The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G is a perfectly decent mid-range phone that doesn’t have to exist.
At face value, it’s pretty priced at $ 400 with a large 6.6-inch OLED display, a generous 5,000mAh battery, and a healthy support policy that will get it to receive security updates over the next few years. That’s a pretty good deal.
With Samsung’s Galaxy A range, it’s located between the Galaxy A52 5G and A32 5G, two very good options in their respective price ranges. The $ 499 A52 5G offers a few high-end bells and whistles like the A42 5G, such as a quick update screen and a waterproof IP67 rating. $ 279 simpler A32 5G includes an LCD screen instead of an OLED screen.
But if you’re buying a new device from Verizon, you won’t see the A52 5G or A32 5G on dealer shelves (digital or otherwise). Instead, you’ll only find the A42 5G thanks to one feature and the others not: mmWave 5G support. Until recently, this was a feature for premium phones, and the A42 5G is one of the cheapest devices that can connect to the network. Verizon in particular has put a lot of pressure on this super-fast 5G flavor over the last couple of years. Despite its efforts, mmWave is still scarce and the range limited, but the operator still places a strong emphasis on the equipment it supports.
That’s why the A42 5G exists, at least in the United States, but I’m not convinced it’s a good enough reason for anyone other than Verizon.
Samsung A42 5G display, battery and performance
The Galaxy A42 5G offers a large 6.6-inch 720p OLED display. It doesn’t have a lot of resolution stretched across a fairly large panel, and it looks – if you look at the images closely, you’ll see some pixels. The screen brightens indoors, but I had a hard time seeing it outdoors, even if the brightness was maximized. The OLED panel shows a great contrast compared to an LCD monitor (i.e. what you get on a cheaper model like the A32 5G), but otherwise the monitor is a bit underrated.
The A42 5G offers an on-screen fingerprint sensor for unlocking the biometric lock, and it’s one of the best I’ve come across in this budget and mid-range class — it’s responsive and only occasionally awkward. Budget phones often have sensors that are less accurate and require additional checks more often, and that’s a real pain considering how many times we open our devices every day.
Battery life is excellent thanks to a large 5,000 mAh cell – most days I drained it to just 70 percent by bed, but even a day of heavy use that included a Mobile Data Zoom call dropped it by only about 50 percent. The power user would definitely get all day and a little extra, and with moderate use, it can be easily stretched to two days on a charge.
The overall performance of the A42 5G Snapdragon 750 processor and 4GB of RAM (it also has 128GB of storage and can be expanded via MicroSD) is good for everyday tasks. The only slowness I noticed was a slight delay in launching the camera app and small delays when using more processing-intensive camera features like portrait.
The US version of the A42 5G comes with Android 11. In addition, Samsung has guaranteed two new operating system upgrades and four years of protection. In terms of device longevity, it puts it ahead of many mid-level Android races that often only see a couple of years of protection.
Samsung’s current Android implementation is a little more messy than we’d like, and activating it on the Verizon network means you’ll get even more preloaded apps. It’s alot. There’s some kind of game on the phone with a cartoon bear I’ve been using in recent weeks, and I don’t care, but I haven’t been able to call the energy to remove it either.
Samsung A42 5G camera
The A42 5G includes a 48-megapixel f / 1.8 main camera, an 8-megapixel f / 2.2 ultra-wide and a 2-megapixel depth sensor equivalent to the mid-range. There is also a 13 megapixel selfie camera on the front. One version of the phone sold in the UK and Europe included a 5 megapixel macro and a slightly higher resolution 5 megapixel depth sensor, but we won’t lose anything important if we haven’t used these cameras in the US version.
In good light outdoors, the Galaxy A42 5G takes vivid and detailed photos. Like other Samsung devices before, the A42 produces colors that tilt in a supersaturated direction, which can interfere if you want a more natural look. Portrait orders are compelling enough, and the camera can sometimes have trouble deciding on white balance and exposure under different lighting conditions.
In very low light, photos show a lot of smudged details thanks to noise reduction, but outside of Pixel phones in this price range, we don’t expect a mid-range device to shine. Overall, the photographic features of the A42 5G are at a class level. If you spend a little more on the A52 5G, you get a stabilized main camera that gets sharper images in low light and slightly better performance in low light in general, but in the $ 400 range, the A42 measures well with most of its peers.
The Galaxy A42 5G is a great phone for $ 400, and if you’re committed to buying from Verizon, it’s one of the best options at that price. But if you can buy an unlocked phone or you’re not on Verizon, there are other options, including Samsung’s own mid-range configuration, that are worth considering. The unique feature of the A42 5G is limited unless you live in an area with good mmWave coverage and spend a lot of time outdoors where the signal can really be reached.
If you want to save a little money, the A32 5G is a viable option for $ 280. You get the same longevity of security support as the A42 5G, the same type of Photo Features, a huge battery, and 5G support ready for future upgrades to Verizon and AT&T networks. Its processor is a little less durable and the LCD screen isn’t as comfortable to watch as the A42 5G’s OLED, but if these things aren’t a priority, you can also save a bit and opt for a cheaper device.
If you think you want a little more than the A42 5G offers, the $ 500 A52 5G is a good option with a slightly better camera, large refresh rate display and peace of mind with IP-rated waterproofing. If you can find the Pixel 4A 5G in stock anywhere, it would be another good option for $ 500 with a better camera, faster processor and cleaner software. However, it offers a smaller 6.2-inch screen, and once again, you’ll have a hard time finding something new at this point because its successor, the Pixel 5A, is likely to arrive in the near future.
If none of the above is right for you, the A42 5G is certainly not a bad choice. Its healthy support policy, decent overall performance, and long-lasting battery life make it one of the best options from Verizon for about $ 400. Don’t just get excited about mmWave.
Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge