Review: Nokia has a new tablet after seven years. Was it worth the wait?

Budget-friendly T20 can handle the basics but beyond that, there is room for improvement

The last time a Nokia-branded tablet was released, the Finnish company was one year removed from selling its mobile business to Microsoft. Facebook had recently bought WhatsApp for $19 billion, Apple's original Watch had made its debut, the ALS ice-bucket challenge was very much a thing and TikTok did not even exist.

SPEC SHEET

Display: 10.4-inch IPS LCD, 400 nits, toughened glass

CPU: Unisoc T610; Mali G52 GPU

Memory: 4GB

Storage: 64GB, up to 512GB microSD

Camera: 8MP rear, 5MP front

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, 3.5mm audio

Battery: 8200mAh, up to 10 hours video

Platform: Android 11

Audio: Stereo speakers, 2 mics

Durability: IP52

Biometrics: Face unlock

Price: Dh849

The Nokia brand remained quiet until HMD Global, its neighbour in Espoo, Finland, reacquired its mobile unit and relaunched devices in 2016.

This set the stage to where we are now – taking a look at HMD Global's first Nokia tablet, the T20.

The last Nokia tablet was the N1, announced in 2014 and released the following year. That pretty much sums it up for the old Nokia in the tablet game, unless you count the Lumia 2520 and other internet tablets they had.

The tablet market has been growing over the past year but after five quarters of growth driven by heightened buying for remote work and learning, global shipments of tablets recorded their first decline since the onset of Covid-19 last year, with tablet shipments posting a 9.4 per cent annual decline to 42.3 million units in the third quarter, according to the International Data Corporation.

Can HMD Global carve out some market space with the Nokia T20? Read our review to find out.

Form

The T20 has a 26.4-centimetre (10.4-inch) display with bezels almost comparable to the latest iPads, meaning it is good enough to merit a sleek look.

Overall, content looks vivid on it, with one slight negative: at 400 nits of brightness, you may have a tough time seeing what is on the screen when under intense sunlight.

However, the respectable 2K resolution makes up for that; a 4K display would have been better, but it would also have resulted in a higher price.

It is also made with what Nokia calls "toughened glass" but there is no mention of whether it is Corning or something else. It does have a rating of IP52, which means it has limited protection against dust ingress and water splashes.

Nokia products have always had a reputation of being tough but these durability factors seem lacking. To be fair, you are unlikely to use tablets in sandstorms or rain. Aluminium material with a matte-like finish covers the back while there is an oval camera block in the upper-left corner.

Performance

At the core of the T20 is a Unisoc T610 processor. Unisoc is a Chinese chip company that counts Samsung, Motorola and Lenovo among its customers.

In the UAE, the tablet comes in a 4 gigabyte/64GB combination. The limited storage space could be an issue when your media files pile up. While it does come with microSD support of up to 512GB, having at least 128GB of on-board storage is ideal in the event an expansion card is unavailable.

This translates into a performance that is expected: it glides smoothly but not as smooth as what you would expect from a top-tier tablet. It comes with a standard 60-hertz refresh rate and does not have an adaptive option for it.

There are not any noticeable lags when opening or switching between apps – in fact, opening or closing apps seem a bit too fast. The only considerable lag we found is when waiting for the virtual keyboard to pop up after typing on text space.

If you are looking to take photos, the device has an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5MP front camera you can use but you will have to deal with issues such as smudging and grainy results, especially in low-light conditions.

Meanwhile, swiping to the right from the home screen reveals a Google Entertainment Space, which gives you access to TV shows, movies, games and more without the need to switch apps. And if you have younger users lining up to use it, Google Kids Space is also at your disposal, filled with learning apps and can be managed using Family Link parental controls.

Battery

Aside from durability, Nokia devices are also known for their battery life; the company has some of the best out there when it comes to smartphones. Despite the large 8200mAh battery packed into the T20, battery life was a little disappointing.

Nokia says the T20 can last up to seven hours for online meetings, 10 hours for movies and 15 hours of surfing the web. In our standard one-hour YouTube-at-full-brightness test, the battery lost 16 per cent – do the maths and that is a little over six hours. We also did that without any background activity, so expect more power to be lost if you are downloading something.

In our charging test using the supplied 10-watt charger and USB-A-to-USB-C cable, it managed to restore only 20 per cent in an hour (4 per cent in the first 15 minutes). We repeated this test a number of times – even swapping out the cable for a USB-C-to-USB-C one – but it really did not make any difference.

Nokia does say it supports 18W charging but unfortunately we do not have one readily available (there were practically no changes when we used a 33W charger).

Verdict

The Nokia T20 is positioned as a mid-range tablet – it is sold for Dh849 – and what we have discovered is pretty much in line with that. This is not intended for intensive application use nor to store a lot of content, given its limited storage capacity, but it does serve its purpose of being an entertainment and connectivity device.

Perhaps HMD Global is testing the market, given the cut-throat competition in the tablet sector. But in an age where do-anything-from-anywhere is fast becoming part of the new normal, there will always be room for a device such as the T20 – and for a legacy brand such as Nokia.

Updated: November 24th 2021, 4:30 AM
SPEC SHEET

Display: 10.4-inch IPS LCD, 400 nits, toughened glass

CPU: Unisoc T610; Mali G52 GPU

Memory: 4GB

Storage: 64GB, up to 512GB microSD

Camera: 8MP rear, 5MP front

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, 3.5mm audio

Battery: 8200mAh, up to 10 hours video

Platform: Android 11

Audio: Stereo speakers, 2 mics

Durability: IP52

Biometrics: Face unlock

Price: Dh849

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