The Nokia 4.2 doesn’t look out of place with its more expensive peers, writes Noel Campion.
The Nokia 4.2 is living proof that cheap phones keep getting better.
On looks alone, the 4.2 is a smart-looking mobile with a 2019 look and feel that doesn’t look out of place with the current trend of flagships. For €150 you’re getting some excellent hardware and software that I think competes well in a crowded budget market full of less than inspiring mobile phones.
The Nokia 4.2 has a 5.7-inch 720p LCD display that has minimal bezels and a shallow chin. Being an LCD instead of an OLED means the bezels can’t be as thin, but nonetheless, Nokia has managed to keep them to the minimum. I like that the top has a dew-drop cutout for the 8mp front-facing camera to allow the screen go all the way to the top, but I don’t like the Nokia logo in the bottom chin because it’s unnecessary and breaks the flow of the clean design look.
The overall build quality is excellent, but the finishing details around the body aren’t on a flagship level. The back is made of glass, but unlike the front, there’s no oleophobic coating. This means it retains the oil from your skin and you can clearly see fingerprints and smudges all of the time. That being said, the back does look great with a vertically stacked dual camera and LED flash setup located on the top and centre. Beneath the rear cameras is a fingerprint scanner and then another Nokia logo in a vertical orientation.
The Nokia 4.2 feels great in the hand and it has a nice balance to it. The front and glass panels are 2.5D curved and the edge and corners are rounded. Not surprisingly, despite the glass back, there’s no wireless charging.
The power button is larger than you’ll see on a lot of phones, which is a good thing, but it also sports a bright LED light around it. This is used to indicate you have a notification or for when the phone is charging. At first, I thought it looked cool, but in dark situations, I would have liked the ability to turn it off.
All of the buttons have a nice clicky response including the dedicated Google Assistant button located on the left edge. It would have been nice to be able to remap this button to another function, but unfortunately, you can’t.
At this stage, even on budget phones, I’d love to see all manufacturers move to USB type C. Unfortunately. The 4.2 has a micro-USB port and it doesn’t support fast charging. If you’ve never had a phone with fast charging then this won’t bother you, but if you have, it can be a point of frustration.
In terms of hardware, the 4.2 is a budget phone that has enough grunt and storage for most users. With 32GB of storage, you have enough for most basic needs and you can upgrade this via a microSD card. It even has dual-sim support and unlike a lot of phones, you can have two SIMS and a microSD card in use at the same time.
Overall performance is more than fine for general use and I didn’t find it annoying to use on a daily basis. The Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 429 processor, which combined with the octa-core Adreno 505 GPU is more than capable of running and switching between apps smoothly. This can’t be considered a gaming machine, but it ran most games relatively well, just don’t expect flagship-level performance.
Something you don’t get on too many flagships is a 3.5mm headphone jack, but you don’t get any headphones in the box. Also useful for those who don’t have an unlimited data plan is the built-in FM radio.
Unlike some budget phones, the Nokia 4.2 does have NFC meaning it supports Google Pay. You also get Bluetooth 4.2, 4G and decently fast wifi support.
Performance from the 3,000mAh battery is enough to easily get you through a days use and more if you’re a light user.
The Nokia 4.2 comes out of the box with Android 9 and is an Android One device. This means it has a near-stock version of Android with regular security updates for three years, as well as at least the next two major software releases.
For security, there’s both a fingerprint reader and face unlock. These work fine but are not as reliable or as quick as you’ll get on a flagship.
The camera system is a pretty capable setup and I was pleasantly surprised at the results I was able to get in good light. The main shooter is 13mp and the second lens is 2mp and used for depth sensing. Photos in good light have a decent amount of sharpness and detail but the camera does struggle in low light. Again, this is to be expected.
The front-facing camera isn’t great, but more than adequate for video calls. Video is where the cameras image quality falls down and there’s no image stabilisation either.
Overall, the Nokia 4.2 packs a punch at €150 and is good value for money.