To the keen observer, the newly announced G series ,namely the G21 here looks eerily similar to the Motorola E40. A part from the subtle changes in the finger print reader, the Moto E40 sports a higher clock speed Unisoc processor. At a glance, its hard to tell them a part. After the much inspiring symmetrical theme designs that we got to love with the Nokia 7.2, it seems that HMD Global has decided to hit the reboot switch once again. Thus, the G series is sort of a phase 3 device when it comes to design per se. The first phase being the original 6 series, and the second phase was the Nokia 7.2 and 6.2.
So, its safe to guesstimate that HMD Global is cutting cost further by having a third party team to design their devices ,hence the similarities seen here. With that out of the way, lets dive in to the Nokia G21.
The first thing that caught my attention was the packaging itself, which is a depart from their previous design and reminds me of the Symbian and early Lumia days packaging. For some unknown reason, the device image on the box shows 20:22, which may indicate the year 2022, instead of the device series that was the norm with Nokia previously. On the rear, the new HMD’S slogan Love it, Trust It, Keep it, sits on the top right corner. Some basic information in the camera department is stated and it is highlighted as Advanced camera with AI imaging. I am curious as to what it means and how deep the AI integration is. Its stated here that the device will get 2 years of OS upgrades and 3 years of monthly security updates. The device runs on Android 11 out of the box which is a bummer as Android 12 is available for quite some time now.
Once the box is slide out, it reveals the Nokia G21 with the plastic wrapping for protection. Underneath it lies the sim ejector tool. Remove the top compartment, you come to the intermediate compartment which contains a claear case. Thank you HMD Global! The truth is I have been hunting for a G21 case for some time ever since pre ordering the device and I cant find a suitable one for me. so, this is a good addition. Beneath the intermediate compartment, lies 2 separate smaller compartment. One contains a 3.5mm earphone and USB-C cable and the other contains a 10W charger. Don’t be alarmed , as the Nokia G21 supports 18W charging with appropriate charger.
The Nordic Blue color unit I have here looks and feels gorgeous. The frame has a matte finishing while the back has texture that gives a good tactile feedback. The highlight of all my reviews are on the camera performance. I will be covering that in detail later. For now, the camera is located on the top left corner and the island is raised a couple of mm from the rest of the body. The glass like housing for the camera department is reportedly prone for scratches so do be careful! 3 camera sensors sit on top and a ridge separates it from the LED flash at the bottom. 50 MP AI camera, is stated here so I personally hope it doesn’t disappoint much. On the top, 3.5mm head jack port and a single microphone, and on the bottom, the USB C charging port, the second microphone and bottom firing speaker. On the right, the SIM card slot and a dedicated Google Assistant button , on the right, the volume rockers and a power button with finger print scanner and finally on the front, an 8 MP selfie camera completes the exterior of the device.
This is the first HMD Global made device to support fast display rate up to 90Hz. So how does it feel like? The jump from 60Hz to 90Hz is something that you will definitely notice and enjoy. This isn’t a gimmick but an actual perceivable upgrade. Kudos to HMD Global! Apart from this, the display is very similar to the Nokia 5.3 and Nokia 5.4 but the blacks are ever so slightly deeper and the tone warmer. Colors are good and you wont notice the pixels unless you are hunting for them. Unfortunately, unlike the Nokia 5.3 that has Gorilla Glass 3 protection, there is no mention on any such protection on the G21. The bottom firing speaker is good, loud and crisp and is enough to fill up a small room . No distortion or break at high volumes either. The buttons are sturdy and the finger print scanner works well . No notification light here unlike the 5.3. Amazingly, the device support dual band WiFi unlike Nokia 5.4.
Essentially, the Nokia G21 is what you would get combining the best of Nokia 5.3 and Nokia 5.4, both the devices that it is intended to replace. It has similar dimensions to the Nokia 5.3 which is a tad taller than Nokia 5.4 and the textured back is borrowed from Nokia 5.4 while the matte finish is borrowed from 5.3. The display is sharper than Nokia 5.3 and is quite similar to the ones on Nokia 5.4. The dual band WiFi which is present here is also present on the Nokia 5.3 but absent on the Nokia 5.4.
Essentially the Android One experience is about the same in all these devices so there aren’t much to compare with. But in terms of raw processing power the device is neck to neck with the Nokia 5.3 which comes with SD 665 and ahead of Nokia 5.4 that comes with SD 662.
In the camera department, Nokia G21 comes with a 50MP primary camera flanked by a 2MP macro and 2MP depth camera , ditting the below average ultrawide camera which is usually bundled with in this price category. The Nokia G21 lacks cinema mode but it wont be missed by many. Its true that its better to have the options to use it than not to have it at all but cinema mode requires more tweaking that buyers in this category usually just pass. Both 5.4 and G21 video recording max out at 1080p but the 5.3 offers 2160p recording if you need one. But all 3 devices lack any form of stability. Its good that HMD Global has equipped the Nokia G21 with OZO audio recoding. There is no scene detection so I am not quite sure what is meant by AI camera unless it baked right into the software itself. This might be a two edge sword as from my experience with Nokia 8.1, the scene detection gives a more artificial looking image with cooler temperature and vibrant colors and the Nightscape which was working temporarily somehow reverted back to its non functional state after the recent update.
There are many feelings that goes in to this review. To know that we wont be coming across a flagship for some time now, and to realize that the designs are no longer unique to Nokia. But these decisions are made for HMD Global to survive and to continue making Nokia branded device until they are in a position to offer more, hopefully. For now, all is well in HMD Globals’s ledger but not in the hearts of die hard Nokia fans.
The Nokia G21 is certainly a better packaged device compared to its predecessor. It hits the right note in offering a meaningful upgrade in the display segment and a good battery life. In the days to come, I will be exploring more on the camera performance as that is my area of interest. If you have any questions do hit me up in twitter @theoriginal086(https://twitter.com/theoriginal086) and do share your thoughts on this new approach by HMD Global.
This is my initial unboxing and brief comparison of the Nokia G21 to Nokia 5.3 and 5.4 and do look out for the benchmark scores!