Price (RRP): $299
The latest new bouncing baby bunny from Nokia is the Nokia 4.2. Or as they say in Finnish ‘jalostukseen kuin kanit’ (breeding like rabbits).
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
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.
- Foldable $2500+
- 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 sales)
- 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).
Nokia 4.2 Model TA-1150 ANZ 4/32GB
Australian Website here
In the box
- Nokia 4.2 handset
- Charger 5V/1A
- USB-A to micro-USB
- 3.5 mm earbuds and mic
The first impression
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
Type: aSi TFT 60Hz
Colour depth: 16m
Brightness: not stated but measured at 400-450 nits (side to centre)
Contrast: not stated but measured at 1500:1
Colour gamut: not stated but measured at 90% sRGB, Delta E 5.9
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
Vulkan 1.1, OpenGL ES 3.1+
H.265 (HEVC), H.264 (AVC), VP8
RAM: 3GB LPDDR3|
Storage: 32GB eMMC 20GB free
OTG Support: Yes
Micro-SD card expansion: 400GB UHS-1
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||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.
LTE Cat 4 150/50Mbps|
Bands: 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40, 41
|Sim||Single sim with dedicated microSD slot|
|Other||VoLTE or VoWi-Fi capability depends on carrier|
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
|Res||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 lacking.
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 around 73dB.
Please use BT speakers or headphones if you want to listen to music.
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.
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
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.
|OS|| 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.
|Colours||Black or Pink|
|Build|| Polycarbonate back over and alloy frame. |
Slippery – use the bumper case
|Dimensions||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
Focus type: PDAF
Zoom: 8x digital only
AI: Limited scene recognition
Flash type: single
Saved images: JPEG or RAW if enabled
Video:[email protected] with stereo recording
Google Lens: Yes
|Rear Camera 2||
2MP, 1600 x 1200|
Likely Samsung S5K4HA
|Camera Features||Animated emojis, beauty|
Why the detail?
The camera sits above what we call ‘social media standard’ being able to take competent shots in daylight, office light and even low light.
The lack of post-processing (not expected in this class) means images tend to be softer and colours paler – they don’t pop like a more expensive camera.
And as with all digital zoom – do not go there. No OIS and already soft results make zoom a disaster.
Tests – all auto
Colours are a little washed out, but the detail is good
Indoors Office Light (400 lumens)
Detail is good, but colours are washed out – note the pinkish (instead of quite bright red Sudoku book and rear toaster etc.)
Low light (room with less than 100 lumens)
The sensor is working overtime to brighten this darkened room, and it does quite well. Colours are good, but the details are softer.
The 8MP selfie captures reasonable detail. Its strictly for one person – there is no wide-angle. Lack of screen fill light is a concern.
The 2MP Bokeh rear sensor does a poor job of separating the foreground from the background. It needs relatively clean lines to differentiate.
1K at 30fps and no EIS means good colours but a lack of sharpness
GadgetGuy’s take – Nokia 4.2 for the masses
It is not a bad phone – being positive for $299 it is a damned good phone as we have come to expect from Nokia. Honestly, you cannot go wrong.
But it has some stiff competition in the $279 Alcatel 3 2019 that scored 4.4-out-of-5 with the same SD439, 5.9” screen, 4/64GB, 13/5MP camera and a bigger battery.
Had Nokia been $250 it would have blitzed this category. And guess what – it is $224.24 at Pennytel with a voice/data plan on