Nokia XR20 Review: Rugged and Feature-Packed

It's true, I will admit it. Before I took out the box, I was ready to bash HMD Global's new Nokia phone. The phone costs $550 and yet, it has a processor that you can find in phones as low as $240. You won't find an OLED display on this device, unlike the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G or Google Pixel 5A. So what's the deal?
The truth is that focusing on the individual flaws can make it less of a great Android smartphone. HMD also included other features like an expandable storage, customizable buttons and wireless charging at an affordable price. The classic Nokia brick design is also reflected in the HMD: Although it looks like a smartphone this device is extremely tough. Look no further if you are prone to dropping your phone but hate bulky cases.

Tough love

Photograph: Samsung

Although the XR20 is a rugged smartphone, it doesn't look as rugged as other rugged phones. The XR20 is heavy, thick, big, and bulky, but that's not what I meant. It's not pretty, though. It's more slim than most rugged designs that are usually thick and unattractive.

It is made of a grippy composite polymer back and an aluminum core. The edges are also aluminum. It's tough. Corning's Gorilla Glass Victus protects the front screen. It's also IP68 water-and dust-resistant. The glass can be submerged in water up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.

This is a great deal for the price. The screen of the XR20 uses Gorilla Glass Victus, but that doesn't guarantee it won't crack. The same material is used in the flagship phones, and it cracks when dropped. The lack of glass at the back of the phone means that you don't have to worry as much.

Manufacturers don't often advertise dropping phones. HMD advertises that the XR20 can be dropped, wet and recorded in any weather. I dropped it three times on a sidewalk from 6 feet high. The screen drum roll did not crack. The display is in perfect condition, with a few small scratches on the polymer casing. Although it is not guaranteed that the display will withstand your first drop of water, the results are encouraging.

Another unusual feature is the ability to attach a lanyard to the bottom of your phone in case you need it. Dual SIM support is also available (it's a hybrid SIM tray so the MicroSD slot doubles up as a secondary SIM card slot). There are two buttons on the left and the top of the phone, along with the volume and power buttons. The first activates Google Assistant. However, the second can be configured.

It was set to turn on the flashlight by pressing a single button, and launch an app by long pressing. I have noticed an increase in my use of the flashlight at night because it is much easier to access. I also routinely use Google Assistant to turn on the air conditioner in my living room before I go to bed.