The latest new bouncing baby bunny from Nokia is the Nokia
4.2. Or as they say in Finnish ‘jalostukseen kuin kanit’ (breeding like
Seriously we are going to need to employ more reviewers as Nokia 4.2 portends the ‘.2’ of its 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9 series! Whoops, there is the new 3.2 at $249 – damned rabbits. No there is no discount for bulk reviews – we don’t charge! BTW Nokia (HMD) has released over 30 models since 2017 – a world record in niche marketing.
The Nokia 4.2 is a cute little phone, with a cute glowing power button and good features at $299.
The Nokia 4.2 has a 5.71-inch HD+ 19:9 screen, dual rear 13/2MP camera, Qualcomm SD439, 3/32GB/microSD, 3000mAh battery. It even has NFC and a fingerprint reader – this cheap, sorry economical phone just got serious.
Spoiler alert: At $299 you can’t expect miracles, but this little phone delivers very well.
How we rate smartphones
We develop paradigms – what it needs to do – and slot them
into market segments.
Our original four categories have grown to seven, and we
review against different paradigms for each category.
Premium Flagship $1600-2499 (usually a flagship
with more memory/storage, additional camera lens and now 5G)
Flagship $1000-1599 (account for about 10% of
Premium mid-market $800-999 (10% and often last
year’s flagship at run-out price)
Mid-market $500-799 (about 25% of the market)
Mass-market $200-499 (about 25% of the market)
Value pre-paid <A$199 (about 30% of the
market – good for pre-paid and children)
At $299 this is in the middle of the mass-market range, so we don’t expect it to offer everything. It has an acceptable screen, better than social media camera, and performance. In fact, we really don’t get too critical until the premium end where you expect it all, and we deduct points for omissions. Here we add points on for extras.
Buy here – or you will regret it
We issue the standard warning that you must buy the genuine model Nokia 4.2 TA-1150 ‘ANZ’ with Australian firmware as it works on all Australian Telco carrier LTE bands and can make a 000-emergency call (not 911) without a SIM. These also have Google Pay that works with Australian PayWave readers.
International models, e.g. TA-1184, TA-11335, TA-1149, TA-1157, are not for Australia (look for the ANZ on the box label and C-Tick regulatory screen).
The Nokia 4.2 has a centre teardrop notch which is more appealing than a full notch. It has large bezels on a flat-screen and a prominent chin with the brand on it. On the rear polycarbonate back is a dual camera and fingerprint reader.
Despite having a 5.71-inch 19:9 screen it feels small after reviewing the $499 Motorola One Vision 6.3-inch, 21:9 but c’est la vie. And it has a dedicated Google Assistant key and a glowing power key (for notifications).
To be fair, I expect a plastic (sorry polycarbonate) back, alloy
frame (unexpected) and non-Gorilla Glass and it does not disappoint.
Size: 5.71-inch Resolution: 1520 x 720 PPI: 295 Ratio: 19:9 Type: aSi TFT 60Hz S-T-B-R: 76.6% Colour depth: 16m Brightness: not stated but measured at 400-450 nits (side to centre) Contrast: not stated but measured at 1500:1 HDR: No Colour gamut: not stated but measured at 90% sRGB, Delta E 5.9 Notch: Teardrop Screen flicker: None
Screen protection: type: not stated – 2.5D glass which appears to be a non-Gorilla toughened glass
Daylight readability: poor
The amorphous silicon TFT screen is almost standard fare for
low-end smartphones as they are cheap to make and draw less power.
The downside of aSI is that screens appear quite dull when
viewed off-angle – it is bright enough at 100% on-angle. But everything has a
blue/greyish tint (cool). You can adjust the white balance from cool to warm –
about halfway is best.
The brightness varies – it is a good 10% lower at the edges.
Screen summary: Pass – fit for purpose
Qualcomm SD439 12nm
4x A53 2Ghz and 4 x A53 1.46GHz
The Qualcomm SD439 is the entry-level Snapdragon of choice
for 2019. It is 25% faster and uses 25% less power than the SD430. Nokia uses
most of its features, but it is not Qualcomm reference design. To reduce cost, it
does not use Wi-Fi AC (it is N), Bluetooth 5.0 (it is 4.2), X6 Modem, and QuickCharge
3.0 features (none).
Performance tests: Geek Bench, 4 single/multi-core/compute
902/3337/3095. To put that in perspective it is about as powerful as a 2014
Samsung Galaxy Note4.
Game use: No but will down-mix video to 720p
Heat load and throttling: While it did not throttle due to
heat under 100% load for 15 minutes, it ranged from 66,267 GIPS to 82,014 GIPS
(average 77913) taking a breather about every 2.5m. This accounts for occasional
lag when you have too many apps open. Maximum heat was 37°.
Wi-Fi N, dual-band,
Codec: SBC and aptX
GPS and e-compass
You cannot expect Wi-Fi AC or BT 5.0 at this price and not using the entire Qualcomm kit saves quite a lot of pennies. However, NFC and a Fingerprint reader are a real bonus as it supports Google Pay.
Signal strength on 2.4GHz was -52dBm and throughput was
72Mbps compared to our reference Samsung Galaxy Note9 at -36/192Mbps.
What this means is that the Wi-Fi antenna is not as sensitive
as other phones and won’t have the speed or distance from the router. It dropped
quickly to 50Mbps at 10 metres and 10Mbps at 20metres.
GPS response times were slow – almost too slow for
turn-by-turn navigation and taking 20-30 seconds to recalculate routes.
Signal strength was -93 compared to our Galaxy Note9 at -104
so it is more sensitive. It barely picked up the second nearest tower at -105,
but the Note9 does not see it at all.
Bands are perfect for Australia, but
international travellers need to check if they are covered.
3.5mm audio jack
Speaker: mono down-firing
Mics – 2
Buds: standard 3.5mm combo
Qualcomm Aqstic and aptX
We tested the corded buds, and the best thing we can say is
why bother. Yes, they deliver voice and have a mic, but the fidelity is sorely
We tried the device with a pair of Sony WH-100XM3 headphones
that support Hi-Res aptX/HD. The phone can use the aptX codec, and it was clear
with little crosstalk.
Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – nil Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – nil High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – nil Low-mids: 200-400Hz – creeping in at 250Hz Mids: 400-1000Hz – gradually building High-mids: 1-2kHz – flat Low-treble: 2-4kHz – flat Treble:4-6kHz – flat with a slight peak at 5-6kHz High Treble: 6-1kHz – flat Dog whistle: 10-20 – drop off at 16kHz
There is no bass and extremely recessed mids. Higher mids and treble were good. This is an analytical signature – quite clear and crisp for voice but not for movies and music.
Handsfree was good – callers could hear me clearly. Maximum ringer volume was 85dB and music/voice
Please use BT speakers or headphones if you want to listen to
Fingerprint sensor on back 2D Face recognition Notification LED power button
Fingerprint recognition is reliable. Face recognition got it
about 40% of the time – its software-driven and needs good light.
We appreciate the notification LED power button. Its is a nice touch.
5V/1A micro-USB will support up to 5V/3A charge Approx recharge 5V/1A 4 hours and 5V/3A 3 hours
The battery is average for this class of device. GeekBench
rates it at 2639
Tests: 1080p Video loop, 50% brightness, Airplane mode just over 10 hours Under 100% load and everything turned or four hours.
Given typical use we
expect this to run for 24+ hours between charges.
Android: 9 Android One: Update policy UI: Pure Android Google Lens/Assistant: Yes
Android One is pure Android and should receive at least two
OS upgrades and three years of patches and security updates.
Pie has loads of features, including AI, to learn about your
use and adapt the phone to it. In the test week,
we started to see minor improvements, especially in the over-aggressive
adaptive brightness setting.
Users may need to get used to Pure Android – it generally
has only one ‘home’ button a.k.a. iOS.
Black or Pink
Polycarbonate back over and alloy frame. Slippery – use the bumper case
48.95 x 71.30 x 8.39 mm x 161g
Nokia build and quality means it is a keeper.
Are they deal breakers for this price – no
Camera – Nokia 4.2
Rear Camera 1
MP: 13 Sensor brand/model: Samsung S5K3L6 Pixel Size: 1.12um F-stop: f/2.2 Stabilisation: None Focus type: PDAF Zoom: 8x digital only AI: Limited scene recognition Flash type: single Saved images: JPEG or RAW if enabled Video:1K@30fps with stereo recording Google Lens: Yes
Rear Camera 2
2MP, 1600 x 1200