The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G was the first of the AX2 phones to launch. Since then, 2021 has been flooded with new Galaxy A phones like the slightly upgraded Samsung Galaxy A52 5G and budget-priced Galaxy A32 5G.
Now several months old, the Galaxy A42 5G may not be your first choice for a cheap 5G phone. That being said, it may hit that Goldilocks sweet spot with a suite of useful features and specs at an affordable cost.
Below we've broken down the Galaxy A42's specs, features and price to help you decide if you want to upgrade (or downgrade) to a different Galaxy A phone or another cheap phone. We've also highlighted the differences between the US and UK models, because despite having the same name they're slightly different phones.
- Take a look at the best Samsung phones
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Samsung's affordable mid-range 5G phone
- When did it come out? November 11, 2020, so it's available now
- How much does it cost? $400 / £319 / AU$600
Samsung Galaxy A42 5G release date, price and carriers
Samsung released the Galaxy A42 5G on November 11, 2020. It was the first of the AX2 phones released, with it and the Galaxy A12 being the only ones to ship in 2020.
It's currently selling for $400 / £319 / AU$600, but can frequently be found on sale for cheaper. Already that's a price drop from its launch price of $450 / £349 / AU$630 though.
In the US, you cannot buy the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G unlocked, and you must choose Verizon as your carrier. You'll need to look at other Galaxy A phones if you specifically want another carrier like AT&T or T-Mobile.
Design and display
The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G measures 164.4 x 75.9 x 8.6mm, is 193g, and has a 6.6-inch display. This just loses in size to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy A72 but does slightly beat the other Galaxy A phones, including the A52.
The Super AMOLED display is 720 x 1600 pixels, making it HD+, with 266 pixels per inch and a 60Hz refresh rate; it also has a built-in fingerprint scanner, with a notch at the top and a thick bezel below the screen.
For comparison, the Galaxy A32 5G has the same resolution but sports an LCD screen with no built-in scanner, while the Galaxy A52 5G gives you a Full HD+ bump in resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate.
The Galaxy A42 5G comes in Prism Dot Black, Prism Dot Grey, and Prism Dot White colors. Whichever color you pick, the plastic back of the phone has a holographic, glossy multi-shaded pattern that's pretty unique.
The phone has no water resistance rating nor any Gorilla Glass armor, so either be careful with it or upgrade to the A52 5G for more protection in both areas. What the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G does have is a 3.5mm headphone jack and expandable storage via its microSD card slot, which many phone owners will appreciate.
Cameras and battery life
Samsung's lower mid-range phone unsurprisingly comes with lower mid-range cameras. If you're looking for solid battery life, however, you've come to the right place.
The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G has a 48MP (f/1.8) main camera and an 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide snapper. That's true wherever you are in the world, but the rest of the camera hardware actually varies.
In the US, you then get a 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor and a 13MP front-facing camera. But in the UK (and seemingly most other places) you instead get a 5MP (f/2.4) macro camera, a 5MP (f/2.4) depth sensor, and a 20MP selfie camera.
Look into the best camera phones if you want something for serious photography; in this case, its photos will be serviceable and backed by Samsung's camera AI tech, but will lack the raw pixels of more expensive phones.
As for the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G's battery life, it has a 5,000mAh battery that Samsung claims will give you two days of 'average use'. If you're not frequently watching videos or using demanding apps, this phone should last you a good while per charge. It also supports 15W fast charging, but there's no wireless charging.
Performance and software
Perhaps the biggest downside to the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G is that it ships with Android 10 and One UI 2.5 out of the box. You can immediately upgrade to Android 11 / One UI 3.1 if you buy it today, but this model could theoretically stop getting software updates before the other recent Galaxy A phones, which launched with Android 11 out of the box.
Powered by the Snapdragon 750G and 4GB of RAM, the A42 5G isn't going to dominate any benchmarks, but that's still a respectable level of power for this price range. The Galaxy A52 5G, for comparison, has the same chipset but benefits slightly from 6GB of RAM.
If you're seeking a reliable 5G phone, you'll be happy to know that the Galaxy A42 5G can use both mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G networks in the US, as a benefit of using Verizon's network. That gives it the best of both worlds. In the UK it only has access to sub-6GHz, but then that's all the UK's networks offer.
The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G also has 128GB of storage, and as mentioned above there's a microSD card slot for if you need more space.
- See how the A42 5G compares to the best 5G phones
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Michael Hicks began his freelance writing career with TechRadar in 2016, covering emerging tech like VR and self-driving cars. Nowadays, he works as a staff editor for Android Central, but still writes occasional TR reviews, how-tos and explainers on phones, tablets, smart home devices, and other tech.