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REVIEWS

Samsung Galaxy M42 5G Review: Affordable 5G, But at a Cost

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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

 

Galaxy M42 5G price in India

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.

Galaxy M42 5G design

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 has a dotted pattern on most of the back, which disperses light

 

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.

Galaxy M42 5G specifications

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.

samsung galaxy m42 5g android11 Samsung Galaxy M42 5G Review

Samsung Galaxy M42 5G runs OneUI 3 on top of Android 11

 

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.

Galaxy M42 5G performance

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.

samsung galaxy m42 5g camera module Samsung Galaxy M42 5G Review

The Galaxy M42 5G has a quad-camera module that doesn’t jut out too much

 

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.

Galaxy M42 5G cameras

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.

Samsung Galaxy M42 5G daylight camera sample (tap to see full size)

Samsung Galaxy M42 5G ultra-wide angle camera sample (tap to see full size)

 

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.

Samsung Galaxy M42 5G close-up camera sample (tap to see full size)

Samsung Galaxy M42 5G Portrait camera sample (tap to see full size)

 

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.

Samsung Galaxy M42 5G low-light camera sample (tap to see full size)

Samsung Galaxy M42 5G night mode camera sample (tap to see full size)

 

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.

Samsung Galaxy M42 5G selfie portrait camera sample (tap to see full size)

Samsung Galaxy M42 5G low-light selfie portrait camera sample (tap to see full size)

 

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.

Verdict

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.

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REVIEWS

Oppo A74 5G Review: Great Battery Life, but What Else?

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5G smartphones continue to proliferate in India despite there being no clear picture of when 5G services will actually be available. We recently tested the Oppo F19 Pro+, which was the company’s first F-series phone to offer 5G, and today we have its first A-series 5G phone, the Oppo A74 5G.

Priced under Rs. 20,000, the Oppo A74 5G competes with other 5G offerings such as the Realme Narzo 30 Pro 5G, the Samsung Galaxy M42, and the recently launched Realme 8 5G. What makes the A74 5G special is that it’s one of the first phones in India to use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 SoC. It’s time to see how this chip compares to MediaTek’s offerings, and whether the Oppo A74 5G is actually worth buying.

Oppo A74 5G design

The design of the Oppo A74 5G is rather simple. It has a plastic body with a plastic back and noticeably thick borders around the display. The Fantastic Purple colorway that I have looks pretty nice though, thanks to the dual colours that are visible under the light at certain angles. This phone feels a bit heavy at 188g and isn’t too slim at 8.42mm, but after a few days of use, I found it manageable. The plastic back is a major fingerprint magnet though, and is very tough to keep clean.

The Oppo A74 5G comes in an interesting Fantastic Purple colour option but that’s about the only thing that stands out in terms of design

 

The recessed power button on the right side has an integrated capacitive fingerprint sensor. It worked well every single time I used it. There’s face recognition too, which was equally quick and responsive. The Oppo A74 5G has a headphone jack, a USB Type-C port, and a single speaker, all placed on the bottom.

The Oppo A74 5G uses a 6.5-inch full-HD+ LCD panel. It has a 90Hz refresh rate which makes navigation and scrolling through lists feel fluid and snappy. The hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera is larger than usual and a bit conspicuous at first in apps, but it’s something I got used to after a while.

In the retail box of the Oppo A74 5G, you get a USB cable, SIM eject tool, case, and 18W power adapter.

Oppo A74 5G specifications and software

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 SoC is what sets the Oppo A74 5G apart from the competition. At first, it’s easy to dismiss this SoC as an entry-level part due to its positioning in Qualcomm’s low-end 400-series, but it actually isn’t. It’s built on an 8nm fabrication process, which means it should be quite power efficient. Coming to the CPU cores, there are two Kryo 460 Gold cores and six Kryo 460 Silver cores. These are the same cores used in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 678 SoC, but clocked a little slower.

The GPU in the Snapdragon 480 SoC is the Adreno 619, which is also used in the Snapdragon 750G SoC though again it runs a little slower. All of this suggests that it should be more powerful than its model number might lead you to believe.

oppo a74 5g review ports ww

The Oppo A74 5G has the usual set of ports including a headphone jack

 

The Oppo A74 5G is available in a single configuration with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. ColorOS 11.1 allows you to use up to 5GB of the internal storage as RAM, although I didn’t notice much of a difference with this enabled during my usage. There’s dual-band Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.1, FM radio, and the usual suite of sensors.

ColorOS is feature-rich and familiar with lots of options to customise the look and feel of the Oppo A74 5G. It’s still riddled with lots of preinstalled apps and many of them tend to generate spammy notifications. These include the stock apps too such as the browser and music player, which can’t be uninstalled.

Oppo A74 5G performance and battery life

Performance was generally good in the week that I used the Oppo A74 5G. The OS ran well without any lag or hiccups, and interactions felt snappy thanks to the high refresh rate screen. Call quality and speaker volume are satisfactory too. The display gets adequately bright and content is rendered well, with good sharpness and colours. Videos looked good too, although the camera hole was a little distracting when watching anything full-screen.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 holds its own in benchmarks. The Oppo A74 5G scored 3,18,144 points in AnTuTu, as well as 518 and 1,726 points in Geekbench’s single and multi-core tests respectively. These numbers were roughly on par with MediaTek’s Dimensity 800U SoC, and the Snapdragon 480 even traded blows with Qualcomm’s own Snapdragon 732G SoC, found in the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max.

oppo a74 5g review selfie ww

The display on the Oppo A74 5G is sharp and vivid, making it good for media consumption

 

The Oppo A74 5G handled games quite well too, whether it was simple titles such as Orbia or heavy ones such as Call of Duty: Mobile. I did notice some dropped frames in a few games after long gaming sessions, but this wasn’t a persistent issue. The phone also doesn’t heat up much either, which can be attributed to the graphite tubes used inside to disperse heat.

Battery life was pretty solid in my experience thanks to the capacious 5,000mAh battery. I was easily getting a day and half of regular use, and even more when I didn’t use the camera much or play many games. Charging this battery isn’t the quickest though, and even with the 18W charger, it only charges to around 66 percent in an hour. It takes another 40 minutes or so to complete the charge cycle.

Oppo A74 5G cameras

The cameras on the Oppo A74 5G are nothing fancy, and oddly, Oppo has not included an ultra-wide camera. I would gladly trade the macro and monochrome cameras for an ultra-wide, but that’s not what you get. The Realme 8 5G is another recent smartphone at around this price to not have an ultra-wide camera. One can only hope that this trend doesn’t catch on. The primary sensor is a 48-megapixel camera with an f/1.7 aperture, and in the front, you get an 8-megapixel selfie camera.

Oppo A74 5G main camera sample (tap to see full size)

Oppo A74 5G close-up camera sample (tap to see full size)

Oppo A74 5G macro camera sample (tap to see full size)

 

To break it gently, this phone’s cameras are simply not up to the mark. Performance was quite disappointing, especially in low light. Under good light, the main camera captured decent close-ups but landscapes lacked detail and even slight motion in objects caused blurring. Macro photos looked alright, provided there was enough light while shooting.

Images shot at night also lacked detail and colours weren’t reproduced well either. Night mode actually makes a big difference, but only to the exposure, and upon closer inspection, details don’t improve at all. This goes for both, close-ups and landscape shots. Selfies were quite disappointing too. The ones taken in daylight can work for social media, but in low light, the image quality was poor.

Oppo A74 5G Night mode camera sample (tap to see full size)

Oppo A74 5G selfie camera sample (tap to see full size)

 

Video recording is limited to 1080p for both the front and rear cameras. The quality once again is not great even with good lighting, and I found the stabilisation to not be very effective. The quality dips even further in low light, with lots of jitter and grain.

Verdict

The Oppo A74 5G is in a very awkward place considering its current pricing. The Realme Narzo 30 Pro 5G is better in pretty much every single way at this same price. If you’re not too fussed about having 5G right now, there’s a buffet of other great options such as the Redmi Note 10 Pro and Poco X3 Pro, to name a few. In comparison, the A74 5G simply doesn’t offer enough value to make it a serious contender.

It’s not all bad though. The Oppo A74 5G does have a good display, an interesting colour scheme, decent app and gaming performance, and very good battery life. Unfortunately, these factors simply aren’t enough in my opinion for it to stand out.

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