Nokia C21 Plus Review: A budget phone that gets the job done
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Nokia C21 Plus Review: A budget phone that gets the job done

Jul 27, 2023

The Nokia C21 Plus has been available in the Kenyan market for just over a year since its announcement and launch in February and April of 2022 respectively.

The device made under license by Finland-headquartered HMD Global, has flashes of brilliance from the Nokia of yesteryears with some new evolutions to make it competitive in various segments.

For one, the C21 Plus retails at Ksh 15,000 on average making it reachable to a considerable size of the population with some disposable income. For another, the device has brilliant battery life as advertised.

The review unit gave us just over 3 days of use on a single charge. This is partly because the Nokia C21 Plus runs on a lighter version of the Android operating system, but also has no bloatware pre-installed from the factory.

It additionally has monthly security updates which offer users peace of mind with data privacy and user safety being all the rage in recent years.

The C21 Plus does however have some internal and external drawbacks for which competitors in its segment have products that users would prefer.

The Nokia C21 Plus has a glass screen and a plastic back mounted onto an aluminium frame. This combination gives it a sturdiness that is evident with the device in hand.

The monolithic glass screen measures 6.52 inches making up approximately 82 per cent screen-to-body ratio. The top edge of the screen has a slit that houses the minimalist earpiece nestled between the glass beneath and a plastic strip all around the glass.

The 5-megapixel selfie camera is set underneath the screen with a notch around it that forms the bezel for the screen. The glass itself is scratch-resistant but a user will want to get added protection such as a screen protector for the device.

The top edge of the Nokia C21 Plus has a 3.5mm jack for the enclosed headphones. The right edge has all of the device's two buttons – the volume rocker and the power button. They are minimalist with a rubberized texture for that extra grip when being used.

The bottom edge has a USB 2.0 charging port and a microphone for phone calls. The left edge has the SIM tray which is slash-resistant courtesy of a rubber grommet to keep out water and dust.

The back of the device has a vertically arranged dual camera bump with the LED flash set beneath the pair of lenses. It also has a dedicated fingerprint scanner and a stereo speaker.

The phone measures 6.49 inches in length, 2.99 inches in width, and 0.34 inches thick. Its weight is 191 grams.

The Nokia C21 Plus has a total of 3 cameras – a 5-megapixel selfie camera at the front, and a dual camera at the back with a 13-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 2-megapixel depth lens at the back.

There are several modes to choose from including photo, video, timelapse, slow-mo and panorama when capturing images. The rear camera can also take video in 1080p at 30 frames per second. The front camera is capped at 720p.

To get the composition right a user can enable the grid in the settings as well as HDR (high dynamic range) for use when shooting in extreme lighting conditions.

It is not uncommon for devices in this category to have such low numbers for camera configurations. However, our experience with the Nokia C21 Plus's particular choice of glass is potentially a pain point for users. #gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-1 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */



Being an entry level device, the cameras are not all that with images looking a bit grainy. For photography enthusiasts, this phone might not be the best pick. However, given plenty of practice to their hone skills, a user can manage to get decent photos from the Nokia C21 Plus. #gallery-3 { margin: auto; } #gallery-3 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-3 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-3 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

The Nokia C21 Plus comes pre-installed with the Go edition of Android 11, a lighter version of the Google-powered operating system. The internal hardware supporting this system is not high spec thus a user will not have lag while running applications on the C21 Plus.

This phone also has the Unisoc SC9863A chipset. This is paired with an octa-core CPU that has two sets of Cotex-A55 processors. One set of four is the 1.6GHz variant while the remaining 4 max out at 1.2GHz.

The device's graphic processing unit is an IMG8322 chip – good enough for basic functions, but subpar for more power-hungry use. So in effect, gaming is limited with this device.

For storage, this phone has 64GB of read-only memory which under normal use should suffice for anything from media to applications.

Other versions of the device have 32GB of ROM. In the event that there is a need, the Nokia C21 Plus has a dedicated Micro SDXC card slot housed on the SIM tray for additional storage.

The unit we got has 3GB of random access memory, but other versions of the device come with either 2GB or 4GB of RAM.

To power the phone and keep it running, the Nokia C21 Plus comes with a 5050mAh, Li-Ion, non-removable battery that is charged using a 10 Watt power brick and a USB 2.0 cable.

You will not get high-speed charging with this device, unlike other competitors in the same price range.

If you’re in the market for a functional device with all the necessary bells and whistles, the Nokia C21 Plus is definitely your pick.

The Android 11 Go edition is ample for keeping the phone running and the battery life will not catch you out if you don't regularly plug your phone to a power outlet.

Look to other brands if you like to have the option of gaming or if you like to document your days by taking photos and videos.

Otherwise, the Nokia C21 Plus lives up to the established legacy of solid build and data safety.

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