Itel S42 Review: Changing The Budget Experience

Itel S42

Itel came to the Indian market in April 2016 with focus on feature phones.They have a strong footprint in the offline segment. Now they are shifting their focus to budget smartphones. They are looking to leverage their offline strength and become the brand of choice for people getting their first smartphones. Their latest offering is the S42, we spent considerable time with the device and here is our review

Key specifications

  • 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 425 Quad Core Processor
  • 3GB RAM With 16GB ROM
  • 5.65 Inch HD+ Touchscreen Display
  • Dual Nano SIM
  • 13MP Primary Camera With LED Flash
  • 13MP Front Camera With Dual LED Flash
  • 4G VoLTE
  • Fingerprint Sensor
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 3000 MAh Battery.

The phone comes neatly packed in a red box which contains accessories such as a travel charger, in-ear headphones, a screen-guard, protect case, a micro USB cable  and a SIM eject pin. The itel S42 doesn’t disappoint in looks, thanks to a metallic finish and a curved-edge design. The phone comes with thin-bezels and has navigation keys at the bottom of the display. Having said that, while the design is not path-breaking or radical, the phone looks premium, grips well and serves well on even rough day to day use. The company has used premium material and the craftmanship does not disappoint. The fact that it comes with a rear cover as part of the package is a definite plus.

Itel S42

The top of the screen has an LED flash, earpiece, selfie camera and a proximity sensor. The bottom of the phone has a micro USB charging port with the customary speaker and microphones  on both sides. The power button and the volume rockers are at the right edge and the dual-SIM tray with a dedicated slot for microSD card can be found on the left edge. The fact that you have a dedicated memory expansion slot at this price range is a very big plus. It has rounded corners with a textured back cover. Our review unit was in a black color, which does look stylish for the price of this phone.

The phone has metallic finish on its back which contains the fingerprint sensor along with the 13 MP primary camera and the LED flash.

Side View

Let us now talk about the hero of the phone – the display. The S42 packs a very well thought out 2.5D curved glass 5.65 inch display with an aspect ratio of 18:9 and a display resolution of 720x1440p. The screen performs very well when you use it indoors and outdoors. The viewing angles are great and there are no major issues.Under direct sunlight, the reflective screen tends to glare and hence the legibility is a tad bit on the lower side, but then again, given the price and the overall package, that is not a major concern at all. The device does a fairly good job in color reproduction and the colors are all very well fleshed out. There are no color spills or overblown tones. There is not any noticeable over-saturation. We tried long video loops and we must say that the screen is up for the challenge and gives you a pretty enjoyable and immersive viewing experience. Given the fact that the phone is targeted at people who are switching to smartphones from the their feature phones, this is a very good value add.

The S42 is  running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon’ quad core 425 processor clocked at 1.4 GHz. The processor performs most operations smoothly. We tried multi-tasking with it using a heavy mix of Wifi and 4G internet browsing, long whatsapp conversations and games running at the same time. The phone showed no signs of lag or stutter and was able to handle all these smoothly and without any hiccups. The phone also does not have a heating problem and runs cold, this is a big plus given it’s price. Overall the performance is smooth and hassle-free. There were some graphic intensive games that forced it to slow down a little like Asphalt 8 but all in all, there were absolutely no issues with the way the phone performed and handled multiple tasks. So it gets a thumbs up from us there.

Bottom View

The phone’s processor is amply supported by 3GB RAM and has a 16GB internal memory.  The users actually get about 10 GB of available memory as the OS and other system files take up the rest of the space.  Given that fact, the dedicated microSD slot that supports upto 128 GB of storage takes care of all your storage needs. Please note that it is better to get a Class 10 memory card for any phone, that will serve you better and for longer.

The phone comes with the latest Android version, Android 8.0 Oreo out-of-the-box which is very impressive given the phone’s price point. The company has also kept the OS lean and smooth. There isn’t heavy skinning or customization. The experience is really nippy and fast.

Rear Camera

The S42 features a 13 MP primary camera with PDAF along with a 13 MP selfie camera with dual front soft light. The camera offers  a lot of options such as HDR mode, ability to record Full HD resolution videos. When we tried clicking pictures , both the cameras did a fairly satisfactory job in well-lit conditions. When you are shooting pictures in dimly lit conditions the HDR mode makes the picture better and well detailed. The price point at which the phone sells makes people not to expect much from the camera, but in our use we found that the camera was good and churned out pictures that were well rendered and detailed. This is also good, given the target market for the phone. Overall it ticks all the right marks on the camera front

The S42 is powered by a 3,000 mAh battery. With a fully charged battery, the phone was able to run more than 14 hours of moderately heavy usage. We added amix of WiFi and 4G wirth VoLTE and browsing with gaming thrown in and it was up to the challenge.  The charging time is a bit on the higher side though. It takes around 2.5 hours for the phone to charge fully.

Another good feature of this phone is the face unlock, this is one of the first budget phones that has this implemented and the feature works well. We tested it in low light and it was up to the mark.


Given the price of Rs 8499/- the Itel S42 is a solid and reliable option for your first smartphone if you are moving from a feature phone. The company’s large offline footprint means that you don’t have to go through flash sales, you can just walk in and buy it at a local store. The company is making an earnest attempt at changing the budget experience

About Shakthi

I am a Tech Blogger, Disability Activist, Keynote Speaker, Startup Mentor and Digital Branding Consultant. Also a McKinsey Executive Panel Member. Also known as @v_shakthi on twitter. Been around Tech for two decades now.

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