Nokia T20 is HMD Global’s first tablet, but it is not the first Nokia tablet. If you remember, there was a Nokia N1, which arrived when Microsoft had just taken the reins of the brand. The tablet market is not as dynamic as the smartphones, but the pandemic surely shook it up, at least in India. As a result, brands such as Realme and Motorola recently launched their tablets, and now it is HMD Global that wants to bank on the newly-found demand.
In a little less than six months, we have seen some interesting tablet options arriving, and they all have at least one thing that makes them special in their way. For HMD Global, that thing is the regular software updates that the Nokia T20 comes with. And that may seem somewhat underwhelming to you if you necessarily compare it with specifications, but I think that is one of the best features. The Nokia T20 will get at least two more Android versions and security updates for three years.
For a starting price of Rs 15,499, the Nokia T20 comes as a compelling option, but is the right tablet for you and should you buy it?
Nokia T20 review: Cosy design
Just like phones, tablets are also personal devices. That means people like to keep them to themselves most of the time. As such, design plays an important role. The Nokia T20 has a very favourable design. I never found it difficult to hold the tablet, thanks to curved edges, its thickness of 7.8mm and weight of 465 grams. But yes, holding the tablet over extended times begins to cause some inconvenience. Nokia sells a cover-stand separately, and that I think will come in handy for situations when you want to watch a show while resting in bed.
While the ergonomics are good, the build quality is great. The Nokia T20 uses a metallic body, so it should be able to withstand minor accidental drops. The tablet feels solid, and that gives a sense of security. Buttons are minimal on the tablet: the power button and the volume rocker lie on different edges but close to each other. That at least facilitates taking screenshots, if not anything else. There is a 3.5mm headphone jack on the opposite right, and it lies at the junction of two edges, which may seem like an awkward place to put the port, but it is not. I did not have a problem having my earphones connected to the tablet in the corner.
HMD sells the Nokia T20 in two variants: LTE and Wi-Fi. If you buy the former, you will see a slot for a Nano-sized SIM in the tray alongside the one for the SD card. And finally, the Nokia T20 has two speakers – one on each side, and they are amply loud. Watching Christmas movies and listening to my favourite The Weeknd tracks was an enjoyable experience. On the back, you have the camera bump and the Nokia branding. Everything is very minimalist here, and I like it.
Nokia T20 review: Colourful display
Nokia’s new tablet has a 10.4-inch display, which is a size almost suitable for watching movies, reading ebooks, and checking emails, spreadsheets, and presentations. In fact, this could be the ideal size because it is neither too big nor too small. Plus, the thick bezels around the screen make holding the tablet a lot easier by giving space for thumbs to rest.
HMD did an excellent job with the design, and I can vouch for that. Take the screen’s design, for example. The screen’s four corners are round, just like the outer edge, and that gives a sense of harmony. And, no, that does not compromise the viewing experience.
This is a 2K display – something HMD touts as the unique selling point of the tablet. Two recently launched tablets, the Realme Pad and the Lenovo Tab K11, too, come with 2K displays, so it is almost an industry standard now. And everything looks fantastic on display. The colours are colder by default, and I changed them to warm from settings, which changed the clarity and sharpness of the content on the screen. That is especially visible when watching Netflix and YouTube videos.
People use tablets mostly for watching movies, cricket matches, and videos, and that is why the display needs to be on point with regards to everything that the brand can offer at a particular price. What I mean is that tablet brands need to ensure their tablet’s display ticks most, if not all, boxes. Unfortunately, one of those boxes is HD streaming on Netflix, and Nokia T20 does not tick that. Sure, that is a gripe, but Nokia can fix it through a software update. Otherwise, videos on YouTube, Disney+ Hotstar, and Amazon Prime Video look good and make for a pleasurable experience.
The display is also not too big to ignore for gaming. That means if you want to dabble in gaming, Nokia T20 can offer you that experience. But you will have to be reasonable about your gaming needs. I mean, you cannot have a high-end experience, but rest assured, games such as Battlegrounds Mobile India run just fine on the tablet. I played BGMI and PUBG: New State, and I liked how both of my thumbs could reach the on-screen joystick and controls in the game all very well. So gamers will have very few complaints, if they do, with the Nokia T20.
Nokia T20 review: Modest performer
Inside the Nokia T20 is a Unisoc T610 processor. You will mostly find this processor inside entry-level phones, but for tablets, this can be passed as the one for lower mid-range. That means that while you still can not expect the Nokia T20 to be the fastest tablet around that price, it will not disappoint you in daily tasks.
I did not have issues checking my emails in the Gmail app, making voice searches using Google Assistant, and using Instagram. Basically, multitasking on the tablet is good. The 4GB of RAM in my Nokia T20 unit was enough to allow many apps run in the background. And it also lets games such as BGMI run well. But settings default to HD graphics, and a level higher than this results in frame drops and lags, so make sure you play games on low or medium settings.
The Nokia T20 runs Android 11 software, and it is free of bloatware, which is a good thing for purists. But I feel some customisations, such as giving a sidebar, is an important aspect of tablet software. Frankly, I have no issues with custom skins except for the nasty bloatware in them. And since the utility of a device changes with its design, the software needs to respect those needs. So, a feature like a sidebar proves to be convenient for tablets, if not smartphones.
Talking about features, the Nokia T20 is not entirely devoid of them. The tablet has Entertainment Space inbuilt, and you can access it by swiping right from the home screen. This is a place that combines all your streaming services, ebook-reading apps, games, music, and podcasts. The items you see on this screen will need the respective apps downloaded to the tablet. For example, you will need the Netflix app to watch Money Heist from Entertainment Space. There is also the Kids Space that parents can set up with parental controls and give the Nokia T20 to their kids.
Nokia’s T20 has an 8-megapixel camera on the back, and it clicks mostly fuzzy photos. These photos are decent, but I do not expect them to have a lot of details or colour richness. For video calls and selfies, you have a 5-megapixel camera located in one of the bezels. The camera is on the longer bezel, and this may change the angle of photos when you use the table vertically. The camera supports face unlocking, which is mostly on point in ample light, but you will have to check how you hold the tablet when pointing it towards your face.
Nokia T20 review: Marathon runner
The Nokia T20 is a marathon runner. What I mean is that it goes on and on before you will have to charge it again. A fully charged tablet can last three-four days easily if your activities are few and less power-hungry. The 8200mAh battery is going to be enough for people who need a big-screen device for trips. But here is the unfortunate part: the Nokia T20 uses 10W charging, which is one of the slowest standards. Pair it with a humongous battery of 8200mAh, and what you get is a 4-hour wait. That is painful, but you can buy a 15W charger separately and use it to cut short the time.
Nokia T20 review: Should you buy it?
The Nokia T20 is HMD Global’s first attempt at a tablet, but it has a big aim. Not only does the Nokia T20 want to bank on demand for tablets, but it also looks to take on rivals like the Realme Pad. While Realme’s first tablet, the Realme Pad, is a perfect device for entertainment, the Nokia T20 can additionally be decent for gaming. And on top of that, the promise of two successive Android upgrades is a deal no one would ideally turn down, especially if it is tablets we are talking about. Yes, the slow-charging battery may be a problem for a few.
If you are sold on software updates, a big display with good brightness, clear sound, and a nice entertainment package, the Nokia T20 is an excellent tablet for Rs 15,499. But if you need better performance and even higher speed, the Realme Pad is your tablet.
Nokia T20 review 7/10
- Good design
- Bright display
- Clear sound
- Long-lasting battery
- Average cameras
- Slow charging