Rugged Nokia XR21 Review

Rugged Nokia XR21 Review

An unusual and sturdy Nokia phone

The Nokia XR21 takes a much more delicate approach than other challenging phone designs, typically bulky and might be used as a weapon in an assault case. In exchange for its vast size and relatively lightweight, the XR21 offers consumers a strict specification that makes it resistant to drops, water, and other harsh conditions.

The XR21 looks suspiciously like Lenovo’s earlier attempt at this with the Motorola-made ThinkPhone idea.
The ThinkPhone and the XR21 aren’t precisely budget phones; they cost more than $500. For this price, you can get a phone with a more powerful processor, RAM, and storage. That doesn’t mean it’s slow, but the Snapdragon 695 5G isn’t Qualcomm’s quickest system on a chip.

Unfortunately, the XR21’s SIM tray does not support MicroSD cards. Therefore, you will not be able to expand its storage. The camera isn’t up to the standard we’d expect for the pricing, which is frustrating.
This design makes it a sturdy and helpful phone for everyday use, but it is more challenging to justify its price.

Price and Availability

Image credit: Mark Pickavance

Price points start at $499 and go up to £549.

You can get it either directly from Nokia or a third-party online vendor
Available in black and green, the suggested retail price (RRP) in the UK from Nokia is £629.99 (not including the reduction to £549.99 for a trade-in phone). Nokia has their Clarity Earbuds 2 Pro as an extra perk.

In Europe, this phone is sold without a charger. However, for £29.99, Nokia offers a replacement charger that meets the 33W charging standard.Customers in the United States get a significantly better deal, which is strange given that Nokia is a brand from Europe. Despite lacking Earbuds and trade-in possibilities, the XR21 is available for just $499 in the US.

The following US carriers are compatible with this unlocked model: Boost, Cricket, Talk, H2O Wireless, Metro, Mint, Simple Mobile, T-Mobile, Tracfone, and AT&T.

This phone’s 128GB of storage and 6MB of RAM make it an expensive buy. On, you can find a comparable Motorola ThinkPhone for less than $400, with 8GB or 256GB of storage.


Image credit: Mark Pickavance

• Stylish

• Built-in camera on the left side

• No microSD card

Monster rugged phones have been on the market for a while now, and they’re not exactly practical for everyday usage due to their size and weight. Even though it’s enormous, the XR21’s 231g weight makes it easy to carry in pockets that are large enough. Thankfully, it’s not one of those.

The outside of this phone combines some known elements with some novel touches. The power button and volume rocker, which also serves as a fingerprint reader (for right-handed people), are located on the right side of the device, which is a standard layout.

The one gripe we have is that the thumb sensor is extremely skinny—thinner than this reviewer’s thumb—and shorter than the device itself. Because it only finds a subset of the potential data set, recognition accuracy is unlikely to be optimal.

A 3.5 mm audio jack and two more redefinable buttons sit on the top edge, while a custom button is on the left. The card slot, usually on the left side, has mysteriously moved to the bottom edge, close to the USB-C charging connector.

There is a slot for two nano-sized SIM cards, but there is no room for a microSD card. The maximum amount of storage space that this phone will ever have is 128GB. The XR21 isn’t the best choice for people looking to record 4K video because it only has 128GB of storage space, but that could have been fixed if Nokia had included 256GB.

The back of the phone is completely smooth except for the projection of the camera cluster; it has a slight roughness that makes it comfortable to hold even when wet. Even though it would have been ideal to provide wireless charging due to the device’s flat back and small internal battery, Nokia decided against it.

The slightly off-centre placement of the cameras is puzzling, as it slightly complicates the process of capturing properly framed photographs. The XR21’s design isn’t great, but it’s also not terrible. Like wireless charging, it won’t irritate many people unless they’re left-handed or need more than 128GB of storage.


Image credit: Mark Pickavance

• Big, vivid screen

• Modest battery life

• Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G

In areas where 5G is available, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G mobile platform can support it; in places where it is not, it can still function with 4G. An improvement in rendered graphics and video performance is achieved by combining the Kyro 660 CPU with the Qualcomm Adreno 619 GPU in this system on a chip. The central processing unit (CPU) has two performance-oriented 2.2 GHz Kyro Gold cores and six power-efficient 1.7 GHz Kyro Silver cores.

The Snapdragon 695 is marginally faster than the MediaTek Dimensity 1080 when compared head-to-head. That means it can’t compete with the newest Snapdragon 7 and 8 smartphones in terms of power. The NX bit support and clearly defined Trusted Zone mechanism are two of silicon’s most vital points since they improve hardware security. Nokia opted not to supply the full 12GB of RAM that the Snapdragon 695 can handle, instead opting to include only 6GB in the XR21.

However, it isn’t the problem here. Perhaps more problematic is Qualcomm’s comparatively unimpressive GPU on a chip in this system. Even though it’s OK for casual gaming, it can’t handle fluid 3D graphics. The real mystery here is how this chip—which Qualcomm originally developed for low-cost devices—made its way into a high-end Nokia.

The Bottom Line

Conceptually, it’s very similar to the Motorola ThinkPhone. Standing out from less expensive Chinese authoritarian alternatives, the XR21 boasts a sturdy yet refined appearance. The pricing seems ridiculously expensive, considering the hardware inside.

Nokia XR21 5G are ON SALE now on Amazon! Hurry up- Grab yours and enjoy. 🚀

As an affiliate I get a small fee from Amazon.

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