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Nokia 3.2 and 4.2 quick review: Affordable Nokia phones with trendy displays and buttons

Nokia 3.2

The Nokia 3.2 and Nokia 4.2 have been a couple of surprises from HMD’s keynote at MWC 2019. Unlike the Nokia 9 and the Nokia 1 Plus that have been rumoured for a while now, pretty much nothing was known about the Nokia 3.2 and 4.2 until Sunday. These are HMD’s newest affordable Android One smartphones for the mass markets, and they come bearing a few new features that are a first in the company’s portfolio.

The two Android One devices tout waterdrop displays, which makes them the first set of Nokia phones to bring this new display type. In addition to this, the Nokia 3.2 and Nokia 4.2 also offer attractive all-glass designs and some first-time features such as a notification LED embedded in the power button and a dedicated button for Google Assistant. I spent a brief amount of time with the new Nokia 3.2 and Nokia 4.2 smartphones, and here are my initial thoughts.

Last year, HMD launched a number of Nokia phones with wide notches, but the trend has now moved to smaller notches in the shape of a waterdrop. Most mainstream brands have launched phones with droplet-style notches since the second half of 2018, so it was only a matter of time before HMD joined the bandwagon. The Nokia 3.2 and Nokia 4.2 both offer tiny droplet notches, but the phones differ in size.

The Nokia 4.2 sports a 5.7-inch HD+ display with a 19:9 aspect ratio, while the Nokia 3.2 comes with a bigger 6.2-inch HD+ display with a similar aspect ratio. No surprises that the Nokia 4.2 feels more compact in the hand, much like the Nokia 6.1 from last year. It is a fairly lightweight phone with a 2.5D curved glass on the back that makes it looks quite premium to the touch.

The Nokia 3.2 is a bigger, bulkier phone, for those who want a large screen at an affordable price point. The back and the frame of the Nokia 3.2 is covered with a seamless plastic cover. This also helps keep the weight of the Nokia 3.2 pretty light and easy to carry. Now, the Nokia 3.2 does get a fingerprint sensor, but that is reserved for the 3GB/32GB variant. The base model does not get a fingerprint sensor, but it does keep the face unlock feature.

Nokia 4.2

Both the phones come with fairly thick chins below, but that’s easy enough to ignore as the waterdrop displays look quite appealing. The displays offer good colour reproduction and indoor brightness looked good. In my limited time with the Nokia 3.2 and Nokia 4.2, I couldn’t check out how the displays in great detail. Suffice it to say that it is good to see HMD change things up and offer something new at the start of 2019.

One rarely gets to say this, but the added flair to the design of the Nokia 3.2 and Nokia 4.2 is in their buttons. The power button now doubles up as a notification light, which is now embedded in the power button on the side. So when the devices receive a call or a text message, the power button will illuminate. It’s a nice little touch that adds to the overall aesthetics of the phone. Another new addition is the dedicated Google Assistant button on the left side of the frame. The Google Assistant button will make it easier than ever to invoke Assistant on the go, something HMD feels will be appreciated by consumers as the Google AI becomes ever so popular. HMD says the side notification light and Google Assistant button will become a standard with future Nokia phones as well.

The Nokia 4.2 comes with a 13MP + 2MP dual rear camera setup, and a 13MP selfie camera. The Nokia 3.2 gets a single 13MP camera on the back and a 5MP front facing camera. I was able to take only a couple of indoor shots with the two phones. The camera seem to hold up well under artificial lighting, delivering good colours and exposure. Without testing the cameras extensively, it is hard to say how well they really work.

The Nokia 4.2 and Nokia 3.2 are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 and Snapdragon 429 chipsets, respectively. These are fairly entry-level octa-core processors that should work well enough for basic day-to-day usage, but may not be enough to run heavy apps and graphics intensive games. I didn’t get a lot of time to really stress the phones, so it’s hard to tell how fast they really are and how well they handle multitasking.

Both the Android One devices run on Android Pie. You get a stock, clean Pie interface complete with new gestures and features like Digital Well-being, Dashboard, Do Not Disturb and so on. The UI on both the devices felt smooth to the touch and was quite responsive.

The Nokia 4.2 and 3.2 come with a starting price of USD 169 (Approx Rs 12,000) and USD 139 (approx Rs 9,800). Both the devices are said to start shipping in select markets in April. We should hear more about their India launch in the coming weeks.