HMD first made a name for itself by remaking a classic feature phone – and triggering an avalanche of hype in the process. The Finnish company has been dutifully churning out Nokia-branded smartphones ever since, but at an online launch event today, HMD was eager to prove that it has been up to more than business as usual. This included the removal of number-only model names and the introduction of three new series of smartphones: the X, G, and C series. And to make getting connected even easier, the company is making an end-run around its usual carrier partners by lighting an HMD-branded MVNO in the U.K. with a global rollout to follow.
HMD reselling access to its carrier partners’ wireless networks is about as unusual as strategy shifts get, but unfortunately, the company’s announcement was pretty light on detail. At least HMD felt talkative about its new smartphones.
The new Nokia X series phones are the most powerful of the bunch, although we should be clear neither the X20 nor X10 is flagship-grade devices – the former will go on sale for around €349 next month, followed by the €309 X10 a month later. (For what it’s worth, HMD hasn’t ruled out the idea of expanding the X series to include more premium phones down the road, but they’re not quite ready to talk details yet).
Both devices share a similar base, including Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 480 5G chipset, a 6.67-inch Full HD+ punch-hole display, a 4,470mAh battery, and a headphone jack, but some of their vital specifics differ. For example, the X10 is equipped with 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of storage, while the slightly more expensive X20 offers 128GB of storage across the board combined with 6GB or 8GB of RAM. The biggest differences between the two, however, are the camera settings: the X20 is the clear winner with its 64-megapixel rear camera, which is flanked by a 2-megapixel macro camera, a 5-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The X10 retains the same additional cameras but instead uses a 48-megapixel sensor as its main camera.
We haven’t had a chance to try out either of these phones yet, but HMD’s X-series devices are pretty powerful for the price. That said, these things would look a lot more interesting if Samsung hadn’t just this week unveiled a series of new low-to-mid-range Galaxy A smartphones – the Galaxy A42 5G is the closest competitor to the X10 and X20 and has a significantly more powerful Snapdragon 750G chipset.
While the differences between the X10 and X20 are quite subtle, the gap between HMD’s Nokia G10 and G20 is more pronounced. Both have the same 6.5-inch HD+ display, but the €159 G20 includes a MediaTek G35 chipset with 4GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of storage, plus a quadruple-camera with the 48-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, 2-megapixel macro camera, and 2-megapixel depth sensor. The €139 G10 uses a slightly slower G25 chipset combined with 3 GB or 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB or 64 GB of storage.
And the cameras? Well, let’s just say you’re better off with the G20 if you buy one – the G10 doesn’t have an ultra-wide sensor and relies on a 13-megapixel standard camera for most of its photos. Fortunately, both phones share what may be the G series’ biggest asset: a 5,050mAh battery HMD says is good for three days of use from a single charge.
Finally, there are HMD’s Nokia C-series phones – these are by far the cheapest of the bunch, and they might be the loudest, too. HMD says the $89 C20 and $75 C10 “have passed tougher tests for hardware durability than the industry average.” Both Android Go phones use entry-level Unisoc chipsets and 6.5-inch screens running at 1600×720, along with identical 3,000mAh batteries and 5-megapixel rear and front cameras. It’s quite likely that you won’t be able to find both phones on sale at the same time where you live, but it will be worth spending the extra $14 for a C20 if you’re looking for a basic phone, as its 1.6GHz octa-core chipset should offer a bit more oomph than the C10’s quad-core processor.
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