Nokia 4.2 Front

HMD Global’s Nokia branded handsets are a bit of a hit, and it’s likely due – at least in part – to the name Nokia, resonating with older consumers like myself who remember devices like the N95, 6230 or for even early Nokia, the 3210.

It’s no secret that the Nokia brand are a firm favourite in the Ausdroid office and with the company bringing the Nokia 4.2, we wanted to see how this device can handle the usual day to day tasks and probably the good old Ausdroid review beating we tend to give.

When we were able to get our hands on one, we thought we would put it through its paces and see if this device is worthy of consideration.

The Build Quality

The Nokia 4.2 is made from glass panels on the front and rear housed within a polymer plastic frame around the sides.

Opening the box and looking at the build and design, I can say this is what HMD Global do best. Presentation matters, and makes the difference between looking cheap and premium. Given this device is aimed for the mid range market, I can certainly say they have got the design right without a doubt.

Taking the device out of the packaging and turning it on, also gave some joy, hearing the Nokia tune. It always brings back a lot of memories growing up and using a few Nokia devices both as a teenager (now I feel really old) to my mid twenties during the naughty years.

The front of the Nokia 4.2 houses a 5.71-inch IPS display that is not as bright as say the Nokia 5.1 Plus I have or my Galaxy Note 8. On the plus side though, it is designed with slimmer bezels even while housing the front facing camera.

To the right hand side of the Nokia 4.2, you will find both the volume rocker along with the power/standby button that lights up when the device is being used or charged or receive notifications. This is because the display sadly doesn’t have the ability for an always on display feature, so it’s a great second option.

The left hand side of the device houses the SIM/MicroSD card tray and just below that is the newly and somewhat interesting dedicated Google Assistant button, which does come in handy for those times where saying or yelling out ‘Hey Google’ can be a little bit awkward.

The bottom side of the device houses the rear speaker, which isn’t worth talking about and the more interesting choice just to the right of this is the microUSB port. It is interestingly to say the least that Nokia/HMD Global have chosen a microUSB port over what is slowly becoming the standard with all new devices, a USB-C port. I can only wonder why HMD have gone down this path over the standard, which could all be down to cost at the end of the day, but none-the-less, the Nokia 4.2 does support fast charging, albeit slower than USB-C can offer.

The rear or back of the Nokia 4.2 houses the dual 13MP and 2MP depth cameras which are housed in an ever so slightly raised bump, along with a single LED flash which I will go into further down in the review.

There is also a fingerprint scanner located just under the camera housing which is a nice touch and certainly something I do tend to look for in a device these days. The Nokia brand is there too.

Overall, from a design perspective, the Nokia 4.2 does have a lot going for it, with a premium design in a budget sort of fashion.

The Internals

Powering the Nokia 4.2 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 processor which is helped out by 3GB of RAM.

Performance wise, the Nokia 4.2 did perform marginally better than its cheaper stablemates, but there was still a bit of stutter here and there. I found the same with the Nokia 3.2.

NFC is also available on the Nokia 4.2, which is good to see in the mid-range to the budget end devices.

There is 32GB of onboard storage with the ability to expand this to 400GB via microSD card. You’ll most likely want to use a microSD card as once my 78 apps were installed, I found I didn’t have a lot of storage left for much else.

Powering this is the non-removable 3000 mAh battery which during the review testing period wasn’t really remarkable.

I often found battery power down to 20% by about 3pm with some heavy usage, watching YouTube videos and trying to play games and send emails and check Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately this meant charging the device before going home, or carrying a powerbank.

Lights, Camera, Action!

The Nokia 4.2 comes with rear Dual 13MP/2MP camera, with the 13MP provides f/2.2 aperture with the 2MP providing more a depth sensor.

During the mid daylight photos were okay, with good colouration and contrast. They were also much sharper than say the Nokia 3.2 I also reviewed. The same cannot be said for the nighttime or low light pictures, which suffer from a bit of noise and some grain showing. Also, you do need to be very still to be able to take a passable picture even during the day time, with night photos being appreciably worse.

Furthermore both the front and rear cameras suffered from laggy performance and were slow to capture pictures. The shutter was slow and the lack of any features or modes like Pro or Manual mode or any AR Stickers meant the camera was boring and not so interesting to use.

There are some modes like Panorama, Google Lens, Bokeh, Pro, Video, Square and Timelapse, but other than that, it was just sorely lacking any wow factor and with cameras really helping sell smartphones, I am seriously disappointed with Nokia as previous smartphones I have reviewed have offered so much more.

The front facing camera is an 8MP camera which provides some decent pictures, however again the lack of any AR Stickers or modes does mean you will be looking to other apps like SnapChat, Facebook Messenger or Instagram for these options.

The software

The Nokia 4.2 comes with Google’s Android One version 9.0 (Pie) which I do prefer in a device, given there is a guarantee of 2 years worth of major security and firmware/OS updates.

This means that the device will receive security and major updates for up to 2 years which HMD Global have committed to and I have to admit, they are pretty quick at rolling out these updates as they come from Google.

As usual, Nokia/HMD Global have ensured they haven’t added any additional bloatware or services to the Android One experience.

They have, of course have some limited apps which I have written about before like My Phone (formerly Nokia Care) and the radio app, which requires a headset to be plugged into the audio jack to work. These seem to be the only pre-installed apps on the device.

Should I consider buying one?

One the one hand, the overall design of the Nokia 4.2 makes it feel and look like a mid to high range device. However, design and looks are one thing.

It’s the overall experience that also counts. From a function, user experience, camera and performance, I would say it’s more a budget end and that disappoints me as I feel the Nokia 4.2 could have been so much more.

Honesty, based on the price alone and performance, you can easily find better devices that will offer both great design, slightly better or enhanced performance and better camera software if you’re willing to spend the extra $50 to $200. Think of say the Huawei Nova 3e or the OPPO AX5s or AX7. All these devices offer something similar albeit without Android One OS or NFC.

The Nokia 4.2 is available from the following retailers:

Retailer Colour Price
PennyTel Black or Pink Sand $224.25
Big W Black or Pink Sand $299
JB Hi-Fi Black or
Pink Sand