Regardless of the profound impression of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the deluge of Samsung telephones reveals no signal of abating. At £245, the Galaxy M31 is likely one of the most reasonably priced units within the firm’s present lineup, aiming to supply an amazing smartphone expertise at a fraction of a value of the S and Word strains.
With a mammoth 6000mAh battery and aggressive specs throughout the board, on paper it appears to be like like Samsung is onto a winner. However how properly does that translate to real-world utilization? Learn our full evaluate to search out out.
Design and construct
Samsung has clearly lower some corners with the Galaxy M31’s design. Essentially the most notable is the plastic again and body of the gadget, that means any phantasm of this being a premium gadget is rapidly misplaced. I used to be initially fooled by the Galaxy A51’s so-called ‘glasstic’ design, however there’s no mistaking that Samsung has opted for the cheaper materials right here.
It frustratingly stays a fingerprint magnet, however on the black mannequin I examined the smudges aren’t too noticeable. The cellphone’s additionally obtainable in blue and purple, in the event you’d choose.
Selecting plastic over glass often results in a extra light-weight gadget, however that’s not the case right here. The M31 is available in at 191g, considerably heavier than the common S20 and solely barely lighter than the stylus-wielding Word 20.
Whereas these items can be important drawbacks for some folks, I discovered they rapidly pale into the background as soon as I began utilizing the gadget as my major cellphone.
That’s due partly to the display screen, a stunning 6.four Full HD (1080×2340) OLED panel which affords wealthy, vibrant colors and a very good stage of element. I typically surprise simply how a lot of a tangible profit shows of 1440p and above truly present, so this was a smart compromise for Samsung to make.
It’s solely 60Hz, however with the most recent iPhones nonetheless not supporting a better refresh charge, it could be flawed for me to complain about its absence right here. That is one thing you’ll discover on the £179.99 Realme 7, although.
The place I’ll complain is the teardrop notch, which protrudes into the highest of the show and homes a 32Mp selfie digital camera. It feels utterly pointless, notably when the bezels aren’t the smallest and there’s a sizeable chin.
It does not less than help a face unlock, providing a largely dependable different to the bodily fingerprint sensor on the again of the gadget. The latter is a bit larger up the cellphone than feels pure, however was impressively immune to mud and moisture in my testing.
Subsequent to it is a somewhat imposing digital camera module, housing 64Mp major, 8Mp ultrawide, 5Mp macro and 5Mp depth sensors. It doesn’t fairly sit flush with the again of the gadget, but it surely’s ample that there’s not an excessive amount of rocking when flat down on a desk.
There’s not a lot to put in writing dwelling in regards to the sides of the gadget, which fortunately means there’s no Bixby button in sight. Energy button and quantity rocker on one facet, twin SIM card tray on the opposite, easy as that.
It’s on the backside the place you’ll discover probably the most notable inclusion: a three.5mm headphone jack. The M31 is one thing of an outlier in a world the place most telephones, together with many Samsung handsets, have ditched the port. The cellphone helps Bluetooth 5.zero, but it surely’s nonetheless good to have the choice to attach wired headphones.
The Galaxy M31 comes working the Exynos 9611 chipset, which mixes with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage on the mannequin I examined. Samsung’s personal processors have usually struggled when in comparison with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line, though there are indicators it’s preventing again. Efficiency on the Exynos 9611 is thought to be much like the Snapdragon 712, with each discovered totally on mid-range telephones.
Sadly, in my testing time it fell wanting what I count on from cellphone in 2020, even one which’s priced so affordably. The principle downside I encountered had been app freezes, with Chrome one of many large offenders. It might typically lag on a web site for fairly just a few seconds, though that could be due partly to the variety of open Chrome tabs I had.
The opposite notable space of slowdown was in opening and switching between apps. I discovered it taking a relatively very long time to launch the whole lot from Fb Messenger to Spotify, whereas the aforementioned double faucet of the ability button to launch the digital camera was removed from on the spot.
These points don’t make the cellphone unusable by any means, though they’re frustrations you’re more likely to expertise frequently. It’ll nonetheless work effective if you’re keen to be affected person, however the M31’s shortcomings are extra obvious when you think about the sturdy efficiency in so many different funds telephones.
The efficiency hole is illustrated within the under benchmarks, the place the M31 pales compared to a number of the greatest low cost telephones round
One other space of efficiency that’s price noting is the audio system – and it’s a way more optimistic story right here. A single downward-firing speaker combines with the earpiece to supply clear, wealthy audio. I nonetheless wouldn’t advocate listening to music or watching a movie on it, however for the occasional YouTube video and social media it’s greater than acceptable.
Software program and options
The Galaxy M31 comes working One Ui 2.5 over Android 10, and there’s no phrase on when it’ll get the improve to Android 11. For those who haven’t used it earlier than, Samsung’s pores and skin is sort of a departure from the so-called ‘stock’ model you’ll discover on Pixel telephones, though it’s come a great distance from the clunky TouchWiz days.
The massive enchantment of One UI with reference to this cellphone is its optimisation for big-screen units. Samsung divides the show into two sections, with all of the controls you’ll want inside simpler attain on the backside of the gadget. It gained’t fairly flip the 6.4in M31 right into a one-handed cellphone, however does make a giant distinction to day-to-day utilization.
In fact, this gained’t lengthen to all third-party apps, however makes a giant distinction if you’re shifting by Settings, taking a photograph or making a name (sure, smartphones nonetheless do this!).
I’m a giant fan of the short settings menu, which lets you make modifications straight from the notification shade, as an alternative of taking you into the primary app. Speaking of settings, you may also customise the ability key to open any app of your selection with a double press. I discovered the default fast launch of the digital camera to be notably helpful, however in the event you’d somewhat head straight to Instagram the choice’s there.
Bixby’s appearances are additionally fleeting today, with even the Google Uncover-style playing cards to the best of the house display screen ditched on current One UI variations. It looks as if Samsung has lastly admitted its digital assistant isn’t as much as scratch, notably when Google Assistant is obtainable through an extended press of the house button.
You may swap out that and the opposite two on-screen buttons for gestures, however I discovered the latter to be a bit laggy and customarily not pleasing to make use of on the M31.
Cameras are sometimes an space the place corners are lower on funds telephones, however they continue to be a vital ingredient of the smartphone pie. The M31 comes sporting quadruple rear lenses, with the primary 64Mp sensor joined by 8Mp ultrawide, 5Mp macro and 5Mp depth sensors.
Typically, I used to be impressed with the standard of stills from the M31. They provide an excellent stage of element and correct colors, selecting to saturate photos barely lower than Samsung telephones have performed prior to now. Dynamic vary can be stable, though it could actually wrestle with publicity at occasions.
The digital camera app has a built-in scene optimiser, and appeared to do an excellent job of adjusting the settings routinely relying on what you’re taking a photograph of. This contains switching to nighttime mode, though that didn’t make an enormous distinction to the standard of low-light pictures I used to be capable of take.
The depth sensor allows portrait-style pictures, though it tended to wrestle rather a lot with edge detection. Like many different telephones, the macro lens added nearly nothing to the expertise, because it wasn’t notably spectacular for shut up pictures.
A 32Mp front-facing digital camera yields larger high quality selfies than I’ve seen on many telephones, and it additionally affords the choice to zoom out barely and get extra folks into the shot.
The M31 can be able to 4K video at 30fps on each the entrance and rear cameras, though the digital picture stabilisation (EIS) makes it a extra pleasing expertise on the latter.
Battery life is an space the place the M31 excels on paper, with an enormous 6000mAh cell. That’s bigger than you’ll discover on most telephones in 2020, though it’s matched by the present funds champ within the Poco X3.
The 2 telephones posted near-identical scores in PCMark’s battery take a look at (14h22 for the M31 vs 14h24 for the Poco X3), which is spectacular contemplating the M31 has a extra power-hungry OLED display screen.
A rating of eight hours and 30 minutes in Geekbench four’s battery take a look at is extra common, however I doubt you’ll have any issues with battery life right here. In my expertise, I used to be capable of get an excellent couple of days of average utilization on a single cost.
Whenever you do lastly run the battery down, the included 15W adapter will get you again as much as round 23% again in 30 minutes. That is marketed as quick charging, though many different units might be juiced up a lot sooner.
There’s no wi-fi charging, however that’s not a shock or dealbreaker at this value level.
Value and worth for cash
Speaking of value, the Samsung Galaxy M31 is available in at £245/US$299, and it is unique to Amazon within the UK. The 6GB/64GB is the one mannequin you may get on this facet of the pond, though the Worldwide model linked above doubles the storage to 128GB.
That’s nearly in funds cellphone territory, though competitors is fierce at this value level. The likes of the Poco X3, Realme 7 and Oppo A9 2020 are all compelling options and extra extra reasonably priced than the M31.
It’s a lot extra interesting in the event you’re solely contemplating Samsung telephones, with reasonably priced units just like the Galaxy A20e providing a notably decreased expertise.
The Galaxy M31 hasn’t been marketed practically as closely as Samsung’s flagships and even the mid-range A-Collection, so that you won’t realise the corporate makes such a stable funds cellphone.
For £249, you get a stunning OLED show, wonderful battery life and a extremely polished software program expertise. There’s even a three.5mm headphone jack, though the spectacular audio system and Bluetooth 5.zero imply that may not be obligatory.
It’s undoubtedly not all excellent news although – efficiency is greater than a bit of unconvincing at occasions and the sizeable notch and chin will likely be unpleasant for some.
As a outcome, it’s unlikely to tempt folks away from another nice Android handsets round this value level. However in the event you’re in search of the core Samsung expertise at a extra reasonably priced value, that is undoubtedly an possibility price contemplating.
Samsung Galaxy M31: Specs
6.4im 1080×2340 19.5:9 OLED show, 60Hz
Exynos 9611 processor
Rear cameras: 64Mp f/1.eight huge, 8Mp f/2.2 telephoto, 5Mp f/2.four macro, 5Mp f/2.2 depth 32Mp f/2.zero front-facing digital camera
three.5mm headphone jack
Gorilla Glass three