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Looking for a sub-$200 Android tablet? The Nokia T20 is a solid bet

Jack Wallen kicks the tires of the Nokia T20 and comes away thrilled to see that a midrange Android tablet can stand toe-to-toe with iPads.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Nokia T20 on desk.
Image: Jack Wallen

I'd all but given up on Android tablets. Sure, I still use them for certain things (such as teleprompters and the occasional game). But had you asked me a couple of years ago, I would have said the Android tablet market was dead, and there's little hope of reviving it. Most of the tablets I'd tested were low-end knock-offs that could barely hold their own had trouble running the apps I needed. And then there was the last Samsung tablet I purchased, which gave me roughly a year before the battery life showed its weakness and the performance lagged (even after a factory reset).

Needless to say, as much of a fan of Android as I've been over the years, the tablet side of things has yet to win me over.

Until now.

Nokia recently released its T20 tablet as a relatively low-cost tablet (you can currently purchase it on the Nokia site for $149.00) that punches so far above its weight you'd think you were using a tablet that costs at least twice the price. ZDNET's hands-on with the Nokia T20 deemed it "a good-value 10.4-inch Android tablet."

When I first opened the package, my initial thought was, "Here we go… another low-end, underwhelming device that will hammer yet another nail in the Android tablet coffin."

Was I ever wrong!

Also: The 7 best cheap tablets, from Apple to Nokia

This device performs so well that it immediately had me recanting my take on the Android tablet space. Nokia's T20 offers a brilliant screen, amazing battery life, solid performance, and an easy-to-handle chassis -- for much less than you'd pay for an iPad

The specs

If you look at the specs, you'd probably doubt my claims. Why? Because the T20 tablet is clearly a midlevel device: 

  • Chipset: Unisoc T610 (12nm)
  • CPU: Octa-core (2x1.8 GHz Cortex-A75 & 6x1.8 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • GPU: Mali-G52 MP2
  • Display: 10.4-inch 2K (at 1,200x2,000-pixel resolution) with 400 nits of brightness
  • Cameras: 5MP, fixed-focus front camera, 8MP auto-focus rear camera
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi dual-band (2.4GHz, 5GHz), 3.5 mm headphone jack, USB 2.0 Type-C
  • Battery: 8,200 mAh with USB-PD type C 15W compatible for fast-charging
  • Memory: 64GB internal storage, 4GB RAM, and MicroSD card support (up to 512GB)
  • OS: Android 11
  • Biometrics: Face unlock
  • Audio: Stereo speakers with a powered amplifier, FM-Radio (headset is required for this feature), OZO Audio (both capture and playback), and two microphones
  • Dimensions: 7.8 x 247.6 x 157.5 millimeters
  • Weight: 465 grams

Clearly, this tablet was meant to target the lower-to-middle range of the market. But once you start using it, you wonder how Nokia managed to make the T20 perform like a much more expensive device. Based on my experience, the T20 is an outstanding option for anyone looking for a midsize tablet to carry with them. 

What I like about the T20

In addition to the performance and size (I much prefer this size tablet over a larger device), there are quite a few things to like about the Nokia. 

First off, the battery life is stellar. Upon receiving the tablet last week, I did a full charge and have yet to charge it again. Now, I haven't been using it nonstop, so your mileage may vary. But with other similarly priced tablets, I've found that just leaving them alone can slowly drain the battery. Not so with the T20. After having only charged it once, I'm still at 77% battery. That's impressive.

Also: The 7 best Android tablets: Top picks for students

I also really appreciate the display. Even in full sunlight, I have zero problems reading what's on the screen. It's bright and clear, regardless of your surroundings.

One small detail I appreciate with the T20 is that the power and volume buttons aren't in the same location. It's hard to see in the photo below, but the power button is on one side of the corner, and the volume buttons are on the other.

The corner of the Nokia T20 displaying the power and volume buttons.

The power button is on the side, whereas the volume buttons are on the top.

Image: Jack Wallen

Although the cameras are a bit underwhelming (I'm used to rather high-end cameras), the app offers plenty of functionality by way of photo tweaks. 

The Nokia T20 camera app showing Jack Wallen's face.

The Nokia T20 camera app offers plenty of options for tweaking photos.

Image: Jack Wallen

Even with the underpowered hardware, I had no problems with video calls and was able to take some (mostly) serviceable photos. 

Another aspect of the Nokia T20 that I appreciate is the lack of bloatware. The only extra software Nokia has added to Android is YouTube for Kids and an Entertainment Space app that gives you access to movies, TV, games, and more (without having to switch apps). Other than that, it's pure Android.

Also: How to download YouTube videos

What I don't like about the T20

The only thing not to like about the T20 is that there is some lag when using it. While switching apps or doing anything that would call up an animation, you start to notice the underpowered Unisoc T610 CPU. The saving grace is that you don't notice it when using applications. Even watching videos on YouTube, everything performs quite well. 

Another issue is the speakers do tend to be a bit tinny. But this is a tablet, and I've yet to experience such a device with blow-my-mind sound. Granted, I am a self-proclaimed audiophile, so most people would probably claim the speakers are perfectly serviceable.

And that's really it for what I don't like about the T20. At this price, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better device. 

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