HMD’s Nokia X20 is designed to actually last you three years

HMD is announcing six new midrange devices today led by the Nokia X20, a midrange handset priced starting at €349 / £299.99 (around $415). It will release in “select markets globally” such as the UK starting next month, but we’re still waiting on HMD to confirm exact US pricing and availability. I’ve been using the phone running near-final software over the past week, which has been enough to get some rough first impressions about the device.

To be frank, the Nokia X20 isn’t the most exciting device. But HMD’s promises about ongoing software and hardware support for the phone make it compelling.

The Nokia X20 is specced like a device at this price point is expected to be. It’s powered by a modest Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 processor paired with either 6 or 8GB of RAM (my device has 6GB), 128GB of expandable storage, and a 4,470mAh battery. It’s got a 6.67-inch, 1080p 60Hz display with a small hole-punch notch and four rear cameras including an ultrawide, macro, and depth sensor.

The company says it’ll provide three years of monthly security updates for the X20 after launch, three years of OS updates, and to ensure the hardware doesn’t give up the ghost before software support ends, it’s also extending its normal manufacturer’s warranty by an extra year. “In the majority of places,” a company spokesperson says, “that extends it to three years.” If all goes to plan, the Nokia X20 should still be under warranty when it receives its Android 14 update.

In the past, HMD has generally been good at updating its phones over time, though ComputerWorld’s Android 11 upgrade tracker reports that it’s been more sluggish lately. Recently, HMD updated its Nokia 8.1 and Nokia 3.2, which released in 2018 and 2019, to Android 11 as part of an upgrade roadmap that includes over a dozen of its devices.

It should eventually be updated to Android 14

Three years of security updates is a little less than the four years Samsung recently said it would offer for its Galaxy devices, but Samsung’s warranty varies between one and two years depending on whether you’re in the US or UK. Apple recently updated its 2015 iPhone 6S to iOS 14 (five years after its release), but its standard limited warranty also typically only covers new phones for between one and two years.

Along with aiming for three years of use, HMD has also made a couple of other decisions with the Nokia X20 in the name of being eco-friendly. First, in the EU it’s joining Apple and others by not including a power brick in the box, just a USB-C cable. What you do get in the box is a 100 percent compostable phone case. It’s a neat idea producing a case that won’t end up in a landfill, but the accessory itself is frustrating to use. The portion of the case that covers the phone’s volume rocker just isn’t flexible enough, making it hard to press the side of the button that I wanted.

The speed and performance of the phone was generally fine, but I saw the occasional hitch while switching quickly between apps, which made me question how this phone will perform after three years of OS updates. Otherwise, I didn’t have any problems with performance in everyday usage. The X20 supports Sub-6GHz 5G, which won’t matter much to you now but could in three years’ time.

You can find a selection of photo samples below, but in my time with the phone I was underwhelmed by the Nokia X20’s camera performance. The phone has a total of four rear cameras: a 64-megapixel main camera, a 5-megapixel ultrawide, a 2-megapixel depth sensor, and a 2-megapixel macro.

  • HMD Nokia X20, macro camera.

  • Ultrawide camera.

Performance in daylight is broadly fine, but when things are more dimly lit you quickly start to lose detail and definition. Neither the ultrawide camera nor the macro camera have the resolution to take decent photographs, and the 2-megapixel macro camera in particular is a pointless and puzzling inclusion.

HMD’s Nokia X20 can’t make any big claims about being a flagship hit, but its modest price tag and HMD’s promises about continued support could make it a safe, dependable smartphone if that’s what you’re after.

Photography by Jon Porter / The Verge

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