The Galaxy M42 5G is the first smartphone in Samsung's M series to get 5G support. It also happens to be the most affordable smartphone in the entire Samsung stable to offer 5G connectivity. Samsung has picked the capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G processor for the Galaxy M42 5G, but has also equipped it with an HD+ display which sticks out like a sore thumb in this price range. So can the Galaxy M42 5G help Samsung get ahead of the competition, or has the company cut too many corners? Here's my review
The Samsung Galaxy M42 5G starts at Rs. 21,999 for the base variant which has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The higher variant with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is priced at Rs. 23,999. It is available in Prism Dot Gray and Prism Dot Black.
The Samsung Galaxy M42 5G is a big smartphone and bears some resemblance to the Galaxy A42 5G. The Galaxy M42 5G has a big 6.6-inch display with reasonably slim bezels all around. It has a dewdrop notch at the top, which Samsung refers to as an Infinity-U display. The Galaxy M42 5G has a polycarbonate back panel which has a glossy finish that Samsung calls “Glasstic”. The glossy finish is a fingerprint magnet and smudges are easily visible.
The back panel of the Galaxy M42 5G is visually divided into four blocks, top to bottom. The top quarter has a solid black glossy finish while the colour gets lighter with every block as you go down. The lower three segments have an additional fine dotted pattern that disperses light into different colours. Samsung has aptly named the color Prism Dot Black, while the other, lighter colour option is called Prism Dot Gray.
The Galaxy M42 5G is 8.6mm in thickness and weighs 193g which is manageable. It's comfortable to hold and the buttons were easy to reach with the device in my hand. There's an in-display fingerprint scanner which is convenient and also easy to reach when using the device one-handed. The SIM tray is on the left of the plastic frame, while the 3.5mm headphone jack, USB Type-C port, and loudspeaker are at the bottom. The top only has the secondary microphone.
You get a quad-camera setup on the Galaxy M42 5G in a single module in the top left corner of the back. This square-shaped module doesn't protrude much which is a good thing. The Samsung Galaxy M42 5G has a 5,000mAh battery and supports 15W fast charging. Samsung also bundles a 15W charger in the box which is slower than what the competition offers. Surprisingly, even the Galaxy M51 (Review) supports and comes with a faster 25W charger, even though it's positioned slightly below the Galaxy M42 5G.
The first thing that caught my attention was the fact that the 6.6-inch AMOLED display sports only an HD+ resolution and has a 60Hz refresh rate. This low-resolution display is very disappointing given the price that Samsung is commanding for this smartphone. Samsung sells its Galaxy M21 (Review) for Rs 12,499 with a full-HD+ AMOLED display. On the plus side, you get an in-display fingerprint scanner, making this one of the first smartphones in the Galaxy M series with this feature. However, a full-HD+ display and a side-mounted capacitive fingerprint scanner would have been my preference here.
Thankfully, the cost-cutting exercise does not continue into the performance department. The Galaxy M42 5G is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G 5G processor, which we have also seen in direct competitors in India such as the Xiaomi Mi 10i (Review) and the Moto G 5G. Samsung offers the Galaxy M42 5G in two variants, with 6GB or 8GB of RAM. The storage on both these variants is 128GB. You can expand storage by up to 1TB, but since the Galaxy M42 5G has a hybrid dual-SIM tray, expansion comes at the cost of a second SIM. Samsung could have offered an even higher variant with more storage.
In terms of software, the Galaxy M42 5G runs OneUI 3.1 on top of Android 11. This isn't the OneUI Core version that some other Galaxy M series smartphones are running. The phone had the April Android security patch at the time of review, which is acceptable. OneUI feels very familiar if you are coming from a Samsung smartphone, and even if you aren't, it is very easy to get used to. I did find some preinstalled bloatware on the device, which I wasn't happy with. I would recommend that you uninstall these apps immediately if you don't intend to use them.
Samsung has picked a capable processor for the Galaxy M42 5G, and it definitely delivers. I did not notice any delays or stutters, app loading times were reasonable, and with 6GB of RAM on my review unit, multitasking wasn't an issue. The AMOLED display is punchy but the low resolution is the fly in the ointment. I found the display brightness to be adequate for indoor use, but outdoor visibility could have been slightly better. The in-display fingerprint scanner was quick to unlock the phone and never needed a second attempt.
The Galaxy M42 5G managed to score 357,881 points in AnTuTu. It also scored 652 and 1,837 points respectively in Geekbench 5's single-core and multi-core benchmarks. Since this phone has an HD+ display, it gets an edge in graphics benchmarks, managing 56fps in GFXBench Manhattan 3.1.
As for gaming, I played Call of Duty Mobile which defaulted to the High present for both graphics as well as frame rate. It was playable at these default settings without any issues. I did notice that the top of the phone got warm to the touch after playing for twenty minutes, but not to an alarming extent. Casual games ran fine and the phone did not show any signs of heating.
The 5,000mAh battery in the Galaxy M42 5G allowed me to go beyond a day quite easily without needing a top up. In our HD video loop test, the phone lasted for 22 hours and 55 minutes. This is a good time, but Samsung does lower the brightness of the display once the battery percentage drops below 15 percent. Charging is relatively slow at 15W, and the phone only got to 26 percent in 30 minutes and 51 percent in an hour.
Samsung's quad-camera setup is pretty standard. The Galaxy M42 has a 48-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, a 5-megapixel depth sensor, and a 5-megapixel macro camera. For selfies, it has a 20-megapixel shooter in the dewdrop notch at the front. Samsung's camera software has remained unchanged and I did not have any issues finding the right mode for a shot. The AI on the camera app is quick to recognise what it's pointed towards and sets the camera up accordingly.
I took a few daylight shots in overcast conditions and the Galaxy M42 5G managed good results. Colours looked nice, although slightly boosted, and there was good detail. The ultra-wide camera has a lower resolution and details were inferior compared to shots taken with the primary camera. There was also distortion at the sides of each frame.
Close-up shots turned out well with good colours and details. The phone also manages a blur for the background. Portraits had good edge detection and I could alter the level of blur before taking a shot. I could also edit portrait shots in the Photo Gallery to apply more effects. Macro shots were decent, with good detail.
In low light, landscape shots had average details and weren't as crisp, although noise was under control. With Night mode, the frame is slightly cropped but the output was brighter and had marginally better detail.
Selfies have beautification enabled by default, which smoothens skin textures. Portrait selfies turned out well and the phone could detect faces even with masks on. Low-light selfies also had decent details.
Video recording tops out at 4K 30fps for the primary camera. Stabilisation is enabled by default but I found it to be average, since minor shakes were visible in the output. The Super Steady mode uses the ultra-wide-angle camera and provides better stabilisation. 4K footage wasn't stabilised and low-light footage was strictly average.
The Galaxy M42 5G is now the most affordable 5G smartphone that Samsung has on offer. It packs in a capable processor and offers good performance. However, Samsung has cut some corners with the display. An HD+ resolution at the Rs. 21,999 price point is highly disappointing.
Given that 5G networks are still not available in India, you could consider the Galaxy F62 to be a worthy alternative. If you are looking specifically for a 5G-ready smartphone, the Xiaomi Mi 10i (Review)and the Realme X7 (Review) are better alternatives to the Galaxy M42 5G at this price level.