Nokia Mobile kicked off 2022 with the launch of 2 new global G series devices, the G11, and the G21. Not exactly the most exciting segment in the world, but both devices are crucial for the brand as their entry-level, durable, and reliability-focused handsets, in a very competitive budget segment where compromises are the name of the game. So what do the new devices have to offer? You can find out in the video below:
While I’m not personally fond of the unsymmetrical look, the phones do get a couple of things right and look more interesting in person than in renders.
They are thinner than last year at 8.5mm, and slightly lighter at 190 grams, making them easier to hold and use. They still feel nice in the hand thanks to a very solid polycarbonate frame and dense structure. Even small accidents will definitely not bend these phones. The flat edges also make the phone feel more secure in the hand when holding in landscape mode.
The matte textured polycarbonate back makes a welcome return. It gives both the G11 and G21 more grip and do an excellent job in repelling fingerprints.
And finally, the color choices they come in are quite elegant. Both the nordic blue and charcoal which definitely has a dark brown hue to it make the devices appear more expensive than they actually are, a remark I received from multiple people that saw them on me.
The camera bump also has some nice 3D visual elements. Unfortunately, it’s also prone to scratches and very hard to keep clean. The AI camera text that is thankfully only found on the G21 also looks tacky and unnecessary. There is also still a sizable bottom front bezel and a V-notch which doesn’t exactly scream cutting edge.
Overall, the phones still give off that reassuring durable feel that a Nokia should definitely have, though do so with very little uniqueness.
Now in terms of hardware features, on the front, you get a 6.5” IPS LCD display with an HD+ resolution, and finally a 90Hz adaptive refresh rate. It is very similar to last year’s model in terms of colors and contrast, and despite the similarly advertised 400 nits of brightness, in my studio, the display does look brighter when manually adjusted. On the right, you have the volume rocker keys and the power button which also doubles as a fingerprint scanner. While not the quickest, it does work quite reliably, although you still can’t disable it when the screen is locked. All buttons are nice and clicky. On the left, there is the dual SIM tray and SD card slot. So you don’t have to compromise on extra storage if you want to have 2 SIM cards which is nice. The Google Assistant button also sadly makes a return here but can luckily be disabled, but not reprogrammed without a 3rd party software. The top houses the useful 3.5 mm headphone jack and a mic hole.
On the bottom, there is a USB C port for charging, which supports up to 18 watts of charging speed, and USB on the go, and another mic hole. There is also the same single bottom-firing speaker from last year. It does a decent job with sound clarity even at max volume but isn’t super loud. For the occasional indoor youtube video, it is okay.
In terms of memory, the G11 starts at 3 gigs of RAM 32 gigs of storage and goes up to a 4/64 configuration, while the G21 starts at 4/64 and goes up to 6/128 gigs set up.
PERFORMANCE & SOFTWARE EXPERIENCE
Both the G11 and G21 come powered by the octa-core UNISOC T606 CPU clocked at 1.6Ghz, and MALI G57 GPU. While on paper, this might not mean much, in practical terms this is in my opinion the most significant improvement over last year’s models, especially on the base G11. (Benchmarks) The performance on both devices is a huge step up, making them significantly easier to live with on a daily basis. Apps open fairly quickly, scrolling is relatively smooth also aided by the 90Hz screen, and the overall experience of using them is much more pleasant. (using phone) What also helps is that both come with the lightweight and mostly bloat-free Android 11 software out of the box. There are 5 3rd party apps that come preinstalled, and all of them can be uninstalled if not needed. Other than that, the software completely relies on Google services for most things. The most notable HMD additions are a new setting to change between adaptive refresh rate and 60hz and a battery super saver mode.
It’s a bit unfortunate though that both devices don’t ship with Android 12 out of the box, but it is coming soon according to HMD. You are promised 2 years of OS updates, so up to Android 13, and 3 years of security updates, a good advantage these budget-friendly devices offer over most of their competitors.
As for the cameras, this is where the G21 and G11 differ somewhat. They both have an 8mp selfie
shooter, and visually 3 rear cameras on the back. But the main sensor on the G21 is a 50Mp shooter, versus 13 on the G11. And from my brief testing, it definitely captures slightly better, more colorful images. The other cameras are the 2mp depth sensor which supposedly helps with capturing portrait images and the 2mp macro camera. The less spoken about this one the better, but it’s just not very useful.
The camera interface is pretty straightforward, you get portrait mode, night mode, time-lapse, slow motion, panorama, and macro modes. The highest resolution for video is 1080p at 30 frames per second, and both phones come with OZO audio which uses 2 microphones to capture sound with spatial precision.
Gaming performance is also improved but these are definitely not gaming devices. You can enjoy a casual COD mobile game on low to medium graphics now and then.. I also tested Dead cells, and asphalt 9, and they ran okay. Hardcore gamers should definitely look elsewhere though.
A major selling point for the G11 and G21 is the battery life. They both come with a big 5,050 mAh capacity and promise up to 3 days of usage on a single charge. Now this is definitely optimistic, but further testing is required. Perhaps the new Super battery saver mode will help a bit, but I do expect 2 days of usage comfortably. The battery charges at up to 18 watts, but the phones ship with a 10 watts charger out of the box.
Both devices this year support WiFi AC standards, so you can utilize the faster WiFi. The G21 also comes with NFC in some markets for mobile payments. But both devices lack a magnetometer, so compass apps won’t work. You can still use apps like google maps, but walking navigation won’t be as accurate.
While I can’t really say I’m a big fan of the new design direction, both the G11 and G21 this year are a lot easier to recommend compared to last year’s models. The key difference is in the big bump in performance, where last year’s models sacrificed a bit too much for the battery life, this year’s phones find a much better balance. The rest of the spec bump isn’t that significant, but I look forward to using each as a daily driver to give you the full picture. The G11 seems to tick all the right boxes as an excellent, work-focused, no-nonsense smartphone, while the G21 is for those wanting a bit more in terms of imaging, storage, and multitasking, at least on paper.
For more great Nokia videos visit Mr Nokia YT channel.