Nokia 4.2 vs. Nokia 3.2 vs. Nokia 1 Plus: Trio of budget phones compared

As the maker of Nokia-branded phones, HMD Global has been turning out some excellent devices. All eyes may be on the Nokia 9 PureView right now, but a trio of intriguing budget Android phones also made an appearance at Mobile World Congress 2019. We’ve been impressed by HMD’s approach in the budget and midrange sector, which is why the manufacturer has more than one entry on our best cheap phones list.

What do the Nokia 4.2, Nokia 3.2, and Nokia 1 Plus have to offer? We decided to compare them to find out.

Specs

Nokia 4.2 Nokia 3.2 Nokia 1 Plus
Size 148.9 × 71.3 × 8.4 mm (5.86 × 2.8 × 0.33 inches) 159.4 x 76.2 x 8.6 mm (6.27 x 3 x 0.33 inches) 145 x 70.4 x 8.5 mm (5.71 x 2.77 x 0.33 inches
Weight 161 grams (5.67 oz) 178 grams (6.27 ounces) TBC
Screen size 5.71-inch LCD 6.26-inch LCD 5.45-inch LCD
Screen resolution 1,520 × 720 pixels (295 pixels per inch) 1,520 × 720 pixels (269 pixels per inch) TBC
Operating system Android 9.0 Pie Android 9.0 Pie Android 9.0 Pie (Go Edition)
Storage space 16GB, 32GB 16GB, 32GB 8GB
MicroSD card slot Yes Yes Yes
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay No No
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 Qualcomm Snapdragon 429 Mediatek MT6739WW
RAM 2GB, 3GB 2GB, 3GB 1GB
Camera Dual lens 13-megapixel and 2MP rear, 8MP front 13MP rear, 5MP front 8MP rear, 5MP front
Video TBC TBC TBC
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 4.2 Bluetooth 4.2 Bluetooth 4.2
Ports 3.5mm headphone jack, Micro USB 3.5mm headphone jack, Micro USB 3.5mm headphone jack, Micro USB
Fingerprint sensor Yes, back No No
Water resistance No No No
Battery 3,000mAh 4,000mAh 2,500mAh
App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support TBC TBC TBC
Colors Black, Pink Sand Black, Steel Black, Red, Blue
Price $170 $140 $100
Buy from Nokia
Review score Hands-on Hands-on Hands-on

Performance, battery life, and charging

The Nokia 4.2 has the best processor of the three — a Qualcomm Snapdragon 439. The Nokia 3.2 has the slightly slower Snapdragon 429, and the Nokia 1 Plus makes do with an inferior Mediatek chip.  The Nokia 4.2 and 3.2 are both available with either 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM, or 3GB of storage and 32GB of RAM. The Nokia 1 Plus has a paltry 8GB of storage and 1GB of RAM. All three offer expansion via a MicroSD card slot.

Once again, the Nokia 1 Plus is way behind in the battery department with a 2,500mAh battery. The Nokia 4.2 has a 3,000mAh battery and the Nokia 3.2 has a 4,000mAh battery. The latter does have a bigger screen to power, but we still expect it to have the best stamina of the bunch. There’s no fast or wireless charging support here.

Winner: Nokia 4.2

Design and durability

The build quality is typically good for the price here, but there’s no doubt that the Nokia 4.2 is the most expensive of the trio. It has a polycarbonate frame with glass front and back and a fingerprint sensor below the vertically stacked dual-lens camera on the back. Both the Nokia 4.2 and 3.2 have teardrop notches at the top of the screen for the front-facing camera, but you only get a fingerprint sensor in the 3.2 if you opt for the 32GB storage and 3GB of RAM model. The Nokia 1 Plus is more obviously plastic, with a matte finish on the removable back and thick bezels above and below the screen on the front.

The fact that all three have Micro USB ports marks them as budget devices, but they do also have 3.5mm audio jacks, which is good to see.

None of them have any IP rating, so it’s best to avoid water. We suspect the Nokia 1 Plus will be the hardiest of the bunch, but cases are always a good idea.

Winner: Nokia 4.2

Display

hmd-nokia-4.2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

These are fairly typical budget LCD screens. The Nokia 4.2 and 3.2 have 19:9 aspect ratios and HD+ resolutions, with those teardrop notches at the top for the front-facing camera. The Nokia 3.2 screen is a fair bit bigger at 6.26 inches, compared to the 5.71-inch screen in the Nokia 4.2, but since they have the same resolution, that means the 4.2’s screen is sharper. The Nokia 1 Plus has a smaller, 5.45-inch screen with a lower resolution.

Winner: Nokia 4.2

Camera

hmd-nokia-4.2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Nokia 4.2 is the clear winner in the camera department, thanks to a dual-lens setup that combines a 13-megapixel lens with a 2-megapixel lens for depth-sensing. The Nokia 3.2 has a single 13-megapixel sensor and the Nokia 1 Plus has an 8-megapixel main camera. If you value that bokeh effect with the blurred background, then the Nokia 4.2 is the way to go. It’s a similar story around front, where the 4.2 boasts an 8-megapixel selfie camera, while the other two have 5-megapixel front-facing cameras.

Winner: Nokia 4.2

Software and updates

hmd-nokia-3.2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

All three run Android 9.0 Pie and there’s no manufacturer user interface on top, which is exactly how we like our budget phones. The Nokia 4.2 and 3.2 are both Android One phones, which means they’ll get fast and regular security updates for at least three years, Android version updates for at least two years, and they don’t have any bloatware on board. This is a major advantage that’s lacking in many cheap phones.

The Nokia 1 Plus is an Android Go phone, which means it runs a scaled-back version of the platform designed specifically for phones with basic hardware and limited storage space. Unfortunately, the Nokia 1 Plus doesn’t come with the same commitment to updates as its bigger siblings.

Winner: Tie – Nokia 4.2 and Nokia 3.2

Special features

hmd-nokia-4.2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Since these are budget devices, you can’t expect much in terms of special features, but the Nokia 4.2 does have an advantage worth mentioning: NFC support. This means you can use Google Pay with it. The Nokia 4.2 and 3.2 also both have dedicated Google Assistant buttons that offer easy access to your artificially intelligent pal, and they can be double tapped for a quick snapshot of your day.

Winner: Nokia 4.2

Price and availability

The Nokia 4.2 starts at $170 for the 2GB of RAM model and goes up to $200 for the 3GB of RAM model. The Nokia 3.2 is $140 for the 2GB of RAM model or $170 for the 3GB of RAM option. The Nokia 1 Plus is just $100. There’s no confirmation of a U.S. release for any of these phones yet, but they’ll be available across Europe in March and April.

Overall winner: Nokia 4.2

This is a relatively easy win for the Nokia 4.2, as you would expect from the pricing. We think the extra quality, better processor, superior camera, and NFC support justify the extra expense, though we would strongly advise opting for the 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage option. If you prefer a bigger screen and longer battery life, then the Nokia 3.2 could be a better choice for you, but again, we would advise you to opt for the 3GB of RAM version, especially since it includes a fingerprint scanner, which is lacking in the 2GB model. You should only look at the Nokia 1 Plus if your budget is limited to $100.

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