Moto G42 review: back to the basics

The Moto G42 boasts an AMOLED screen, 5,000mAh battery, stereo speakers, and more

Review Summary

Expert Rating3.5/5

Design
★★★★★
★★★★★
Display
★★★★★
★★★★★
Software
★★★★★
★★★★★
Camera
★★★★★
★★★★★
Performance
★★★★★
★★★★★
Battery
★★★★★
★★★★★

Pros

  • Good display
  • Long battery life
  • Capable stereo speakers
  • Clean software

Cons

  • Screen lacks high refresh rate
  • Staid design
  • Low light photography could have been better
  • Average performance

A while back, we reviewed the Moto G52 and were pleasantly surprised with its stunning display. So much so, we concluded that the device was the budget display king, at least in India. Well, in a bid to capitalise on the momentum, the company has followed up the launch with the Moto G42. The handset takes some cues from the G52 and costs less too, albeit isn’t as feature-laden as its pricier sibling. So, should you buy the Moto G42? Let’s find out in this review.

Verdict

The Moto G42 won’t woo you away with its performance chops. That said, the handset flaunts a beautiful screen which touts good colour calibration for the price. Add to that the handset’s long-lasting battery life, great stereo speakers, clean software, decent cameras, and fast charging tech, and the G42 makes for a decent buy.

The lowdown

  • Starting with the design, the Moto G42 is fashioned out of a plastic unibody, with the back of the phone featuring a matte finish which keeps fingerprints and smudges at bay. The handset also touts an IP52 rating, making it somewhat resistant to splashes of water and dust. What’s more, unlike some competing devices, the G42’s frame is rather flat (instead of round) and it offers a firm grip too. Be that as it may, I would advise you to put a case on the phone for full-proof protection. A fringe benefit of the same is that a case will even out the back of the unit. Consequently, the phone won’t wobble when kept on a flat surface. The icing on the cake is that the company bundles a plastic TPU case with the retail packaging, which is great.
  • Speaking of the camera module, it takes just the right amount of space in the top-left corner of the back panel and as such, looks quite elegant. The array houses three sensors, an LED flash and even has the main camera’s specs etched on it. The charging port (USB Type-C) is placed at the bottom edge alongside the speaker grille and microphone, while the 3.5mm headphone jack is positioned up top. While I was not too fond of the headphone jack position, I appreciate that the company has furnished the G42 with the beloved analogue port. Moving on, the volume rocker and fingerprint scanner-cum power button can be found on the unit’s right edge. The toggles were within the reach of my thumb, thereby ensuring I didn’t have to resort to any finger gymnastics to press them.
  • The Moto G42 sports a 6.4-inch display that bears a centred punch-hole atop and FHD+ (2,400×1,080p) resolution. Unlike the Moto G52, the handset sports an AMOLED panel instead of pOLED screen. For the uninitiated, the latter makes use of a plastic substrate instead of glass, which makes it more durable and shock-resistant than a traditional OLED panel. Barring that however, the displays are neck and neck. To wit, the Moto G42’s panel offers excellent viewing angles, accurate colours, and high contrast ratio for a good dynamic range. The screen also gets sufficiently bright and correspondingly, remains legible under direct sunlight. What’s more, the smartphone comes with Widevine L1 support for streaming in HD resolution. Unfortunately, the G42’s display lacks a high refresh rate and as a result, animations and UI transitions don’t appear as smooth as they would on say, a phone with a 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rate panel.
Moto G42 benchmark
  • Under the hood, the Moto G42 rocks the Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 SoC. Spec-wise, the mid-range octa-core chipset features Kryo 265 cores clocked at up to 2.4GHz and an Adreno 610 GPU. On the memory front, the handset comes equipped with 4GB RAM that works alongside either 64GB or 128GB of onboard storage. The latter is further expandable up to 1TB using a microSD card, which is great. Needless to say, the phone feels snappy enough when tackling day-to-day tasks like checking emails, going through messaging apps and social media accounts, and playing some casual games. However, the same cannot be said for resource-hungry games. To wit, the device had a lot of issues running BGMI, which caps out at the ‘Balanced’ graphics preset. Even then, the phone incurred a lot of frame drops and I noticed the game stuttered quite a bit on the set.
  • Moving on, let’s take a closer look at the Moto G42’s photography prowess. Now, much to my surprise, the handset can click some nice-looking shots during the day with its 50MP main sensor. The HDR mode, which kicks in automatically in slightly challenging lighting conditions, adds detail to the shadows and highlights of an image. That said, the camera can overexpose the photo at times. On the flip side, the device’s 8MP ultra-wide (UW) lens and 2MP macro sensor are average at best. Furthermore, the main sensor’s lowlight performance could do with some tweaks too and I noticed that the sensor had some trouble focusing on the subject after the sun had set. Furthermore, the images were flush with noise too. The dedicated night mode does make things better for Moto G42, but only to an extent. The handset also comes with other camera wizardries such as portrait mode, which delivers okayish results, group selfie, spot colour, up to 1080p video recording at 30fps, slow-mo and more. The 16MP selfie camera can spruce the images up in an environment with ample lighting conditions but fails to replicate the same in low light.
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  • The Moto G42 is fueled by a 5,000mAh battery which can keep the smartphone up and running for almost a day. In fact, the smartphone scored a whopping 17 hours and 37 minutes in PC Mark’s battery test. As for the real-life performance, I was averaging around 12-14 hours with the Moto G42 between charges. The handset comes with a 20W fast charging solution, which can juice it from 0-100 percent in around an hour and a half. Software-wise, the Moto G42 runs MyUX atop Android 12 out of the box. Motorola’s custom UI is quite minimalistic and is as close to a near-stock Android experience as you can get. The interface also comes with gesture support which can be used to enable select smartphone features quickly. For instance, a twisting gesture opens the camera app and a downwards chop can turn on the flashlight, among other things. That said, there are a few pre-installed apps, which you can’t remove.
  • The phone sports a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, which may not be the fastest but unlocks the phone in one go. The Moto G42’s 4G LTE support was up to the mark. The handset isn’t 5G-enabled, which means you can’t use 5G services when the network makes its debut later this year in India. That said, the handset’s stereo speakers were to my liking and the audio output was acceptable for the price range.

Final verdict

The Moto G42 retails for Rs 13,999 and for the price, gets a few things right. Be that as it may, the handset faces stiff competition from a ton of devices, including but not limited to the Tecno Pova 3 and POCO M4 5G. The former trumps the Motorola smartphone with a 7,000mAh battery, 33W fast charging solution, and 90Hz screen refresh rate, while the POCO M4 rocks a 5G-capable MediaTek Dimensity chipset and 90Hz display. All said and done, buyers vying for an AMOLED screen and clean software will find plenty to like about the Moto G42.

Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5

Pros

  • Good display
  • Long battery life
  • Capable stereo speakers
  • Clean software

Cons

  • Screen lacks high refresh rate
  • Staid design
  • Low light photography could have been better
  • Average performance

Key Specs

Moto G42
RAM4 GB
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 680
Rear Camera50 MP + 8 MP + 2 MP
Front Camera16 MP
Battery5000 mAh
Display6.4 inches
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Moto G42 Price
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Rs. 13,999.00
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