Nokia G21 Review

Nokia G21 smartphone has a 50 MP triple camera with sophisticated AI imagery, a long battery life, and three years of security updates.

Nokia G21 Review
Nokia G21


+  Very appealing price

+  Solid build quality

+  Excellent battery life


-  luggish performance

-  Lacks 5G connectivity

-  Moto G series trounces it

On paper, the Nokia G21 appears to be a strong contender for our top cheap phones list: it's a very affordable phone. Nokia is known for giving excellent value for money with its gadgets, but does the G21 fall into that category?

Our in-depth Nokia G21 review will tell you everything you need to know about this affordable Android smartphone, from its battery life to the quality of photographs it can capture with its camera to the amount of time it takes for apps to load.

Of course, it's not the only phone to consider when it's time to upgrade; if you have a little more cash to spare, you might want to look at our expertly curated best Android phones, or our best small phones guide if you're looking for something more compact.


(Image credit: Amazon)

When we said the Nokia G21 was inexpensive, we weren't joking. The handset is available in the UK for £149.99, which is less than a sixth of the Samsung Galaxy S22 flagship's starting price.

Nokia G21 with 90Hz LCD Display, 50MP Camera Launched: Price in India, Specifications

The Nokia G21 is available from all of the usual suspects, including Amazon, Argos, and Nokia itself. We haven't heard anything about availability or pricing in the United States as of this writing, implying that this low-cost phone won't be offered there.


(Image credit: Amazon)

A budget phone should never seem like a budget phone, and the Nokia G21 does a good job of making it appear less cheap and cheerful than it actually is. The handset seems well built and substantial when you pick it up, and we enjoy the textured plastic back of the casing as well as the tiny rear camera module.

The phone comes in two colours: Nordic Blue (dark blue), which is the one we had to review, and Dusk (a darkish brown colour). Both appear to be tasteful in our opinion. As you'd expect at this budget, there's no IP classification for waterproofing or dustproofing, so be cautious while handling the Nokia G21 - perhaps don't take it to the beach.

The phone's 6.5-inch, 720 x 1,600 pixel LCD display is bright and clear, however it lacks the high-resolution displays found in other low- and mid-range devices. It's good for watching movies, surfing the web, and scrolling through social media, and its 90Hz refresh rate adds an unexpected smoothness bonus by reducing blurring and ghosting.

Except for a pretty wide chin – something we often see on budget phones – the bezels around the edges of the G21's display are lovely and slim, and there's a little teardrop notch at the top where the front-facing camera hides.

A USB-C port on the bottom handles data transfer and charging, while the fingerprint sensor is integrated into the power button. There's a dedicated button for accessing Google Assistant, which is common on Nokia phones and can be useful.

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(Image credit: Amazon)

The Nokia G21's Unisoc T606 processor and 4GB of RAM are just barely enough to run the Android 11 software that comes pre-installed. To put it another way, we wouldn't try to run Android 11 on anything less. The operating system is pleasantly devoid of bloatware and other complexity, which keeps things tidy.

The Nokia G21 with UniSoC T606 and 4GB RAM appears on Geekbench...

During our testing, however, we noted some lag and occasional pauses when switching between programmes and opening menus due to the lower-end processor. Some of the most demanding games and programmes on Android may have occasional hiccups, but the Nokia G21 will serve you well enough for regular use while certainly not breaking any performance records.

This handset lacks 5G connection, which you may or may not be concerned about, as well as Wi-Fi 6 and wireless charging, which you may or may not be concerned about. In terms of wired charging, you're looking at a rate of 18W, which isn't bad, but it's far from what you'll find at the top of the market.

With the 5,050mAh battery, Nokia claims you'll be able to go up to three days without charges, which isn't out of the question. We noted an 11 percent loss in battery life after an hour of video streaming on full brightness (for a total of 9-10 hours), and a 4 percent drop after half an hour of GPS navigation on medium brightness. You should be able to get a couple of days of use out of the G21 if you manage your phone usage carefully.

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(Image credit: Amazon)

On inexpensive phones, the camera system is usually where compromises are made, and the Nokia G21 is no exception. There's no ultra-wide or optical zoom on the back camera, which consists of a triple-lens 50-megapixel main camera, a 2MP macro for close-ups, and a 2MP depth sensor.

The gadget has a single 8MP camera on the front that does a basic job of shooting selfie photographs and videos — and not much else.

The phone's rear camera takes decent images, but you'll need good lighting and a steady subject to get them to look well. Unfortunately, the time we spent testing the phone coincided with a period of dreary and rainy weather, so our photos were never going to be spectacular.

Despite the not-so-versatile system's general lack of versatility, colours and details are captured quite well, and these photographs are more than excellent enough to utilise for social media, for example.

When it comes to moving subjects and low-light conditions, though, the Nokia G21 struggles. There's a lot of visual noise and blurring, and the dedicated night mode isn't much help. You can see what we're talking about by looking at the images we took, which are exhibited above.

However, HDR processing (high dynamic range) is capable enough, with darker and lighter sections of the frame well balanced – but if you can afford to purchase in the mid-range section of the phone market and pay a few extra pounds, you'll get considerably better photographs.

As with everything else in this review, the camera's performance must be weighed against the price, so it's no surprise that the results aren't spectacular.

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It's difficult to provide a verdict on a phone at this price: yes, it's a long way behind the greatest smartphones on the market, but it's also a good distance behind other budget phones that, for only tiny money more, will deliver far better results.

We rate the Nokia G21 two stars out of five for performance and camera quality, but it's more like a four-star phone in terms of value for money. Still, that sums up the overall experience as a low-cost failure.

However, if you don't expect much from a basic handset – and this Nokia will cheerfully send messages, take calls, and surf the web - then the G21 may find a home with some purchasers.