Update 27/May/2018 – We added a new video review for the iTEL S42.
Itel has launched a new budget smartphone in India today called itel S42. The mobile is available to purchase online as well as offline for Rs. 8,499.
About itel – It is part of the Transsion Holdings Group (A Chinese Manufacturer) that also owns Infinix Brand, Tecno mobile, and recently acquired the Indian company Spice mobile. Itel has also launched another budget phone A44 which will also go on sale from 20th March in the Market. You can read the specs of A44 at the end of this article.
The company already has launched two phones in the S series the S21 and S41 and the S42 is the latest addition to the portfolio. Also, as per CyberMedia Research, the brand is doing great in the raucous Indian mobile market. In fact, the brand has grown by more than 200% in the 2016-2017.
Itel S42 Unboxing
The phone comes in a larger rectangular box which is red in color and with internals colored black. Overall the packaging is good and does not feel cheap or done in a hurry.
Inside the Box
- Itel S42 Mobile
- A Sim Ejector Tool
- Charger and Cable (Micro-USB)
- A silicon Back Cover Case.
The phone comes with a normal charger with 1A and 5 Volt rating so it essentially means that it will not have fast charging support. Most brands don’t provide a silicon case or earphones these days, but gladly ITEL has thought about adding additional accessories.
The quality of the Silicon Transparent case looks good and most people will use it for the reason, I have mentioned below. But first, let’s have a quick look at the Specifications.
Specs At A Glance – ITEL S42
- Display – 5.65-inch, IPS LCD With 18:9 Aspect Ratio, HD+ (1280*720 pixels), 2.5D curved Glass.
- Processor – Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 Quad Core processor Clocked at 1.4 GHz
- GPU – Adreno 308
- RAM – 3 GB of RAM
- OS -Android Oreo 8.0 With a Custom Skin
- Storage – 16 GB of internal storage with microSD card support upto 128 GB.
- Rear Camera – 13-megapixel with PDAF and Led Flash.
- Front Camera – 13-megapixel selfie camera with dual LED Selfie Light
- Battery Capacity – 3,000 mAH.
- Colors – black
- Thickness – 8.25 mm
- Price – Rs. 8499
- Availability – March 2018
Design and Display
The Itel S42 comes with a metallic design which looks robust and strong. Seems it can take few falls without chipping the color of the metallic surface but the rear metallic penal is a finger magnet. So better to use the nice Silicon case with it. I keep cleaning the rear cover as it attracts fingerprints very easily and looks smudgy.
The top and the bottom portion of the panel are made from plastic to improve the signal reception. Also, the rear camera and flash are vertically aligned and present at the left corner, similar to the iPhone X or the new Redmi Note 5 Pro.
The highlight of the device is its 5.65 Inch display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. As most phones are coming with the voguish infinite display, ITEL is also not leaving any stone unturned to match the rivals. Recently, Infocus launched the affordable Vision 3 with the Infinite display at an affordable price of Rs. 6,999.
The display comes with 5.65 Inch HD+ panel that offers 1440*720 pixels resolution and 285 PPI. Moreover, the display comes with 2.5D Curved glass to offer better touch experience.
The display on the first impression looks sufficiently bright and is also visible outdoors. Also, there is a blue light filter to reduce the glare at night, you can customize the timings in the display settings.
The full vision display is becoming more common and we advise even the budget phone buyers to have this feature in their next phone.
Camera Details and Overview
The key highlight of the phone is it’s 13 Megapixel front selfie camera that comes with a unique Dual LED Flash.
As several brands are launching affordable selfie phones like Infinix Hot S3, Xiami Y1, and Kult Beyond, ITEL does not want to stay behind. Apart from the selfie camera, it comes with a 13 Megapixel Rear camera.
Unlike most rival phones that come with Dual rear cameras, it offers a single camera at the back. I am yet working on the camera review and will upload more images in part 2 of the review.
Based on the initial testing the front camera seems good and able to capture detailed images. The rear camera images are looking more yellowish in comparison to the natural lighting conditions.
You can observe that in the above image.
More Image Samples – Rear Camera
An indoor image may look a bit faded in the artificial light conditions and there is a bit of grain too.
There is a decent amount of vibrancy in images when you click flowers or colored objects.
Below image is clicked without HDR and you can notice it is darker and lacks details.
Enabling HDR helps to improve the dynamic range and the images are more bright. (Below image is clicked using HDR).
Bright daylight image can have overexposure at times and can blow out the sky and other details.
I am impressed with the below image with much better details in the daylight conditions.
The night images retain colors but lacks details and have plenty of noise. We can’t expect much from the camera in low price range.
Software and Experience
One of the major highlights of the upcoming S42 is that it runs on the latest Google OS (Android Oreo 8.0), out of the box and has a custom skin on top.
Also, there are some customizations done by ITEL but still it feels fluid and easy to use. For starters, it comes with new Keyboard (Kika Keyboard) in place of the regular Android keyboard.
Also, there is an App store called palm store other than the Google Play store. Not sure why we need it but you can download Apps using it.
It even comes with some handy gestures like 3 finger swipe to take a screenshot, one-handed mode, custom navigation settings and screen off gestures.
Furthermore, it runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 Quad-Core Processor along with 3 GB RAM. The general experience and UI is smooth and you will not find much lag while opening multiple browser tabs or switching from one App to another.
Gaming on ITEL S42
Next, I tested the demanding Asphalt 8 on the phone for 30 minutes. The gameplay is smooth on medium settings and even playable at the high settings. The good part is it does not get hot even after playing the game for 20 minutes.
The gaming performance is decent and you can bank on this device for a lag-free gaming experience.
GeekBench – The Snapdragon 425 scores 672 on the single core test and 1852 on the multi-core test which is significantly higher in comparison to the Infocus Vision 3.
The Antutu benchmark score for the phone is 36,789 and is similar to the 10.OR DOR D which also uses the same processor and GPU.
The performance looks lag-free and the SD 425 runs most of the Apps like Facebook and Googe chrome smoothly.
Storage and Memory Card Details
The 16 GB internal storage is low as there is only 7 GB free space and lot of space is taken by the ITEL customizations and bloatware. So it is a must to use a micro-sd card with this phone.
The good thing is, it comes with a dedicated slot for the micro-sd card. So you can easily use 2 sim cards + 1 micro-sd card simultaneously.
Connectivity, Battery, and Features
Lastly, the phone comes with a 3000 mAH capacity battery, 4G VOLTE, GPS and OTG support. The 3000 mAH capacity battery holds the charge and there is hardly any battery draining Apps pre-installed making the battery life optimal.
However, it takes over 3 hours to charge from 0% to 100% which is a long time. Also, the charge comes with 1A and 5V specifications that don’t offer fast charging.
Face Unlocking a New Way to Unlock Your Phone
Another, highlight feature that the brand is promising is the Face-Unlock using the front camera. We received an OTA update and the Face unlocking feature now works on the itel S42.
You can dive into settings >> Security and location>> Biological ID and scan your face to set up the face unlocking feature. The face unlocking works in the well-lit conditions and in case you are in the dark area or at night the screen fill light automatically helps you unlock the phone.
I tried to unlock the phone in pitch dark and surprisingly it works superbly. Also, I tested it with spectacles and without them, the feature works without any hassles.
The phone supports Dual Sim and 4G Volte, I am using the Reliance JIO sim in the slot 1, you can also use a second sim-card and the micro-sd card at the same time.
There are no issues as far as call/cellular data connectivity is concerned, things worked out as intended in our case.
Lastly, the sound quality from the speaker is average both in terms of richness as well as volume.
Based on a couple of days of usage the phone ticks some of the right boxes in the parameters like the Bezel-less display, a good selfie camera, and the latest Oreo OS. For the price tag of Rs. 8499 it competes with several other options like the recently launched Redmi 5, Redmi Note 4, 10.OR E and the Infocus Vision3 as well.
The itel S42 does well in many areas like display, gaming performance, overall usage, and experience. The front camera is also good and can click detailed selfies that you can share on social media to bump up your selfie game.
The battery life is decent and the phone holds the battery when on standby or even in day to day usage. Aforementioned, the charging time is over 3 hours so it is better to charge it during the night for all day usage.
The rear camera seems to work good in certain conditions and have a good dynamic range, color accuracy, and vibrancy. However, it lacks details especially in indoor conditions or in low light. Also, there is no portrait mode that is trendy nowadays and most dual camera phones offer it.
In conclusion, the itel S42 does well in many areas in the sub 9k price range and is a Good performer.
Aforementioned itel has also launched another budget phone A44 available for Rs. 5,799. Notably, the A44 is one of the smallest Bezel-less display phones you can buy in India.
Specs At A Glance – ITEL A44
- Display – 5.45-inch, IPS LCD With 18:9 Aspect Ratio, FWVGA+ (960*480 pixels), 2.5D curved Glass.
- Processor – MediaTek 6737 M Quad Core processor with clock speed of 1.25 GHz
- GPU – Mali T860 MP1
- RAM – 1 GB of RAM
- OS – Android nougat 7.0 With a Custom Skin
- Storage – 8 GB of internal storage with microSD card support up to 32 GB.
- Rear Camera – 5 MP with Led Flash.
- Front Camera – 5 MP with LED Selfie Flash
- Battery Capacity – 2400 mAH.
- Fingerprint Scanner – Yes.
- Colors – black
- Thickness – 8.2 mm
- Price – Rs. 5799
- Availability – 20 March 2018
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