Nokia T21 vs Amazon Fire HD 10: Which budget tablet is right for you?
Nokia made a return to tablets in 2021, announcing the Nokia T20 and saying that the reintroduction was down to an increased interest in tablet devices. The Nokia T21 follows the T20, a numerical as well as physical update, making a few tweaks but with much the same proposition.
The aim is to be an affordable tablet, mostly designed around entertainment and the family. That's much the same as the Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet. For many years, this has been the big-screen affordable tablet of choice for many - but does it still rule the roost?
Price and availability
- Nokia T21: £189
- Fire HD 10: £149.99
The Nokia T21 launches at £189 for the Wi-Fi model, meaning it's a little more expensive than the Amazon rival. It's a reasonable price for this tablet - and way more affordable than anything from Apple's iPad range - but it also sees a slight increase over the older Nokia T20 model.
The Amazon Fire HD 10 is not only cheaper, but Amazon regularly holds sales on its own devices - from big events like Prime Day and Black Friday, through to sales for any other event the online retailer can think of. So the Fire HD 10 will pretty much always be a good deal cheaper than Nokia's device.
Design and build
- Nokia T21: 247.5 x 157.3 x 7.5mm, 465.5g
- Fire HD 10: 247 x 166 x 9.2mm, 465g
What's surprising about these two devices are just how close they are in size and weight. There's only a couple of mm difference, but because they have a different display aspect, the bodies are a slightly different shape. That makes the Nokia tablet slightly more compact - but it's also quite a bit thinner too.
The Amazon Fire tablets have always been known for their slightly chunky build, but the weight of these tablets is actually the same. While Amazon uses plastic for its construction, Nokia uses plastic and aluminium, so likely has a more premium feel. The Nokia design is also slightly more interesting with the two-tone finish and detailing around the camera.
What we do know, however, is that the Amazon Fire tablets withstand wear and tear really well - so while it might not look as good (or be as slim), it might live up to family use a little better.
Both have a 3.5mm headphone socket and both offer stereo speakers, although we previously found that Amazon's Dolby Atmos speakers offered a better experience than the previous-gen Nokia tablet's Ozo speakers.
- Nokia T21: 10.36in, 2000 x 1200 pixels, 225ppi, 5:3
- Fire HD 10: 10.1in, 1920 x 1200 pixels, 224ppi, 16:10
When it comes to tablets, you're basically buying a display and both these displays are close in what they offer. The slight increase in size on the Nokia tablet leads to a slight increase in the number of pixels, but the result is the same overall pixel density.
Until we fully review the Nokia T21 we won't know what it will do graphically, but we did find that the quality of streaming video was generally poor. While the Amazon Fire HD 10 doesn't always look great, it seems to deliver fairly solid quality when streaming video. The Unisoc hardware that Nokia uses isn't known for its graphical capabilities, whereas Amazon is a little more mindful to ensure that Amazon Video content looks great.
Hardware and performance
- Nokia T21: Unisoc T612, 4GB RAM, 64/128GB storage, microSD (512GB), 8200mAh, 18W
- Fire HD 10: MediaTek Helio P60T, 3GB RAM, 32/64GB storage, microSD (1TB), 6500mAh, 15W
There's a similar positioning of affordable hardware used in these tablets, with Nokia turning to Unisoc and Amazon to MediaTek. Nokia has increased the storage that's offered on this tablet, which likely accounts for the slight increase in price - and will mean that out of the box you'll be able to download and store more content. Both support microSD and it's here that Amazon offers more, supporting double the storage capacity offered by Nokia - so you might be better buying a cheap storage card instead of the more expensive tablet.
Neither of these tablets performs like the latest iPad, they are generally slower and better suited to simple tasks, although media streaming and entertainment apps usually work well enough. When we reviewed the Nokia T20 we found the performance to be pretty slow in many areas and we don't expect a huge difference for the T21 - although it's trying to offer a pure Android experience, rather than Amazon's curated experience you'll find on the Fire HD 10.
There's a big difference in battery capacity, with Amazon offering a 6500mAh cell and Nokia a huge 8200mAh. Nokia also offers slightly faster charging, so it's likely to be a better overall experience when it comes to battery life.
Nokia also offers Wi-Fi or LTE versions - so there's the option to be always connected with the T21 - and it also includes NFC. We'll bring a full update to this comparison when we've reviewed the Nokia T21.
- Nokia T21: Android 12
- Fire HD 10: Fire OS
Amazon has always used a heavily modified version of Android called Fire OS. This doesn't offer Google Mobile Services, meaning there's no access to apps like Gmail, Google Maps or the Chrome browser. Instead the system is built around Amazon's services, using a carousel that integrates content from the likes of Amazon Video, Kindle and Amazon Music.
While it also supports services like Netflix, Disney+ and Spotify, the smoothest experience is with Amazon's own content and services. It will let you access games and productivity apps, but Fire OS doesn't always offer parity with the apps you'd find on Google Play, so it's more work to get the Fire HD tablets to do things outside of that core entertainment remit. They're well equipped for kids, however, with easy parental controls and plenty of options to limit kids' access.
Nokia has an advantage running Android 12, as this is the full Google experience, with native access to all the apps and services you'd expect. This covers everything from information apps to entertainment, games and productivity. It's not the fastest - your phone will likely be slicker - but for basic tasks, we'd expect the Nokia device to cope well enough.
The Nokia tablet will come with two Android version updates and 3-years of security updates.
While much of the hardware is similar, the big difference between these tablets will be the user experience defined by the software. The question is really what you want this tablet for. Nokia offers an Android experience that will be familiar if you have an Android phone, letting you use many of the same apps in the same way - and the Amazon experience is different, based mostly around content consumption.
Nokia has a more premium build, but that may not stand up to the rigours of going through the hands of kids (no one wants a dented metal back); we know from experience that Amazon devices last really well.
For a definitive performance assessment we're going to have to fully review the Nokia T21 before we can deliver an absolute recommendation, but with Amazon's tablets regularly discounted and offering an experience that's already solid for families, it's going to be hard to beat the Fire HD 10.