A lot of smartphone manufacturers are now packing better specifications into their phones, while cutting costs on the build of the smartphones. But HMD Global clearly has not joined the bandwagon with the Nokia smartphones. The Finnish company is still manufacturing smartphones that give a premium feel, and a balanced performance under the Android One program.
Mid-range devices from the Nokia manufacturer have managed to garner interest partly because of the Nokia branding and partly because of the compact build and reliable performance along with regular updates, which companies rarely deliver on. The Nokia 4.2 follows the same lead.
In terms of looks, the Nokia 4.2 is in line with other Nokia Android One smartphones in the market. It packs decent specifications and a design which looks nothing less than premium. But how does the mid-range smartphone perform? We have put the phone to test and here is our review of the Nokia 4.2.
Nokia 4.2 specifications: 5.1-inch HD+ display | Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 processor | 3GB RAM+32GB storage | 13MP+ 2MP rear cameras | 8MP front camera | 3,000 mAh battery | Android One (Pie)
Nokia 4.2 price in India: Rs 10,990
Nokia 4.2 review: What’s good?
Nokia 4.2 has a polycarbonate chassis sandwiched between the front and rear glass panels. The back is clean, simple and visually appealing. Although the device is not thin, its small size and rounded corners make the build compact.
Nokia 4.2 does not have slippery edges, it fits into hands really well, and can be used with one hand only. The Power button and volume rockers on the right, and the Google Assistant button on the left are within reach. I really liked the idea of the notification LED on Power button. The camera bump on the back is barely noticeable, which is really good to see considering the fact that most phones have an embossed rear camera module.
The 5.1-inch HD+ display of the Nokia 4.2 is decent. The screen has good viewing angles and it is bright enough to read text easily under direct sunlight. The screen is comfortable to look at, but I would have preferred sharper colours. I liked the Dark theme on Nokia 4.2, which looks like the trailer to system-wide dark mode in the upcoming Android Q.
Nokia 4.2 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 processor. The phone registered a score of 79,436 on Antutu Benchmark and it managed to get a single-core score of 692, and a multi-core score of 1913 on the GeekBench. To put it in context, Nokia 5.1 Plus, which is powered by MediaTek Helio P60 processor scored 1,19,305 on AnTuTu. But scores are not everything. While I expected the phone to perform only okay, it far exceeded my expectations in terms of daily use.
The Nokia 4.2 handles switching between apps and loads of notifications without any trouble. I opened dozens of apps in the background and 36 webpages in Chrome tabs. The transition between the apps and Chrome tabs is smooth and the phone does not lag even for a second.
On the Nokia 4.2, I played games like Metal Squad, Warrior Legends and PUBG Mobile. The phone not only handled the Metal Squad easily, but it also ran the graphics-heavy PUBG Mobile without stutters, lags or frame drops on both low and medium settings. I played PUBG for more than one hour and the phone’s temperature did not rise even once.
Pure Android experience on Nokia 4.2 is a huge plus. The phone is powered by Android One, which gives assurance of three years of up to date security patches and timely software updates for two years. Nokia 4.2 runs a bloatware-free stock version of Android Pie, which is snappy, fast, clean and uncluttered. The difference between a custom UI and stock Android is clearly visible in this Nokia phone.
Nokia 4.2 does not click spectacular images, but it can take decent images if the lighting conditions are ideal. The HDR mode on the camera works really well and it also carries more details than the normal shot. The edge detection on rear camera bokeh mode is quite good and there is an option to adjust blur levels after a photo has been taken.
It is good to see the live focus in Nokia 4.2 but it often messes up the edges. Pictures clicked from the rear camera’s bokeh mode support colour pop effect, where only the subject is colourful and the background is black and white.
The camera app has integrated Google lens which can come in handy. It works really well through the secondary 2MP sensor and I could copy text straight out of a computer screen and search for an object online.
The earpiece placed above the U-shaped notch works really well. The sound is clear and audible outdoors even in a traffic jam. The face-unlock on Nokia 4.2 takes a minimum of two seconds to recognise your face and unlock your device. You can activate the faster recognition to minimise this time by half, but that makes it less secure.
The 3,000mAh battery on the Nokia 4.2 offers average performance. It lasts little over a day with more than moderate usage, which included browsing social media, listening to music and podcast, making phone calls, 24×7 internet connectivity, more than eight hours of WhatsApp web, and Hotspot connection for two or more hours.
Nokia 4.2 review: What’s not good?
While the back of Nokia 4.2 looks classy, it is a fingerprint magnet. Also, the smudges are really persistent and don’t leave the phone easily. You need wet wipes or damp cloth to get rid of them.
The phone has broad bezels and a chin so tall that it could host two Nokia brandings on top of each other. Even the area around the U-shaped notch is too thick. While using the phone, the bezels and chin constantly remind you how much space they are taking off your viewing space.
Nokia 4.2 handles transitions between apps smoothly, but it is not the best phone for multi-tasking users. My review unit sports 3GB of RAM and at times it would just restart the app, even though I had not closed it.
Photos captured on Nokia 4.2 often look washed out, dull and boring. In order to take good pictures, there has to be proper lighting. The shutter speed of the phone is not fast enough.
I did not like the exposure levels on the camera, be it an indoor shot or an outdoor shot. The front camera also lacks details and the bokeh mode fails to differentiate between the subject and the background.
The rear and front cameras struggle a lot under low light situations. It takes a longer time to take a shot and even more time to process the image.
The fingerprint sensor placed below the dual rear camera setup is fast but there is a lag between the touch and the time when the screen lits on. Also, the vibration at fingerprint recognition is bothersome.
The speaker in Nokia 4.2 is loud to be audible but the sound falls flat. It lacks depth and bass, and sounds more like noise. It takes more than two hours to charge the 3,000mAh battery, in some instances it took me close to 3 hours to the get the phone fully charged.
Nokia 4.2 review: verdict
The Nokia 4.2 is a budget device which is compact and looks premium. For its price range, the phone stands out because of its design, clean UI (stock Android) and smooth performance. People who want a small compact handset and prefer stock Android can consider Nokia 4.2.
However, the Nokia 4.2’s display is average and the camera department certainly needs improvement. With the competition in the budget segment, Nokia 4.2 might find it hard to stand out against the likes of Redmi Note 7, Realme 3, and Galaxy M20.
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