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Nokia T20 review: A low-cost tablet with a lot to prove

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
180
inc VAT (£200 for LTE)

Despite its flaws, the Nokia T20 is a competent Amazon tablet alternative

Pros 
Great price
Premium design
Generous specifications
Cons 
2K screen under-utilised
Unimpressive cameras
So-so battery life
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Nokia T20 drops in price to just £140

It might not be the cheapest we've seen it (Prime Day takes the crown) but the Nokia T20 is still sitting at a great price. With an average price of £158, Nokia's low-cost tablet is now even better value at a reduced cost of £140.
Amazon
Was £158
Now £1140

Low-cost tablets are a bit of a rarity these days. If Apple’s big-screened devices are too much for your bank balance, the only affordable alternative is one of Amazon’s frequently discounted Fire tablets. Now, however, you can potentially add the Nokia T20 to that shortlist.

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After a long hiatus, Nokia has returned to the tablet scene, and this time it’s hoping to provide a little bit of variety at the cheaper end of the tablet-buying spectrum. The T20 is an affordable Android tablet with plenty to prove, but can it unsettle Bezos’ mighty budget Fire?

Nokia T20 review: What you need to know

It’s been eight years since Nokia’s last tablet, the Windows RT-powered Nokia 2520, hit shop shelves, and quite a lot has changed since then. The brand itself fell silent for a few years, until it was picked up by a new parent company, HMD Global, which since 2016 has predominantly focused its attention on launching affordable Android smartphones at a feverish pace.

During this time, Amazon has established itself as the de facto budget tablet brand, and while its Fire tablets are far from the last word in luxury or horsepower, they do the job well for the price. Not that there’s much in the way of competition.

Until the Nokia T20, that is, which for the price is remarkably well specified. This 10.4in tablet comes with a 2K (2,000 x 1,200) screen, runs Android 11 and is powered by an octa-core 1.8GHz Unisoc T610 chipset, which works in tandem with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (expandable up to 512GB via microSD).

That’s not all: the Nokia T20 has a large 8,200mAh battery with a quoted 15-hour battery life, as well as a 5MP (f/2.4) selfie camera on the front and an 8MP camera at the rear. And, unlike the Fire HD 10, there’s also an option for 4G connectivity if you’re willing to pay a little bit more on top of the base price.

Nokia T20 review: Price and competition

Speaking of which, the Wi-Fi only Nokia T20 starts at just £180, while the 4G-enabled model costs an extra £20 (£200). This puts the Nokia T20 directly in line with the Fire HD 10 Plus, Amazon’s beefed-up budget tablet with extra RAM (4GB) and added wireless charging capabilities. The Fire HD 10 Plus costs £180 (or £190 without lockscreen adverts).

Of course, there are a couple of notable differences between the two tablets. Not only does the Nokia T20 come with double the base storage (64GB), but it also launches with a stock version of Android 11, while Amazon’s budget tablet has to make do with Android 9, with the restrictive Fire OS 7 overlay placed on top – more on that later.

On the topic of Android, Samsung is the only other budget tablet contender worth considering. While we’re yet to review one, the Galaxy Tab A7 Lite launched in May this year and starts at £149 for the Wi-Fi model, or £179 for the LTE variant. The screen is much smaller, mind you, at 8.7in, and is lower in resolution as well (2,340 x 800). There is a non-Lite 10.4in model on the shelves, but it costs quite a bit more (£219) and it’s well over a year old at the time of writing.

As for Apple, the cheapest iOS tablet you can currently buy (outside of refurb devices) is the ninth-generation iPad, which starts at £319. Costing £119 more than the Nokia T20, the entry-level iPad for 2021 is excellent value, but its flagship-class specifications put it in an entirely different league.

Nokia T20 review: Design and key features

Put the Nokia T20 and Fire HD 10 Plus next to each other, and there’s a stark difference in apparent build quality between the two. Whereas the Fire’s soft plastic exterior feels quite cheap to the touch, the T20’s sturdy aluminium rear looks a heck of a lot nicer than you might expect for the money.

Despite its slightly larger screen, the Nokia T20 is a touch smaller than the Fire – this is due in no small part to its slimmer screen bezels (11mm compared to the Fire’s 16mm). It’s remarkably light, too, tipping the scales at just 465g.

The Nokia T20 is only available in one colour in the UK, a blue-tinted “Deep Ocean”. It’s also listed as being splash-resistant on the Nokia website, although there’s no mention of any official IP certification, so you’ll want to keep it away from dust and water.

A 5MP (f/2.4) selfie camera is situated within the bezel on one of the tablet’s long edges, with an 8MP camera neatly squeezed into the corner on the tablet’s rear. Don’t expect much from either, however: images lack detail and look especially murky in less than ideal lighting conditions. Video is limited to 30fps at 1080p resolution.

Finally, the tablet charges via USB-C, supporting maximum wired charging speeds of up to 15W.

Nokia T20 review: Display and audio

Like the Fire HD 10 Plus before it, the Nokia T20’s 10.4in IPS display has a 2K (2,000 x 1,200) resolution, with a pixel density of 224ppi and a bog-standard 60Hz refresh rate.

In our tests, image quality was average at best. Colour accuracy isn’t the greatest, with a measured average Delta E of 4.18, an sRGB gamut coverage of 74% and a total volume of 83%. As a result, colours are washed out and the T20’s screen is quite uninspiring to look at.

But that’s not the worst thing. Due to an unnecessarily restrictive L3 Widevine DRM certification, the Nokia T20’s video playback is limited to 480p resolution. That means you won’t be watching HD content at the tablet’s native 2K resolution via Netflix and Prime Video, which is a massive shame. By contrast, the Fire HD 10 Plus benefits from the highest-level L1 Widevine certification, which means it can play HD video without any playback restrictions.

The stereo speakers on either side of the tablet are a simple affair, and they aren’t anything special in the audio stakes, either. They’re certainly loud – filling a large room with ease – but sound is flat and lacks detail. The Dolby Atmos-certified speaker arrangement on the Fire HD 10 Plus is the clear winner here.

Nokia T20 review: Performance, software and battery life

The Nokia T20 uses an octa-core 1.8GHz Unisoc T610 chipset for processing duties, and this is paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC flash storage, which can also be expanded by up to a further 512GB if you insert a microSD card.

Performance-wise, the Nokia T20 is unremarkable. Due to the restrictive nature of Fire OS, I’m unable to directly compare Geekbench performance between the T20 and Fire HD 10 Plus, but the Geekbench 5 graph below offers an indication of how it compares against the (much pricier and faster) ninth-gen iPad.

Sure, the performance figures look quite dire in comparison, but the Nokia T20 is pretty much as nippy as you’d expect for a sub-£200 tablet. It boots from cold quite quickly, UI navigation feels fluid and responsive, and switching between applications never once felt sluggish.

The now rather elderly Mali G52 graphics chip doesn’t throw up anything in the way of surprises. Gaming performance is at the low end of the overall results, with an average onscreen frame rate of just 19fps in the GFXBench 3 Manhattan test, but on the whole you should be able to run most Android games without it kicking up much of fuss – just don’t expect high frame rates at the highest possible graphics settings.

Battery life is reasonable, too. The T20 lasted for 12hrs 24mins in our battery drain test – which plays a looped video with data connections switched off and the screen set to a brightness of 170cd/m². That’s respectable, but it’s still around two-and-a-half hours short of the Fire HD 10 Plus.

Finally, when it comes to software, the Nokia T20 hits a high point: it uses a stock version of Android 11 without any unnecessary bloatware pre-installed. By comparison, the Fire HD 10 Plus runs on Android 9 with Amazon’s own Fire OS 7 overlay, which restricts app downloads via Amazon’s open app store. This isn’t anywhere near as comprehensive as the Google Play Store and generally offers older versions of applications.

Nokia T20 review: Verdict

Despite a few stumbles along the way, the Nokia T20 is a competent low-cost Android tablet that does a commendable job at keeping pace with Amazon’s Fire equivalent. With a superior OS, premium design and dependable performance, there’s a lot to like for the money – and especially so if you can pick it up at a discount.

The T20 isn’t without its problems, however. The restricted sub-HD streaming quality is by far the tablet’s worst offence, and without this, the Nokia T20 would have easily earned a recommendation. Pair this niggle with the mediocre screen and, unless the price happens to be right, the buying dial tips firmly in Amazon’s favour.

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