As far as Android devices go, Nokia has done reasonably well in providing budget-friendly devices that don’t scrimp on the essentials. The company has carved out a niche for itself in the smartphone market, and has tried to do something similar in the tablet space.
The T20, which was announced in late 2021, was a good opening salvo, but the display needed a tweak or two. So Nokia has taken that on board and come back with the T21 – a bit more expensive but with a better display that will handle everything from work documents and email to streaming video in your downtime.
Shipping with Android 12, the T21 is intended to last. The case is made of aluminium, and Nokia has skipped the shiny finish to opt for a matt one that hides fingerprints and the odd scratch or too much more effectively.
The tablet is powered by an octa-core 1.8Ghz Unisoc chip and has 64GB of internal storage and a sim slot that will take not only a sim for a data connection, but also a microSD card for external storage – or a second sim, if you need it. The 64GB will probably suffice for most people; unlike your smartphone, it is unlikely to fill up with photos or videos on the internal storage.
The screen is 10.3 inches with a 5:3 aspect ratio and a 2K display, which makes it good for reading ebooks and watching video.
The display may not be the all-singing, all-dancing one that you see in the premium tablets, but it is crisp enough for text and vivid enough to display video well. The 60Hz refresh rate does just fine, and if you have never had a 120Hz display, it’s unlikely you’ll miss it here.
Stereo speakers contribute to this tablet’s credentials as a leisure device, and they can go quite loud, although the small size means things get a bit tinny at times.
If you look carefully, you’ll spot one feature that the T21 has included that other tablets have ditched – the 3.5mm headphone jack – and one that isn’t so easily spotted: an FM radio receiver.
With video calling here to stay, the Nokia tablet has done just enough to make the tablet a decent tool, with an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.
A second 8-megapixel is on the rear, complete with a flash. You’ll need it, as the camera struggles a little in lower light. This tablet was never going to replace your smartphone camera, though, and the front-facing camera will do a good job for video calls, which is what most people will be looking for.
Where the tablet struggles a little is in multitasking on power-hungry apps, with a little slowdown when two or three apps were open simultaneously.
The system comes with the My Device app, which helps you keep an eye on the health of your tablet. That includes everything from the battery performance to how much resources your programmes are hogging. It colour-codes everything, with green lights beside the “good” stats, so you don’t need tech experience to decode the results.
If you want to set up the tablet for a child, there is Google Kids Space preinstalled, which is Google’s tablet experience for children. You can log into your child’s account on the tablet and ensure that they have age-appropriate content on the tablet, along with the restrictions and family monitoring that Google offers. It simplifies things for those who may not consider themselves tech savvy.
The Nokia T21 tablet ticks all the right boxes: affordable and durable with a decent display and hardware that will perform most tasks without too much trouble.
The rear casing is made to hide scratches, with a textured finish rather than high gloss, and Nokia is keen to stress its credentials on the longevity front, with three years of monthly security updates and two years of operating system upgrades guaranteed.
As far as performance goes., it will tackle most things with ease – as long as you don’t push it too hard on multitasking.
The display is fine, but at 60Hz it’s not as smooth as that on more expensive tablets. The key thing here is price, though, and at the sub €300 price tag, you won’t find too many tablets offering 120Hz displays.
The rear camera isn’t the best in lower light either, with lots of grain and softness in the image.
The second screen function for your PC is handy, and if you have an active pen, the device is compatible with these too, including third-party ones. Plus it includes support for 4G sim cards, external storage and has a headphone jack.
A decent all-rounder with a good price tag attached.