A number of mid-range phones with 5G support were released last year, and the $400 Samsung Galaxy A42 5G is one such device. Sit in the middle Samsung’s A32 5Gand almost flagship A52 5G. That means some compromises like the screen’s 60Hz refresh rate, but the phone excels in areas like performance and battery life. The amount of bloatware included in this phone is ridiculous, but you can expect good software support and a pleasant, responsive UI. The A42 also sits awkwardly between two other mid-range units, and both are a better deal.
Note: We reviewed the Verizon locked version of the A42. Also available unlocked (less bloatware).
Design, hardware and box contents
The Galaxy A42 5G makes a good first impression, especially for the price. It is a smooth rounded rectangle with a glass back. Cheap phones (and more expensive ones like the S21) are plastic. The four-tone gradient under the rear glass looks particularly smooth with a dot pattern that creates an iridescent reflection. The rear camera bump is mostly unobtrusive (though a bit jagged), and the teardrop front camera cutout looks out of place in the full-screen design. It would have been nice if the bezels were visible from all four sides, but the chin is thicker than the rest and definitely stands out when the screen is on.
As for the screen, it’s a 6.6-inch OLED, but only supports 60Hz, but the colors are definitely coming through. It’s a 720p screen, but it’s surprisingly sharp. There is no blurring or pixelation at normal viewing distances. To power the OLED, it houses a large 5000mAh battery and supports 15W charging. That way you can get the job done, but at this price, I’d prefer a faster charge.
The device is relatively thin for its size and has only a few protrusions for line blocking. The power button is on the right side, below the volume buttons, and the bottom of the device is the headphone jack, along with the speaker grill and USB-C port. The earpiece acts as a second speaker for stereo sound.
Inside the box is a 15W charging brick, USB-A to USB-C cord, an instruction booklet, a SIM ejector and of course, a phone. You don’t get a case. Headphones are not included, and anyone with a phone and a charger is enough to go on the go.
Software, performance and battery
The amount of bloatware on the A42 is quite shocking, as I haven’t used network branded devices in years. It took me a while to set up my device thanks to all the bloatware that had to be updated. Quite annoying as a first impression, especially for anyone using Verizon’s A42. But in addition to the many unnecessary Verizon and Samsung apps already loaded on your device, Facebook, Yelp, Snapchat, Spotify, Netflix, Disney+, Apple Music, Yahoo News, Yahoo Mail, Pluto TV, Candy Crush Saga, Toon Blast , Empires & Puzzles, Toy Blast, Outlook, Microsoft Office and OneDrive. So I had to spend as much time as possible after the initial setup to get rid of that crap.