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Hands-on review: Nokia X20

Tue, 9th Nov 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Approaching the quarter-mark of the 21st century, phones have very little to do with making calls to a particular individual. The mobile has become your conferencing device, photo and movie studio and group conferencing tool. It also serves as your on-the-go entertainment station, a must-have for today's generation of device zombies.

The term “built-in obsolescence” has evolved. You know that the new device in your hand will soon be superseded by a more powerful one, and most likely, it is in production as you proudly leave your phone provider with a nifty plastic-wrapped package of shiny new tech.

Nokia X20 have thought about this, and you will rest secure because of the promised three years of Android upgrades.

The first thing I noticed was the circular arrangement of Lenses with the name Zeiss proudly displayed in the centre. The Dual Sight multi-cam allows you to shoot video from different angles at the same time. That is nifty, as is the ability to add your own personal watermark to your photography. These days mobile users see themselves primarily as photographers, movie-makers, gamers and device zombies. When they're not playing games, organising financial transactions, planning their workday, or surfing the ‘net, they may even contact fellow device zombies. Promising 5G speeds, Nokia promise that you'll be shooting, sharing and wandering around vacantly in an instant.


Processor and storage

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 (Octa Core 2GHz + 1.8GHz) Processor
  • 6 GB RAM
  • 128GB Internal Storage
  • 512 via external SD card (sold separately)


  • ZEISS Optics
  • Front camera: 32 MP
  • Rear camera: 64 MP 
  • Main + 5 MP 
  • Ultrawide+ 2 MP 
  • Depth + 2 MP 
  • Macro
  • Rear flash LED

I can see why Nokia opted for this mid-range processor. Power-wise, it's a miser. I've been using the X20 all week, and apart from plugging into the car for Android Car-play, my battery indicator doesn't appear to have moved much at all.

However, benchmarking results place it firmly in the middle of the Snapdragon processors, and this is reflected in some “laggy” responses when editing video. However, you can't fault the quality of the camera or the editing software. Just be prepared to wait while clips are rendering.

I viewed one of my all-time favourite movies, ‘Lucy', the picture was brilliant, and I got around the tinny-sounding speakers by hooking up to a headset, which improved my sound experience. The 6.7 CM screen really comes into its own here. For a mid-range phone, it offers a striking experience, although I did have to tweak the brightness controls once or twice.

The controls consist of the on/off button, which also doubles as a fingerprint reader and directly above on the right is the volume control. On the left, you have the Google Assistant button.

I am fairly sure that Nokia has had their thinking caps firmly on when choosing the Qualcomm 480 Snapdragon processor. It's no processing slug, but neither is it a Bugatti among processors. Having said that, it is an absolute miser when it comes to power use.

I am a moderate mobile device user, making a handful of calls a week. If anything, I have increased my usage over the time I've been reviewing this phone, and I've enjoyed the experience. Yes, you can expect some lag when editing videos. However, you won't fault the picture quality or the variety provided by the Zeiss lenses.

Nokia has also taken the environment into consideration, taking care to avoid elements that are damaging to the environment and making sure that packaging and even the provided case is compostable. Their website contains interesting information explaining how they have worked to use recyclable materials and bio-degradable packaging while avoiding toxic substances that don't do our planet any good.

Ergonomically, I found the Nokia X20 both ergonomic and logically set out, making it easy to use. I did have to remind myself to guard against some of the bloat-ware that seems to abound in the Android environment. While much improved over the years, you do need to be discerning before hitting the “install” button. I remain a fan of the options to run dual SIM cards and SD card storage, which I used to store my photos. I love facial and fingerprint recognition, avoiding the need to enter a PIN to unlock the device.

Unless you are a device snob, you will be more than happy to own a device that won't cost the price of a high-spec laptop but will provide you with reliable and future-proofed usage, and do it all at just over $500.

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