Samsung wants to make 5G accessible to everyone. It is on this basis that the Galaxy A42 5G was designed. After the Galaxy A51 in its 5G version, the Korean firm offers us here a second smartphone compatible with the new frequency bands, an even more accessible version, which however makes very few concessions. Here is our full review of Samsung’s new A42 5G.
Not long ago, Samsung released a 5G version of its Galaxy A51. The South Korean manufacturer’s goal: to ensure that the technology is adopted by a wider audience, and that it is not reserved for those who can afford a high-end smartphone. Samsung does it again this time with a new model, the Galaxy A42 5G. Sold for less than 400 €, the device benefits from all the know-how of the brand, which offers it no less 4 rear sensors, a most pleasant design, a powerful SoC for a mid-range (a Snapdragon 750G) and a good big battery. So what more can you ask for? While there are a few things to review, this smartphone has some nice surprises in store for us. We tested it for almost a full week, so here are all our conclusions.
Our test of the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G in video
Prices and availability
The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G is priced at € 379 on the official Samsung website. You can also find it on all e-commerce sites in these 3 colors: Prism Gray, Prismatic White and Prism Black. A unique storage capacity of 128 GB is available.
Design and connectivity
Before moving on to the smartphone itself, let’s quickly talk about the contents of the box. In addition to the A42 5G, you will have the pleasure of finding a power adapter equipped with a USB-A socket and can deliver up to 15W, a USB-A to USB-C cable for recharging and data transfer, as well as a Handsfree very basic, but small spoil for the rest of the test, equipped with a 3.5mm jack.
If you’ve ever seen a Samsung smartphone from 2019-2020, you shouldn’t be lost. We find here a simple, yet effective design. In terms of dimensions, the smartphone is 164.4 millimeters high, 75.9 millimeters and 8.6 millimeters thick. As for the weight, it is 193 grams.
The device is available in three colors: Gray, white or black, all three “prismatic” according to Samsung. The back is actually a set of gradients by dotted lines, from the darkest gray on the upper part of the phone, to the lightest at the bottom, the device also offering iridescent reflections. An original graphic choice, although the quality of the plastic used for the back does not inspire great confidence. It is very likely that the latter is very sensitive to scratches. The outline of the smartphone is also made of gray plastic. This choice of materials is understandable in view of the price charged, but somewhat affects the handling which removes any feeling of “premium” on this smartphone.
On the back of the device, the photo module houses 4 sensors which we will come back to a little later, positioned in a square and protruding from the whole hull by a small millimeter. On the right side are the volume control buttons, but also the lock / unlock button. The left edge, on the other hand, only houses the Sim / micro SD card carriage offering to accommodate either two Sim cards or a Sim card + a Micro-SD card to expand the available storage.
On the bottom of the device, we have the right to a speaker, a microphone, a USB-C port for recharging and transferring information, and a 3.5mm mini-jack to connect a headset or hands-free kit.
Finally, the display surface offers a Super AMOLED panel of 6.6 inch surrounded by 2.5mm borders, the lower border being the most imposing and measuring 6 mm thick. While this may seem substantial at first, it is quickly forgotten during use. As to selfie sensor, it is integrated into a “water drop” type notch on the top edge of it. It is much less forgotten, the margin between the edge of the sensor and the edge of the notch being one and a half millimeters, this one could have been reduced in order to make the drop of water more discreet.
Overall the design is quite successful and original, even if the plastic chosen on the back seems fragile. Especially since the shiny back will obviously make even the slightest fingerprint visible. The grip is satisfactory and the smartphone well balanced, so that even during long sessions of use, its weight is not tiring on the hands.
The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G does not offer no stereo sound, but its single speaker located on the lower edge delivers a very convincing sound, as long as you don’t turn up the volume too loud. Obviously, as usual with the built-in speakers, the sound lacks bass, but still allows for pleasant listening and overall benefits from a well-balanced frequency level.
For analog enthusiasts, a 3.5mm mini-jack is available. It allows you to plug in your headphones or earphones. Since the standard supplied is poor, we tested the device using a Sennheiser HD25. The sound rendering delivered by this smartphone is totally convincing. And it goes without saying that you can also sync your Bluetooth headphones to it for wireless listening, but is it really necessary to clarify?
The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G’s display is undoubtedly its strong point. Samsung offers us here a 6.6-inch Super AMOLED HD + screen at 20: 9 ratio and offering a definition of 1600 × 720 pixels for a density of 399 pixels per inch. The whole benefits from a contrast ratio of 1,000,000: 1 (usual on this type of screen), and maximum brightness which, although less powerful than the brand’s high-end smartphones, remains very satisfactory and readable even in full sun.
Last point to address, the refresh rate of this slab: it remains limited to 60Hz. If you have not yet tasted 120Hz on a smartphone screen, this point may seem trivial, but in game for example, the difference is obvious.
Despite everything, this screen delivers very good performance. The quality of the display offered by the Galaxy A42 5G when it is first switched on is impressive, especially for a smartphone priced at less than € 400. The calibration is very correct, the details are crisp, the colors vivid. This screen is really pleasant to use.
Hardware and Performance
Unlike its big brother, the Galaxy A51 5G which was equipped with an Exynos processor, the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G is equipped with the very recent Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G supported by 4GB of RAM. Smaller and cheaper, but no less efficient since the benchmarks show more than convincing results. This is the same processor found elsewhere on the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite and which we tested recently.
In Single-Core on Geekbench, Galaxy A42 5G gets a score of 657, thus exceeding the performance offered by the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro and its Snapdragon 855. In multi-core it is a score of almost 1900 points which, this time, allows it to be placed between the performance offered by a K20 Pro or a Poco F1. The most conclusive remains his results on 3DMark’s Slingshot Extreme, where it does so by delivering performance in excess of 62% of devices on the market.
What must be deduced from these results is that the Snapdragon 750G + 4GB of RAM pair offers slightly better performance than the smartphones usually offered in this price range. On a daily basis, the smartphone is fluid and shows no signs of slowing down. The phone is responsive, even on the most demanding games of the moment and it is above all on this point that he reveals his potential. Genshin Impact for example runs smoothly and playing on this smartphone is a real pleasure. After several hours of gaming, there is no excessive heating or slowing down of the Galaxy A42 5G. So another good point for Samsung.
On the storage side, the Galaxy A42 5G benefits from 128 GB (106 available taking into account the OS and embedded applications). Its storage capacity can be expandable up to 1 TB via micro SD. A good base capacity with the prospect of interesting extensions: you will have plenty to store your photos and videos, your applications and your files without worrying too much about the remaining space.
Let’s go to the back of the device, and more specifically to the photo part. We have the right here to a module offering 4 sensors. A 48 Mpx main sensor opening at f / 1.8 with a field of view of 80 °, a 8 Mpx ultra-wide-angle sensor opening at f / 2.2 offering a field of view of 123 °, a 5 Mpx macro sensor opening at f / 2.4 and to finish a TOF sensor (called by Samsung sensor “portrait”) of 5Mpx also opening at f / 2.4.
No telephoto lens, then. However, it will be possible, via the main 48 Mpx sensor, to crop the image a bit without losing too much quality. Note that the smartphone offers a digital zoom of up to x10.
On the video side, although the screen cannot display such a high definition, you can easily shoot up to 4K UHD at 30 frames per second, and in slow motion up to 240fps in HD. Stabilization is digital and does relatively well to cover small movements. Be careful, however, not to move too suddenly.
The quality of the photos is very respectable. On the main sensor, despite software processing, a little too present, the results are beautiful, crisp and precise and the contrasts are striking. As usual with Samsung, however, we will have a result a little too saturated, something which, over time, has almost become a hallmark of the Korean firm. Portrait mode is also convincing, delivering clean, crisp shots, even if there are some mistakes in complex areas like hair or accessories.
The ultra wide angle, however, is clearly not the most convincing on the market. While overall the photos remain respectable, there is a loss of detail and some blurry areas around the edges. The image tends to be smoothed by the software part which makes the shots less striking. There are also some chromatic aberrations at the extreme edges of the image which are only visible if you actually zoom in the image.
The 5 Mpx macro sensor offers good results : the photos are very correct, well detailed and the saturation offers faithful colors without being too accentuated.
Finally, the 20 Mpx front sensor does well in the self-portrait shot. In contrast, portrait mode exhibits the same flaws at the front as it does at the back, as it has some difficulty in cropping at the hair and the tips of the ears, for example. The colors are true to reality and the software processing remains natural enough not to hamper the experience. However, be careful with “beauty” filters which tend to cruelly distort the photos by smoothing the skin.
Battery, autonomy and recharging
The Galaxy A42 5G is equipped with a battery of 5,000 mAh which, according to the brand, allows it to hold up to 34 hours in local video playback, or until 9 p.m. in internet use.
In fact, this drumkit is doing very well. In intensive use in video games, the battery lasted almost 5 hours without problems during our test. In “standard” use, including SMS, Calls, the use of various social networking applications, video on VOD and some video games, the Galaxy A42 5G lasted almost 25 hours. So you can, if your use is not too intensive, schedule a recharge after a day and a half. A very respectable autonomy, for a Samsung smartphone at least.
On the charging side, Samsung announces a “fast” recharge of 15W which in fact is not that fast. It will take about two hours for a full charge and one hour to recover 50% of the battery. Put in perspective with regard to the autonomy of the smartphone, all this is still very correct.
The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G covers all 5G FDD and TDD Sub 6 frequencies, but also the entire 4G LTE network and earlier. It also supports Bluetooth version 5.0 and NFC, but small negative point, however, on the wifi side since it will be limited to 802.11 AC Wifi (also called Wifi 6). This little detail could have made the smartphone even more attractive. The brand’s high-end models have benefited from it for almost two years (yes, the Galaxy S10 is indeed WiFi 6 compatible), so why not bring the technology to the A42 5G?
Samsung Oolige, we’re here out of the box on a One UI in version 2.5, which is based on Android 10. While One UI was far from pleasant to use some time ago, the interface in its most recent version has become greatly simplified and uncluttered, which makes it pleasant for everyday use. In this version, as explained during hardware and performance tests, everything runs smoothly. One UI is fluid and easy to learn if you’ve never tried it before. Finally, note that the A42 5G is one of the smartphones that will benefit from the update to Android 11 / One UI 3.0.