itel S42 Review: Feature packed budget option in offline smartphone market

itel S42 runs Android Oreo out-of-the box and features a 5.65-inch HD+ screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio. The smartphone is priced at Rs. 8,499 in the offline market.

    itel Mobile, one of the youngest player in the Indian smartphone market has recently unveiled three new budget handsets- itel S42, A44, and A44 Pro for price conscious consumers. The new budget handsets will follow the offline-only model and can be a deal for consumers who are unable to grab their hands on the popular online-only budget handsets from Chinese smartphone makers like Xiaomi and Honor.


    The new budget smartphones from itel sport 18:9 aspect ratio displays; offer 4G VoLTE connectivity and boast sleek metal profile. Itel sent us S42, which tries to take on popular sub Rs. 10k handsets from Xiaomi, Honor, Motorola, etc. by offering some noteworthy features at a pocket friendly price-point.

    Itel S42 runs the latest Android 8.0 Oreo, features 13MP camera sensors on front and back and comes in a sleek metal body. The smartphone is priced at Rs. 8,499 and we tested it for a week to find out what it brings to the table in sub Rs. 10k price segment.

    Sleek composite metal build that catches the eye

    itel S42 has a sturdy build and is also quite comfortable to use with one hand. It snugly fits in one hand due to its curved edges and rounded corners. Besides, Itel S42 is also quite sleek and has a premium appeal to it; though it's not entirely made out of metal. The highlight feature is the 5.65-inch 18:9 display that takes occupies most of the front; however there are noticeable bezels on top and bottom. The top of the display has a 13MP selfie camera accompanied by the LED flash light.

    The back panel of the smartphone is made out of high quality plastic but has been given a brushed metal finish. The fingerprint sensor is conveniently placed and unlocks the handset in a jiffy. The 13MP rear camera is placed alongside a LED flash light. The power button and the volume rockers are positioned on the right side of the device while the left side houses the hybrid SIM card slot. You will find the 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the smartphone, while the micro USB charging port rests at the bottom of the device with two speaker grilles.

    Overall, itel has done a good job in designing the S42 budget smartphone.

    Vivid 18:9 aspect ratio Screen

    To meet the current market demands, itel has used a taller 18:9 aspect ratio display on the new S422. The screen size is 5.65-inches and you also get 2.5D curved glass to prevent damage from scratches; however there's no mention of the brand of protective glass used in the making.

    The screen resolution is 720p, which is certainly not in line with the current market standards but I did not find any major issues with the panel in my week's usage.

    The 5.65-inch display on itel S42 with HD+ resolution punches vibrant colours and offers crisp content even under challenging lighting conditions. You also get a Blue-light filter mode to offer comfortable viewing experience in absence of light.

    Qualcomm CPU and Android 8.0 Oreo

    itel has managed to offer the latest Android flavor out-of-the box, which is quite commendable. The smartphone runs on Android 8.0 Oreo and uses a very light and easy to use user interface. The app drawer enabled UI is mostly lag free offers some useful software features like three finger screenshot, screen-off gesture controls, one-handed mode, etc. And while the UI seems quite light, it still consumes more than 6GB of space which leaves you with 8.5GB of actual storage to store your images, videos and other data files. There are also some pre-loaded apps that cannot be uninstalled, which is slightly disappointing.

    Itel S42 is backed by Qualcomm's entry-level chipset- Snapdragon 425, which is paired with 3GB of RAM to handle multitasking. This is not the snappiest CPU in this price-point and is only good for basic everyday tasks such as social networking, web browsing, calling, camera usage, etc. You can also play light games but don't expect this handset to run demanding games and heavy multitasking without any performance slowdown.

    The 16GB internal storage can be expanded further by up to 128 GB. And the best part, you can use two nano SIM cards and one microSD card at the same time with the help of hybrid SIM card tray. Call quality was good but the audio performance could have better on this handset.

    13MP front and rear cameras

    The 13MP rear and front cameras on itel S42 is at par with the competition. Both the camera sensors are accompanied by dedicated dual LED flash lights to enable better results in low light environment. The camera app is fairly easy-to-use and offers a variety of modes such as HDR, Panorama, video, beauty, lowlight, etc. You also get a Pro mode, wide-selfie, live filters and stickers to enhance the photography experience.

    Good performance in Daylight

    Coming on to performance, the images shot in daylight look appealing on the HD+ panel. The camera is snappy and captures images with good contrast level and pleasing dynamic range in daylight.

    The loss in detail is quite negligible even after you maximize an image to 100%. The low-light performance is pretty much average as both the sensors work on a darker F/2.0 aperture and struggled to capture information. The low-light mode comes to rescue to some extent but you have to make sure your hand remains still.

    Effective HDR mode

    The HDR mode is also effective and brings additional information in challenging light conditions. As far as front-facing camera is concerned, the selfie look crisp and show accurate skin color tones. The selfie camera has the tendency to overexpose the bright colors but the overall output is decent. The selfie camera is also able to create software driven bokeh effect which is good considering the pocket friendly price-point of the handset. Moreover, the front-facing camera is also able to capture a 120 degree wide angle frame to deliver group selfies.

    Battery and Connectivity

    Itel S42 can easily last for a day with moderate usage. The smartphone is powered by a 3,000mAh battery unit, which is not as powerful as batteries you get with Xiaomi's and Lenovo's budget phones, but it still serves well for day-to-day tasks. For connectivity, itel S42 comes equipped with 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.0 and OTG.


    Itel S42 is a good budget buy in sub Rs. 10k price-point. The fact that it is available in the offline market and offers the latest Android 8.0, dedicated microSD card and a taller 18:9 aspect ratio display, makes it a sensible buy for price conscious consumers. The camera performance is also above average and there's variety of modes and filters to please shutterbugs. If you are unable to grab the latest Xiaomi Redmi devices in their so called flash sales, itel S42 is worth giving a try.

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