Blog I Hate My Nokia | Vale.Rocks
Review

I Hate My Nokia

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  • 4 minute read

My first phone was a RugGear RG930. If you think Nokia's 3310 was built like a brick, then this thing may as well have been rubberised titanium. It was so sturdy I used to play 'catch the phone' with friends, and it ended up face down on concrete more times than I can count, but I don't think it ever sustained so much as a scratch. As time progressed, I decided I wanted something a tad more featured, and later ended up with the first iPhone SE, a phone that was endlessly reliable when it wasn't stuck in a bootloop thanks to my love for gaolbreaking.

As the SE aged, and the battery degraded, I chose to upgrade. I moved to the Nokia 2720, a charming little flip phone. It was an excellent nugget of a device, and I used it for a few years. It didn't have support for much fancy crap, but I didn't need that. It worked and was lovely until it shed the D-pad, the company supporting the OS disappeared off the planet, and it started to take issue with my telco.

As a result, I decided the time was ripe to move back to the world of smartphones. I was intrigued by Nokia's latest offering, the G22. Much like my Framework, it was advertised as repairable, with support directly from iFixit. It also had long battery life, a headphone jack, SD card tray, and was on the cheaper end of the spectrum. It ticked all my boxes. I waited for reviews, and they were almost unanimously positive. I found it for a good price in a bundle with a case and speaker and bought it.

I opened it up to find myself fighting through a plethora of bloatware and crap. I finally got into the phone, and it was pretty nice, albeit plastered with random applications. I loaded my contacts, photos, and other materials and went on with my day to get a feel for the device. A day or two later, I found myself needing to make a call, so I opened up the contacts app to an empty screen. All my contacts missing.

I reimported my backup, and once again, everything was purged the next time I tried to use it. I figured, no stress, I'll go use another contact app. Same issue. Something on the phone was purging my contacts. Then my SMS app started crashing every time I opened it.

I decided to move to a custom ROM to escape the issues. I figured it'd be a breeze. After all, it's a device billed as repairable, and developer options showed it supported OEM unlocking. I checked out LineageOS. Unsupported. I decided to search online, and after wading through waist high AI generated SEO articles discovered that none exist for the phone.

I thought about trying my hand at making one, but discovered that HMD has failed to comply with the GPL and hasn't distributed the source needed. As you can see on this page, there is no G22 listed.

A side, back, and front view of the Nokia G22 in the colour 'Lagoon Blue'.
The Nokia G22 from a few angles.

I decided to simply reset the phone. No luck; same issues. I decided I'd reset it again and replace all the apps I could with alternatives from F-Droid to see if it fixed any of the issues. Unfortunately, it did not. While many of the apps themselves were excellent, they still relied on the cooked version of Android to function. The phone's software has let me down, and the lack of alternate ROM options doesn't help.

The absolute worst part of the experience would have to be logging in. Here is an example of the login experience:

  1. Place finger on fingerprint reader.
  2. Phone vibrates but screen doesn't turn on.
  3. Press power button to turn on the screen.
  4. The screen brightness plummets to the lowest value.
  5. Press the power button again to turn the phone off.
  6. Press power button to turn on the screen.
  7. Give up on fingerprint reader.
  8. Swipe up on lock screen and enter pin.

I've tried varying my actions in every possible way, and this roundabout mess is the only way I can reliably get into the phone when it happens. It doesn't happen every time, but it happens enough to thoroughly infuriate and inconvenience me.

The phone also fails to reenable network functionality after entering battery saver mode, and Bluetooth often refuses to work unless I restart the phone. Updates haven't been as frequent as advertised either. The Nokia name truly has fallen from grace. While the phone does look rather nice and takes decent pictures, it's all overshadowed by its issues.

Realistically, Nokia as we know it has been dead for a while. While they may have stood strong in the 90s and early 2000s, they actively fought the flow of progress as it rushed past them. They refused to join the Open Handset Alliance, instead investing in the ill fated Symbian Ltd and its increasingly obsolete operating system.

As Symbian stumbled, Nokia attempted to replace it with MeeGo (another Linux based mobile OS). While this saw positive attention, it wasn't to be as Nokia entered into a partnership with Microsoft the very same year they released their first (and last) MeeGo phone.

This partnership saw Nokia embrace Windows Phone. They quickly became the most prominent Windows Phone manufacturer, making up most of the sales through 2013 with their Lumia series. However, Nokia began experimenting with Android on their phones and Microsoft, worried what might happen should they lose their biggest OEM, purchased their mobile phone division outright.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, Windows Phone wasn't quite the success they'd been hoping for, and a decline over the next few years saw the project completely dead by the end of the decade. In recent years, the mobile phone division sold to Microsoft has been living as HMD Global, although they've recently pushed away from the Nokia brand.

I can only hope that the restructuring leads to their products improving, as what they're currently offering is truly quite poor. I'd love to hear suggestions for my next phone, if you've got any. I'm looking for something that's small, easily repairable, supports custom ROMs, has a headphone port, and doesn't cost me my kidney.

Please feel welcome to leave any suggestions in the comments.