Deciding to review the Nokia T20 Android tablet was an easy one. Especially since it’s the first such tablet built by HMD Global under this branding. But this is one tablet that certainly doesn’t feel at all like a first-try effort.
Not only did HMD Global embed a 10.4-inch, blue-light-reducing, 2K display in a metal frame for this build. It ensured that nearly every other aspect of the device lived up to the expectations set by that panel. So let’s dive right in and take a closer look at how this tablet outperformed the vast majority of the competition under a thorough review.
Nokia T20 is budget hardware that un-budgets the hardware
Before we delve too deeply into the Nokia T20 for this review, it’s worth pointing out that this tablet is built from aluminum. Aside from the glass panel covering the display, that is. And that’s not too different from at least some high percentage of tablets it is competing with. But the metal here just feels like more consideration was paid during the design phase.
Not only does the metal have a matte appearance under the right lighting and a high-sheen aesthetic in other conditions. Lending to a premium look accented by smooth curves and a slim built. It also has a matte feel. And that means that this tablet is great to hold and use from an experience standpoint. Much more so than the tablets it competes with on price.
The lightweight design and placement of ports and plugs take things further still. Even using this tablet in bed wasn’t a chore, since it only weighs around 470g. A little over twice what premium smartphones weigh. And both the placement and smooth edges of the ports and plugs ensure that there are no snagging or uncomfortable places to hold.
Similarly, the corner placement for the 3.5mm port, speaker placement, and button placement all ensure that none of those get in the way during use. Although the power plug is placed directly in the center on the right-hand edge. So using during charging isn’t as enjoyable as it might otherwise be.
More important than the in-hand feel, the build quality is top-notch with the Nokia T20. It doesn’t feel as flimsy or fragile as the overwhelming majority of competing devices do. And the company sells two rugged cases, one with a kickstand and one without, for those that will let the whole family use this tablet. Or for those who are prone to breaking screens and frames.
All of the ports feel equally well-made. Without any wiggle, even with jostling. The tablet’s IP52 rating, meanwhile, protects against light splashes or rain and dust.
The Nokia T20 display truly stands out among its peers, especially for the price
The headlining feature for this tablet is, of course, the leading feature for good reason. And not just because it’s a 2K resolution. For starters, while it only has a 78.94-percent screen-to-body ratio, that allows space for gripping the tablet. Conversely, this is an IPS LCD panel instead of an OLED. So the dark hues aren’t quite as deep as they could be, although it comes close. And it comes with a respectable — though not groundbreaking — 60Hz refresh rate.
But it isn’t just those factors that allow for a jitter-free, relatively crystalline experience either. Although those will ensure that you quickly forget this tablet costs less than $600. Let alone less than $300.
The Nokia T20 tablet also performed more than a little admirably under review in direct sunlight. To the point where the image above, shot under the full sun on a bright day, didn’t require any adjustments at all to make the screen visible. That’s as compared to approximately 80-percent of every other device I’ve gone hands-on with.
All of which equates to a decidedly flagship-like experience. Setting aside the lag-free input and responsiveness of the panel. You simply won’t find a better display panel on an Android tablet below the $500 mark.
The specs here don’t tell the whole performance story
On the performance front, for this review, I tested Nokia T20 under relatively strenuous conditions. As outlined in the battery segment below, I tested this tablet with heavy multitasking and a complex combination of use cases. All without any noteworthy performance drops.
For heavier testing still, I downloaded and played some of the heavier titles found in the Google Play Store. Such as Call Of Duty Mobile, Asphalt 9 Legends, and Shadow Fight 3. None of which became unplayable or even showed much slowing down. Even during hours-long sessions.
Running those apps in combination with a picture-in-picture video stream and other tasks didn’t change that either. This is laudable, given that only 4GB RAM and 64 GB storage is available — expandable to 512GB. Coupled with a relatively rare Unisoc Tiger T610 chipset, which itself falls between the Snapdragon 660 and MediaTek P70 in terms of performance in benchmarks.
The area where the slowdowns were most noticeable is when background tasks were running associated with photo and video edits and processing. That became most noticeable while using other high-intensity apps simultaneously. But none of that is to say that this chip underperforms or that the performance feels like a budget tablet. It doesn’t. Instead, the performance felt much more akin to an upper-tier midrange tablet.
Summarily, the Nokia T20 experience is one of a tablet that punches outside of and well above its respective price bracket. And not by a small margin.
Battery life is great for the money and specs but charging is absolutely not
Now, one of the few areas where I found I could readily fault HMD Global during my review of the Nokia T20 was on charging. Battery life, as we’ll discuss momentarily, was great. Charging, at least with the included 10W charger, was not.
In fact, it took well over three hours to charge the device using the in-box 10W charger. If you happen to have a PD charger laying around — or a 15W charger — that’s going to reduce the time significantly. Since this tablet does support that. Putting it potentially on par with competitors in the upper reaches of the price bracket. But as it stands, this isn’t the best device I’ve reviewed on that front.
Conversely, battery longevity was quite good. Under high-intensity usage, I saw just over eight hours of screen-on time. Just for starters, that includes the screen brightness and volume — over Bluetooth — maxed out. And that was while setting up, watching videos, playing games, and downloading apps all at once for a significant portion of the test.
The company rates this tablet to last ten hours during video watching and up to seven for video calling or chatting. And the Nokia T20 absolutely should deliver on those fronts. Lasting even longer under less intensive use cases and making it a perfect family tablet. Especially for the money.
Audio from this tablet will exceed your expectations
As with every other aspect of this tablet, audio from Nokia T20 far exceeded my expectations under review. In total, the OEM packed two stereo loudspeakers on the left- and right-hand sides set just above where most will hold the tablet. Those feature OZO Playback, of course. But that’s not necessarily what you’ll notice.
What you will notice, is just how clear and immersive the sound from these speakers is. At under $300, I fully expected to have to use my headphones. Or to hear that audio was moderate but not great. That wasn’t the case. At under $250, these speakers are brilliant thanks in part to the built-in powered amplifier.
And, of course, Bluetooth and wired headphones are always an option when you don’t want to bring others into your experience. With both of those working as expected. Better still, the 3.5mm audio jack is placed in the corner of the device, rather than an edge. So it never got in my way throughout my review of the Nokia T20.
Finally, the two built-in mics performed well too. Without the noticeable distortion that’s sometimes seen with cheaper electronics.
Software is as unbloated as any Nokia device for a snappy experience
As noted above, the performance from the Nokia T20 during my review certainly didn’t feel like it fell into the budget end. And that’s thanks, in part, to the minimal software running on this tablet. Albeit, not entirely, since that performance didn’t drop by a significant amount during intense multitasking. Or with plenty of apps downloaded to take up more space.
In terms of what the company includes, there’s almost nothing here that doesn’t need to be. In fact, the image above showcases all of the software that’s pre-installed out-of-the-box. Of course, many can be removed too. And the few extras, conversely, will almost certainly be useful. Nowhere more so than if you’re looking for a multi-user tablet.
For example, instead of creating a mock account for children who aren’t old enough to have one, users can simply switch over to Kid Space. That offers children a minimal-supervision mode that presents kids with all of the apps and contents they might want. Without the need to set up a new account or parental controls separately.
And there are a few extras here that go above and beyond too. We’ll discuss those in the next segment. And that’s all without considering the promised two years of OS updates — starting from Android 11, preinstalled — and three years of security updates.
Connectivity & features are abundant, but one feature does fall short
Now, there’s no need to spend too much time on Bluetooth connectivity or Wi-Fi with this tablet. Both of those were solid, working as well as my flagship smartphone and, at least in terms of Bluetooth, better. Or at least with a better range. There also isn’t much to be said about the dual-purpose SIM and SD card slot. That, as expected, worked perfectly during my review of the Nokia T20.
Of course, we’ve also already covered most of the features included with this tablet too. From its inclusion of Google’s new Android Entertainment Space to its stunning audio. But there is one special feature we still haven’t touched on and that’s the camera.
Although the camera included in this tablet is relatively great for the money — working well enough for point-and-shoot tasks and packing the camera features you’d expect from Nokia, it isn’t perfect. That’s primarily due to Android camera software simply not working as well on tablets. But also because the company opted for an 8-megapixel rear snapper and 5-megapixel selfie shooter.
Of course, almost nobody is buying a tablet for its camera functionality. And the cameras work well enough compared to other tablets. But the experience is decidedly lackluster precisely because it’s comparable to other Android tablets. Even those that are several years older. That’s on everything from clarity and color accuracy to speed.
And the disappointment is only amplified by the fact that everything else in this device goes well beyond what I’d expect for a tablet under $300.
If you need a tablet, buy the Nokia T20
Now, it was all but guaranteed, almost from launch, that the Nokia T20 was going to be a great Android tablet. Even without consideration for the updates promised to Android 12 and Android 13. And even without the regular security updates for three years.
What HMD Global set out to do with the Nokia T20 is to rewrite what’s possible in the entire industry. Not just in terms of what’s possible for budget tablets. But also what’s possible for pricier products from other companies. And it accomplishes that by nearly matching and, in some cases, outperforming competitors with much more expensive offerings.
Whether we’re discussing the admittedly somewhat lackluster cameras or the brilliant 2K display panel, Nokia T20 is a tablet that also meets the company’s secondary goal. Namely, to serve as a tablet the entire family can enjoy. And not just one that’s priced and made for kids. This tablet will unquestionably meet the needs of just about any tablet user. Whether that’s for productivity, education, or entertainment. It is, summarily, a return to form for the brand.
The only question, for those who might be looking to purchase a tablet, is why anybody would look to $400+ tablets at all. Especially since Nokia T20 has it all already and in a much less expensive package.