Android Central Verdict
Bottom line: The 5,000mAh battery will let you get two full days out of the A42 — even when you're having to bounce between 4G, Sub6, and UWB on Verizon. The screen is vivid and easy to read outdoors, but the triple-camera setup here is a distinct downgrade from other A-series offerings.
Big screen and bigger battery
Supports UWB on Verizon
Same capable processor as A52 5G
Earpiece very quiet for calls
Camera is okay by day, horrible by night
Smudge magnet backplate
Why you can trust Android Central
As I sit here writing this review, it is lunchtime and the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G in my hand is at 67%, with five hours screen on time since I took it off the charger yesterday. While the A42 is easy to misplace in the now crowded A-series on sale this summer, it can definitely differentiate from the other best cheap Android phones itself in two ways: a unique look and a battery that really will last for days.
The A42 5G also has the mmWave support that the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G lacks, which will make this a very tempting choice for Verizon customers wanting to use its 5G Ultra Wideband (UWB) network — assuming you actually have any patches of it rolled out in your area. For $400, it could be a decent mid-range phone for those who value screen and battery above all. There's some definite compromises made at this price point — phone calls are quiet and the camera is average at best — but overall, the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G could easily be your next Verizon phone.
Samsung Galaxy A42 5G Price and availability
Samsung first announced the Galaxy A42 5G in September 2020, and launched internationally in November of 2020. It didn't come Stateside until spring of 2021, though.
The phone is available in most global markets, but here in the United States, it's usually sold as a Verizon-locked phone (which is the configuration I reviewed). Unlocked models are available if you want to buy outside the carriers, but the 5G bands on the A42 make it best suited to the big red checkmark.
Samsung Galaxy A42 5G Perfect for entertainment
While it can be easy to overlook the A42 on paper, the phone itself is quite distinct compared to the pastel hues of the A52 and A32, with a holographic dot-matrix design across the plastic backplate. I enjoyed seeing the colors refracting in all kinds of light, but those rainbows can't hide the number of smudges it picks up. Either grab yourself a good clear case or keep a microfiber cloth handy if you intend to show it off frequently — or if you like to live life dangerously with a naked phone.
While the A42's screen isn't 120Hz like the A52, 60Hz looks perfectly fine and the colors are bright and crisp on this screen. The A42's screen is easier to read outdoors and in direct sun compared to the A52 — my biggest complaint with that phone — and the 6.6-inch screen is a great size for watching videos, reading webcomics or e-books, and getting lost in a new game for a few hours.
|Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
|6.6-inch Super AMOLED
720 x 1600px (20:9), 60Hz
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G
|microSD (up to 1TB)
|Rear camera 1
4K at 30fps
|Rear camera 2
|Rear camera 3
|Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, BT 5.0
LTE, 5G, NFC, A-GPS
|Sub6 & mmWave
|164.4 x 75.9 x 8.6 mm
|0.42 lbs (193g)
|Prism Dot Black
Prism Dot Gray
Prism Dot White
We have the same Snapdragon 750G here as the A52, which is dependable and capable of handling my workload with grace. We only have 4GB of RAM here as opposed to 6GB, though, so you may notice apps get closed in the background a little more often when multitasking between a half dozen apps. Most of the time, though, 4GB is absolutely fine so long as you're not doing any super-intensive games.
Between the 750G, the mmWave support, and the 6.6-inch screen, you might not believe that the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G can really go two days between recharges, but during my review period, I've had to actively work to try and kill this battery. Four hours of reading only took it down 15%, and even on a weekend when I spent six hours on social media, webcomics, and recipe searches, I barely took down the battery down 30%.
The 60Hz refresh rate on the screen and the efficiency Samsung has achieved with this chipset add up to a long-last phone that you really don't need to charge every night. I didn't need to do more than toss it on a charger while I took my 20-minute shower — same as my Samsung Galaxy Watch Active — to ensure I had plenty of battery to last through a long day. If you tended towards the Moto G Power series in the past to sate your battery anxieties, the Galaxy A42 5G is the upgrade you've been waiting for.
Battery wasn't even impacted too terribly when I was begging for a signal and enough speed to download a menu at The Domain in Austin, a notorious area for cell reception. I couldn't test the A42 5G on Verizon's UWB network because none of the UWB-enabled cities where within 100 miles of me, but on a road trip out to pick up peaches, the 4G (and at times sub6 5G) signal held strong across the Texas Hill Country.
If you've enjoyed any recent Samsung phone, you know exactly what to expect from the A42's look, feel, and setup. Software on the Galaxy A42 5G is standard, perfectly smooth One UI 3.1 with Android 11, with a slightly infuriating amount of bloat pre-loaded by Verizon. Thankfully, these days almost all of the bloat is uninstallable, but really, Verizon, a slot machine game??? Have some class!
Samsung Galaxy A42 5G Budget compromises
For as good as the screen and battery are on the Galaxy A42 5G, I wish the same could be said for the triple camera setup. The camera array has a 48MP main sensor rather than the A52's 64MP, and the selfie camera up front is an even bigger downgrade from 32MP to 13MP. While the camera did okay during daylight hours, when the sun goes down and the lights get dim, don't expect much.
If you want to stress-test a camera at night, go to a theme park. Since I'm away from mine, though, I took it to TrueLove for karaoke night, and while some stills were half-decent, video was poor from focus to white balance to zoom. The A42 also lacks OIS (optical image stabilization) on its camera, something the A52 has an unsteady users like myself need when taking photos away from a railing or home environment. The camera's okay for Twitter-grade photos, but if you take tons of videos of your cats or kids, look elsewhere.
The other compromises here are relatively small, but they could have a big impact depending on your use cases. I already spoke of the smudge-prone backplate and the need to keep it clean, however, when it's clean, it can be a bit slippery, slipping clear out of my pocket and holster a handful of times. Another pricing compromise is that it only charges at 15W rather than 18-25W. Given how long the battery lasts, it's not a huge deal, but there's no quick top-offs here.
If you have hearing difficulties, you might need to skip the A42, as well. I have decent hearing but I had to have the call volume up at full to hear some of my callers, and the speakerphone is similarly soft, despite how long the speaker can get when playing music or movies. It's not quite as egregious as it is on a few older models, but if you get/take frequent voice calls, you'll want to get something else or invest in some good Bluetooth earbuds to take calls through instead.
Samsung Galaxy A42 5G Competition
The $400-$500 price point has been heating up over the last year. If you're not on Verizon, you'll probably be happier with the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G — AT&T and T-Mobile discount it pretty often, you get a 120Hz that's slightly harder to read outside and a better camera with OIS, but you'll have to give up that two-day battery life. The A52 5G is also somewhat difficult to find in stock right now.
Another alternative to the A42 5G that's also hard to find right now is the Google Pixel 4a 5G, but we're due for the Pixel 5a in August, which will likely sport a more competitive price tag — $600 for the Verizon model was just ridiculous when the Pixel 5 was $700 — but it'll only be launching in America and Japan.
If you live in Europe or India, you're better off grabbing the OnePlus Nord 2 which starts at £399.00 in the UK and ₹27,999 in India. The Nord's cameras are much better than the A42, the screen is slightly smaller but 90Hz, and it supports 65W wired charging that can recharge you from dead to full in half an hour. I really wish this phone were available in the United States, but no dice.
Samsung Galaxy A42 5G Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want a 5G phone with a big battery and low price tag
- You're on Verizon and live in a UWB area
- A big screen is important to you
You should not buy this if ...
- You need a faster processor for all your multitasking
- You have hearing issues during phone calls
- You're a shutterbug who needs clear, consistent shots
Samsung's A-series is coming closer and closer to the ideal blend of features and price points for every non-enthusiast smartphone buyer, and the A42 is definitely flavored to a particular user type with distinct priorities: I need a battery that won't care if I forget to charge it every night, and I need a nice big screen for watching my shows on the go.
4 out of 5
While the cameras aren't what I'd like to see — few $400 phone cameras can compete with the Pixel 4a — it's not bad enough to be a dealbreaker, especially to those of us who don't take pictures and video as often as we just look at all the photos that others send us. If you're okay with this compromise, the A42 is right up your alley as an affordable 5G UWB phone that won't die just because you had to crash at a friend's and forgot your phone charger at home.
Big screen, bigger battery
Ready for your charger-less weekend adventure.
The 5,000mAh battery will let you get two full days out of the A42 — even when you're having to bounce between 4G, Sub6, and UWB on Verizon. The screen is vivid and easy to read outdoors, but the triple-camera setup here is a distinct downgrade from other A-series offerings.
Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.