Samsung Galaxy A42 5G review
The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G is a thoroughly decent midrange phone that doesn’t really need to exist.
Taking it at face value, it’s fairly priced at $400 with a big 6.6-inch OLED screen, generous 5,000mAh battery, and a healthy support policy that will see it receiving security updates through the next few years. That’s a pretty good deal.
In the context of Samsung’s Galaxy A lineup, it’s situated between the Galaxy A52 5G and the A32 5G, two very good options in their own price brackets. The $499 A52 5G offers a few more high-end bells and whistles than the A42 5G, like a fast refresh screen and an IP67 waterproof rating. At $279, the more basic A32 5G includes an LCD rather than OLED.
- Excellent battery life
- Solid OS upgrade and security support timeline
- Support for sub-6 5G including C-band
- Busy UI with lots of pre-downloaded apps
- mmWave support isn’t useful for most people
- Screen resolution is low
$329 at Samsung$399 at Verizon
How we rate and review products
But if you’re shopping for a new device with Verizon, you won’t see either the A52 5G or the A32 5G on the retailer’s shelves (digital or otherwise). Instead, you’ll only find the A42 5G, thanks to one feature it has and the others don’t: mmWave 5G support. Until recently, this was a feature reserved for premium phones, and the A42 5G is one of the least expensive devices that can connect with the network. Verizon in particular has been pushing this super-fast flavor of 5G hard over the past couple of years. Despite its efforts, mmWave is still scarce and highly range-limited, but the carrier is still heavily biasing its stock toward devices that support it.
That’s why the A42 5G exists, at least in the US, but I’m not convinced that’s a good enough reason for anyone besides Verizon.
The Galaxy A42 5G’s glossy, plastic back features a gradient pattern.
Samsung A42 5G screen, battery, and performance
The Galaxy A42 5G offers a big 6.6-inch 720p OLED screen. That’s not a lot of resolution stretched across a fairly big panel, and it shows — if you look closely at images you’ll see some pixelation. The screen gets bright enough for indoor use, but I had a hard time seeing it outside even with brightness maxed out. The OLED panel shows nice contrast compared to an LCD (i.e., what you’ll get in a less expensive model like the A32 5G), but otherwise the display is a little underwhelming.
The A42 5G offers an in-display fingerprint sensor for biometric unlocking and it’s one of the better ones I’ve come across in this budget-to-midrange class — it’s responsive and only occasionally fussy. Budget phones often have sensors that are less precise and require additional scans more frequently, and that is a real pain considering how many times we unlock our devices every day.
The screen gets bright enough for indoor use, but I had a hard time seeing it outside
Battery life is excellent thanks to a large 5,000mAh cell — most days I only drained it to 70 percent by bedtime, but even a day with heavy use that included a Zoom call on cellular data only brought it down around 50 percent. A power user would definitely get a full day and a little extra from it, and with moderate use it can easily be stretched to two days on a charge.
Overall performance from the A42 5G’s Snapdragon 750 processor and 4GB of RAM (there’s a healthy 128GB of storage, too, and it’s expandable via MicroSD) is good for day-to-day tasks. The only slowness I noticed was a little bit of lag starting the camera app, and slight delays using more processing-intensive camera features like portrait mode.
Samsung has guaranteed two additional OS upgrades and four years of security support
The US version of the A42 5G ships with Android 11. Beyond that, Samsung has guaranteed two additional OS upgrades and four years of security support. In terms of device longevity, that puts it ahead of a lot of the midrange Android competition, which often only sees a couple of years of security support.
Samsung’s current implementation of Android is a little more cluttered than we prefer, and activating it on Verizon’s network means you’ll end up with even more pre-downloaded apps on top of that. It’s a lot. There’s some sort of game featuring a cartoon bear on the phone I’ve been using for the past few weeks, and I do not care for it but I haven’t been able to summon the energy to uninstall it either.
The A42 5G’s rear camera array is headlined by a 48-megapixel f/1.8 standard wide.
Samsung A42 5G camera
The A42 5G includes a 48-megapixel f/1.8 main rear camera, accompanied by an 8-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide, and 2-megapixel depth sensor, which is all par for the midrange class. There’s also a 13-megapixel selfie camera around front. A version of the phone sold in the UK and Europe included a 5-megapixel macro and a slightly higher-res 5-megapixel depth sensor, but we’re not missing out on anything important by not having those cameras on the US version.
In good light outdoors, the Galaxy A42 5G takes vibrant, detailed photos. Like other Samsung devices before it, the A42 produces colors that lean toward oversaturated, which can be distracting if a more natural look is your thing. Portrait mode photos are convincing enough, and the camera can sometimes struggle deciding on white balance and exposure in mixed lighting situations.
Photos in very low light show a lot of smeared detail thanks to noise reduction, but outside of the Pixel phones in this price bracket, that’s not something we’d expect a midrange device to excel at. All told, the A42 5G’s photo capabilities are on par with its class. Spending a bit more on the A52 5G will get you a stabilized main camera that will get more sharp shots in dim lighting and slightly better low-light performance in general, but in the $400 range the A42 measures up well against most of its peers.
The A42 5G’s unique selling point — mmWave 5G support — is of limited value for most people.
The Galaxy A42 5G is a fine phone for $400, and if you’re committed to buying from Verizon, it’s one of the better options at that price. But if you’re able to buy an unlocked phone or you aren’t on Verizon, then there are other options, including in Samsung’s own midrange lineup, that are well worth your consideration. Unless you live in an area with good mmWave coverage and spend a lot of your time outside where the signal can actually be reached, the A42 5G’s unique feature is of limited value.
If you’d like to save a little money, the A32 5G is a viable alternative for $280. You’ll get the same security support longevity as the A42 5G along with similar photo capabilities, a huge battery, and 5G support that’s ready for upcoming improvements to Verizon’s and AT&T’s networks. Its processor is a little less robust and the LCD isn’t as nice to look at as the A42 5G’s OLED, but if these things aren’t priorities then you might as well save a little and go for the less expensive device.
don’t get too excited about mmWave
If you think you’ll want a little more than the A42 5G has to offer, then the $500 A52 5G is a good step-up option with a bit of a better camera, a great high refresh rate screen, and the added peace of mind of IP-rated waterproofing. If you can find a Pixel 4A 5G in stock anywhere, that would be another good alternative at $500 with a better camera, faster processor, and cleaner software. It offers a smaller 6.2-inch screen, though, and again, you’ll have a hard time finding one new at this point since its successor, the Pixel 5A, will likely be arriving in the near future.
If none of the above suits you, then the A42 5G really isn’t a bad choice. Its healthy support policy, decent overall performance, and robust battery life make it one of the best options from Verizon for around $400. Just don’t get too excited about mmWave.
Photography by Allison Johnson / The Verge
Agree to continue: Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
Every smart device now requires you to agree to a series of terms and conditions before you can use it — contracts that no one actually reads. It’s impossible for us to read and analyze every single one of these agreements. But we started counting exactly how many times you have to hit “agree” to use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people don’t read and definitely can’t negotiate.
To use the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G, you must agree to:
- Samsung’s Terms and conditions
- Google Play Terms of Service
- Automatic installs (including from Google, Samsung, and your carrier)
There are many optional agreements. If you use a carrier-specific version, there will be more of them. Here are just a few:
- Samsung “Information Linking” and sending diagnostic data
- Google Drive backup, Location services, Wi-Fi scanning, diagnostic data
Final tally: there are five mandatory agreements and at least three optional ones.
Samsung Galaxy A42 5G Review
While it launched globally in 2020, the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G is only just now arriving stateside. Sandwiched between the $279.99 Galaxy A32 5G and the $499.99 Galaxy A52 5G, the $399.99 Galaxy A42 5G fails to stand out. Ultimately, its millimeter-wave (mmWave) 5G connectivity and long battery life don’t make up for underwhelming cameras, a low-resolution display, and sluggish performance. We recommend the Galaxy A32 5G if you’re looking to spend less, or the $449.99 Google Pixel 5a with 5G if you have a bit more cash to spare. No matter your budget, both phones offer a better blend of features and performance for their respective prices.
The Galaxy A42 lacks the sophisticated, squared-off design you’ll find in the rest of Samsung’s 2021 A-series portfolio. Instead, it sports a glossy and curvy back panel similar to last year’s Galaxy A51. The phone is available in black, gray, or white, all of which have a distinct gradient. I tested the black model, which has four chunky blocks that transition from pure black to metallic blue. While it’s a bold, unique design, the high-gloss finish shows off smudges and scratches easily.
At 6.5 by 3.0 by 0.3 inches (HWD) and 6.8 ounces, the Galaxy A42 is big, but light and thin enough to hold in one hand. And while the glossy shell doesn’t offer any resistance, the phone is well balanced and doesn’t feel like it will slip out of your hands.
The Galaxy A42 has a disappointingly low-resolution AMOLED display (Photo: Steven Winkelman)
A 6.6-inch, 1,660-by-720 pixel AMOLED panel dominates the front of the phone. The screen’s colors are lush and vivid, but there’s noticeable pixelation because of its low resolution. That said, it’s bright enough to use in direct sunlight without any issues, and its viewing angles are excellent.
Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
Google Pixel 5a With 5G
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
TCL 20 Pro 5G
The phone’s optical, under-display fingerprint sensor is slow and finnicky. It’s smaller and less accurate than the ultrasonic sensors on more expensive flagships like the Galaxy S21; I wish Samsung used the side-mounted sensors from the Galaxy A32 here.
The top of the Galaxy A42 is bare, while the bottom is home to a USB-C charging port, a 3. 5mm headphone jack, and a speaker. The speaker maxes out at 94dB; audio quality is mediocre and unbalanced, with thin mids and not the slightest hint of bass. Fortunately, there’s Bluetooth 5.0 and the aforementioned headphone jack for better audio. The handset also supports NFC for mobile payments.
On the left edge, there’s a SIM/microSD slot. The power button and volume rocker are on the right; the buttons are thin and feel a bit spongy to the touch.
Durability is a mixed bag. The Galaxy A42’s plastic frame and back panel should withstand minor drops and dings without much damage, but its Gorilla Glass 3 display is unlikely to fare as well. And unlike the IP67-rated Galaxy A52, an accidental dip in the pool will likely spell doom for the Galaxy A42.
The back of the Galaxy A42 is fairly unique (Photo: Steven Winkelman)
Optimized for Verizon and Visible
The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G is optimized for use on Verizon’s 5G network. That means it sports LTE, mid-band 5G, and mmWave connectivity. There is no C-band support, however.
I tested the phone in Chicago on Visible (which uses Verizon’s network) in several neighborhoods. My test speeds were solid and consistent, averaging 240Mbps down and 71Mbps up.
Call quality is good. Earpiece volume maxes out at 87dB and is loud enough to hear on a busy street. Test calls were crisp and clear; noise cancellation worked well, too.
Don’t Ditch Your DSLR
Samsung makes some of the best smartphone cameras on the market, but you’re not going to find them on the Galaxy A42. Instead, you get a rear stack with a 48MP primary sensor and an f/1.8 aperture; an 8MP ultrawide sensor with an f/2.2 aperture; and a 2MP depth sensor for improved depth of field and portrait mode. The front-facing camera clocks in at 20MP and has an f/2.2 aperture.
If the rear camera sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same as in the Galaxy A32. Save for a 5MP macro sensor on the less expensive Galaxy A32, the camera modules are identical. It’s a pretty good stack for a $279.99 phone like the Galaxy A32, but it is downright underwhelming compared with what you can get in the A42’s $400 price range.
The Galaxy A42’s primary lens is capable of decent shots in sufficient light. Daylight test shots have good depth of field and crisp detail in the foreground. However, background detail is soft and colors are blown out in most of my test photos.
Daylight test shots with the ultrawide lens tell a similar story, with a few key differences. Background details are hazy in some of my test shots thanks to overly aggressive noise reduction. There is also significant distortion in many images.
Low-light photos with the primary and ultrawide sensors are shallow, with noticeable blurring. Samsung’s noise reduction process obliterates background detail in most of these shots. The camera sometimes creates an unnatural outline around lights and objects, and most of my ultrawide shots show complex distortion.
The 20MP selfie camera performs well. Daylight photos are crisp and warm, while foreground detail is excellent. Low-light test photos are a little flat and show only minor background blurring.
The Galaxy A42’s cameras are very similar to what you’ll find on the less expensive Galaxy A32 (Photo: Steven Winkelman)
Not Enough Power
A Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G chip and 4GB of RAM power the Galaxy A42. It includes 128GB of storage, of which 110GB is available out of the box. You can add up to an additional 1TB of storage via the microSD slot.
The Galaxy A42 lags behind the Pixel 5a and even the Galaxy A32 in terms of performance. Apps take a beat to open, there’s some hesitation when swiping between screens, and caching is prevalent with more than half a dozen Chrome pages or apps open simultaneously.
See How We Test Phones
Games run slowly on the A42. Genshin Impact took several minutes to load and I noticed several instances of skipped frames during an hour of gameplay. The less resource-hungry Alto’s Odyssey loaded quickly, but I still noticed a few skipped frames while riding the desert sands.
Benchmarks are comparable with other phones that use similar hardware. On Geekbench 5, a synthetic benchmark that quantifies raw performance, the Galaxy A42 earned 652 single-core (SC) and 1,976 multi-core (MC), about on par with the Galaxy A52 5G (645 SC/1,905 MC).
On PCMark Work 3.0, a suite of tests that emulates typical smartphone tasks, the Galaxy A42 5G scored 8,439, trailing the Pixel 5a (8,528) slightly. That said, the Pixel feels far more nimble in daily performance. Benchmarks are a convenient way to assign a numerical value to different performance factors, but don’t necessarily reflect how a smartphone performs with normal use.
The Galaxy A42’s 5,000mAh battery can easily get you through a full day between charges. In our battery drain test, which streams HD video over Wi-Fi at full brightness, the phone lasted 12 hours and 4 minutes before shutting down. A 15W power adapter is included, but the phone doesn’t support wireless charging.
The Galaxy A42’s cameras aren’t up to standards set by other $400 phones (Photo: Steven Winkelman)
Years of Android Updates
The US version of the Galaxy A42 ships with Android 11, along with Samsung’s One UI 3.1. The Verizon version of the phone is crammed with bloatware, while the Visibile and unlocked models are far tidier.
No matter which version you choose, you get Samsung’s suite of productivity apps, which are mostly extraneous considering Google bakes them into Android. On the plus side, Samsung has partnered with Microsoft to integrate services, which is useful. For example, you can select OneDrive as your backup service, keep track of your Samsung Notes in OneNote, and even access your phone directly from Windows.
Granted, this integration is nowhere near as polished as what you get between iOS and macOS. For example, you still have to play with the settings on your computer and phone, tap dozens of security notifications, and make sure both of your devices are on the same network or within Bluetooth range for everything to sync. That said, it’s definitely a move in the right direction toward a cohesive ecosystem between Android and Windows.
The Galaxy A42 5G will get two years of OS upgrades and four years of security patches, which means it’ll see Android 12 and 13 upgrades. That’s generous for a midrange smartphone, though you’ll likely have to wait longer for OS upgrades than you will with the Pixel 5a; Google pushes OS upgrades directly to its Pixel lineup, so you don’t have to wait for manufacturer updates or carrier certifications.
Millimeter-Wave Isn’t Enough
Each year, Samsung’s Galaxy A-series lineup gets a little better, but there’s always an awkward outlier. This year, it’s the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G. Yes, it offers millimeter-wave 5G, but that isn’t enough to make up for its shortcomings. With sluggish performance, unimpressive cameras, and a low-res display, the Galaxy A42 5G doesn’t stand out from the competition and simply isn’t a good value at $400. For an extra $50, the Google Pixel 5a With 5G is miles better, with a sharper display, clearer cameras, and superior software, making it our Editors’ Choice award winner for midrange phones. If you’re looking to spend less, meanwhile, Samsung’s own Galaxy A32 5G is our Editors’ Choice winner for affordable models, and offers much better value for the money than the A42.
Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
Millimeter-wave 5G connectivity
Good battery life
Two years of OS updates
The Bottom Line
The Samsung Galaxy A42 supports the fastest connectivity options on Verizon’s network, but that isn’t enough to make up a low-res display, weak cameras, and lackluster performance.
Like What You’re Reading?
Sign up for Fully Mobilized newsletter to get our top mobile tech stories delivered right to your inbox.
Thanks for signing up!
Your subscription has been confirmed. Keep an eye on your inbox!
Sign up for other newsletters
Samsung Galaxy A42: specifications, price and reviews
- Display: 6.6″ Super AMOLED – 720 x 1600
- Chip: Qualcomm Snapdragon 750 5G
- 9 0004 Camera: 4 (48 MP + 8 MP + 5 MP + 5 MP)
- Battery: 5000mAh
- OS: Android 13
- Weight: 193g
Final score 900 29
Advantages and disadvantages
- Cupboard Super AMOLED screen
- 20 megapixel front camera
- In-screen fingerprint scanner
- 5000 mAh battery with fast charging 9000 6
- Does not lose performance during continuous load
- Small screen resolution
- Main camera not happy with image quality
- Fingerprint scanner not working perfectly
Complete specifications and tests of all components of the Samsung Galaxy A42 smartphone
|720 x 1600 pixels
|Adaptive Refresh Rate
|Max. declared brightness
|Corning Gorilla Glass 3
|– Always-On Display
Real peak brightness (auto)
The Samsung Galaxy A42 has an AMOLED display, but for a 6.6-inch diagonal it has a small resolution. 1600 by 720 pixels provide a pixel density of just 266 dpi. On the other hand, the image has a contrast and the level of brightness is more than satisfactory.
Design and housing
Samsung Galaxy A42 case design and dimensions
|Back panel material
|White, Black, Gray
|Yes, in display
All characteristics of the Samsung Galaxy A42 chip and tests in benchmarks
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 750 5G
|8 (2 + 6)
| – 6 cores @ 1.8 GHz: Kryo 570 Silver (Cortex-A55)
– 2 cores @ 2.2 GHz: Kryo 570 Gold (Cortex-A77)
Geekbench 5 (single core)
Geekbench 5 (multi-core)
AnTuTu Benchmark 9
Add your AnTuTu test result
|4, 6, 8 GB
|Number of channels
|UFS 2. 1
|Max. memory card size
|Up to 512 GB
|Android 10 (Updated to Android 13)
|UI 9 shell0090
|One UI 3.1
|System size out of the box
|Max. charging power
|Lithium polymer (Li-Po)
|Yes (27% in 30 minutes)
|Full charge time
Battery rating – 37th place
Specifications and testing of Galaxy A42 cameras
|8000 x 6000
|8K video recording
|4K video recording
|Up to 30 fps
|1080p video recording
|Up to 60 fps
|480 fps (720p)
|Wide angle lens
|Number of lenses
|4 (48 MP + 8 MP + 5 MP + 5 MP)
| – 48 MP
– Aperture: f/1. 8
– Focal length: 26mm
– Pixel size: 0.8 micron
– Sensor: 1/2″, Samsung S5KGM2 (ISOCELL CMOS)
|Ultra Wide Lens
| – 8 MP
– Aperture: f/2.2
| – 5 MP
– Aperture: f/2.4
| – 5 MP
– Aperture: f/2.2
| – Bokeh Effect
– Pro Mode
|Number of megapixels
|5184 x 3880
|1080p (Full HD) at 30 FPS
The camera is not a smartphone’s strong point, but it’s not that hard to get good shots. Without proper stabilization, pictures often turn out blurry, and the low speed of autofocus also negatively affects clarity. The front camera produces acceptable quality frames, but the lack of autofocus makes itself felt.
|Wi-Fi 5 (802.11 b/g/n/ac)
| – Dual Band
– Wi-Fi Direct
– Wi-Fi Hotspot
– Wi-Fi Display
|PBAP/PAB, PAN, OPP, MAP, HSP, HID, HFP, DIP, AVRCP, A2DP
| – Charging
– USB mass storage mode
|GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo
|Number of SIM*
|SIM operating mode
|GSM850, GSM900, DCS1800, PCS1900
|WCDMA B1(2100), B2(1900), B4(AWS), B5(850), B8(900)
|LTE B1(2100), B2(1900), B3(1800), B4(AWS), B5(850), B7(2600), B8(900), B12(700), B17(700), B20(800) ), B28(700)
|3. 5 mm audio port
|Class 900 90
|Sales start date
|Sensors and transducers
| – Proximity sensor
– Light sensor
– Fingerprint scanner
*Please note! Package contents and some specifications of the Galaxy A42 may vary by region.
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G or Samsung Galaxy A42
Google Pixel 6 or Samsung Galaxy A42
Samsung Galaxy A13 or Samsung Galaxy A42
Samsung Galaxy A32 5G or Samsung Galaxy A42
Samsung Galaxy A03s or Samsung Galaxy A42
Samsung Galaxy A33 5G or Samsung Galaxy A42
Samsung Galaxy A51 or Samsung Galaxy A42
Samsung Galaxy A23 or Samsung Galaxy A42
Samsung Galaxy S22 or Samsung Galaxy A42
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G or Samsung Galaxy A42
Compare other smartphones (1100+)