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Nokia G22 review: a cheap Android phone you can fix yourself

Photo by Jon Parry on Unsplash

Costing less than £170, the new phone has replacement parts already available starting at just £19. The repairable design is halfway between the truly modular £449 Fairphone 4 and the £849 iPhone 14, which has been constructed to make professional repairs easier.

At first glance, the G22 is a normal-looking smartphone with no real hint of its repairable nature. But unclip the back from the frame using a simple guitar-pick tool and you will find everything is secured with tiny screws and pull tabs on the inside. It can all be disassembled with a bit of care without needing things such as heat pads, knives and alcohol, which you would for most other phones.

The Finnish firm HMD Global, which makes the phone, has partnered with the repair-specialists iFixit to produce thorough, easy-to-follow guides and sell spare parts for the G22. Hopefully you’ll never need them, but if you smash the screen or wear out the battery you can fix it yourself or access cheap professional repair options.

On the outside, the G22 has a simple design. The big 6.5in LCD screen on the front is not very sharp but has a 90Hz refresh rate, so scrolling and animations are pretty smooth. It was bright enough indoors but struggled a little outside in sunlight. It is covered by Gorilla Glass 3, which is a much older version of the scratch-resistant glass than available on top-end phones, but does the job if you treat it with care.

The frame is plastic on the outside and clips seamlessly into the 100% recycled plastic back. It feels much nicer in the hand than you’d expect for the money – a solid piece of kit.

Screen: 6.5in 90Hz HD+ (269ppi)

Processor: Unisoc T606

RAM: 4GB

Storage: 128GB + microSD card

Operating system: Android 12

Camera: 50MP, 2MP depth, 2MP macro; 8MP front-facing

Connectivity: 4G, wifi 5, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5mm headphones, FM radio, GNSS

Water resistance: IP52 (rain)

Dimensions: 165 x 76.2 x 8.5mm

Weight: 196g

The G22 has a low-performance chip made by the Chinese-firm Unisoc. It is slow by any measure but manages to feel snappy enough in general interactions: the menus pop up promptly, the phone unlocks rapidly and the keyboard is responsive.

You have to wait a second or two for heavier apps such as Evernote to open and load any content. Some sites in Chrome struggle to load images as you scroll further down the page and you can forget trying to play Fortnite or anything other than simple games.

What the G22 lacks in raw power it more than makes up for in very long battery life. The phone lasts for a full 72 hours in my testing, racking up well more than eight hours of active screen use with five hours on 4G, the rest on wifi.

Note the G22 does not support 5G and only has wifi 5, not the latest 6E. I found it was generally fast enough but struggled for a connection in weaker signal areas where other wifi 6 devices had no problem connecting.

HMD rates the battery to maintain at least 80% of its original capacity for a minimum 800 full charge cycles. A replacement costs from £22.99. Other parts are also available, including the £18.99 charge port, £22.99 back cover and £44.99 screen, while HMD and iFixit publish DIY repair guides.

The back is made of 100% recycled plastic. The company publishes environmental reports and offers circular phone subscription, trade-in and recycling schemes, including for non-Nokia phones.

The phone runs Android 12, which was released in 2021 and is a little disappointing to see since it was superseded by Android 13 in the summer of 2022. Still, unlike that used by most smartphone manufacturers, Nokia’s version of Android is very close to that offered by Google directly without extensive modification. That makes it fast and uncluttered despite the low-power processor. But it also includes some unwanted pre-installed third-party apps, including Booking.com and ExpressVPN, all of which can be uninstalled.

HMD will provide two years of major Android version updates and three years of monthly security updates, which is competitive for the price but poor compared with the best in the market, which offer at least five years of software support.

The Nokia G22 comes in blue or grey and costs £169.

For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy M13 costs £169, the Motorola G13 costs £149, the Google Pixel 6a costs £399 and the Fairphone 4 costs £449.

The Nokia G22 is a low-end Android smartphone that sets itself apart from the crowd in two ways. It has a very long three-day battery life and an easier-to-repair design that makes DIY fixes a realistic proposition.

You won’t need specialised heating and prying tools as the back unclips without glue and components can be unscrewed. You will need some more general tools and a screen fix is still a fairly laborious affair, but it can be done with enough patience after iFixit’s thorough guides. A battery swap is a lot easier, and you can get these components to do fixes at home, which is the first hurdle in any repair. Hopefully this is the start of a positive trend.

Otherwise the G22 is a fairly cheap phone. It is pretty slow, the camera is nothing to write home about, it runs Android 12 not the latest 13, and the 90Hz screen is OK but a long way from great. It is good to see a microSD card slot for adding more memory and a headphone socket. But one of the big downsides is a short support life of just three years.

No matter how many times you can repair the phone, once it is no longer getting security updates it should not be used.

Pros: DIY-repairable design with guides and parts available, very long battery life, clean Android version, OK camera, microSD card slot, headphones socket, low cost.

Cons: slow, average screen, only rain resistant, only three years of software updates.

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