Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Nokia T20

It seems that half the tech companies in the world are scrambling to put out late-2021 Android tablets, with Huawei, Xiaomi and Realme all leaping to release budget slates, and the newest company to do so is HMD Global, owners of the Nokia brand.

The Nokia T20 is an affordable Android device - that is HMD’s modus operandi after all - with a price that seriously undercuts most other slates on the market. Only Amazon’s Fire devices are cheaper, and since they’re locked to Fire OS, they’re not as versatile for many people.

This is seemingly a tablet aimed at family use - it comes with a Kids Space app, so you can sit the thing in front of your child and let them play games or watch appropriate content, as well as a Google’s Entertainment space, so you can easily access a catalog of TV shows, movies and games with one simple swipe from the main screen.

Both of these modes come on most new stock Android tablets, but with a durable build and low price, the Nokia T20 is arguably one of the better tablets if you think these apps will be the main function of your slate.

It’s not perfect for working - the tablet isn’t too powerful, and HMD Global isn’t offering a stylus or keyboard folio accessory, so don’t buy this if you’re looking for a university or business tool. 

We haven’t spent enough time with the Nokia T20 to give it the full review treatment, but we’ve tested it enough to provide our initial review of the slate.

Nokia T20 release date and price

Nokia T20

(Image credit: Future)

The Nokia T20 was made available to buy as soon as it was announced on October 6 in the UK. According to HMD Global, a US release is possible, but doesn’t have a set time just yet.

The tablet is coming in two configurations - one has 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, the other has 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. Only the latter is going on sale in the UK, where it’ll cost £179 (roughly $240, AU$330) for a Wi-Fi-only slate, or £199 (about $270, AU$370) for a 4G model.

At that price, it’s in close competition with the Amazon Fire HD 10 (2021) which costs roughly the same, though it has lots more modifiers like storage size or whether adverts are on-board, which affects how much it costs.

Design and display

The Nokia T20 boasts a 10.4-inch screen with a 2K resolution, 400 nits max brightness and blue light certification to protect your eyes. That size is average for many contemporary tablets, with the new iPad (2021), Realme Pad, Huawei MatePad 11 and Xiaomi Pad 5 all boasting screen sizes with less than an inch difference.

Nokia T20

(Image credit: Future)

We found that many everyday tasks for the tablet, like streaming or looking at social media, benefited from the high resolution. However, the max brightness is pretty low, so the screen looks pretty dim in certain circumstances.

If you’ve seen one tablet, you’ve seen most of them, as the devices don’t tend to differ much in terms of design. That’s the case with the Nokia T20 - on the back it’s a big piece of blue plastic broken up by the camera bump, and the display takes up a large portion of the front, surrounded by a mid-sized bezel.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and the plastic back feels pretty durable. We can imagine a child dropping this a fair few times without it getting too beaten up, but we wouldn't outright recommend testing that for yourself.

One intriguing addition here is a 3.5mm headphone jack, as not all modern tablets come with one of these. This will be useful for people who like wired audio, as it means you don’t need an adaptor (or it means you can listen and charge at the same time).

Cameras and battery life

On the back of the Nokia T20 you’ll find an 8MP snapper, while on the front there’s a 5MP camera. Neither of these will take fantastic-looking pictures - this is a cheap tablet, and you’re probably not buying it as a photography device - but it’ll be fit for purpose for video calling and similar tasks.

Nokia T20

(Image credit: Future)

Pictures looked a little bit desaturated, so if you do find yourself needing to take pictures with the slate, we’d recommend downloading an editing app so you can spruce them up a bit.

The Nokia T20 has a 8,200mAh battery, which is a fairly average size for a slate like this. HMD Global told us it estimates the slate will last for 15 hours of normal use, or 10 hours video watching. We’ll make sure to test these estimates for our full review.

You can only charge the slate up at a relatively slow 15W, or 10W if you use the even-slower in-box cable. At that speed, the tablet will likely take several hours to power up to full.

Specs and performance

The ‘brains’ of the operation in the Nokia T20 - that is to say, its chipset - is the Unisoc T610, which is a low-end processor. In a quick benchmark test it returned a low score, and the tablet wasn’t especially snappy to navigate.

That’s okay for an entertainment device. You don’t need top internals for streaming video or playing low-end games, so unless you’re planning on playing top-end titles or editing videos, for example, you won’t mind that chipset. 

The processor is paired with either 3GB or 4GB of RAM, and also 4G connection if you opt for that model. We tested the 3GB model, which isn't coming to the UK, and it's likely the 4GB version is smoother for navigation.

Nokia T20

(Image credit: Future)

The software here is stock Android - that’s a fine operating system on phones, but it doesn’t take to the large form factor of a tablet quite like iOS does. Navigation controls and features like the notifications and quick-settings menu don’t feel as intuitive to use as the equivalents on an iPad.

Some tablet makers have remedied this issue by adapting the Android software slightly, with Xiaomi’s MIUI for Pad being a top example. HMD Global doesn’t do this however, making the T20 feel more like a giant phone than a capable tablet.

There are some software modes that people might appreciate, though. First is Kids Space - when you activate this, the tablet becomes a child-oriented device. YouTube only shows videos for kids, and there are loads of education or child-friendly apps and games on the home screen. This means you can just give the device to a young one for entertainment - you can also monitor what they’re doing and track their screen time.

There's also Entertainment Space - you can simply swipe right from the home screen to bring this up. From this you can easily access lots of movies, TV shows, books, games and the like, and it’s Google’s way of making Android tablets more suitable as entertainment devices. Neither of these Google-built modes are exclusive to the Nokia T20, but it's one of the cheapest slates offering them.

So the Nokia T20 is good as a cheap kid-friendly or entertainment device - it’s not as good for work or creativity though, as HMD Global isn’t offering a stylus or keyboard accessory with or alongside the device, though third-party solutions could certainly pop up. 

Nokia T20

(Image credit: Future)

Early verdict

The Nokia T20 seems like a handy device a family could have lying around the house - useful for quick searches or entertainment, with a battery that could last a fair amount of time.

It’s not exactly the most eye-catching product, but it doesn’t need to be - it’s designed for users who don’t need top-end specs or the most beautiful screen.

When we fully review the Nokia T20, we can see the software being the make-or-break feature - while stock Android is a bit iffy on tablets, the Kids and Entertainment Spaces could prove super useful.


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