May 7, 2019
148.95 x 71.30 x 8.39mm
1520 x 720 px
8x ARM Cortex A53
Up To 400GB
Android 9 Pie
1080p @ 30fps
1080p @ 30fps
850, 900, 1800
1, 5, 8
1, 3, 5, 8, 40, 41
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Rear Mounted Fingerprint Sensor
HMD Global has launched the Nokia 4.2, its latest budget smartphone in the Indian market on the 7th of May. At a price of Rs. 10,990, it goes head to head against the proven champion of the segment, the Redmi Note 7. With a legendary name behind it and a clean build of Android, is it the budget smartphone to buy in 2019?
We find out in our Nokia 4.2 Review
What’s In The Box?
- Nokia 4.2
- Power Adapter
- MicroUSB Cable
- SIM Card Ejector
- Quick Start Guide
- Warranty Card
Build Quality & Design
As far as the build quality and design is concerned, Nokia has not strayed far in taking inspiration for the Nokia 4.2. It features glass on both sides with a polycarbonate frame for reinforcement. The design makes it look a lot like the Nokia 6.1 Plus which was launched last year. The front of the smartphone is dominated by a 5.7-inch display with a waterdrop notch on top of it.
The right side of the Nokia 4.2 houses the volume rockers and the power button. Interestingly, the power button also features the notification LED, which as the name suggests lights up whenever the device receives a new notification. Unconventionally, the left side of the smartphone has a dedicated Google Assistant button which can be used to summon the voice assistant. This side houses the Hybrid SIM card tray which can either accept two nano SIM cards or one SIM card and a memory card up to 400 GB. While the top of the handset accommodates the secondary noise cancellation microphone and the 3.5mm headphone jack, the bottom has the microphone, micro USB port and the speaker grille lined up together.
We reviewed the Black coloured variant of the Nokia 4.2 which looks subtle and premium. The back of the smartphone houses the vertical dual camera setup with the flash. The fingerprint scanner and the Nokia logo is also present on the rear of the device. Overall, the Nokia 4.2 features a solid build quality known to the company’s devices and the smartphone feels robust in the hand. The small and compact form factor of the smartphone ensures it is easy to use with one hand. However, we recommend using a case as it can easily slip out of your palm owing to the glass back. Also, the case will prevent the fingerprints which the device easily attracts.
The Nokia 4.2 has a 5.7-inch display with a resolution of 1520 x 720 px. The sides of the device have thin bezels while there is a significant chin at the bottom. To maximise the screen real estate, the company has implemented a waterdrop style notch on the smartphone, which is becoming increasingly common in the segment.
In terms of quality, the TFT display of the Nokia 4.2 offers good colour reproduction and average contrast levels. Being a TFT display, you will not get deep blacks or saturation like seen in the Galaxy A20 which incorporates an AMOLED panel. However, the display should be fine for daily use and media consumption, even though we would have preferred a panel with higher brightness levels that facilitate outdoor usage. Given the smartphone competes with the likes of the Redmi Note 7 which has a FullHD display, the display is not the strong suit of the Nokia 4.2.
Hardware & Performance
The Nokia 4.2 features the Snapdragon 439 SoC coupled with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of Internal Storage. In terms of day to day usage, the smartphone performed well and we faced zero lags while switching between applications with several apps running in the background. The humble amount of RAM is enough for keeping light applications in memory.
While the general performance was fine, gaming on the Nokia 4.2 is another territory altogether. While playing PUBG Mobile, the game chose low settings by default and medium frame rates when opened for the first time. The gameplay was average, with minor frame drops and stutters. The next game we tried was Asphalt 9 Legends racing game, which selected the lowest graphics setting by default. Its gameplay was smooth, with playable frame rates and zero stutters. Overall, the performance on the Nokia 4.2 is below average, but gaming on the smartphone is an underwhelming experience.
Using benchmarking applications like Antutu and Geekbench on the Nokia 4.2 does not tell a different story either. While testing the Antutu benchmark, we got a score of 80,061 which is significantly lower than the competition including the Galaxy A20 or the Redmi Note 7. In Geekbench, the device registered a single core score of 898 points and a multi-core score of 3322 points. As is evident from the numbers, the handset should be fine for day to day usage but is not made for performance enthusiasts.
Software, UI & Multimedia
The Nokia 4.2 runs a stock build of Android 9 Pie with Android One Certification. This essentially implies the smartphone will get guaranteed updates to major Android versions for at least two years and security updates for three years. As this is a stock build of the OS, there is no bloatware or customisation from Nokia, which is appreciated.
The Nokia 4.2 supports the basic Android navigation gestures which are bundled with Android 9 Pie. These let users go back with the dedicated back button on the left, a single tap on the centre pill takes you home and a swipe up on it brings out the multitasking menu. Dragging the pill to the right lets users scroll across various applications open in the background.
In terms of sound quality, the Nokia 4.2 has a single bottom firing speaker which has decent sound output. One downside of the setup is how easy it is to block the speaker grille while holding the device in landscape mode. Audio output via the Bluetooth is above average which provides for a good listening experience.
While the Nokia 4.2 ships without any customisations out of the box, the company has bundled its homegrown camera app. The application is similar to ones found in other Nokia devices. All the major controls are laid out thoughtfully which provide for easy with one hand. There is also a Pro mode, which can be accessed by swiping up on the shutter button. This mode lets users select image properties like shutter speed and ISO manually.
The Nokia 4.2 has a dual rear camera setup consisting of an f/2.2 aperture equipped 13MP sensor paired with an f/2.2 aperture equipped 2MP depth sensor. Images captured in daylight from the smartphone are above average, with decent contrast and natural colours. One gripe we have about the camera is that it can be a little slow to process the images. Images captured in low light are below average, with softer colours and a visible loss of detail.
Like most modern smartphones, there is a Bokeh mode which is dicey on the Nokia 4.2. While the subject separation is good and the device does a decent job of recognising depth, the colours in the result look very artificial. This effect is most prevalent in the day and with good lighting.
For selfies, the Nokia 4.2 has an f/2.0 aperture equipped 8MP sensor housed in the notch on top of the display. Images from the front camera are generally great, with accurate colours and good detail. There is a live bokeh mode which also works well. The results are far from what the best can churn out but are worthy enough to be shared on social media.
Battery and Connectivity
The Nokia 4.2 is powered by a 3000mAh battery which can be charged using the bottom mounted micro USB port. Frankly, we would’ve prefered a USB Type C port and faster charging than the provided 5 W charger can offer. The battery life of the device is also average, with us getting a screen on time of about four to five hours on medium usage. The low-resolution screen, combined with stock Android provides the smartphone with acceptable battery life.
In terms of connectivity, the Nokia 4.2 has WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2 and also supports 4G VoLTE. The smartphone faced no problems in latching on to Wi-Fi networks and performed as expected. Call quality on the device was excellent, with the earpiece producing loud, crisp audio. The handset was able to perform equivalent to its rivals when it is about network and connectivity. Notably, the SAR value of the Nokia 4.2 is 0.79 W/Kg which is well in the safe limit set according to the Indian standards.
The Nokia 4.2 has a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner and supports the ever popular face unlock technology. In our usage, we found the fingerprint scanner to be a little slow in unlocking the smartphone. As the biometric sensor is placed on the rear, it is inaccessible when placed on a flat surface. For those occasions, the face unlock is a handy feature. Interestingly, there are two ways to set up facial recognition on the Nokia 4.2. The first one takes a while to unlock the smartphone but is a lot safer. The second option, which can be turned on in settings, unlocks the handset much faster but the security aspect of it takes a backseat.
The dedicated Google Assistant button is one of the key highlights of the Nokia 4.2. Like mentioned above, the button can be pressed to summon the digital voice assistant. With the smartphone, three individual functions have been mapped to the button. Pressing it once will bring up the Google Assistant which can be used to input commands. Clicking the button twice brings up the Assistant dashboard to glance through updates, while a long press on the button turns on the microphone until the key is pressed. This function works like a walkie talkie and is a good addition for quick or longer commands.
The Nokia 4.2 is a smartphone in a completely new lineup for the company. While it offers a solid build, premium design, stock Android with Android One and the Google Assistant button, its performance and cameras leave a lot to be desired. In a segment where versatile cameras like in the Galaxy A20 and great performance like seen in the Redmi Note 7 is a thing; the Nokia 4.2 doesn’t have a lot of features to justify its asking price.
Nevertheless, if you want a smartphone from a brand offering a good after-sales service and software experience, the Nokia 4.2 might just work out for you. However, the Redmi Note 7 has proven itself as a complete package and is an excellent value for money device. We found the Nokia 4.2 to be an underwhelming offering from the company; and recommend you also check out smartphones like Samsung’s Galaxy M20, the Galaxy A20, the Redmi Note 7 or the company’s own Nokia 5.1 Plus if you’re looking for a great budget device.
Google Assistant Button