Hands on: Nokia 4.2 review

A potential low-cost hit

What is a hands on review?
Nokia 4.2
Image Credit: TechRadar

Early Verdict

The Nokia 4.2 appears to offer great value for money with a solid feature set and stylish design at an attractive price point.

For

  • Premium design for the price
  • Affordable price tag
  • Headphone jack

Against

  • Camera doesn't excel
  • MicroUSB not USB-C

The Nokia 4.2 is described as a "mini flagship" by manufacturer HMD Global during its launch at MWC 2019, and while this may be a little much, it's still a well made device with a solid feature set and attractive price point.

Key features on the Nokia 4.2 include a 5.71-inch display, dual rear cameras and a power key which also houses a notification light, giving you subtle nudge to tell you it may be worth checking your phone.

Nokia 4.2 release date and price

The Nokia 4.2 release is set for the end of April, although we're yet to receive exact details on where the handset will be stocked. We do know, however, that it will make its way to the US, UK and a number of European countries.

As for the Nokia 4.2 price, you'll be looking at $169 (around £130, AU$230) for the 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage model, while the 3GB/32GB variant is $199 / AED 599 (around £150, AU$270).

Those prices place it firmly in the budget end of the market, way below the "affordable flagships" such as the OnePlus 6T, Honor View 20 and Pocophone F1 - a mini flagship it realistically isn't.

Nokia 4.2

Image Credit: TechRadar

Design and display

The Nokia 4.2 has a pleasingly premium look and feel, especially when you consider the price tag, with a glass front and back sandwiching a polycarbonate frame.

Give the rear glass a tap and it doesn't sound as premium as more expensive devices, but it still feels pricier than it is.

Measuring 148.95 x 71.3 x 8.39mm, weighing 161g and with rounded corners and curved edges the Nokia 4.2 easy to hold, and it can be used one-handed without too much issue.

You'll find the volume and power keys on the right of the handset, and they're easy to hit, with the latter housing an additional feature. 

HMD Global has built a notification light into the power button, giving you a subtle indication (with its calm, breathing light) that it might be worth checking your phone - and it's visible whether you have the phone face up or face down.

Nokia 4.2

Image Credit: TechRadar

There is another button on the 4.2 though, on the left-hand side. This key is a shortcut to Google Assistant, giving you quick access to the smart voice assistant.

On the rear a well-placed fingerprint scanner sits below two cameras and a flash which are housed in possibly the thinnest camera bump we've witnessed. It's raised from the rear of the phone, but only ever so slightly.

You'll be able to pick up the Nokia 4.2 in two colors, black and a new hue we got hands on with called "Pink Sand".

On the base of the phone there's a microUSB port (not the newer USB-C connection), while on the top audio fans will be pleased to find a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Turning our attention to the front of the Nokia 4.2 and you'll be greeted with a respectable 5.71-inch display with a tall, 19:9 aspect ratio and relatively inoffensive single-camera sized teardrop notch cutting into the top of the screen.

The notch doesn't really get in the way, as it sits in the center of the notification bar, with our only main gripe being it reduces the number of icons that can be shown here.

The resolution is HD+ (720 x 1520) which is acceptable at the price point, but if you look closely you can see that this isn't a full HD or higher display with a pixel density of 295ppi. Still, icons and text are bright and clear enough.

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Camera, battery and specs

The Nokia 4.2 may be a low-cost smartphone, but it still manages to boast two rear cameras, with a main 13MP sensor sitting alongside a 2MP depth sensing one. Meanwhile, round the front you get an 8MP selfie snapper.

We managed to snap a few shots with the 4.2, and while quality was generally acceptable, the camera app and shutter do have a noticeable amount of lag.

The secondary, depth sensing camera allows you to take portrait-style shots, with a background blur effect around your subject. The level of the blur can be adjusted in the Google Photos editor as well.

Nokia 4.2

Image Credit: TechRadar

Inside, there's a 3,000mAh battery and a Snapdragon 439 chipset powering the show with a little help from either 2GB or 3GB of RAM. The amount of RAM you get is dependent on the storage variant you choose - with 16GB and 32GB up for grabs.

If your budget can stretch, we'd highly recommend the 32GB model, as Android these days takes up several GB before you've even had the chance to download any apps or snap any pictures. 

Both models do come with a microSD slot though, allowing you to build on the internal space with cards up to 400GB in size.

Performance during our brief hands-on time with the Nokia 4.2 was acceptable, but it's not exactly a snappy experience. 

The good news is you get Android 9 Pie - the latest version of the software - and the 4.2 is part of Google's Android One program meaning an almost stock version of the operating system and guaranteed major Android updates for two years, and security updates for three. 

It means it should be future proofed for the next few years at least.

Nokia 4.2

Image Credit: TechRadar

Early verdict

Considering its price point, the Nokia 4.2 looks like it offers great value for money with a stylish design, solid performance and a clean Android interface.

It's not going to blow you away with impressive speeds or stellar photographs, but as a budget phone it's seemingly well equipped. Keep an eye out for our full Nokia 4.2 review to find out if it really can deliver a top low-cost experience.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest showcase for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2019 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.