LG makes phones, and they are making them for quite a while now. The company makes standout phones than the competition and in various price segments. For instance, it made a unique phone — LG WING, wherein it has dual screens which swivel. It teased a rollable phone at virtual CES 2021. These are diverse phones and are on a pricer side (however, the WING now falls under the mid-range category, thanks to its recent massive price cut).
So, what does LG offer in its budget segment? The answer is LG K42 – it’s a regular phone that comes with a better build quality; in fact, it comes with Military Standard 810G Certification. It has been put under harsh conditions before release, and the rugged phone falls under the highest competitive segment in India. It is in for review and has been with us for quite a while, so you can contemplate this as a long term review, as suggested in the headline. Let’s delve right in…
LG K42 — Design
The design here is the key takeaway for the LG K42 device. It is a reasonably large device with a high-quality plastic build frame sandwiched between the display; and on the rear with a unique wave pattern, which features anti-fingerprint-resistant UV Coating. The handset feels tall in hand, and the wave pattern surely helps you to have a better grip and is convenient to hold. However, it is still not a one-hand operable phone, but it should do good with two hands. Despite being larger, the device still feels light in weight measuring 182 grams; and 8.4mm in thickness. It features two colour variants — Green and Grey. We have been using the Grey variant; however, the Green variant has more military shade matching the device protection (MIL-STD-810G) certification.
It has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor for authentication, rightly placed to reach it with your thumb quite comfortably. Moving to the left, you can find a SIM tray, volume rockers, and a dedicated Google Assistant button, which is handy. At the bottom, you can find a 3.5mm audio jack, USB Type-C for charging, and a speaker grille, all aligned together, giving us a better build aesthetic. Moreover, on the rear, the device equips a rear camera module that sits flush with the wave pattern, making the device stand out in the competition.
The ruggedness of the device comes with its Military Standard 810G Certification: it involves device testing in extremely harsh conditions that include — shock, temperature shock, humidity, higher temperatures (both for storage and operation), and significantly lower temperatures as well (again, for both storage and operation). This extreme testing for a real-world consumer who owns the K42 means it should save the device from sudden drops; extreme temperature shifts (if you’re living in such cities/states); this can involve exceedingly lower temperatures and dew, in general.
LG proudly says it is built to last (as a matter of fact, LG is further providing an additional one year warranty, provided users register on their site). Indeed, the build on the device is satisfying. The device use case in our review testing involved accidental drops (some have been intentional, though), and it survived without a scratch. Thanks to home renovations, it has been used in a dust-filled environment too; further, I have used the device in hotter temperatures — thanks to summers – as it had hit 40-degrees already. The point to be noted here is that these are not extreme conditions but rather day-to-day use scenarios, and some of you might have harsher conditions than me if you’re living in different cities or states. And, the build of the device can undoubtedly survive even those, which is great for smartphones on a budget.
The design of a phone is considered incomplete without the display. And, the LG K42 comes with a punch-hole display measuring 6.6-inches. It is a bigger screen that comes with HD+ resolution. It is good to see the latest punch-hole display in the budget segment rather than an old school dewdrop notch display, which some of the competition still offers.
The display gets bright enough to use in broad daylight, but under the sun can be a concern though. Viewing angles can be a little finicky occasionally. Though it is good to see a punch-hole display, it lacks Widevine L1 certification, which translates to not coping up with HD resolution playback on OTT platforms, like Netflix, for instance. You can still watch HD on YouTube, and the viewing experience is decent considering the giant display.
LG K42 – Performance
The LG K42 underneath utilises a MediaTek Helio P22 SoC: a 2.0GHz octa-core processor. It’s an entry-level SoC; launched a couple of years ago. The chipset has ARM Cortex A53 cores CPU paired with IMG PowerVR GE8320 GPU. The LG K42 featuring the SoC is a shortfall for the device. The performance on the device is snappy, and the absence of it can be seen throughout.
Besides, the device has 3GB of RAM and 64GB onboard storage, which is expandable further (through microSD); but sadly, the device only has 3GB amount of RAM. Due to that, the phone, by and large, feels slow, and it ships with Android 10, which is yet another downfall. The regular mundane tasks like messaging, browsing, and video watching are decent enough; but not up to the mark when compared to the devices that compete in this segment. The phone is surely not for gaming enthusiasts, but you can still play not such high-end games like candy crush, for example.
Blaming the chipset entirely here is not ideal; LG could have shipped with Android 11 to make the phone feel faster across the interface, again, the critical highlight offered in the competition.
The LG K42 packs in a mediocre 4000mAh battery with a standard 10W charger included in the retail packaging. This could be a minus as most of the industry relies on at least a 5000mAh battery capacity or, if not higher. The battery on the device is still not bad, though; it’s comfortable to get through on regular usage.
Since the LG K42 is not a performance-driven phone like using it for hardcore gaming, the conventional day-to-day tasks can be pulled off easily for a day. The device can be charged to full in and around two hours: I usually charge the phone during the night. The device gave me a day’s usage without any hassle as it involved work stuff like staying active on Microsoft Teams all day, browsing and watching YouTube videos occasionally. Playing games can make the device get a little warmer and slightly affect the battery life, but that was not the use case during our testing.
The LG K42 comprises quadruple rear cameras featuring a 13MP primary sensor, a 5MP super wide-angle camera, a 2MP macro camera, and a 2MP depth camera. The punch hole on the front hosts an 8MP selfie shooter.
The standard 13MP can click some good photos during the day, and it further has an AI CAM feature coupled with portrait mode. The shots taken through a regular primary camera can capture a significant amount of details, but the colours slightly appear washed out. However, this was fixed by the AI CAM feature accessible easily through a swipe in the interface. Colours in the shots clicked with AI CAM enabled appear more vibrant than with the feature disabled.
There’s a wide-angle camera, which works well with the subject, and its surrounding details seemed to be fine; however, we have noticed an exposure issue, especially if there’s a sky in the background. For example, the shot clicked through the primary camera looks good with the sky captured perfectly, but the same image, if caught in a wide-angle camera, the exposure can be seen, which is a drawback. This can be a miss sometimes, though, but that’s there.
The macro camera does a fine job, but again can see the colour washout here as well, and unfortunately, there is no AI CAM to save it. Then there’s a depth camera, which allows you to manually adjust the depth can be full depth or no depth at all; that’s your choice. For video, the rear camera is capable of shooting in Full HD resolution.
The selfies, again, appear sort of dull taken with the regular 8MP sensor: there’s AI CAM and AI beautification modes available, wherein the former brings in more vibrancy to the colours, and the latter offers extra smoothness to your skin, which doesn’t appear reasonable (at least for me). Henceforth, disabling it manually by clicking selfies should do good.
The same applies to the portrait shots as well. You can check out how the camera performs with the samples provided. What do you think of these shots? Feel free to comment down below; I would love to read that.
Other Key features
The other highlight features of the LG K42 include its side-mounted fingerprint sensor, which simultaneously acts as a power button. It works flawlessly; you are in the device as soon as you lay your registered fingerprint on it.
Moreover, the audio performance on the device is significantly good and loud — thanks to LG’s in-house developed 3D sound engine. According to the company, it utilises data from around 17 million audio samples to generate optimised sound quality. In reality, the audio performance on the LG K42 is solid, clear and loud, for that matter. Video playback experience, along with customised 3D audio, has been appealing during our testing.
The dedicated Google Assistant button on the device and Google Lens integration in the camera interface are some other noteworthy features that LG has packed into this budget phone. Lastly, the device does support Bluetooth 5.0 and supports 2.4GHz Wi-Fi (and not 5GHz).
The software experience resembles any popular android device out there (particularly of Samsung’s OneUI and recent OnePlus’ OxygenOS). It’s clean; there are some pre-installed apps, though; however, there are no ads; again, a hopeful Android 11 update would make the device more appealing to the masses since it’s a budget smartphone, nonetheless.
The verdict of the latest LG K42 can be tricky here. Let me explain why. It is a great looking smartphone that can take on lower-mid-range smartphones out there — it certainly stands out when it comes to design in the competition. With the passed MIL-STD-810G certification on top, that is a plus, indeed. However, a phone can not all be about its design, and there are other elements you would consider if you’re spending Rs 10,990. That can include performance, battery and cameras, also the display.
The LG K42 is undoubtedly not a performance or gaming driven phone if you are looking for one. It is a phone that can last you a day, can charge fully in less than two hours, and click some decent pictures with the help of AI. The display is relatively large, and contempt consumption can be a joy if you’re into that. If performance is not a significant concern and you’re that person working in extreme environments, then the LG K42 is the one made for you.
The device is priced at Rs 10,990 in the country for its 3GB of RAM and 64GB onboard, along with an expandable storage option.