Minimalist Phone 2022: Nokia 215 4G Review
Free Your Mind. Keep it Minimal. Meet the Nokia 215 4G - Best Minimalist Phone for 2022?
With the arrival of the new year, I thought I should reward myself and splurge into a new minimalist feature phone to use as my daily driver in 2022. My choice fell on the new Nokia 215 4G , released in 2020 and on sale in Europe for ca. 30-50 EUR. So let’s dive into this and take a closer look.
Why You Should Choose Minimalist Phones
It’s all about your attention and your peace of mind.
Life is too short to waste your precious time endless-scrolling down some social media feed that’s been optimized by hundreds of Ph.D’s in psychology to hijack your attention and keep you in the loop like a hamster by constantly delivering small endorphin kicks into your pituitary gland.
While I’ll have to admit that I actually do own a so called “smartphone”, I much prefer to use a nimble and more basic minimalist phone for my voice calls. Therefore my “smartphone” is usually left in a drawer most of the times, and instead I use it as the occasional Wi-Fi tablet.
As this device doesn’t hold a SIM card and runs LineageOS, it gives me reasonable peace of mind when it comes to the many privacy concerns I have regarding
pocketbugs ehmmm “smartphones”.
So basically I strive for a basic minimalist phone. One that can do phone calls, maybe the occasional SMS, has a long battery life and preferably comes with a FM radio. The latter has come in handy a couple of times, think offline settings or when experiencing power cuts or emergency situations.
My History of Minimalist Phones
Yeah, the old “real” Nokias where great phones. It’s a pity they don’t make phones like that anymore. After the Microsoft take-over of Nokia I did feel betrayed, like so many others. Though I was really happy with the N900 Linux phone that I still keep. Just looking at it gives me a feeling of joy.
But after the mighty Nokia N900 - and the N9 - well, fast forward…
For a while I’ve been using the Nokia 106 (2018), which is actually a sleek little phone that can hold 2x SIM cards, has a decent battery life (ca. 2 weeks of standby) and features a FM radio. It’s actually a really good phone at an excellent price point of 19.95 EUR.
What more can the minimalist heart aspire to own?
Sometimes it’d be nice to listen to some music on the go. A music player, a SD card slot and maybe even Bluetooth would come in handy once in a while, though it’s not by any means a must have.
So back in 2021 I got a Sonim XP3 flip phone, a device I really like a lot:
The flip phone form factor comes with a nice retro vibe, and it gives me a deep sense of satisfaction to slam-close the phone after a call. The device is really very rugged/sturdy and is up for some real beating. Waterproof IP68 it is, built like a brick and running a custom Android AOSP version.
Also, the Sonim XP3 can function as a 4G modem and you can share your 4G via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This worked fairly well during a few tests, but I never actually used this feature and instead preferred to use the XP3 as an “offline device” that is only for voice calls.
But… oh well, the Android did freak me out a little, however I did manage to clean it up a little using
adb, removing some unwanted programs and modifying it a little to better meet my needs.
The main issue turned out to be the built-in microphone, after some months it turned bad and voice calls where only feasible using a headset. Maybe I should try to open the device clean the microphone? Maybe it got damaged while being immersed in water? Anyway…
While there seems to be a market, and even a trend, for sleek minimalist feature phones, it’s not so easy to find a device that actually meets all my requirements in an elegant and cost efficient way.
One really interesting device I’d like to mention is the Punkt MP02, that has become quite popular in recent months and would seem like a good solution to me, as it also features Pigeon aka Signal for encrypted messages and voice calls. It looks like a really nice minimalist phone. However, this device does not go well with my “never buy a mobile phone costing more than 50 bucks” doctrine.
Meet the Nokia 215 4G
Launched in 2020, the Nokia 215 4G is a rather well built and elegant device:
While slightly bigger in size than my trusted Nokia 106, it features a 2.4" screen and a removable 1150 mAh battery that gives me significantly longer talk and standby time:
I’m currently charging the Nokia 215 4G once a week, and it then usually has a ~ 30% capacity left. Pretty sure I could keep it running for ca. 10 days on one charge and with “medium heavy” usage and plenty of longer phone calls, as I use this device both for work and for personal stuff.
But hey, I’m the kinda person who finds it comforting to have a little battery charge left in my device at all times, just in case. The dual SIM comes in handy, although I mostly use only 1x slot at a time and also opt for a plain 2G connection most of the time, thus squeezing out more standby time.
But don’t get me wrong here - neither the hardware nor the used Symbian 30+ (S30+) used by HMD is nowhere near those good old Nokia phones that we had back in the days. Quite far from that actually. It’s a bit sad. So yes, I do kinda miss the days of the Nokia 1110.
Nokia 215 4G: Technical Specifications
So no surprise, this is not a fancy high-end phone. It’s a minimalist, basic device.
|Dimensions||124.7 x 51 x 13.7 mm (4.91 x 2.01 x 0.54 in)|
|Weight||90.3 g (3.17 oz)|
|Country of Origin||Vietnam|
|SIM Slot||Single SIM (Nano-SIM) or Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)|
|Networks||GSM, LTE, WCDMA|
|Operating System||Symbian 30+ (not the good old Symbian from before)|
|Memory||Card slot microSDHC|
|Memory||128MB Internal, 64MB RAM|
|Radio||FM radio, built-in antenna|
|Battery||Type Li-Ion 1150 mAh, removable|
You’ll find that the basics are covered, it’s a sleek little device that’s meant to be doing only a few things. I assume that the hardware is gonna last for quite some time.
Pros and Cons of the Nokia 215 4G
Here are some of the things that I like and dislike with the Nokia 215 4G:
- Decent removable battery, 7-10 days of medium/heavy usage on one charge
- 4G /LTE calls possible for those areas without 2G
- Dual SIM, separate microSD card
- FM radio with internal antenna, works without additional 3.5mm headset
- Bluetooth, but 3.5mm headsets can be used as well
- MP3 player, not very good but good enough for occasional music
- Made in Vietnam, yes I do see that as advantage of this phone
- No camera - why would you want a crappy cam on a basic phone anyway?
- Can’t write/copy contacts to SIM card (seriously??!!)
- MP3 player could be a lot better, though it’s OK still.
- Price point: ca. 30 EUR would be ideal for this device
- Phone sometimes reboots (!) during a +30min voice conversation with a Bluetooth headset. Maybe this is a feature though, in most cases 30min should be more than enough…
Review of Nokia 215 4G on YouTube
So no, I’m not gonna embed those YouTube videos on my page. Yeah, it’d look cool on the site and all, but no.
Instead let me give you a few links to my favorite YouTube reviews on the Nokia 215 4G, you choose for yourself if you want to go there or not. Or just go fetch ‘em with
youtube-dl if you can:
- Nokia 215 4G - Unboxing & Review - Dual Sim Phone
- Nokia 215 4G - 7 Reasons Why It's the BEST Feature Phone Ever!
- Nokia 215 4G Review - The Bad Stuff...
You’ll might notice that they’re all by the same guy - I’m not affiliated in any way, they merely happen to be some of the best reviews of the Nokia 215 4G on the YouTubez IMHO.
So far the Nokia 215 4G has proven to be a rather decent basic and minimalist phone. It is not however comparable to the “good old Nokia” devices that some of you remember dearly.
The software used is Symbian 30+ which is OK in daily usage but not as well thought out as the old Symbian or even the Nokia 106 (2018). I really like the built in FM radio, and that it can be used without an external antenna aka that 3.5mm headset. All phones should have a FM radio like this!
As to the price point, I find it a little on the expensive side for current basic phone. For a ~30 EUR I’d really recommend it, at the official price of almost 50 EUR it’s a bit on the steep side of things. The Nokia 106 (2018) actually offers a far better deal and really good price point of less than 20 EUR. If you don’t need Bluetooth, 4G and a MP3 player I’d say it’d be better to go with the Nokia 106. This is a solid device, pretty nice to look at and it does a good job for a basic feature phone.
It’s not so easy to find a minimal/basic phone these days that works on the 4G/LTE network, has Bluetooth and no camera. The Nokia 215 4G is an alright device for daily usage, sturdy and needs ca. one battery charge per week. I’ve been using the phone for ca. 3 months now, and it’s holding up well.
Yes, I would buy it again.