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Nokia G42 5G review: Competitive, but lacking the wow factor

Our Rating :
£174.99 from
Price when reviewed : £199
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The Nokia G42 5G is well-specced for a £200 phone, but the brand still hasn’t nailed the synergy between repairability and software support


  • Competitive performance
  • Excellent battery life
  • Repairable design


  • Display colour accuracy isn’t great
  • Only two planned OS updates

The Nokia G42 5G is the next step in the brand’s new repairable phone initiative, coming in as a more advanced follow-up to the ultra-cheap Nokia G22. While the latter was able to coast on its novel repairability credentials, the G42 5G is playing in a more competitive market, and has more work to do in order to justify its existence.

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It mostly succeeds in this endeavour, too. For the extra money, you’re getting better performance, comparable battery life and a more attractive design. Some problems carry over from the G22 – the number of promised OS updates continues to feel counterintuitive to the mission statement of extending the phone’s lifespan – but there are enough positives here to make the Nokia G42 5G a viable contender for the best £200 smartphone.

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Nokia G42 5G review: What you need to know

Like the G22 before it, the Nokia G42 5G has been designed to reduce the number of steps needed in order to make basic repairs, including swapping out the battery and replacing a broken charging port.

Compared to its cheaper sibling, the G42 5G has improved hardware, running off a more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 Plus chipset, backed by 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The battery is slightly smaller at 5,000mAh, but 20W charging is once again supported – you’ll need to provide your own plug, though.

The 6.56in IPS display is nearly a dead ringer for the G22, offering the same 90Hz refresh rate and a very similar 720p resolution. Beneath the screen is an 8MP selfie camera, with the module on the rear comprising a 50MP main lens, bundled with two 2MP sensors for macro and depth shots.

Nokia G42 5G review: Price and competition

At £199, the Nokia G42 5G comes in as a confusingly numbered replacement for the now-discontinued Nokia G50. Most of its remaining competition comes from Motorola, with both the Moto G62 5G (£200) and Moto G53 5G (£168) offering similar performance and features for around the same money.

Our favourite option in this sub-£200 price bracket has long been the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11. You can grab one of these for as little as £150, but if you want 6GB of RAM, as you get with the Nokia G42 5G, you’re looking at £199. The standout feature with the Note 11 is the gorgeous AMOLED display, which runs circles around the Nokia’s IPS screen, but this comes with a few compromises in performance.

Nokia G42 5G review: Design, key features and repairability

The Nokia G42 5G is available in two colours – the simple ‘So Grey’ and the more eye-catching ‘So Purple’ we’ve reviewed here. The backplate is made using 65% recycled materials, but you wouldn’t guess from the quality of it. The plastic back is coated with a silky smooth finish that feels premium in the hand, and shimmers with a frosted effect that helps to hide fingerprint smudges.

The phone measures 165 x 76 x 8.6mm and weighs 194g, coming in a couple of grams lighter than the G22. The overall design doesn’t break any new ground compared to the rest of the Nokia lineup, with a small rectangular camera module in the top-left corner on the back and fairly chunky bezels around the display, including a teardrop bulge that houses the selfie camera.

You can use that selfie for face unlocking, or alternatively, the power button on the right edge doubles as a fingerprint reader. Next to this are the volume controls, while the left edge houses the SIM-tray, which can take either two nano SIMs or one alongside a microSD card up to 1TB in capacity. Rounding out the features are the 3.5mm and USB-C ports on the bottom, next to one of the stereo speakers, with its opposing number just above the selfie camera.

The most notable aspect is once again the repairable design. Using the free how-to guides and affordable replacement parts on the iFixit website, you can replace a cracked display, scratched backplate, wonky charging port or dead battery yourself, avoiding long waits and pricey bills at repair shops. The step-by-step guides are extremely accessible for first-time repairers, and most importantly, Nokia has confirmed that performing repairs won’t void the phone’s warranty, nor will it compromise the phone’s IP52 weather resistance rating.

Nokia G42 5G review: Software

At the risk of repeating myself, the Nokia G42 5G’s repairability comes with the same caveat as the G22. Unfortunately, Nokia is only committing to two future OS updates, which really goes against the whole ethos of keeping the phone out of landfill. Replacing batteries and charging ports are important and appreciated steps, but they’re still lengths that few people are going to bother going to in order to extend the life of a phone that’s running slow and outdated software.

This is a real shame as, apart from the relatively short lifespan, the Nokia OS is one of the best you can get. Essentially offering a stock version of Android 13, the Nokia launcher is clean and user-friendly, with unobtrusive icons and simple menu layouts. The list of preinstalled apps threatens to get on my bad side –, ExpressVPN and GoPro Quik all stood out like sore thumbs – but they’re all deletable and it’s far from the most egregious bloatware I’ve encountered.

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Nokia G42 5G review: Display

While the rest of the build is fairly impressive, the display begins to let the side down. We’re working with a 6.56in IPS panel that has a 720p resolution (1,612 x 720) and a 90Hz refresh rate. So far, so fine.

Looking at the positives first, the phone gets nice and bright – I recorded a peak of 614cd/m2 with the phone on auto brightness and a torch shining on the ambient light detector. Equally, the contrast ratio of 1,682:1 is reasonable enough for a £200 phone.

Where the display starts to fall down is with the colour accuracy. Using a colorimeter, I measured an sRGB gamut coverage of 81.5%, with a total volume of 96.7%. Most concerning was the average Delta E colour variance score of 3.88, which isn’t just quite a way off the ideal figure of 1, but is also somehow worse than the cheaper Nokia G22, which scored 2.22. Most users likely won’t notice any drastically out-of-place colours, but anyone who looks for colour accuracy in their smartphone will find the G42 5G sorely lacking.

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Nokia G42 5G review: Performance and battery life

Inside the Nokia G42 5G is an octa-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 Plus 5G chipset, backed by 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage. We’ve seen this processor before, in Motorola’s Moto G62 5G and Moto G53 5G, though both of these phones only have 4GB of RAM, and the latter has a meagre 64GB of storage.

Even with these differences, performance is mostly the same across all the devices that we’ve used here for comparison. In practical terms, I found the G42 5G to be efficient enough with opening and switching between apps, and was able to run multiple apps simultaneously without any drastic lagging.

Nokia G42 5G review - Geekbench 5 CPU performance chartThe level playing field warps as we look to the GPU side of things, with the Moto G62 5G and Redmi Note 11 falling to the rear of the pack. This doesn’t mean that they’re worse performers, however, as both use sharper 1080p displays, and therefore have more pixels to power when running games.

The Nokia G42 5G is still on a par with the Moto G53 5G and the Nokia G50, but as with those two, keep expectations low here. You can get away with low-intensity games such as Candy Crush and Angry Birds easily enough, but the G42 5G is not made for seamless 3D gameplay.

Nokia G42 5G review - GFXBench GPU performance chartThe best of the benchmarks came when testing the battery life, with the Nokia G42 5G lasting 25hrs 43mins in our looping video test. This outlasted the competition, pulling a good couple of hours ahead of the next best option, the Motorola Moto G53 5G.

Nokia G42 5G review - Battery life chart

Nokia G42 5G review: Cameras

Compared to the Nokia G50, the G42 5G has had a minor shuffle in the camera department. The main lens has dropped slightly from a 50MP number to 48MP, though the aperture has stayed put at f/1.8.

The drop in pixel count doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect, as the main lens still produces decent images in good lighting. In the image below, contrast and colours are both well balanced, and you can make out some of the intricate brickwork on the left quite far down the street.

Nokia G42 5G review - Quiet streetNight photography is usually a non-starter on phones in this price range, but the Nokia G42 5G surprised with some relatively decent shots. There’s more lens flare than I’d like, but otherwise the image is effectively brightened with a decent amount of detail in the clouds and boats.Nokia G42 5G review - Marina at night

The 2MP macro camera is also surprisingly solid. The detail captured in the bee is very impressive, highlighting the fine hairs along the body and legs, as well as the veins in the wings. The background blur works well, too, with the 2MP depth sensor accurately mapping the distance to the focal subject, keeping sharp lines around the intricate curves of the flower.Nokia G42 5G review - Honey bee on a flower

Video shooting is decidedly less impressive, but it’s reasonable enough. Shooting 1080p at 30fps, the footage is reasonably detailed, with effective, if sluggish, exposure adjustments when moving from well-lit to darker areas. There’s no stabilisation technology included, so you can expect to see some mild shaking in the footage, but it’s not dramatic enough to be a real mark against the phone.

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Nokia G42 5G review: Verdict

As we saw with the Nokia G22, the biggest problem facing the Nokia G42 5G is that its repairability is ultimately undermined by the stingy number of OS upgrades. The ability to replace a failing battery easily is considerably less of a unique selling point if you’re barely going to be using the phone long enough for the cell to wear out in the first place. Granted, OS updates rarely go beyond three years for most phones, but if Nokia wants to add some more trouser to its talk, this is an area that seriously needs to be addressed.

This is especially frustrating as, aside from a couple of minor annoyances, the G42 5G is a solid £200 phone. Performance is in line with the competition, battery life is excellent and the camera suite is surprisingly good. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 is still just about top dog in this price range, as the G42 5G can’t surpass that Full HD AMOLED screen, but if you value battery life over display quality, the Nokia G42 5G is a commendable silver medallist.

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