If you are looking at the Nokia G10 4G, you are a budget shopper, and you have a choice of several phones at this price. Why am I telling you this up front in a review?
Because invariably smartphone makers tell us you can’t make a decent smartphone that retails for much less than $199, and on the whole, I agree. You will normally get 32-bit Android (common to most devices <4GB RAM) that runs slowly, approx. 6.5” 1280×720 screen (let’s not get into brightness, colour accuracy), 32GB (15GB free) of slower eMMC storage, a tri-camera (usually 12MP plus depth) and a 4500/5000mAh battery in an all-plastic case. That describes the Nokia G10 4G and its competition to a tee.
The Nokia G10 4G is paddling in one of the fiercest red oceans without the benefit of incredibly deep pockets needed to eat or be eaten. Does it stand a chance?
The Nokia G10 4G deserves consideration for a few reasons.
First, because Nokia has changed track. You can read more about its 2021 direction here, but essentially we will see G-series (MediaTek SoC) for entry-level-and-lower-mid-range and X-series (Qualcomm) for mid-range. It is not trying to be all things to all people anymore. It is sticking to its knitting doing what it does well.
Second, if you want a $199 phone, then this is as good as it gets (and it is currently on special for $169 at Officeworks – if you can get it).
Third, enter the Nokia ‘five-star’ advantage.
On the hardware and economy-of-scale front, Nokia cannot compete with OPPO, vivo, realme, and Samsung, all top five global Android smartphone makers. Instead of sitting on their cold bottoms in an igloo in Espoo, Finland, waiting for the sun to shine, they chose to compete in other ways.
Nokia is one of the last pure Google Android (apart from Google Pixel) suppliers. There is a lot to that, including a promise of two years of OS upgrades (Android 12 and 13) and three years of monthly security updates. To think that a 2021 $199 phone may be running Android 13 and has a two-year warranty is unheard of – and that is good.
Nokia G10 4G Model TA-1334 ANZO 3/32GB, dual sim and dedicated microSD
$199 (Officeworks has these now on special at $169)
Night (blue) and Dusk (purple)
Nokia online, JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks, Harvey Norman
Nokia is a smartphone brand owned by HMD Global in Espoo, Finland. Many ex-Nokia executives run it. Microsoft previously owned the brand from 2014 to make Windows Mobile handsets. The G and X series are the sixth generation under HMD and represent a new naming convention.
You can read more GadgetGuy Nokia news and reviews here
First impression – purple
We have the Dusk purple, and overall, it is a nice subdued yet modern colour. The front and back are fingerprint magnets (so many phones are).
I like the combo fingerprint and power key, although it only scores 8/10 for accuracy. I don’t like FaceID – it is slow and unreliable at 4/10. There is a dedicated OK Google key on the left, a USB-C 2.0 port on the bottom and a 3.5mm 4-pole combo earphone/mic port on top.
As this is a budget phone, we will do a mini-review of the most important items.
Screen – icy cast
It is a 6.5”, 1600×720, 20:9 (tall/thin), 60Hz IPS screen with a centre selfie notch. The screen has a quite cold cast (no more igloo jokes) – not warm white. It has poor daylight and off-angle viewing.
The main issue is it only has an 81.9% screen-to-body ratio (many phones approach 90%) with a huge chin and noticeable notch. Using the older Android navigation (back, home, app drawer) makes the screen less usable – otherwise, it is fit for purpose.
Processor – MediaTek Helio G25 12nm
The G stands for gaming – let’s leave it at that as this is not a gaming device. It is most often compared to a Qualcomm SD439, but it is about 10% slower. Geekbench 5 single/multi-core is 148/838 compared to the SD439 at 178/819. The processor can be quite slow if you try to open multiple apps.
It would not complete the Geekbench 5 GPU Open CL or Vulcan performance tests – we have had this issue with the Helio G25 SoC and 3GB of RAM before.
And that 3GB of RAM. Normally that means running Android in 32-bit mode, but this manages to run in 64-bit mode – perhaps by swapping some storage to slower virtual RAM. I suspect that Android 12 and 13 will require a lot more RAM than this, so don’t bank on running future Android versions.
It also has 32GB of eMMC supplemented by up to 512GB of microSD. This is slow storage – sequential read/write is 144/75MBps, so you will feel the lack of speed when taking video.
CPU throttle test: Max: 88,153GIPS, Average 78,632GIPS, 33% throttle over 15 minutes. To be expected, but this phone is not for heavy-duty use like games or video recording.
Comms – basic
Wi-Fi N dual-band 1×1 – this has weak Wi-Fi strength and throughput.
BT 5.0 SBC codec
A-GPS 10-15m accuracy
Sensors – combo accelerometer and gyro (annoyingly touchy and often goes to landscape mode), ambient light and proximity sensor. This is very basic and does not include an eCompass nor work as a pedometer.
It will not connect to a Wi-Fi 6 AX OFDMA 5GHz enabled network. It will connect to a Wi-Fi AC 5Ghz network, but it has -64dBm signal strength and 78Mbps at 2m. Change to a 2.4Ghz, and the signal strength is -27dBm (three times better) and still 78Mbps.
Download speed at 2m 32.8/26.2Mbps (compared to an OPPO Find X3 Pro at 100/40Mbps.
4G LTE – it is a competent phone
It has a dual sim (single ring tone) and a dedicated microSD slot
Band 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40, 41 pretty well limit this to Australia
Test (in a new location – 1km line-of-sight to tower): Typically -102dBm (far lower is better) and 50fW (femtoWatt). On occasions, it increased signal strength to -93dBm and 320fW. It does not see adjacent towers.
It is a city/suburbs phone requiring where good tower coverage to get a strong enough signal.
Sound – mono
It has a single bottom down-firing speaker that focuses on a clear voice. It has twin mics for reasonable hands-free use. Maximum volume is 75dB (average).
BT 5.0 only supports the SBC codec for wireless headphones. Quality and volume are good.
Battery – big but no fast charge
5000mAh with a 5V/2A/10W charger. It does not support fast charge, but you can use any USB-C PC charger.
GFX Bench Manhattan: Out of memory error (typical of G25)
Device-off charge time 0-100%: 3 hours
Device-on charge time 0-100%: 5.75 hours
It has good battery life that may last 3-4 days with some power saving enabled.
Build – average
164.9 x 76 x 9.2mm x 197g
Toughened front glass, pre-fitted plastic screen protector, rear textured and plastic frame
No IP rating
TPU bumper cover
It is solid enough to live up to the two-year warranty.
Android – pure
We have mentioned Nokia’s commitment to pure Android, and that plus the warranty is the reason to select this device. The security patch is 5/7/21.
It has all the usual Google Android apps, and a dedicated OK Google left button.
I am not concerned that the main snapper is 13MP – many other phones claim up to 48MP but bin down to 12MP (or less). But given this SoC’s low AI computational photography processing power, this is strictly a day or office light camera.
From September 2021, we have adjusted our ratings to give us more ‘headroom’ to recognise exceptional features and performance. Until now, 8/10 was considered a ‘pass’. It is now 6/10. If you compare it with the older reviews above, reduce these by two points.
It does everything you could expect of a $199 phone. We start at a pass of 6/10 and add Nokia’s class-leading features – warranty and Android update policy.
Nokia G10 4G
The Nokia G10 4G is a competent $199 phone with an above-average warranty and Android update policy.