module is centered on the back, while the flash is on the side. The power button doubles as a fingerprint reader.
The phone we reviewed was the Nordic Blue version. The color is really cool. It has a dull feel and therefore doesn’t attract a lot of fingerprints on the body.
The phone doesn’t really look bad. The location of the camera and the color scheme give it a premium look. It is a very beautiful phone. Just fat.
A case is included in the box, which looks like a popcorn ice cream. Not the best of looks, but it’s unique and it ended up growing on me.
The Nokia X20 comes with 5 cameras. Here is the breakdown of all cameras:
- 64 MP, Main camera – Large
- 5 MP – Ultralarge
- 2 MP – Depth transducer
- 2 MP – Macro
- Front side: 32 MP
We’ve seen similar camera setups in other smartphones, so nothing groundbreaking here.
The cameras are pretty average, the main camera can actually capture colors quite well, but it still seems to lack detail.
A rather odd issue I ran into was that the viewfinder didn’t always represent what the final image would look like. For example, when taking a photo I always felt the images had blown highlights and very high exposure, but after taking the photo it actually looks pretty decent. On the other hand, photos sometimes came out too blurry even though the subject was well lit and the photo was taken while standing still. It feels like you really have to wait for the photo to be taken before you start moving the phone.
Nowhere is this more apparent than when taking portraits. The photo you take and what you get are two completely different things. Maybe it’s because a lot of effects are added in post-processing, but wow! I wouldn’t trust the photos taken just because this camera is like the box of chocolates Forest Gump had. (Yes old benchmark, but works for me.)
A bit of a strange experience.
You get the usual Nokia features like Dual Sight and Pro mode which is a great user experience, but can you shoot with confidence?
There is also a Cinema mode which allows you to record movies at 24 fps with a 21: 9 aspect ratio. Files are saved in H-Log format. It’s a great addition and just might be the best use of the camera. This obviously only works in landscape mode and contains some professional information when shooting.
The Nokia X20 has a 6.67-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1080 x 2400, which gives it a pixel density of around 395 ppi. The selfie camera is a hole punch right in the middle.
You also get a screen protector preinstalled on the phone, right out of the box. It’s a nice touch and as someone who uses screen protectors I appreciate the care.
The screen itself is decent, not the largest screen on a phone, but it shows colors quite well and has decent blacks to boot.
The screen gets pretty bright with a peak brightness of 450 nits.
The viewing angles weren’t very good and I noticed a strange discoloration around the selfie camera. This becomes especially evident when looking at blank screens, like settings or a browser.
The Nokia X20’s battery is 4,470mAh, which HMD claims is a 2-day battery. It says on the box.
2 days is a bit of a stretch, but again I’m going through the battery juice like a kid eating a softy on a hot summer in Dubai. Which means if you’re conservative enough and don’t keep turning on your phone screen like some obsessed teenager waiting for his crush to respond, you should be able to enjoy around 30 hours of battery life, from the charge to near death.
The phone charges through a USB-C connector, although the port itself is 2.0. But there isn’t really fast charging as it is rated at a maximum fast charge of 18W.
Features, specifications and performance
The Nokia X20 is a fairly standard phone in terms of features. You get the headphone jack, which many phones have done away with. The fingerprint reader is part of the power button and works great.
You also get the USB-C port, but that’s really it. There isn’t much else in terms of features that are out of the ordinary for a modern, budget, or otherwise smartphone.
The characteristics of the phone are:
- Snapdragon 480 5G Octa Code
- 2 x 2.0 GHz
- 6 × 1.8 GHz
- GPU: Adreno 619
RAM: 6 or 8 GB
Storage: 128 GB
The model we got had 8 GB of RAM.
The fingerprint reader worked very well, it is extremely accurate for a small module, although it can be a bit slow. You can feel the delay between when it detects your finger and when the phone unlocks. This is not too much of a problem. With the face unlock feature, getting into your phone is pretty quick overall.
According to the datasheet, the phone has a mediocre Snapdragon 480, but according to benchmarking software, the processor is the Snapdragon 750G… I don’t know who is right, but the processor of the phone is good. Benchmarks are competitive, and performance while playing games and multitasking was perfect for a phone in this price range.
Here are the benchmarks:
Nokia is part of the Android One program, which means you get standard Android with (almost) no bloatware on the phone.
The Nokia X20 is no exception, you get Android 11 right out of the box with a promise of 2 years of updates (according to the Android One website). The box says 3 years of Android updates, so here’s another confusing post, but whatever it is, it’s still great.
The phone comes with original Android and no additional apps other than Netflix, Amazon, and My Phone.
The first two are, for all intents and purposes, bloatware. If you don’t want to use either one, you can uninstall them which is more than what can be said about other phones.
The My Phone app lets you manage your phone, view statistics and even contact support. It’s a great addition and I like to keep it tidy for rainy days.
The rest of the experience is exactly what you would expect. A stellar operating system, with great features, control and that is easy to use on a new smartphone.
The camera app also has the nice Pro mode like that of older Nokia phones (Windows era). This is different from the pro mode of the original Android camera, but it is saved in the app and I find it to be the best user experience in pro mode on any phone.
While the phone has what looks like a huge earpiece at the top of the screen, you still only get speaker audio coming down to the bottom. Why?
It was a huge missed opportunity because all this scope without being used is such a shame. The sad icing on the cake is that the speaker isn’t even that good. It distorts on high volumes and sounds like a budget after thought. Although the speaker is quite loud, you can block it out quite easily, thanks to its position. Again, all this space, why not use it?