Samsung Galaxy M42 5G review: an affordable 5G phone with some caveats
It’s no secret that the budget and affordable segments in India are dominated by Chinese OEMs, the likes of which include Xiaomi, Realme and Redmi. That said, Samsung’s M-series of smartphones has been a thorn in the competition’s side for quite some time now, roping in buyers with enticing specs and the company’s brand heritage. To that note, Samsung recently unveiled the Samsung Galaxy M42 5G which as its moniker suggests, is the first 5G phone in the brand’s M-series lineup. So, is the smartphone worthy of your bucks? Well, let’s find out in this review.
As the most affordable 5G phone from Samsung, the Galaxy M42 5G has quite a few things going for it, including decent performance and good battery life. However, the phone gets outgunned by similarly-priced rivals, many of which can offer better specs and a better real-world experience.
- The Samsung Galaxy M42 5G looks the part of an affordable handset and features a plastic body that feels sturdy and robust. Buyers eyeing the phone can pick up the device in two attractive colours of Prism Dot Black and Prism Dot Grey. However, bear in mind that the black colourway is prone to smudges and attracts a lot of fingerprints too.
- I/O-wise, the Samsung Galaxy M42 5G features a clicky volume rocker and power button on its right spine. The smartphone ships with a Type-C port at the bottom with USB 2.0 spec, which is sandwiched between the unit’s speaker grille and headphone jack. Speaking of which, the audio output from the bottom-firing speaker should suffice for most, and is good enough for consuming media on the fly.
- The M42 5G also comes with a built-in fingerprint sensor, which worked fine for the most part. However, I wasn’t impressed with the unit’s facial recognition software which took its sweet time to get me on my home screen. As for the ergonomics, the Samsung Galaxy M42 5G is most certainly a two-handed phone owing to its tall frame. Disappointingly enough, the company doesn’t bundle a protective case with the phone and buyers opting for the handset will have to buy one separately.
- All things considered, while the Samsung Galaxy M42 5G is not going to win a Red Dot Design award, the handset’s sturdy construction and its minimalistic aesthetics should still find plenty of backers.
- Unfortunately, that’s more than I can say about the smartphone’s display. While the phone ships with an accommodating 6.6-inch Super AMOLED panel, the display isn’t as pixel-dense as I’d like it to be and comes toting an HD+ resolution. What’s more, the screen refresh rate is capped at 60Hz, and the bezels surrounding the panel are quite chunky as well. Rest assured, you will find no shortage of phones with a superior display in the market.
- With that said, the Galaxy M42 5G’s Super AMOLED display’s saving grace is that it exhibits punchy colours and offers ample peak brightness along with good viewing angles too. The device also gets Widevine L1 certification and consequently, can, in fact, stream content in HD from Netflix and Amazon Prime. You’ll also get a layer of Corning Gorilla v3 on top of the screen, which should keep scratches and scuffs at bay.
- In terms of performance, the Samsung Galaxy M42 5G is only the second phone in the M-series lineup to ship with a Qualcomm chip. This time around, the company has equipped its latest contender with the 5G-enabled Snapdragon 750G SoC that works alongside either 6GB or 8GB of LPDDR4X memory and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage. While the specs of the smartphone are on par with the competition, I noticed that the device outputted lower scores in benchmarking apps like Antutu and GeekBench compared to say, the similarly specced Xiaomi Mi 10i (review).
- That said, I didn’t run into many performance-related issues whilst using the phone day in and day out. While the phone would’ve benefited from faster storage, apps and games ran as they should, with titles like Call of Duty Mobile maxing out at high graphics and max frame rate, or very high graphics and very high frame rate. As for the phone’s gaming performance, the M42 5G could hold its own in strenuous gun battles in Call of Duty Mobile though I did notice frames drop every once in a while, especially after gaming on the phone for extended periods. The battery life, on the other hand, was quite good and I was able to use the phone for a full day off a single charge. Much to my dismay, the 15W brick took a long time to charge the handset’s 5,000mAh battery and I had to stay tethered to the wall charger for almost two hours and ten minutes to refuel the phone from 0-100 percent.
- Software-wise, the Samsung Galaxy M42 5G ships with OneUI v3.1 on top of Android 11. For the uninitiated, OneUI offers a bunch of utilities including a secure folder, oodles of customisation options, screen on and off gestures and more. That being said, the device comes with a ton of duplicate apps and bloatware which eat into the phone’s storage and memory resources. Consequently, if you do end up buying the phone, I’d recommend you uninstall all the unnecessary apps and put Samsung’s duplicate apps to deep sleep, thereby preventing them from running in the background. On the bright side, the company is offering three years of Android updates and four years of security updates with the phone.
- Lastly, let’s talk about the Samsung Galaxy M42 5G’s camera setup and here, the smartphone comes equipped with a quad-camera setup towards the back including a 48MP main sensor, an 8MP ultra-wide angle lens, a 5MP macro sensor and a 5MP depth sensor. For selfies, the handset features a 20MP camera up front.
- Coming to the quality of the photos shot from the main camera, I noticed two things – firstly, even with the scene optimizer disabled, the Samsung Galaxy M42 5G tends to dial up the saturation in the images. Secondly, while the handset manages to put forth a balanced composition with the correct exposure, the details weren’t quite as good as some other phones out there. That said, with ample light around, the M42 5G’s main sensor can churn out some gram-worthy photos easily.
- The ultra-wide sensor, unfortunately, leaves a lot to be desired and lacks requisite corner details. That said, the 5MP macro sensor did a mighty fine job of clicking close-ups and the smartphone even lets users tap on the viewfinder to focus on objects when clicking macros, which is great.
- I was quite satisfied with the handset’s selfie camera too which clicked gorgeous albeit slightly beautified photos. The portrait mode managed to create a convincing blur effect around my face as well and all things considered, the M42 5G’s selfie camera is among the best in the segment.
- Coming to the lowlight photos, the Samsung Galaxy M42 5G fails to hit the nail on the head and images shot after the sun had set had a lot of noise and little to no details near the darker parts of the composition. As for videos, the smartphone can shoot in 1080p and 4K resolutions at 30fps. That said, since the smartphone doesn’t offer OIS, the footage will likely turn out jittery unless you attach a gimbal to the phone.
- Lastly, let’s talk about connectivity and here, the Samsung Galaxy M42 5G offers NFC and Bluetooth v5.0 support and can connect to both, 2.4GHz as well as 5GHz Wi-Fi networks. I should also point out that I didn’t run into any network bottlenecks when using my Airtel postpaid SIM on the M42 5G. And, for those curious, the handset supports N1, N3, N41 and N78 5G bands and consequently, will only work with sub-6GHz 5G networks.
The Samsung Galaxy M42 5G starts at Rs 21,999 for the 6GB RAM variant and while the phone gets a couple of things right, the smartphone’s lacklustre display and its uninspiring design stick out like a sore thumb. What’s more, the device faces stiff competition from the likes of Xiaomi’s Mi 10i too which, pound for pound, offers better specs and performance. Lest I forget, the company’s Galaxy F62 (review) retails for around the same price too and puts forth a more well-rounded package as well. Consequently, unless you’re looking for the cheapest 5G phone from Samsung, you might want to spend your hard-earned bucks elsewhere.
Editor’s rating: 3 / 5
- Long-lasting battery backup
- Sleek, stylish design
- Decent performer
- HD+ display
- Camera performance could’ve been better