LG was once a smartphone brand that took some bold steps with its G-series and V-series flagship smartphones. However, over the years it’s focus changed to more budget handsets. And while the South Koreant tech firm is under a tough situation where it is reportedly not getting any buyer for the smartphone business and may shutter the division itself, it is not giving up in the budget smartphone segment, at least in India. We saw this as the firm recently came up with LG K42, which is priced at ₹10,990.
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The handset aims to deliver a durable and robust offering to those who want their regular Android experience but wrapped in a shock, water and drop resistant body. So, we got our hands on it recently and used it for a few days. Here’s what we think about this piece of computing machinery.
Design and display
LG K42 won’t give you as ‘modern’ feel as you may expect from the latest budget or mid-range smartphones. To be honest, comparing it with the likes of Redmi and Realme won’t be fair since the build of the device is not meant for those who want a sleek and premium-looking product. The K42 is built with rough usage in mind and that is one of the reasons why it has MIL-STD-810G certification. This is not usual in smartphones at this price tag. And at the time when everyone is trying to deliver the best handset by stuffing more features, megapixels and battery in smartphones, LG is focussing on durability. It is not for the majority of the customers out there but it surely is a bold move and something unique (for a change).
Holding the device will make you realise that it is slightly larger and heavier. However, the grip is intact, thanks to the wavy-textured back panel. The entire mix is of metal and polycarbonate. The only exposed glass element on the device is the screen and the lens module. Otherwise, the phone feels robust and can certainly resist some rough use. But since the K42 is kind of large for average sized hands, using it might lead you to flex your fingers a bit. We didn’t really like the power button and volume buttons on either sides being placed slightly above, making it difficult to reach during single-hand use.
The 6.6-inch HD+ display is not the best but just enough to get the job done. We streamed videos on Netflix, YouTube (can see FHD videos) and other platforms, browsed the web and found it just about fine. Playing games on this is decent and might not give you as immersive feelas what you get in a 120Hz FHD+ AMOLED screen. And since this is IPS LCD, the colours are not as saturated and appealing. But fortunately the screen gets fairly bright and is usable most of the time in bright daylight. Yes, there is no 90Hz or even FHD resolution but if you aren’t too conscious about HD+ and FHD+, and are ok going through your daily Facebook or Instagram feed, this should be a decent offering.
Performance is taken care of by MediaTek’s Helio P23 processor, which is paired by 3GB RAM and 64GB inbuilt storage. Again, no LPDDR5 or UFS 3.1 storage here but bare minimum to keep things going. In our day to day usage, we did witness some lags and stutters at times, mostly during skipping through apps such as YouTube/Netflix or Chrome/Asphalt. But for the most part the experience was good. However, long gaming sessions will result in dropping in frames and some heating as well. Scrolling through websites, Facebook, Instagram feeds and navigating through notifications, all worked fine. It may take a few milliseconds more to open an app once you tap on it. However, it is not a deal-breaker for sure.
LG K42 is running Android 10 out of the box and the UI is pretty good and easy to operate. In addition, features like fingerprint-embedded side-mounted power button and the 3.5mm headphone jack is appreciated. We faced no issues with the fingerprint sensor as it was reliable almost every time. A nifty addition here is the LG 3D Sound Engine, which lets you customise the audio based on what you are watching or listening. There are separate presets for movies, games, music and voice. There’s no doubt LG has been doing great in terms of audio performance in smartphones and this seems no exception.
When it comes to the cameras, LG K42 does a pretty mediocre job. The daylight shots from the 13-megapixel sensor looks good but zoom-in and you can see details smoothened out. It is not a major deal-breaker from a budget smartphone, but if you want good cameras, this shouldn’t be at the top of your list. The colours are fairly decent and the resulting image looks worthy for your Instagram account. However, when it comes to indoor shooting, the detail loss is more evident.
The night mode, however, does a decent job in retaining details along with some colours. The highlights and shadows are maintained well though. As for the portrait mode, the resulting images from the 2-megapixel depth camera are just ok to get through and not something to look forward to. The 5-megapixel wide angle lens does a decent job but some visible distortion was visible when taken indoors. The feature doesn’t really perform well in low light environments.
When it comes to selfie images, the K42, at times blows up the highlights when taking selfies indoors. The outdoor images taken were good to look at. However, often we found skin getting smoothened a lot when not getting enough light, which might be a matter of concern here as the resulting images don't look as sharp.
Battery, however, is one of the strongest suits for the K42. It is backed by a 4000mAh battery, which did last long for around 5+ hours on average to light usage. That is basically due to the low power consuming HD+ screen. If you are a heavy user or are playing games on it for a longer time period, you might want to keep a charger handy. However, considering the audience it is aimed at, the usage might not be a lot on a regular basis.
If you want to get the most out of it, you can keep the ‘Adaptive Battery’ feature enabled. It is also possible to change the Battery Saver mode to ‘Extended’ and ‘Maximum’ which results in cutting the background activity. What comes as a nifty but useful change here is that the handset features ‘Power saving exclusions’ wherein you can choose features and apps that are allowed to use the battery as usual even after you enabled the battery saver mode.
LG K42 is an average joe at best. It does enough to keep itself in the market. However, the only plus points here seem to be the battery department and the military-grade build, which makes it highly resistant to high temperatures, drops, water, shocks and more. Yes, it is a large phone and the performance is just about ok to run your daily tasks with ease. But the camera department might not be the one to vouch for in K42.
Needless to say, you do get several options in the market at ₹10,990, and most of them come from the likes of Xiaomi and Realme. Two arch rivals that LG is facing right now at the same price range are Redmi Note 10, which is priced ₹1,000 more and offers way more, and Realme 7i, which is in the same range and offers nearly the same set of features as Redmi counterpart.
WHile it is appreciable how LG is keeping the lineup alive and its presence felt in the segment with K42, it may want to pull up its socks and try to deliver some good handsets to undercut the market dominated by Xiaomi and others. K42, for now, just makes the cut, but it may not be an option for customers within months, considering we have a new budget handset in the country every month.