Nokia's budget-conscious G21 is facing some stiff competition - from classic value-focused brands like Realme and Xiaomi's Redmi, but also from Samsung and Motorola (if you're into brands with heritage).
The Redmi 10 easily comes to mind as an alternative to the Nokia. It offers a few advantages, like the loud stereo speakers and the infrared emitter, plus you can use it as a power bank thanks to its reverse charging capability. It also features an ultrawide camera, unlike the Nokia. The G21 does take better selfies. Then there's the matter of preference between MIUI on the Redmi vs Android One on the Nokia, and the difficult to quantify appeal of the Nokia brand itself.
That's pretty much all the G21 has going for it against the Realme 8 - that, and the FM radio. A thoroughly superior package, the Realme comes with a brighter display that's AMOLED, and even if its refresh rate is just 60Hz, we'd still pick the Realme for the screen alone. But the 8 also packs a way more powerful chipset, and it charges two to three times faster than the Nokia, while lasting about as long. Add to that the extra ultrawide camera and the superior main one (with a splash of 4K recording), and the €15-20 higher price seems well justified.
A similar price gap divides the G21 from the Galaxy A22 (non-5G), but this dilemma isn't as straightforward. Another AMOLED, its display can refresh at 90Hz, so that's in its favor. As is the chipset, which may not be a powerhouse, but does offer a noticeable improvement over the G21's in the graphics department. The ultrawide camera scores it some points, but the main one isn't doing it any favors, even against the Nokia. Another point for consideration is the OneUI vs. Android One.
It's one less thing to worry about when choosing between the Nokia G21 and the Moto G50 - the G50 may not be Android One, but it sure looks like... one, with some light custom touches on top. A year-old, the G50 is still widely available for around G21 money, while newer-gen Moto models tend to be pricier, so we're sticking with the G50. Similarly to the Nokia, the Moto lacks an ultrawide camera, but its main one and its macro are significantly better than the ones on the G21. Its display is even dimmer than the Nokia's, which is somewhat of an issue, but battery life and charging speed are essentially a toss-up between the two.
The Nokia G21 is no failure - it does quite a few things right. Battery life is one of its particularly strong suits, while Android One means a straightforward UI and speedy updates. Selfies are pretty good, and there's a full set of small niceties like a card slot and FM radio. We're also liking the conservative looks.
We're not exactly fans of the primary camera, and the missing ultrawide is rubbing us the wrong way too. The basic video recording capabilities aren't helping either. The chipset is ill-suited to gaming, and other small missteps like the low-ish max brightness, slow charging and easy-to-scratch camera bump add up in the end.
Trying to beat the budget brands at their own game hasn't quite worked out for the Nokia G21, we reckon. It's not an 'avoid at all costs' type of verdict we have for it, but perhaps first look at the other, more complete packages available, even if they don't have the legendary Finnish logo on their backs.
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