Technophile

Samsung Galaxy M31 review: Cool, compact and capable smartphone

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on March 15, 2020 Published on March 15, 2020

The successor to the popular M30 has retained the best features and specs, while improving on the rest

The Galaxy M series was a game-changer for Samsung in the budget category. It helped the South Korean brand break the jinx in the segment and build a niche of sorts, giving rivals a good run for their money. Within a few months of their launch early 2019, Samsung sold over 2 million Galaxy M series phones in India.

The Galaxy M series was popular for all the right reasons: it was priced quite affordably; had impressive specs both on the hardware and software fronts; the performance matched that of many of the mid-range phones in town. Most importantly, the phones looked beautiful.

Now, the Samsung Galaxy M31 is in the market, priced, again, along affordable lines; carrying better specs and cooler looks in comparison with the popular M30. The first thing you notice while unboxing the M31 device is its compact size and the elegant form factor.

The phone has neatly and slightly curved edges, which makes holding the device a lot easier and ensures there is enough grip.

Display and build

The M31 has a big display, at 6.4 inch, despite the compact form factor, thanks to a pragmatic design that allows for minimal bezel and maximum screen real estate. Like the M30, the new phone also has the Infinity U display, with the “water-drop” notch. The back panel is made of plastic and attracts an unsuitable amount of finger marks. The front panel, however, made of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 is marks-and-dust-free and offers a brilliant display.

The display is AMOLED, which is a steal given the price and the touch is extremely smooth. The touch response is clearly premium range. Interestingly, the M31’s display is one of the most refreshing in this price range given how truthfully it renders colours in images and video. The display supports Full HD and the viewing angles are quite satisfactory. The phone’s auto-brightness faculty is a charm to experience. That’s one department most budget, mid-range phone struggle with.

Look and feel

 

The power and volume control buttons are placed on the right of the device and we felt they are near-absent at times and had to search for the buttons especially when we were in a hurry for those controls. The M31 has a Type-C port for charging. The primary microphone is kept at the bottom, while the secondary one is on the top. The fingerprint scanner is kept next to the cameras and you might miss it if you are not conscious of its existence there. The fingerprint scanner responds swiftly, so does the face-unlock, which works quite efficiently even under low-light conditions.

Performance

The phone’s powered by Samsung’s own Exynos 9611 SoC processor, which is designed to support artificial intelligent applications and high-end camera operations. Galaxy fans might recall that this is the same chip that powered the M30 as well. The Exynos 9611 SoC has eight cores; the set-up includes four ARM Cortex-A73 cores with 2.3GHz for performance and another four Cortex-A53 cores (1.7GHz) for efficiency. There is the Mali-G72 GPU for graphics duties, which is not a great chip but not bad either given the price and the results. The Exynos 9611 does a great job supporting and enhancing multitasking on the Galaxy M31. We didn’t experience any lags or function delays while using it for rather long hours and while switching between multiple tabs. Most regular games worked fine and only once -- while playing CoverFire and Infinity Ops for very long hours -- we experienced some heating issues. The core processor is amply supported by 6GB RAM (again, a great deal for the price).

Camera

 

The Galaxy M31 has a four-camera unit on the back and a single-lens 32 MP shooter on the front. The main camera offers 64-MP resolution with an aperture value of f/1.8, which is a great deal in this price range as it helps add good depth to the photos clicked. The unit has an ultra-wide lens of 8MP that offers, as claimed by Samsung, a field of view of 123 degree and an aperture value of f/2.2. While the third camera of 5MP supports depth effects, the fourth one, again 5MP, is meant for macro.

Under daylight, the back shooter gives images that are crisp and well saturated by default. They don’t undergo any auto-doctoring to look ‘natural’. Portraits and macros are delightfully warm and pro-quality even if you are not a savvy-clicker. The selfies are a little over exposed and over saturated but we feel they only enhance the overall beauty and quality of the image captured. The auto-focus works flawlessly, even while shooting videos, in bright conditions but it struggles a bit in dimly lit environs.

A big plus of the Galaxy M31 is the primary camera’s ability to shoot 4K video. The camera heats up a bit if you are going to shoot in 4K for longer but the output is really impressive. If you are a filmmaker or production designer or part of such crew, the M31 can be a great addition to your kit. Samsung tells you that the camera can’t support stabilisation when it is on the 4K mode, still we didn’t experience major glitches in the 4K output. The Full HD and less videos are rendered expertly. The audio department, which usually becomes a sub-par experience in this range of phones, is surprisingly a soothing experience with the M31.

Battery life & Software

The Galaxy M31 comes with a massive 6,000mAh battery, which lasts for about two days if you are not into gaming and long hours of surfing. The device comes with a 15W charger which supports fast charging. The phone comes in two variants, Ocean Blue and Space Black. The device runs on Samsung’s OneUI 2.0, which is a mashup of Android 10. The software is not very impressive and the device comes with silly unavoidable pre-loaded apps.

Samsung Galaxy M31
  • Pros: Compact size, great display, affordable price, seamless performance
  • Cons: Plastic back which is a fingermark magnet, bloatware
  • Price: Rs 15,999 for 6GB+64GB, Rs 16,999 for 6GB+128GB (Storage is expandable to 512GB)

Published on March 15, 2020

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