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Not all polycarbonate plastic is created equal, and the Nokia X20 is an excellent example of how to build a phone from plastic that still feels very sturdy, very well put together, and quite premium for its class. The design is also quite unique, fully embracing minimalism when it comes to nice clean lines, curves as well as a stylish camera bump that is now a signature to the brand. Pictures definitely don’t do it justice. The device comes in 2 colors, nordic blue which I have here, and midnight sun, both with a matte finish that has this frozen look to it. Both colors are quite rich and very bold. I still think the X10 with its green and white offers nicer colors though, even if it’s just from renders. What isn’t great about the X20 is that the bezels are quite big for such a class of device which definitely drops the overall look and feel a notch or two. You might also care that this phone is made out of recyclable materials, up to 91% of them infarct can be retrieved as materials or energy according to Nokia Mobile’s environment profile of the X20, which is not something that might blow you away but it is something that I really appreciate. The side-mounted fingerprint scanner works quite reliably.
Speaking of notches, the 6.67″ FULL HD+ IPS LCD display has a centered hole punch that houses the front-facing camera. The display itself offers very good colors, contrast, viewing angles and black levels, but it’s definitely not class-leading in any way. Sadly, the refresh rate is still limited to 60Hz which means it’s not as smooth-looking as most of its rivals, and the black levels aren’t as good as an OLED panel. I would have liked to see an OLED screen on the X20, even if it comes with its own drawbacks. Sunlight readability is on the good side though, so you shouldn’t have problems using the X20 outdoors.
The display also has HDR10 support and works quite well for watching movies and my face on YouTube. For some reason, there is no PureDisplay tech on this, but to be honest, I don’t really miss It too much. The phone automatically tends to push more punchy colors when watching videos or viewing pictures.
There is one lonely bottom-firing speaker on the X20, which happens to be quite loud and offers decent quality even at high volumes, but is still quite easy to block depending on how you hold your phone.
Another Nokia phone, Another Android One device. This one comes with Android 11 out of the box, which is a near-stock, lightweight experience that completely relies on google for basic services, such as the photo gallery, dialer, messaging app, and so on.
So here are Nokia mobile’s contributions to the software:
– Camera app with pro controls
– Cinema mode for advanced video controls
– Zeiss video editing tool
– My phone app for support
– Swipe down for the notification bar
– Display white balance controls
– Double tap to wake
– Always-on display
– Pick up to view time and more gestures
Nokia is promising 3 years of Android updates, which theoretically means this phone will get up to Android 14 alongside monthly security updates for the same period. Whether you’re a fan of android one or not, I will leave that up to you to decide.
SD480, 8 gigs of RAM, how does it do?
It breezes through day to day tasks without breaking a sweat actually and lives up to the quicksilver development name. Funny enough what might have been perceived as its biggest weakness is in fact one of its key strengths. Check out my full performance video for a more in-depth look. Shout out to the haptic engine on this phone. It’s excellent and works very well for typing and throughout the interface.
As for gaming, the Adreno 619 is no slouch. It’s a step below the 620 found on the SD765 and the difference in performance for most games I’ve tested was negligible minus loading speed. I tried Call of Duty, PUBG, Dead Cells, Asphalt 9, and Forza street, and they all run very smoothly on high settings with no issues. But best of all, the phone managed to keep very acceptable temperatures even after about 30 minutes of straight gaming, so the thermals on the X20 are definitely doing their job.
The X20 comes with a quad-camera setup on the back, but the party stopper is the new 64MP Samsung Isocell sensor.
The picture quality is very clean in daylight, and the dynamic range and level of details is good. But, the best thing about this camera is how balanced the image processing is. Unlike many competitors, the photos aren’t oversharpened, and the HDR is tuned nicely. I would completely avoid taping on a subject to brighten it though as the phone tends to go over the top with higher than needed ISO which reduces the image quality.
Sadly, the ugly side seems to be in the consistency of night mode, where HDR is sometimes so over-exaggerated, and just doesn’t do it for me at all. It pushed me to use pro mode to get the best image in low light and once I did that I was a lot more satisfied with the output.
The camera is clearly capable but night mode requires a lot more fine-tuning and I really hope this gets addressed in an update. GCAM comes to the rescue once again for low-light images. If you would like a more detailed video about the camera, let me know in the comments!
The 5MP ultra-wide camera is, as expected, a letdown when it comes to resolved details but works as long as there is a lot of light and you don’t plan on pixel peeping. It, alongside the fan favorite macro camera (sarcasm) are strictly there to capture images you can share on social media but without ever zooming in on. I think the lack of a quality ultra-wide camera might be my biggest complaint about this phone’s camera.
The 2MP depth sensor does its job well in helping to capture portrait images with very good subject separation and the portrait images captured were satisfactory.
The selfie camera works well enough and has good subject separation in portrait mode. Nothing more to add.
One of my biggest gripes with the X20 is that it doesn’t record 4k Video. Thankfully the 1080p video it produces is quite good. Software stabilization is excellent, and the Audio quality is very good thanks to OZO audio. When recording video make sure you avoid touching the mics on the top and bottom for the cleanest audio. The video from the selfie cam was also respectable and utilizes the same great audio capabilities. For those of you interested in more advanced controls, cinema mode gives you pro-grade controls for your video and the ability to capture h-log format for increased dynamic range and finer control over editing. Its works generally well but I wish it wasn’t just limited to a 21:9 aspect ratio. X20 also adds the ability to switch stabilization on or off which stops the phone from cropping the video in case you don’t need stabilization. Nice touch.
Call quality is just okay. I tested it in a loud environment and it worked well enough with the caller hearing me clearly, and I could hear them quite well, although I do wish it was a tad bit louder. I had no issues with signal reception even in tricky areas. 5G is also here to stay and the speeds the X20 can go up to are crazy. We might not fully appreciate it now but it’s definitely a nice future-proofed aspect.
The battery life on the Nokia X20 is excellent. The combination of the SD480 and decently sized battery capacity of 4470 mAh results in around 7-8 Hours of screen on time, which should comfortably last you a day of usage, and even push the 2 day mark for light users. This is with moderate 5G usage at about 50% brightness with Bluetooth and location turned on.
As for charging speed, this definitely isn’t one of the X20’s strong suites. It takes about 40 minutes to get to 50% charge and just under 2 hours to fully charge. The upside of this though is that this theoretically should help your battery last longer in the long run. Perhaps an unintended advantage that fits the keep the battery on your phone for longer promise, or a cost-cutting measure, we will never really know.
Battery charging at 18 watts:
Starting at 1%
13% in 10 minutes
25% in 20 minutes
37% in 30 minutes
49% in 40 minutes
61% in 50 minutes
71% in 60 minutes
80% in 70 minutes
86% in 80 minutes
90% in 90 minutes
94% in 100 minutes
In my opinion, the X20 achieves the goals that it was set to achieve. To offer a durable smartphone that is built very well, that you can probably keep for a long period of time because of its performance, 5G and software support. That you might also love using because of how it feels in the hand, how it looks, its battery life, its software optimization, and its main camera if you know how to use it. A phone that also happens to be focused on environmental friendly aspect thanks to being up to 91% recyclable and with the new plant trees campaign for every X20 bought, if you care about that.
The question is, is this what you’re looking for? The competition is very fierce in this class, and there is probably something for everybody. If you really want 4K video recording, an OLED screen, or faster-charging speeds for example, there are other options. I’m just personally glad that the X20 offers a different approach for those who value quality and experience and aren’t too fussed about the specs. If this sounds like you, you’ll appreciate the X20. If it doesn’t, time to go fishing!
So, what do you guys think of the Nokia X20? Are you a fan of the new direction? Let’s discuss in the comments!