Over the past three years Nokia Mobile, which is now run by HMD Global, has earned a reputation for making solidly specced entry-level to mid-range devices that won’t break the bank. While the firm has a bit of work to do on the flagship end of the spectrum, its more affordable devices are leading the way in the industry in many respects.

We know this having reviewed a number of new Nokia phones, and a further two have made their way to our review desk in the form of the Nokia 2.2 and Nokia 4.2.

Both of these phones are aimed squarely at the entry-level market and designed for consumers who are looking for the biggest bang for their buck, or simply to migrate from a feature phone to a smart one.

The Nokia 2.2 and Nokia 4.2 are also aggressively priced locally, with a recommended cost of R1 899 and R2 999 respectively. Being so similarly priced, as well as specced, instead of doing two independent reviews, we’re going to compare each phone and offer up our opinion on which one you should buy and why.

So here we go.

All in the touch

Let’s start with design. Place these two phones next to one another on the table and it becomes quite difficult to tell them apart, especially in the black colour options our review models come in.

Pick them up and differences become easier to distinguish, especially when it comes to touch, feel and quality.

Here the more expensive Nokia 4.2 stands out, with a glass back cover and premium finish that the 2.2 cannot match. That’s not to say that the lesser specced of the two feels cheap, it’s simply not at the same level that the 4.2 is. Added to this is the fact that the 2.2 features a removable back cover that allows users to access the battery (which too is removable) and SIM/microSD card slots.

It’s not a feature you typically see on most modern smartphones these days, and ultimately makes the device feel far less premium when compared to the 4.2.

As such you may be paying more with the Nokia 4.2, but you can certainly see the difference and where that extra outlay is going.

Edging ahead

Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty elements and focus in on the specifications on both of these phones.

Up front each has a 5.71″ IPS LCD display at their disposal, along with the now standard selfie camera notch at the top of the screen. While both sport the same 1520×720 resolution, it’s the Nokia 4.2 that has the edge here, with icons, web browsing and videos all looking just a touch sharper and crisper than they do on the 2.2.

Looking at the internals, there isn’t a ton to separate the two devices… on paper at least.

The Nokia 2.2 features a quad-core Mediatek MT6761 Helio A22 chipset, with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage added to the modest mix. The Nokia 4.2 is a bit better specced as it boasts an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 processor, which is paired with 3GB RAM and 32GB onboard storage.

While things are fairly comparable in this department, there are noticeable differences in the in-hand and benchmark results. The Nokia 2.2 in this regard just feels a step slower than the 4.2, with apps, menus, navigation and multitasking just taking that second longer.

If we didn’t have both devices next to one another, it’s not something we would have spotted, but the fact that we do, shows that the better specs in the Nokia 4.2 will stand you in good stead for the long run, especially if you plan on keeping this device for two years or longer.

The last element to consider is camera performance. Once again here the differences are subtle, with the Nokia 2.2 solid enough in a number of scenarios thanks to a single 13MP lens on the rear. The dual 13MP lens setup on the Nokia 4.2, however, means images look richer and more nuanced, and ultimately the one you’re going to want to opt for in the long-term.

Nokia 2.2 image (left) and Nokia 4.2 image (right).

Picking just one

Now for our final verdict, with the Nokia 4.2 edging most categories thanks to its superior collection of components. As we’ve stated throughout, you’re getting a solid all-round performance from the Nokia 2.2, which is made all the more impressive as it costs less than R2k.

Despite that price appealing to those on budget, if you are going to invest in an entry-level device that will last you a long time, the Nokia 4.2 is the wiser choice in our opinion. You know precisely where your money is going, and the experience is all the better for it.

As such you’ll be hard pressed to find a better value for money smartphone than the Nokia 4.2 in 2019.