Priya SinghMar 18, 2020 18:58:32 IST
If you’re spending around Rs 15,000 on a phone, would you seriously consider a phone other than a Redmi Note or maybe an equivalent Realme or Nokia device? It wasn’t so long ago that Samsung was the default option here. And it’s not that Samsung doesn’t still make great phones, it’s just that it’s budget phones have simply not been that exciting these past years. At least, not compared to the competition.
Does the Galaxy M31 change anything? To answer this all-important question (for Samsung’s sake, if nobody else’s), keep reading.
Samsung Galaxy M31 has a back made of 'Glasstic' material.
Usability:1, Glamour: 0
Samsung has gone with glasstic for the back of the phone — plastic that looks and feels like glass — which is smart, because it gives the phone a premium finish while keeping the weight low. And weight could have been a problem given that Samsung shoved a monster 6,000 mAh battery into this thing.
And don't let the "glass" in “glasstic” fool you, it’s still plastic and still prone to scratches, and it’s glossy, making the phone slippery to hold, especially for someone as butterfingered as I am. On the bright side, the phone doesn’t look cheap, unlike its predecessor.
The colour variant that I am using is Space Black, which is kinda boring for my taste, to be honest. There’s no gradient, it’s just plain. If you don’t want black, your only other option is Ocean Blue.
Despite the glasstic, the phone is still somewhat heavy at 191 grams, but you have to live with it if you want that 6,000 mAh battery.
A little piece of advice, buy a phone case, because you will need one and Samsung isn't giving you any.
The Galaxy M31 has a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED Infinity display that has a waterdrop notch at the top. The bezels and chin of the phone are thin and it has curved edges, but this is nothing we haven't seen already.
The quad-camera setup packed in a rectangular camera module also isn't unique as Samsung has made this its signature design element on its 2020 lineup You can spot this in Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus, as well as on the recently launched Lite model Galaxy S phones.
You will see a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and on the bottom edge, a headphone jack, Type-C port, and speaker grill.
Overall, I like how the device looks, but I have to admit, it’s nothing special.
Likeable daylight camera, but low light performance is awful
Starting with the 32 MP front camera, the phone captures some really good images. In terms of details and colours, the phone lived up to my expectations. It won't over-enhance colours which many phones do these days. When I use portrait mode, or "live focus" as Samsung calls it, the phone takes a few seconds to adjust focus, but it will be worth your while as in terms of edge detection, clarity, and colours, it manages to score well.
Moving on to the rear camera, which includes a 64 MP primary sensor, 8 MP wide-angle camera, 5 MP depth camera, and a 5 MP macro camera, images clicked in broad daylight are pretty impressive. The colours did seem to be washed out in some cases though. Detail and clarity was up to mark.
The ultra-wide-angle shots were also decent. In some cases, I felt like the images captured were much warmer than the actual scene, but at least the picture wasn’t ugly or unrealistic.
I will personally not recommend using the macro mode because the camera takes forever to focus.
I had high expectations from the camera since it captured superb daylight shots, but it failed miserably at night. If you use the camera at night or even in dimly lit areas, you will get nothing but hazy images. There was no clarity and far too much noise, I had to struggle to capture an image that didn't look like I was running while shooting. And if you think the night mode could help, then you think wrong. Except for brightening the images, it didn’t do much. In my opinion, this is a red flag if you do a lot of low light photography.
Smooth performance but not what a gamer expects
The smartphone is powered by an Exynos 9611 chipset, which is the same as we saw in its predecessor and the Galaxy A51. The smartphone runs on the latest Android 10 and offers 6 GB RAM and up to 128 GB internal storage.
You get an app drawer, and swapping between apps was pretty smooth. I did not see any lag while I used the phone. I played a few videos, games and music, and I didn't notice any lag or heating up while doing this. Clearly, the phone is perfectly fine for your daily tasks.
Games are another matter. I played RoadRash on the phone and it didn't really perform smoothly. I wish Samsung had gone with a more powerful processor, something like the Snapdragon 730G chipset, which the Poco X2 offers at 15,999, for example. The Realme 6 and Redmi Note 9 Pro also pack in more capable hardware at this price.
The battery is the one headline-grabbing feature of the phone — 6,000 mAh is just amazing. I used the phone for a day and half and it didn't fully drain even then. One slight, (OK, it’s not that slight) compromise that you do have to make is with regard to charging time. You have to make do with a 15 W charger. If you’re planning to stay out a while, you’d just better get into zen mode as you wait for the phone to fully charge up. On the plus side, once it’s charged, you needn’t worry about battery life for quite a while.
The display and the single speaker are very nice, however, and I think this phone can be a great option for those who just consume a lot of videos. In fact, few phones offer an OLED display at this price, and if that matters to you, the M31 is a no-brainer. Paired with that massive battery, all-day Netflix binges can become your thing.
Is it a phone worth buying?
There are few reasons to buy this phone, but to be fair, they are good ones. The OLED display is fantastic, as is the battery life. Performance is adequate for day-to-day tasks, and as long as you don’t intend to game much, there’s really no reason not to pick up this phone, other than camera performance, that is.
The reasons not to buy this phone are equally compelling, however. Phones like the Realme 6 Pro and Redmi Note 9 Pro Max are more powerful, more exciting, and offer better cameras. These phones also charge faster.
To return to my original question: Does the Galaxy M31 change anything for Samsung? I don’t think it does.
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