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Nokia T21 Review: Can It Beat Samsung?

In our Nokia T21 review you learn if this budget tablet can beat its competition from Samsung and how it has changed compared to the T20.

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Nokia is contending for the best entry-level tablet once again with its 10.36-inch Nokia T21 and does a lot right. Fortunately, the device eliminates the biggest flaw of its predecessor.

The company wants to become the new champion of entry-level tablets with Nokia’s T21. In our review you learn whether it succeeds, what we like about the device, and which weaknesses it has.

Nokia currently sells the device for 279 Euros with LTE and for 249 Euros for the Wi-Fi version in Europe. Prices should be about the same in US Dollars and other currencies, once it’s been released globally.

Nokia T21 on* Amazon

The low-budget market is highly competitive. In our review, we also want to determin how the tablet compares to strong rivals like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab A8 or Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022.

We were particularly annoyed by the fact that the predecessor, the T20, did not have a L1 Widevine DRM certification. This meant that streaming services like Netflix could only play videos in a resolution of 480p. That is simply not up to date nowadays. After all, what good is a nice 2k display if the resolution is so low when watching movies?
Nokia has ironed out this weakness with the new T21 now. You can enjoy YouTube, Netflix, and others in HD. Otherwise, however, very little has changed compared to the predecessor.

Nokia makes tablets?

Nokia T21 build quality

As you have probably noticed, Nokia is still quite new in the tablet business. After the company disappeared from the scene for a few years, the former technology giant came back with the release of the Nokia T20 – made by HMD Global.

The Nokia T21 is thus the second generation of Nokia’s budget tablet.

Most aspects have remained the same. We get a 10.36-inch display with a resolution of 2,000 x 1,200 pixels, an 8 MP camera on the back, 64 GB of storage (expandable by up to 512 GB via a microSD card), an 8,200 mAh battery and 4 GB of RAM. Besides the ability to enjoy streaming services in HD, however, Nokia has refreshed a few other things. For example, the T21 offers a new design and it comes with Android 12 by default.

Read: These are the best Android tablets

Design & Build Quality

Nokia T21 design

A real plus point of the Nokia T21 is the great build quality and the high-quality-looking appearance.

The sturdy, silver-gray aluminum casing with a back made of 60% recycled plastic for the antenna is supposed to ensure a longer lifespan, according to Nokia, and definitely looks chic. The tactile feel is also pleasant. The front of the tablet is black. The bezel around the display is about 1cm wide. According to Nokia, the screen is supposed to be protected by a special safety glass, but they don’t provide more detailed information.

The device has a USB-C port (2.0), a microSD card slot, and good-sounding stereo speakers with two speaker slots each on the left and right in landscape mode, but they do not get very loud. A 3.5 mm jack is also still part of the package.

Nokia T21 with USB C port

At 471g, the tablet has a pleasant weight, which contributes to the good overall impression of the design. It’s also only 7.5 mm thin.

Another positive aspect is that Nokia’s T21 – like its predecessor – is protected against dust and water splashes according to IP52. However, the device is not waterproof.

Although there is no fingerprint scanner, it can be unlocked via facial recognition. However, this is not as secure as Apple’s Face ID, for example.

The Cameras

Nokia’s T21 has an 8 MP camera with an LED flash on the back, and the tablet also has an 8 MP camera on the front.

The cameras are sufficient for snapshots and video calls and offer the possibility to record videos with a maximum of 1080p and 30 frames per second.

However, the pictures are not very sharp and detailed. The cameras only deliver acceptable results in good lighting conditions. The less light is available, the more the weaknesses of the cameras become noticeable.

On the positive side, the front-facing camera is in the center in landscape mode, so you can actually look straight ahead into the camera during video calls. This is not the case with Apple’s iPad Pros, for example, which gives the other party the impression that you are slightly looking past the camera during a video call. Nokia has solved this better in its current tablet.

Display & Speakers

Nokia T21 with Chrome

The display of the Nokia T21 is good, but not spectacular. It offers a 10.36-inch, 60 Hz screen with a resolution of 2,000 x 1,200 pixels. It is an IPS display with good viewing angle stability and solid contrast and color reproduction. With a brightness of 360 nits, the tablet is also sufficiently bright for most applications. Just like the predecessor, it has a slightly bluish color cast that can be somewhat reduced in the settings by adjusting the white balance.

The display of Nokia’s T21 also offers stylus support. You can use pens that use the Wacom WGP or Wacom Active ES 2.0 technology on the tablet.

It is great that Nokia’s T21 can now also stream YouTube, Netflix, and others in HD resolution thanks to L1 Widevine DRM certification.

It is also cool that the tablet can be used as a second screen for a Windows PC.

Nokia T21 speakers

If we look at the tablet in landscape mode, there are two speaker slots on the left and right, respectively, which offer a good sound. It’s possible to perceive a real stereo separation. However, there is still room for improvement in terms of volume. Furthermore, a bit more bass sound would be desirable.

Hardware & Performance

An octa-core Unisoc Tiger T612 chipset clocked at 1.8 GHz works inside the Nokia T21. The tablet is equipped with 4 GB of RAM.

There is a version with Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 5) as well as one with LTE. The former costs 249 Euros in Nokia’s official store. The version with LTE is available from Nokia for 279 Euros.

Nokia T21 Geekbench

According to our Geekbench 5 single and multi-core CPU tests, the performance is very similar to the predecessor.

In the Geekbench 5 test, the Nokia T21 achieved 345 points in single-core and 1406 points in multi-core score. In comparison, the predecessor achieved 347 points in single-core and 1255 points in multi-core score.

A direct competitor of Nokia’s tablet is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022, which is a bit more powerful with 561 points in single-core and 1747 points in multi-core.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8, on the other hand, is on a very similar level as the Nokia T21 with 366 points in single-core and 1300 points in multi-core.

Nokia T21 3D Mark

In the 3D Mark Wild Life, the Nokia T21 achieved a total score of 427. The predecessor T20 achieved a better score with 523 points.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 beats both Nokias and achieved 713 points.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022 is considerably faster – it reached 1049 points and is thus more than twice as fast as the Nokia T21.

In the Wild Life Extreme Test, the Nokia T21 only achieved a weak 117 points. The predecessor achieved a score of 135.

The two Nokias also have to admit defeat to the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 (181 points) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022 (315 points) in this test.

Read: Our Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 review

Our real life tests confirm the benchmarks. Especially on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022, gaming feels noticeably smoother compared to the T21 and higher graphics settings are available.

Nevertheless, Nokia’s T21 masters light tasks like web browsing or watching YouTube videos without problems.
Light multitasking, such as watching a video on YouTube and scrolling in the browser at the same time, also works smoothly on the tablet.

However, you should not expect more demanding things like 4k video editing or gaming in high graphics settings from this tablet.

Nokia T21 gaming test

Despite the comparatively weak hardware, popular games like PUGB Mobile and Apex Legends can be played well.

PUBG Mobile graphics runs smoothly with the graphics setting “balanced” and frame rate “medium”. If you set the graphics to “HD”, the gameplay is a bit jerkier, but still playable. However, the graphics setting cannot be set to “HDR” or higher since PUBG Mobile does not support this option on the T21.

Apex Legends can be played smoothly with HD graphics and frame rate “normal”. Even in the “Ultra HD” setting, only occasional stutters are perceptible. However, the highest graphics setting “Original” cannot be selected.

However, Fortnite fans should steer clear of the tablet – the popular free-to-play game is not available on Nokia’s T21.

The operating system itself also runs pretty smoothly, although not quite as smoothly as the aforementioned competition from Samsung.

Read: Our Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022 review

Software: Android 12

Nokia T21 with Android 12

The Nokia T21 comes with Android 12. It is pure Android, which has hardly been adapted by Nokia which is great. Only a few apps, such as Netflix and Spotify, are already present, but they can be deleted if necessary. Google Entertainment Space is also preloaded. You can see suggested content from Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and YouTube there, for example. Google Kids Space is also on board – you can find suitable content for your children here.

It is nice that the manufacturer promises monthly security updates for three years and two Android operating system upgrades.

Read: The best gaming tablets for every gamer out there

Battery Life

Nokia T21 battery life

In our battery test, the Nokia T21 achieved a runtime of six hours. For this, we ran an HD YouTube video at maximum brightness in an endless loop.

Nokia T21 Test: Our Conclusion

Is the Nokia T21 a good tablet? For a price of currently 279 Euros with LTE and 249 Euros in the WiFi version, we find it quite solid, but cannot really give a recommendation in view of the strong competition.

The tablet’s build quality is very good, and the display and speakers are also solid. However, we would have wished that the hardware performance had made a much bigger leap forward compared to the predecessor.

Nokia T21 review

But in return, the T21 has eliminated the biggest weakness of the previous model – It’s now possible to enjoy video streaming in HD resolution.

However, if you want to handle demanding things like editing high-resolution videos or gaming with high graphics settings, you should look for another tablet.

Speaking of other tablets – we recommend you take a look at the competition.

For example, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022 (WiFi) currently costs around 288 Euros on Amazon and thus only marginally more than the Nokia T21. Buyers get a noticeably better performance, a better display with brighter colors, and better-sounding speakers in this model. Only the build quality of the T21 feels as good as that of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022.

We also like the Galaxy Tab 8 better overall than the T21. Samsung’s entry-level tablet is available for as little as 178 Euros (~$178) and is thus even cheaper than the competition from Nokia. The performance of both tablets is equal, as is the build quality. We even like the Galaxy Tab 8’s display a bit better. The sound quality of the speakers is not very different, but the Samsung tablet can be turned up much louder.

You can stream YouTube, Netflix, etc. in HD on the aforementioned Samsung tablets as well as on Nokia’s T21.

Thus, we cannot really recommend the Nokia T21 despite the solid overall package. We recommend tablet fans who are looking for a cheap device to reach for the very inexpensive Galaxy Tab 8 or the even better Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022.


Nokia T21 test
Review: The Nokia T21 is a solid tablet with a high-quality build and solid technology, but it suffers from the strong competition from Samsung. Little has changed compared to the predecessor - except for the possibility to use streaming services in HD. We would have liked to see an increase in performance in particular.
  • Streaming in HD possible
  • High-quality workmanship
  • Pure Android
  • Solid display
  • Three years of monthly security updates and two Android operating system upgrades
  • Weak hardware performance
  • Still too expensive in view of the competition despite the low price
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Demis Scheeper

    October 4, 2023 at 10:06 pm

    En toch kan je met een simpele loop hole Fortnite spelen op de Nokia t21 dat doe ik zelf namelijk ook zonder al teveel problemen

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