Samsung Galaxy A42 5G review: stuck in the middle

The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G is a completely decent midrange phone that doesn’t really need to exist. For a hefty $400 price tag, it has a large 6.6-inch OLED screen, a generous 5,000mAh battery, and a sound support policy that will keep you up to date with security updates for years to come. It’s a very good deal. When it comes to Samsung’s Galaxy A lineup, it sits between the Galaxy A52 5G and A32 5G, two very good options at their own price point. The $499 A52 5G offers several advanced features over the A42 5G, such as a fast-refresh screen and IP67 waterproof rating. The more basic A32 5G, which costs $279, includes an LCD rather than an OLED. Verge Score 6.5 out of 10 Excellent battery life Stable OS upgrade and security support schedule Sub-6 5G support including C-band Bad Stuff Busy UI with many pre-downloaded apps mmWave support not useful for most people Screen resolution However, if you’re shopping for a new device from Verizon, you won’t be able to see the A52 5G or A32 5G on the shelves (digital or otherwise) in retail stores. Instead, the A42 5G can only be found thanks to a feature that has one feature – millimeter wave 5G support and the rest doesn’t. Until recently, it was only a feature for premium phones, but the A42 5G is one of the cheapest devices with network connectivity. In particular, Verizon has been pushing this super-fast 5G strongly over the past few years. Despite these efforts, mmWave is still lacking and very limited in scope, but carriers are still heavily stocking bias towards devices that support it. That’s why the A42 5G exists, at least in the US, but I’m not sure if that’s enough reason for anyone other than Verizon. The glossy plastic back of the Galaxy A42 5G features a gradient pattern. Samsung A42 5G screen, battery and performance The Galaxy A42 5G features a large 6.6-inch 720p OLED screen. It’s not a lot of resolution spanned across a fairly large panel and if you look closely at the image you can see some pixelation. The screen is bright enough for indoor use, but it was hard to see outside even with the brightness turned up to the maximum. OLED panels show good contrast ratios compared to LCDs (that’s what you get on cheaper models like the A32 5G), but otherwise the display is a bit overwhelming. The A42 5G features an in-display fingerprint sensor for biometric unlocking and is one of the better ones I’ve come across in this mid-range class. Responsive and only occasionally tricky. Low-end phones often have sensors that are less accurate and require additional scans more often, which is a real pain given the number of times we unlock our devices every day. The screen is bright enough for indoor use, but hard to see outside. Battery life is great thanks to the large 5,000mAh cell. On most days, I only consumed 70% by bedtime, but even on overused days, including Zoom calls for cellular data, it was reduced by only about 50%. Advanced users will definitely get a full day and a little extra time, and with moderate use, a single charge can easily extend it to two days. The overall performance of the A42 5G’s Snapdragon 750 processor and 4GB of RAM (there is also a normal 128GB storage and expandable via MicroSD) makes it suitable for everyday tasks. The only slowness I noticed was a slight delay in starting the camera app and using processing intensive camera features like portrait mode. Samsung guaranteed two additional OS upgrades and four years of security support. The US version of the A42 5G comes with Android 11. Beyond that, Samsung guarantees two additional OS upgrades and four years of security support. In terms of device lifespan, it’s ahead of many mid-range Android competitors, often with security support for only a few years. Samsung’s current Android implementation is a bit more complex than we prefer, and activation on Verizon’s network will show more pre-downloaded apps on top of that. It’s a lot. There’s a game featuring a cartoon bear on the phone I’ve been using for the past few weeks and I don’t mind it but I couldn’t summon the energy to get rid of it. The A42 5G’s rear camera array makes headlines with its 48-megapixel f/1.8 standard width. Samsung A42 5G Camera The A42 5G includes a 48-megapixel f/1.8 main rear camera and an 8-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide, 2-megapixel depth sensor, all of which are mid-range. There is also a 13-megapixel selfie camera on the front. The phone versions sold in the UK and Europe included a 5-megapixel macro and a slightly higher resolution 5-megapixel depth sensor, but the absence of these cameras in the US version doesn’t mean they’re missing something important. Grid View Outdoors, under good lighting, the Galaxy A42 5G takes vivid, detailed pictures. Like other Samsung devices before it, the A42 produces colors that are close to oversaturated, which can be distracting if you want a more natural look. Portrait mode photos are convincing enough, and cameras can sometimes struggle to determine white balance and exposure in mixed lighting situations. In very low light, the photos show a lot of blurring thanks to noise reduction, but that’s not something you’d expect a mid-range device to excel at, except for Pixel phones in this price range. The photo capabilities of the A42 5G are on par with its class. Investing a little more in the A52 5G will get you a stabilized main camera that will give you sharper shots in low light and generally slightly better low light performance, but in the $400 range, the A42 measures well compared to most in its class. It’s possible. The A42 5G’s unique selling point, mmWave 5G support, is of limited value for most people. The Galaxy A42 5G is a great phone for $400 and is one of the better options at that price if you decide to buy it from Verizon. However, there are other options worth considering, including Samsung’s own midrange lineup, if you can buy an unlocked phone or if you don’t use Verizon. Unless you live in an area with good mmWave coverage and don’t spend a lot of time outside where the signal can really reach, the unique features of the A42 5G aren’t worth it. If you want to save some money, the A32 5G is a viable alternative at $280. You get the same security support lifespan as the A42 5G, similar photo capabilities, large batteries, and 5G support for future improvements from Verizon and AT&T networks. The processor is a bit less robust and the LCD isn’t quite as good as the OLED on the A42 5G, but if these aren’t your priorities, you’re better off saving a little and opting for a cheaper device. Don’t get too excited about mmWave. If you think you’ll want a little more than the A42 5G offers, the $500 A52 5G is a good step-up option with a slightly better camera and great refresh rate. Added peace of mind with a late screen, and IP-rated water resistance. If you can find the stock Pixel 4A 5G everywhere, for $500, it’s another good alternative with a better camera, faster processor, and cleaner software. It does, however, offer a smaller 6.2-inch screen, and you’ll have a hard time finding a new screen at this point, as its successor, the Pixel 5A, will arrive in the near future. If none of the above is right for you, the A42 5G really isn’t a bad choice. For around $400, it’s one of the best options on Verizon because of its sound support policy, decent overall performance, and strong battery life. Don’t get too excited about mmWave. Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge


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