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If you’re someone who uses your phone whilst working in construction or for on-the-bike navigation, but you’re worried about how well it will hold up to rough use, you might want to check out this new release from Nokia. Nokia, long known for its durable smartphones, says its new XR20 is the toughest phone they’ve built yet. Here is our review of the new rugged Nokia XR20 from HMD Global.

XR20 Design & Build Quality

As far as the physical construction, Nokia has a 6.67-inch Gorilla Glass Victus screen, aluminum frame, and a plastic back. Early reviews say the chassis won’t bend, which should help the phone avoid cracking its screen.. It’s MIL-STD-810H compliant and has an IP68 rating for resisting dust and water. The phone’s body is raised around the front and rear cameras to protect the lenses. It’s supposed to be four times as resistant to scratches as other Nokia phones, and able to handle a drop of almost five feet.

Nokia XR20 | TheEffectDotNet

Nokia XR20 | TheEffect.Net

Nokia includes a headphone jack along with the dedicated Google Assistant button and also a special red ’emergency’ button at the top of the device which can be programmed to call emergency services if you like or just to simply turn on the flash light.

Nokia XR20's 'Emergency' button | TheEffectDotNet

Nokia XR20’s ‘Emergency’ button | TheEffect.Net

It comes with a choice of 4 GB RAM/64 GB memory or a healthier 6 GB RAM/128 GB of storage. Users should be able to get by with that, as long as they periodically back up files and photos.

The 60hz screen itself is LCD, with a max brightness of 550 nits. The phone’s max screen brightness is obviously very important to riders using it as a GPS or for anyone working outdoors in bright lighting conditions that still need to see their phones, and the claimed brightness rating is well behind a flagship Android phone, but better than low-end ones. The stereo speakers are impressive though for watching videos and playing games, just don’t expect top end graphics options due to its midrange Snapdragon 480 5G processor.

Nokia XR20 | TheEffect.Net

Nokia XR20 | TheEffect.Net

Software

Speaking of Android, the Nokia XR20 uses Android One, which is basically a modification of the Android 11 operating system. Supposedly, Android One comes without the usual bloatware that clogs up most Android phones, meaning you have more room for photos. Nokia says the phone will get three years of core software updates, and security updates will last for four years which puts many other manufacturers to shame.

The XR20 uses the Snapdragon 480 chipset, which again is a middle-of-the-road option. That seems to be the general theme here; Nokia’s put the work into making the phone tough, not a flashy performance model.

XR20 Camera

Around the rear of the device, you get a dual lenses set up. The Nokia XR20 comes with a 48 MP dual camera that provides pretty impressive image quality. The secondary camera includes a 13 MP ultrawide sensor. Made from Zeiss optics, the XR20 is capable of capturing respectable images on both lenses in bright light, with this taking a bit of a hit once things get a bit darker.

Nokia X20 Ultra Wide Camera Sample | TheEffect.Net

Nokia X20 Ultra Wide Camera Sample | TheEffect.Net

Nokia X20 Main Camera Sample | TheEffect.Net

Nokia X20 Main Camera Sample | TheEffect.Net

Nokia X20 2x Digital Zoom Camera Sample | TheEffect.Net

Nokia X20 2x Digital Zoom Camera Sample | TheEffect.Net

To make up for this, you also get a dual-LED flash (for better white balance when using when taking low light photos) along with an additional single LED flash so you should be able to illuminate your subject a lot better than then other devices with their single dual-LED flash.

Nokia XR20 Camera Module | TheEffect.Net

Nokia XR20 Camera Module | TheEffect.Net

The 8 MP selfie camera around front is actually really good too if a little aggressive on the sharpening.

Nokia XR20 Selfie Camera sample| TheEffect.Net

Nokia XR20 Selfie Camera Sample | TheEffect.Net

Although the company is offering the full 1080p resolution video recording for both cameras, you’re missing out on the stabilization feature. Because of this, unfortunately, the video recording option is also very limited for a photographer. If you check out the alternatives, you’re sure to find 4K video recording options in the same price range.

Battery

The Nokia XR20 phone comes with a decently-sized 4630mAh battery. Although the brand promises 2 days of battery life, we were just scrapping by by the evening of the 2nd day. Admittedly, we were using the phone quite a lot so someone who is a slightly lighter use, could get the full two days battery life. When it comes to charging, the phone is capable of 18w wired charging and 15w wireless charging, which is very handy for such a rugged phone.

Nokia XR20 | TheEffect.Net

Nokia XR20 | TheEffect.Net

Conclusion

The Noka XR20 is an impressive, yet niche, phone. The target audience for this device is outdoorsy/heavy duty work load sort of people. It should definitely take a lot more bumps and drops than your normal, uncovered handset but the display and camera definitely aren’t the best in this price point. The inclusion of 5G and wireless charging is definitely a bonus but its one lump of a phone that is more of an acquired taste than having any real mainstream appeal. I think the team at HMD Global know that and, if you do need a reliably rugged phone, this is definitely one you should check out.

Nokia XR20 Pricing & Availability

The Nokia Xr20 is available starting at €449 (4GB/64GB) in ‘Ultra Blue’ and €499 (6GB/128GB) in ‘Granite’ on nokia.com

Nokia XR20 'Ultra Blue' | TheEffectDotNet

The Nokia XR20 in ‘Ultra Blue’ | TheEffect.Net

REVIEW: Nokia XR20
  • Design & Build Quality
  • Software
  • Camera
  • Battery
4

Summary

A reliably rugged phone with impressive warranty and planned software updates let down by a slow processor and less than stellar display

John Reilly

About John Reilly

John is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheEffect.Net. His favourite gaming series is Uncharted and his favourite film is Interstellar. He is also known to quote 'Father Ted' and Keith Lemon more than is normal. John@theeffect.net