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Nokia 4.2 review: Has more disadvantages than advantages, lacks dual band WiFi & has a weak speaker output

Primarily, it’s the processor that is a major bottleneck.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: May 14, 2019, 09.55 AM IST
Nokia 4
Nokia 4.2
Price: Rs 10,999
Rating: **

Specifications: 5.7-inch IPS, 1520 x 720 pixels, octa-core Snapdragon 439 processor, 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, microSD slot (up to 400GB supported), 13MP + 2MP dual rear camera, 8MP front camera, 4G, VoLTE, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, FM radio, rear fingerprint scanner, 3,000mAh battery, 161 grams

Pros: Stylish glass design, stock Android interface, notification LED integrated with power button, fast fingerprint scanner, dedicated google assistant key, dedicated microSD slot

Cons: High price, HD display, entry-level processor, averagescreen brightness, thick bezels, shutter lag in camera, average camera performance, no dual band WiFi

Nokia under the aegis of HMD Global has shown us some great smartphones in the recent past. They even have the industry’s first penta camera phone called Nokia 9 PureView (we expect an India launch for that soon). However, they can’t ignore the entry and mid-range segment - that’s where all the action is.

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The Nokia 4.2 starts strong with a glass sandwich design and polycarbonate frame. Glass backs are still rare in this price segment. It feels great in hand thanks to the 2.5D curved edges and compact size. However, the glass seems to be the kind that scratches with any hard object - even a table top. The back panel got the first deep scratch within 5 minutes and it was covered in scratches in a week. In case you were wondering, this was with careful handling.

There are two really handy features on the Nokia 4.2. First is the dedicated button on the side for Google Assistant. Note that you cannot map this button to any other function. Second is the integration of an LED inside the power button to work as notification alert. Since the use of notch display does not leave space to add a notification LED, this implementation is great. We like to see innovation like this, especially in the entry and mid-range segment.

The phone has a 5.71-inch TFT display with 19:9 aspect ratio and U style notch. The smaller display is one of the reasons for the overall compact size. That the screen is ‘compact’ is the only good thing we can say about it. The quality is sub-par, viewing angles are terrible, brightness is low, it has thick bezels and it has HD resolution instead of FHD. There are a number of cheaper phones with superior full HD screens such as the Redmi Note 7, Realme U1 and ZenFone Max Pro M2.

Performance is another area where the phone falls short. It has an entry-level Snapdragon 439 processor combined with 3GB RAM, 32GB storage and a 3,000mAh battery. If all you want to do is calls, social media and multimedia, that’s fine. But if you have bigger plans for your smartphone, this phone is not meant for you. Primarily, it’s the processor that is a major bottleneck. Battery life is one full day thanks to the adaptive battery feature. Considering that you get the much more powerful Snapdragon 660 with bigger batteries for Rs 9,999 (Redmi Note 7, Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2), we just can’t too many good reasons to choose this Nokia.

In the camera department, Nokia 4.2 has a dual rear camera setup (13MP + 2MP) with phase detection autofocus. Photos taken from the rear camera look good on-screen with rich colour. On closer inspection, the quality falls off the mark. For portrait mode, the edge detection was above average but again not the best in this price segment. Video recording is limited to 1080p while the competition offers 4k video recording. In front is an 8MP camera with f2.0 aperture which delivers good selfies in daylight. Again, the edge detection is not great in portrait selfies, but it gets the job done with good amount of bokeh. Low light photos from the rear as well as front camera suffer from visible noise and are low on details. The major issue with the camera (both rear and front) is the shutter lag – it can take between 2 to 3 seconds to save an image. This could be fixed via software update.

Nokia has been betting big on a stock Android experience. The Android One program means zero bloatware, smooth performance with entry-level hardware and fast Android updates when Google releases them. On the Nokia 4.2, you also get face and fingerprint unlock that works reasonably well, microSD slot, an ambient display feature and gesture support. Disappointments include the lack of dual band WiFi, weak speaker output and the slow 5 watt charger in the box.

Overall, the Nokia 4.2 has more disadvantages compare to advantages. The high price further cements the belief that the competition in this segment is killing it. We recommend getting the Redmi Note 7 or the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 at Rs 9,999 instead of the Nokia 4.2. They offer larger full HD displays, faster processors, excellent performance, superior cameras and longer battery life.
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