Can Nokia XR 20 compete with other rugged smartphones?

Nokia XR20, which is a version of Nokia X20 but on steroids, might be criticized by some due to its high price or the use of a low-end Snapdragon 480 chipset. But, with the announcement of this phone, Nokia Mobile entered the niche of rugged smartphones which is not yet explored by many known brands. That particular market is pretty much dominated by some known brands like CAT or lesser-known brands like Dogee, Oukitel of Blackview. The main rule of that market is if the brand is known and the specs are somewhat decent, the price is high.

For example, the best rugged phone out there is CAT S62 Pro which was announced over a year ago, in June 2020. That phone is bringing the same MIL-STD-810H build quality standard and has an IP68 rating for dust and waterproofness. Its 5.7-inch IPS LCD is protected by Gorilla Glass 6, and inside you can find Snapdragon 660, 4000 mAh battery, 12 MP main camera, and 8 MP selfie cam, and everything is operated by Android 10.

The price of this device was set around 504€ when it was announced, and now you can get it for maybe 10 € less. So, some things that XR20 is bringing are missing, but the CAT phone is known for its FLIR thermal camera (Lepton 3.5 module), but I don’t really know if it is usable enough to justify the price.

Then there is the Ulefone Armor 11 5G, which is the sequel to the first 5G capable rugged phone that Ulefone launched in 2020. This new version has some interesting specs similar to Nokia XR20. Armor 11 5G was announced in February 2021 with IP68 dust and waterproof certificate, the same MIL-STD-810H build quality standard, latest Dimensity 800 5G processor from MediaTek built in 7nm process, 48 MP main camera, 13 MP wide and 20 MP night vision camera, and 5200 mAh battery which can be charged wirelessly. This smartphone could be the biggest competition to Nokia XR20, but at the price of 530 €, Nokia XR20 has a better chance in the market.

Another interesting phone could be the Doogee S96 Pro which comes as an 8/128 GB version with standard IP68 / IP69K, MIL-STD-810G protection rating, 6.2-inch screen, 48 MP main camera, 20 MP night camera, and 16 MP selfie camera, MediaTek Helio G90 processor paired with 8GB of RAM and 6350 mAh battery that can be supercharged up to 24W and also charged through 10W wireless charging. This phone doesn’t have WiFi6 standard nor BT 5.2, but it does have a night camera, charger in the box, and low price. With shipping and VAT, it will cost you around 300 €, but you are probably stuck with Android 10 and monthly security patches will be frequent as rain on Mars.

From what I’m seeing, after comparing all of the above with the Nokia XR 20, Nokia Mobile might have an interesting, rugged device just by looking at the specs like Gorilla Victus, stereo speakers, ZEISS camera hardware and software, OZO audio recording, barometer, and wireless charging.  The price is somewhat competitive if it stays under 500 €, but some specific hardware components that differentiate classic rugged phones from the tough smartphones are missing. An addition of a night vision camera or FLIR one could maybe make XR20 a truly rugged phone for workers and adventurers, but I’m not saying that in this final version XR20 isn’t an interesting device for people that use it while doing some heavy-duty jobs or while hiking over the mountain tops.


Check the basic specs of Nokia XR20

  • Name: Nokia XR 20
  • Dimensions: 171.64 x 81.5 x 10.64mm
  • Mass: 248g
  • Display: 6.67” FHD+ punch-hole display, 20:9, 1080 x 2400, 550 nits, Corning® Gorilla® Glass Victus
  • Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon 480 5G
  • Memory: 4/64GB, 6/128GB5, MicroSD up to 512GB
  • Camera: 48 MP AF Main, GM1st, f/1.79, 1/2.25, 0.8μm + 13 MP FF Ultrawide 3L6, f2.4, 1/3”, 1.12 μm, 123°FoV
  • Selfie: Front: 8MP FF, f2.0, 1/4″, 1.12μm
  • Sensor: Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer (G-sensor), Gyroscope, 3-axis E-compass, Barometer, NFC
  • Connectivity: Type-C USB (USB 3.0 5Gbps), 3.5mm audio, BT 5.1, 802.11 b/g/n/ac/ax-ready | Wi-Fi dual-band (2.4GHz+5.0GHz), 2×2 MiMo, GPS/A-GPS, Galileo, GLONASS/A-GLONASS, Beidou, QZSS, NavIC
  • Network: GSM, LTA, 5G (SA+NSA)
  • Options: MIL-STD 810H, IP68, Google Assistant, Biometric face unlock, Side fingerprint sensor, Stereo speakers (96dB), aptX Adaptive, aptX Voice, OZO capture and playback,
  • Battery: 4630mAh; 15W Qi wireless, 18W fast charging
  • Color: Ultra Blue, Granit
  • OS: Android 11, 3 years updates, Android Enterprise Recommended
  • Price: global price approximately 499€

To answer the question from the headline, I would say it can compete well, but the most important thing to do now is making device available immediately after the announcement at many markets as possible, and get it hyped up with reviews and good promotion.