ReviewNokia 225 4G Review - PCMag

Nokia 225 4G Review – PCMag


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Make calls like it's 2006
The Nokia 225 4G is a perfectly basic voice phone with only rudimentary internet capabilities.
The early 21st century called, and that call feels right at home in this straightforward bar phone. The Nokia 225 4G ($49.99) is the least expensive, most basic reliable voice phone you can get. It has a classic design and comes from a trusted brand. If all you need is an inexpensive voice-only phone, it’s a pretty good choice, but the Nokia 6300 4G has dual SIMs, better coverage, and a surprising number of apps for just $20 more.
The 225 is part of a new breed of unlocked voice phone that works on US 4G networks. All of the US carriers will be turning off their old 2G and 3G networks within the next few years, so folks with older phones will need to upgrade their devices. For a few years it was tough to find an unlocked 4G voice phone, but there’s now a flood of them, from the $49, utilitarian Nokia 225 up to the $349, Euro-chic Punkt MP02. If you’ve held onto your Nokia bar phone from 10 or 15 years ago, you’ll feel right at home with this model.
The 225 is a simple plastic bar with a flat keypad and raised four-way rocker. It measures 4.91 by 2.01 by 0.54 inches (HWD) and weighs a mere 3.17 ounces. The plastic screen is a 2.4-inch, 320-by-240 LCD. The screen cover scratches pretty easily, but the springy plastic material generally resists cracks and handles drops well. The color options are black, blue, and gold.
This being a Nokia, it has the big Nokia quirk that some people like and I hate: no hardware volume rocker. If you want to change the call volume, you have to do it in a call; if you want to change ringtone or media volume, you hold down the # key on the home screen and click left and right. I have heard the argument that side volume keys are too easy to accidentally press, but I like to know I can turn my volume up or down quickly at will.
The Nokia 225 runs Nokia’s proprietary Series 30 OS on a Unisoc USM9117 chipset. It has 128MB of RAM and 64MB of storage—yes, megabytes, not gigabytes. If you want to do much with pictures or media, you’ll need to add a microSD card. My phone had no problem with my 256GB card.
Right now, the phone only supports T-Mobile’s network for 4G calling. That means you can use T-Mobile, Metro, Mint Mobile, US Mobile, or other T-Mobile–based carriers. Put an AT&T SIM in and the phone is 3G-only; Verizon SIMs don’t work at all. Coverage is limited, too. The US version of the phone has bands 2/4/5/12/13/17 but lacks band 71, which T-Mobile uses in rural areas. If you want full T-Mobile coverage or a wider range of carrier options, you need to go to the Nokia 6300.
Our test phone was single-SIM. Nokia’s website says it’s dual-SIM, but that appears to be an error.
Call quality is good. Like all of the new 4G voice phones, the 225 supports HD Voice, and it doesn’t distort at top volume. Maximum volume is a bit lower than on the 6300, but it’s still perfectly usable. There are 14 ringtones, including the traditional Nokia tone, and you can use your own MP3s.
The 225 doesn’t give you cellular signal in dBm, so it was hard to tell whether it got slightly better or worse reception than its peers. But whatever the difference was, it was slight in our New York City testing location.
The 225 has a removable 1150mAh battery that delivered 6 hours, 21 minutes of talk time. That’s less than the 6300 (7 hours, 37 minutes) but more than sufficient to get you through the day. 4G voice phones tend to have less talk time than their 3G and 2G ancestors did because voice over LTE (VOLTE) calling is a more complex, power-consuming affair. However, you’ll get several days’ worth of standby time because the phone isn’t doing a lot in the background.
There’s a neat little feature to let you bring over contacts from an Android phone via Bluetooth. You can’t select a subset of contacts to sync, so I suggest setting up an Android device with only the contacts you want on your 225. You can create contact groups and select ringtones for individual contacts or for groups.
Texting is fine, but group texting is a complete mess. Texts appear threaded by sender, and you can both send and receive picture messages but not emoji. You can send group texts, but any group texts received appear from only their individual sender, and when you reply, it only goes to that individual. They also appear out of order, and occasionally, not at all. It’s basically impossible to participate in a group conversation. This is a common problem on a lot of voice phones. The 6300 gets around it by using WhatsApp.
The 225 isn’t quite a digital disconnector’s phone. It has a web browser, Opera Mini; a handful of simple games, including an updated Snake; a music player that will play files from your memory card; an FM radio, which will play over the speaker as well as through headphones; and a voice recorder.
There is a non-removable Facebook icon on the menu screen, but don’t stress; it’s not an app. It’s a hardcoded link to the Facebook website, which opens in Opera Mini.
See How We Test Phones
There’s no tethering and no Wi-Fi. (This does make it easy to cut off your internet access, if that’s what you want to do: Just get a voice-only phone plan.) Plug headphones into the standard 3.5mm headphone jack or connect them via Bluetooth, which can also be used for data transfer.
The 225 has a single VGA camera. VGA! It’s like 2006 up in here! I’m not sure whether camera quality is a phrase it makes sense to use here. The camera app offers color filters, a 10-second selfie timer, and even a (not good) Night mode. Colors in the photos I took were hyped up and supersaturated. You get the photos off the phone by sending them over Bluetooth, texting them, or saving them to a microSD card.
For a first phone, an extra phone, or a safety phone, the Nokia 225 is a simple choice. It’s inexpensive and relatively well built, and works with various service plans. The Nokia 6300 has better T-Mobile coverage, dual SIMs, and WhatsApp, so it’s a better choice if you want something more flexible.
The 225’s lack of Wi-Fi, when combined with a no-data service plan, prevents internet abuse on the phone. If you want something even more locked down (for instance, a phone without a camera or a web browser), you’ll have to go to one of the more specialized models for digital disconnectors, such as the $195 Sunbeam F1 Dandelion or the $349 Punkt MP02. But if you don’t see why you should spend hundreds of dollars to not use the internet, the 225 will suit you just fine.
The Nokia 225 4G is a perfectly basic voice phone with only rudimentary internet capabilities.
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Advertisement’s lead mobile analyst, Sascha Segan, has reviewed more than 1,100 smartphones, tablets and other gadgets in more than 15 years with PCMag. He’s the head of our Fastest Mobile Networks projects in the US and Canada, runs our Race to 5G tracker, and writes opinions on tech and society. Segan is also a multiple award-winning travel writer. Other than his home town of New York, his favorite cities are Barcelona and Hong Kong. While he’s a fourth-generation Manhattanite, he now lives in Queens with his wife and daughter. is a leading authority on technology, delivering Labs-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services. Our expert industry analysis and practical solutions help you make better buying decisions and get more from technology.
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