Nokia C21 Plus review: The £109 Android phone is full of surprises

Nokia was the go-to phone brand for many in the 90s and now wants to dominate the budget smartphone market. A prime example of Nokia’s new DNA is the C21 Plus. This Android-powered device carries a ridiculously low price of £109, making it ideal for those looking to upgrade without breaking the bank.

With the cost of living crisis hitting the country this year, saving money has never been more important – but smartphones are such an integral part of our lives that you don’t want to shell out for something that ends up being slow and slow to use.

So, does the Nokia C21 Plus perform well, despite its bargain price? After trying the handset, Express.co.uk was pleasantly surprised.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Nokia C21 Plus when you take it out of the box and turn it on is that it’s a smartphone.

The C21 Plus comes with a generous 6.517-inch screen which, despite not having an OLED panel due to its price, still looks vibrant and colorful.

The screen size also gives you plenty of room to watch movies and box sets comfortably on the go or at home.

Apps such as Netflix and YouTube are already preloaded on the Nokia C21 Plus so you can immediately catch up on your favorite shows and give you one less thing to do when setting up your device for the first time.

Another thing that makes viewing video content – as well as using the handset in general – comfortable is the size of the C21 Plus.

It’s a slim phone which makes it incredibly comfortable to hold, with a handset measuring just 75.9mm wide.

To help you get through a night of entertainment, there’s full Bluetooth connectivity and the 3.5mm headphone jack. That means there are multiple ways to connect your favorite cans, whether wired or wireless.

The Nokia C21 Plus is powered by an Octa Core 1.6GHz processor and also comes with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage plus up to 256GB which you can add via microSD card.

That’s enough power for emailing and web surfing, but those measly 2GB of RAM means the C21 Plus only gets Android Go instead of the full Android 12 experience.

Due to these specs, you won’t be able to run all the apps you want on the Nokia phone, including games like Genshin Impact or Fortnite.

Luckily, less memory intensive games like Candy Crush Saga and even Call of Duty Mobile still run surprisingly well.

The C21 Plus is perfectly capable of having multiple apps running in the background and you can move between them easily, and apps in general start quickly.

We sometimes noticed some lag when scrolling through apps and some games – such as PUBG Mobile – can take a while to load.

The Nokia C21 Plus has plenty of advantages, and it also comes with features you might not expect on a phone at this price, such as face authentication in addition to a fingerprint sensor at back to unlock your device.

However, there are a few drawbacks – which is understandable given the competitive price of this Android Go phone.

One of the biggest issues we’ve noticed is that the Nokia C21 Plus can be slow to update apps, even when connected to a high-speed Wi-Fi connection.

Elsewhere the camera won’t win any awards, with the dual-sensor rear camera (powered by a 13MP main sensor and 2MP depth sensor) snapping shots that may lack detail and clarity, but you can get a pretty decent selfie via the 5MP front camera.

Nokia also claims that the C21 Plus should be able to last two to three days on a single charge. In our real-world testing, we found that if you game and stream a lot of video, you’ll probably need to charge your phone every day.

If you think that’s all something you can live with – and you’ll be sure to play popular games like Fortnite or Genshin Impact on the go – then the C21 Plus is a great option.

FINAL VERDICT Nokia C21

For those who simply use their smartphone for surfing the net, social media and watching Netflix, the C21 Plus is a good choice if you fancy an upgrade without breaking the bank.

It feels great in the hand, has a nice screen, and even offers features like a headset port and facial recognition.

Unfortunately, the fact that it uses Android Go is a major downside and don’t expect to win any prizes for its photography.

For our part, if you’re able to push the budget, we’d go for the Samsung Galaxy A03 – it costs £139 and comes with 4GB of RAM and the full Android 11 experience, which will unlock your device up to even more apps and better overall performance.

FOR V AGAINST

What we liked

  • Great price
  • Sleek design you wouldn’t expect from a budget phone
  • Generous screen size for watching TV shows and movies
  • Nice and thin to easily hold in one hand

What we didn’t do

  • Downloads can be slow even when connected to Wi-Fi
  • Battery life could be better

• Nokia C21 Plus is available for purchase from the official Nokia website. It’s priced at £109, but right now there’s a deal going on that drops the price to £99. Click here to buy.

About Roberto Frank

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