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(Pocket-lint) - Nokia's line-up of phones was starting to get complicated with numbers and decimals, so in 2021 it decided to simplify things with a C, G and X range of devices.

The Nokia X10 is one of these new breed of devices, with a slightly higher-spec X20 sitting alongside it. Not that X is about true flagship spec, as this altogether more affordable kit fights for a position in the mid-ranger market.

Nokia says that the X series pushes boundaries and now represents a sort-of top tier for Nokia devices. But is it just a bit lost in among what else is available?

Our quick take

The most attractive thing about the Nokia X10 is how it looks: there's a big display in a decent-size body with a finish that's pretty distinctive - and we like the 'Forest' green colour. Having a Full HD+ resolution means that content looks good, too, although it's strictly 60Hz refresh rate for this experience.

There's ample power for day-to-day use and it will cope with more demanding games, although the graphics quality is limited, so it's not the best experience out there. The cameras are average in their performance but will suffice for many users. 

Battery performance is good overall, rounding a package that's capable enough. While updates have so far been slow, the promise of three years of Android updates adds further appeal. But while the overall experience is of a competent phone, it's just not hugely exciting one.

Nokia X10 review: Is competent good enough?

Nokia X10

4.0 stars
For
  • Big display
  • Good looking design
  • Punch-hole camera
  • 3.5mm headphone port and microSD card expansion
Against
  • Mono speaker doesn't really have much clout
  • Screen bezel bigger than necessary
  • Rivals offer more power

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Design and display

  • 6.67-inch LCD display, 2400 x 1080 resolution, 60Hz refresh rate
  • Dimensions: 168.94 x 79.7 x 9.1mm / Weight: 220g
  • Mono speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Side-mounted fingerprint scanner
  • Compostable case
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When Nokia came back to the world of Android phones - everyone remember Windows Phone, right? - it made a big deal out of durability. Phones were cast from aluminium blocks, designed to be solid, or at least to avoid the plastic build of so many affordable phones.

Pocket-lint Nokia X10 initial review: photo 4

But this phone is plastic on the back, with two colours on offer, 'Forest' (green) and 'Snow' (white). It's not just a flat colour, there's some shimmer to this matte finish as the light catches it - resulting in a phone that looks pretty good.

The rear of the X10 is dominated by a camera array sitting in the centre, with the fingerprint scanner moving to the side of the phone, a la Sony. It's a good fingerprint scanner too - we've seen worse experiences from side-mounted scanners on more expensive phones, so credit to Nokia for that.

The buttons on this phone don't feel as high-quality as those on the Nokia XR20, which is similar in many ways, albeit offering better dust/water protection.

The X10 is large phone and pretty heavy too, but with its 6.67-inch display that's to be expected. There's still some excess bezel around that display, especially across the bottom where the Nokia logo sits, and this is visually greater than it ought to be.

Pocket-lint Nokia X10 initial review: photo 12

But with the display not reaching to the edges of the phone's body, it does lend a slightly cheaper look to the device and, arguably, Nokia could have reduced the overall footprint by making things a little tighter. That said, its competition is mostly from Motorola.

The X10's display is pretty good for a budget device, pushing a Full HD+ resolution so that content looks sharp across the expanse of space on show. But it's not a hugely vibrant display, as colours are a little muted and there's little you can do to liven things up. The auto-brightness is a little sluggish to kick into action too, with brighter bringing a better experience, but the software often choosing a brightness just slightly lower than we'd like.

It's a 60Hz refresh rate display, which some might feel that they really want to go a little higher to smooth out some of the animations and interactions - but at this price point it performs well enough. Something like the Moto G31 offers a similar solution, though, opting for resolution above and beyond refresh rate - which we think is the right pick.

One note for those wearing polarising sunglasses: the X10's screen will blackout completely when in landscape orientation because of the orientation of the polarising layer. Something to watch out for in the sunny summer months.

Pocket-lint Nokia X10 initial review: photo 13

On the base of the X10 you'll find a 3.5mm headphone socket, which is welcome for those wanting that ease of connection. A speaker also lives on the bottom edge, but it's a solo, i.e. mono, offering - there's no stereo delivery and it's also easy to cover that speaker when gaming, so it doesn't sound great.

Hardware and performance

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G, 6GB RAM
  • 64GB storage, microSD/dual SIM
  • 18W charging (plug not included)
  • 4470mAh battery capacity

Sitting at the heart of this phone is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 480 5G platform. This is an entry-level platform designed to give affordable access to the latest connectivity: 5G. The idea is that you don't have to worry about lagging behind, because you'll have those faster data rates - if not today, then in the future.

This version of Qualcomm's hardware offers respectable day-to-day performance and it's capable enough when dealing with the latest apps and services. It's not as fast as flagship hardware, but if you're just browsing or using social media you won't really notice.

While it will play the latest games, it's not the best experience. For example, you'll only get medium graphics on Call of Duty Mobile and there's no real optimisation to enhance the gaming experience.

Pocket-lint Nokia X10 initial review: photo 9

Then there are rivals such as the Redmi Note 10 Pro or OnePlus Nord CE 5G which offer more power for about the same money.

The phone is dual SIM, or you can use a microSD card (up to 512GB) to boost the 64GB of storage. We've also found the calling and connectivity to be stable with no problems.

There's a 4470mAh battery and this is one of the things that benefits from the lower power Snapdragon hardware on offer here - it offers great endurance and outlasts the latest Samsung handsets, getting through the day easily. There's no charger included in the box, however, so you'll have to provide your own.

Cameras

  • Quad camera system:
    • Main: 48-megapixel, f/1.79 aperture, autofocus (AF)
    • Ultrawide: 5MP, f/2.2
    • Depth: 2MP
    • Macro: 2MP
  • Selfie: 8MP, f/2.0

Nokia's camera array on the rear of the X10 is typical for recent phones at this price point. It leads with a high-resolution main sensor - here it's 48-megapixels - relying on pixel combining to give you a final and lower-resolution result.

This is also the sensor that Nokia uses for zoom, offering an on-screen button for 2x and pinch-zooming out to 8x. As there's no specific lens to cater for this, the quality from digital zooming drops off rapidly. 

The main camera gives a reasonable performance in good light, but in lower-light or indoors the image noise comes in quickly and images get softer. There is a night mode, but it does little to improve the performance when things are really dark - it's more of a dusk mode. That's typical of phones at this price point and many will find it's just about good enough for casual snapping. Don't pay too much attention to the headline 48-megapixel figure, it's really not doing you any favours. 

There's a 5-megapixel ultrawide camera, and as we've seen from similar, this tends to be blurred towards the edges. You'll get away with it in landscapes where that blurring is lost in the sky, but if there's any detail around the edges of your photo, it won't look great. But we'd rather have it than not.

There's also a pair of 2-megapixel sensors, one for depth and one for macro. The affordable end of the smartphone market tends to throw in these sensors to boost the package, but they really don't offer much and aren't worth their entry on the spec sheet.

The front camera will give you a reasonable selfie and the portrait mode will pick you out from the background too.

Software

  • Android 11
  • Android One
  • 3 years of software updates

Nokia used to write Android One on the rear of its phones and wear that as a badge of honour. You'll still see Android One flash across the display when you start the phone, but the premise of Android One seems to have fallen by the wayside.

The idea was to give people stock Android phones, free from bloatware, with fast updates. Nokia hasn't been the fastest to update its phones - something that leaves this phone still on Android 11 at the time of writing, when it ought to be on 12 really - and X10 isn't free from bloat either. It comes with Amazon, Spotify and Express VPN preinstalled. We're not even sure if that qualifies as Android One anymore.

Pocket-lint Nokia X10 initial review: photo 7

But Nokia is also promising three years of software updates for this device, which is good news, because you'll probably have the software to keep you up to date through the life of this phone.

We like the stock Android experience and it's a good foundation for installing your apps and getting on with your life, without having to worry about additional stores, services you've never heard about, and invitations to sign into a whole collection of services outside of Google. 

That's an important point too: many of the phones at the cheaper end of the scale end up encumbered with additional software that you might not want. Motorola offers similarly uncluttered devices, with the Nokia X10 sitting somewhere in the Moto G31-to-G50 range (the latter of those two being the only one with 5G, just like this Nokia).

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To recap

This affordable Nokia offers plenty of screen space in a package that looks great, especially in the 'Forest' finish. This is an entry-level device when it comes to power, though, and while it will suit day-to-day use perfectly well - with appreciable battery life to boot - there are limitations in high-end performance, such as gaming. But with the promise of plenty of software updates, this could be an affordable answer for those who want an outright purchase to last for the next few years.

Writing by Chris Hall. Editing by Mike Lowe.
Sections Nokia Phones