The Nokia G22 makes some solid improvements and adds a uniquely repairable design, but other issues aren’t so easily fixed
- Accessible repairability
- Some display improvements
- Decent bump to battery life
- Only two software updates planned
- Still feels sluggish
- No camera improvements
The Nokia G22 is the latest budget smartphone from the Finnish brand, but this one comes with a unique twist. The G22 is designed to allow users to quickly and easily repair common issues themselves, without having to send the phone off to a repair shop.
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This is a novel inclusion, and one that’s sure to be handy under the right circumstances, but it’s not enough by itself to stand out in the overcrowded budget phone space. And while the G22 does take steps to improve over its predecessor, the advancements are mostly marginal, which is a problem that will require more than a screwdriver and a how-to guide to fix.
Nokia G22 review: What you need to know
The Nokia G22 slots into the brand’s lineup as a replacement for the dirt-cheap G21. The design has been updated to allow for easier replacement of broken parts, in an effort to make the G22 a more sustainable product. With fewer steps in taking the phone apart, it’s much more accessible for the average user to tackle repairs themselves.
Aside from the repairability, the hardware is mostly the same as the G21. The display is still an IPS panel, albeit slightly larger at 6.52in, the Unisoc T606 processor is a carbon copy, and the battery remains a 5,050mAh unit. The only real change in the hardware is that you can now choose either a 64GB or 128GB model. Both of these variants support microSD cards, allowing you to expand the storage up to 2TB.
The cameras are also identical. On the rear, you’ve got a triple array, comprising the 50MP (f/1.8) main lens backed by dual 2MP sensors for both macro shots and depth measurement. Meanwhile, the under-screen selfie camera is a simple 8MP affair.
Nokia G22 review: Price and competition
The Nokia G22 starts at £150 for the 64GB model, with a 128GB variant available on Nokia’s website for £169. There isn’t a lot of competition at these prices, but several phones that launched around the £200 mark have since been discounted down to a point where they could be considered viable threats.
In the same stable, there’s the Nokia G50, which originally cost £200 but can now be picked up for around £170. Perks here include 5G, superior performance and a massive 6.82in display, which is either a positive or a negative, depending on your personal tastes.
From other brands, we’ve got two main competitors, both of which are priced closely to the Nokia G22 at time of writing. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 is our current favourite budget smartphone, with its gorgeous display being a particular highlight, and right now it costs £173. If you want 5G, the Motorola Moto G62 5G can currently be had for just £170, and is a decent all-rounder with competitive performance and battery life.
Nokia G22 review: Design, key features and repairability
The overall design of the Nokia G22 is fairly close to the G21, but there have been a few tweaks. The rear panel replaces the textured plastic of the G21 with a glossy piece, made from 100% recycled plastic. The edges, meanwhile, are contrasting plastic – light grey for the Meteor Grey model and light teal for the Lagoon Blue.
Chunky bezels border the display, with a teardrop-shaped bulge surrounding the under-screen selfie camera. A layer of Gorilla Glass 3 sits on top of the display for additional protection. On the right edge, you’ve got the volume rocker and power button with built-in fingerprint reader, while the left only houses the SIM tray, which can hold two nano SIMs, or one and a microSD card. Finally, the bottom edge is home to the USB-C and 3.5mm headphone ports.
The most prominent feature, of course, is the repairability, which allows users to replace a dead battery, cracked display, bent charging port or scratched back cover themselves. Nokia has partnered with iFixit in this endeavour, with free step-by-step guides as well as affordable replacement parts and repair kits available for purchase on the iFixit website. It’s looking as though Nokia will launch future phones in the G22’s footsteps, so it will be interesting to see how much this repair-friendly approach takes off in the coming years.
I tried replacing the battery, which Nokia claims can be done in under five minutes. While I didn’t quite come in under par, it was a breezy process, with the iFixit guides proving simple enough for even first-time repairers to follow successfully. The option to replace parts yourself is a handy sidestep for long waits at repair shops, and saves you paying for the labour on top of parts. Crucially, performing these repairs yourself doesn’t void the phone’s warranty, nor will it compromise the IP52 rating for dust and splash resistance.
Nokia G22 review: Software
On the software front, the Nokia G22 runs Android 12 out of the box, and as tends to be the case with Nokia, it’s a clean installation with fairly neutral layouts and minimal bloatware. The Booking.com app might be a controversial one, but otherwise preinstalled apps are common favourites such as Netflix and Spotify, which feels like less of an intrusion.
Unfortunately, Nokia has only committed to two future OS updates, meaning that the G22 will fall off the cart with Android 14, which is due later in 2023. This feels backwards for a phone that is heavily marketed as having a longer lifespan than other phones, and makes me wonder exactly who is going to bother replacing the battery on a phone that’s running outdated and potentially sluggish software.
Nokia G22 review: Display
The display was an enormous disappointment with the Nokia G21, so it’s heartening to see that the company has addressed the issue here. We still have an IPS panel with a 90Hz refresh rate, but this screen is slightly larger, at 6.52in to the G21’s 6.5in. Bizarrely, Nokia has chosen to pair a larger display with a lower resolution – 720 x 1,200 – which has tanked the pixel density, bringing it down to a frankly abysmal 215ppi.
While this should be the death knell for the display, Nokia has at least compensated for its misstep by drastically improving the screen’s contrast ratio, now clocking in at 1,556:1. This is much more acceptable than the G21’s frankly laughable result of 306:1, and though it’s not the crispest out there, text and icons stick out enough from the background to keep it from looking too fuzzy.
Brightness was another area that desperately needed attention, and Nokia has delivered here as well. The G22 now reaches a peak brightness of 519cd/m², which is a terrific result for this price. Colour accuracy isn’t quite as good, but is still a step in the right direction, recording an average Delta E colour variance score of 2.22. Ideally, this figure would be below 1, but compared to the G21’s result of 3.59, it’s a big improvement.
Nokia G22 review: Performance and battery life
In terms of hardware, the Nokia G22 mostly takes an “if it’s broke, don’t fix it” approach, keeping the same octa-core 1.6GHz Unisoc T606 chipset and 4GB of RAM. This can still feel fairly sluggish in use, with laboured pauses when opening apps being a common occurrence. Storage, at least, gets a slight upgrade, now offering a 128GB variant alongside the base 64GB model.
Even though it’s using the same components, Nokia must have worked some efficiency magic behind the scenes, as the G22 puts the hardware to better use than its predecessor. Single-core results are pretty much identical, but the G22 gains a roughly 10% edge in the multicore scores. A quick look at the Nokia G50, Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 and Motorola Moto G62 5G, however, shows how much of a performance jump you can see for just a little bit more money.
Whatever helped the CPU scores improve clearly didn’t translate over to the GPU, as the G22’s GFXBench results are identical to the G21’s. This is technically better than the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11’s results, but the latter is a 1080p display, and therefore has more resolution to render with each frame. Both the 720p Nokia G50 and the 1080p Motorola Moto G62 5G hit higher frame rates than the G22, making either one a better choice for mobile gaming.
Things swing more towards the positive as we look at battery life. The G22 still uses a 5,050mAh unit, but it managed to last a fair bit longer than the G21, tapping out 19hrs 28mins. This brings it much closer to the pricier models in the test group, though it’s still an hour and a half shy of the Motorola Moto G62 5G. You’d have to be extremely conservative to consider this a three-day battery life, as Nokia’s marketing suggests, but it’s still decent enough for a phone at this price.
Nokia G22 review: Cameras
Where other parts of the G22 have seen the odd nip and tuck to improve things, the camera suite is a direct carry-over from the G21. This isn’t all bad – the 50MP (f/1.8) main lens proved to be a pleasant surprise in our Nokia G21 review – but the 2MP macro and depth sensors still feel pretty redundant, so it would have been nice to see at least one of them dropped and the extra weight thrown into the main lens.
Not that it’s really crying out for extra power. The main lens once again proves to be a diamond in the rough, producing images that, while not outstanding, still capture a decent amount of detail in good lighting, with solid contrast bringing out the definition in each of the tree’s branches.
Of course, the key phrase there is good lighting, and things aren’t quite so impressive when the sun goes down. The artificial brightening is reasonable enough, but it comes with more than its fair share of noise, and the amount of detail lost doesn’t feel like a good trade-off, either.
As expected, the macro mode isn’t anything to write home about, and could have easily been dropped from the list. The background blur is full of noise and the detail in the focal point leaves a lot to be desired.
The video offerings are also identical to the G21, capturing footage up to 1080p at 30fps, with features such as time lapse and slow motion rounding out the suite. Including resolutions above 1080p would be a big ask at this price, but 60fps recording wouldn’t have gone amiss. Still, even at 30fps, the footage is decent enough, deftly handling changes in lighting levels and keeping relatively stable in motion.
Nokia G22 review: Verdict
All in all, the Nokia G22 feels more like a G21 Plus than a full-blown evolution. The display, performance and battery life all get much-needed boosts, but otherwise there’s not a lot of advancement here. It’s solid enough for a £150 phone, but if you can push your budget a little further, your money is better spent on the Redmi Note 11, Moto G62 5G or Nokia G50.
The one advantage that the G22 has over those models is repairability. It’s not bulletproof – the meagre OS updates kneecap the longevity potential – but the self-repairs are easy enough to do that it could keep the phone off the scrap heap for an extra year. If you can see yourself putting the effort in, the Nokia G22 has a better chance at a longer shelf life than other budget phones, even if it can’t match them in other areas.