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Nokia C21 Plus Review: Clean Software & Big Battery Might Not Be Enough After All
- Sturdy & Practical Design
- Long-Lasting Battery
- Clean Software
- Dedicated microSD Card Slot
- Mediocre Display
- Dated microUSB Charging Port
- Average Cameras
Nokia's latest sub-12K entry for budget-conscious buyers is the C21 Plus. Currently selling at Rs. 9,799 on Flipkart for the 3GB/32GB variant, the smartphone is aimed at buyers seekinga wholesome user experience rather than just the key specifications of the product. In other words, the Nokia C21 Plus does not compete on specs and instead focuses on the end-user experience.
The C21 Plus, like most Nokia budget handsets, lacks a high-resolution display and a powerful chipset; however, it compensates by providing a smooth and clutter-free stock Android software, sturdy design, and an extended battery life. We conducted some tests, and this is how the smartphone performed.
Nokia C21 Plus Design
The C21 Plus adheres to Nokia's long-established solid design philosophy. In fact, it goes a step further by having a more robust design than its predecessors. The inner metal chassis and atoughened cover glass of the C21 Plus protect the chassis and screen, respectively. Furthermore, the C21 Plus is IP52-rated and can withstand some water-dust damage.
The phone comes in two colors -- Grey and Cyan, and has a textured matte plastic back that resists fingerprints and smudges. The handset's overall appearance and feel are superior to most sub-12K smartphones from Chinese OEMs. Because of the large display and massive battery cell, the device feels slightly oversized and heavy. The C21 Plus has a thickness of 8.5mm and weighs 191 grams.
Nokia C21 Plus Display
I've said it before and will say it again: Nokia needs to up the ante in the display department. The C21 Plus, like most budget handsets from the brand, has a 720p display with the standard 60Hz refresh rate. The HD+ resolution on a 6.52-inch IPS LCD screen isn't ideal for watching movies. The colors are a little dull, and the content doesn't come out at its best. Viewing angles are also fairly average, and the peak brightness of the screen is insufficient for good outdoor visibility.
Simply put, the Nokia C21 Plus is not the device for you if a good screen is your primary concern. For a better overall display, consider any Realme or Redmi-series smartphone.
Nokia C21 Plus Performance- Mostly Good For Day-To-Day Phone Tasks
The C21 Plus, like most budget phones, is adequate for day-to-day phone tasks. The handset can easily perform all general phone operations such as voice calling, social media, web browsing, UPI payments, etc. without any struggle. You can also play some popular games at lower frame rates and perform basic photo editing in native and third-party apps, though such tasks aren't always smooth. When performing heavier tasks, the three-year-old entry-level octa-core Unisoc SC9863A processor begins to show its age.
App loading times, for example, are longer, UI navigation isn't always buttery smooth, and switching between multiple apps isn't always handled well. To some extent, the 4GB RAM and stock Android come to the rescue, but the chipset prevents them from delivering the kind of performance that most budget handsets offer these days. Any sub-12K Redmi, Poco, or Realme device would outperform the Nokia C21 Plus in terms of overall computing and multitasking performance.
Nokia C21 Plus Security & Audio
Moving on, the phone has a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner that works flawlessly. It recognizes the stored data quickly and accurately to unlock the device. Because the phone's mono speaker unit produces sub-par audio, you should use the 3.5mm audio jack with any standard wired earphones for a better audio listening experience.
Nokia C21 Plus Software Performance
The Nokia C21 Plus is powered by Android 11 Go, which features a stock Android user interface. The software is clean and much easier to use than what Chinese smartphone manufacturers offer in this price range, making the C21 Plus an excellent choice for elderly family members. There are some pre-installed apps on the phone, such as Facebook Lite, Netflix, and the MyJio app, which is nothing to be concerned about. During my review, I didn't come across any ads or advertising/brand notifications, which is a big plus for this low-cost device.
Because the device runs Google Go edition, you get a Lite version of Google apps like Go Gallery and Go Assistant, but you also get standard YouTube and Chrome browser apps. The handset comes with a promise of two years of quarterly security updates and two software upgrades.
Nokia C21 Plus Camera Output
Budget smartphones aren't exactly good photographic devices, but some brands have made significant progress recently. For example, the Realme Narzo 50-series, Infinix Hot 12, Realme 9i 5G, Poco M5, Redmi 10 Prime, and other budget camera handsets are surprisingly good. Unfortunately, the Nokia C21 Plus does not belong to this list. It has a mediocre camera system that is adequate for casual photography.
Mediocre Camera Performance
The budget phone has a dual-lens camera with a 13MP primary sensor and a 2MP depth sensor. The C21 Plus has a 5MP front-facing camera for selfies and video calls. To enhance your photos, the rear camera supports basic features such as HDR, Portrait mode, Panorama mode, and Beautification assist. Pictures taken with the main sensor look best in well-lit environments. A slight reduction in available lighting can detract from the details and colors. The shutter speed on the phone is quite slow, and the sensor takes a long time to focus.
Nokia C21 Plus Battery Life
Nokia smartphones rarely disappoint when it comes to battery life, and the new C21 Plus is no exception. The device easily delivers on the battery front, thanks to a larger 5,050mAh battery powering a mediocre display and entry-level hardware. The C21 Plus easily handles a full day of heavy use without needing to be refueled. I got two and a half days out of the battery with moderate use, which included regular calls, social media, some camera use, and general phone tasks.
The bundled charger in the box can test your patience though. It takes two hours to recharge the battery cell from flat to 100%.
Nokia C21 Plus Connectivity & Storage
The Nokia C21 Plus is still stuck with a dated microUSB charging port, which is annoying for any household with phone users already moved to Type-C charging port ecosystem. I had to keep the microUSB cable handy as the C21 Plus is the only device at home with the older charging technology.
For storage, the device is available in two configurations, 32GB and 64GB and both variants get a dedicated microSD card slot for storage expansion up to 256GB.
The C21 Plus, like most budget Nokia handsets, is mostly suited to consumers who want a budget phone with sturdy build quality, ad-free and easy-to-use software, and a long-lasting battery. I can only think of elderly family members as the appropriate target audience for this device, which meets such basic needs but falls short of power user's requirements. If you want a nice crisp display, a snappy chipset, and good camera performance, look for a modern 2022 budget handset from Realme, Poco, Redmi, Xiaomi, or Infinix.