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Samsung Galaxy M10 Review: Samsung’s first budget phone done right?

samsung galaxy m10 review
Lava International

So, Samsung replacing their Galaxy J-series with the new M-series is evident by now. And they have launched two new phones in the M-series with so many updated features and stuff. While the J-series were good phones, other phones from Chinese brands were just a lot better. It was high time that they did something about it, and with the M-series, they’re really trying.

What we have today, here is the Samsung Galaxy M10, which was launched alongside its bigger sibling, the Galaxy M20. But the M10 is Samsung’s attempt at a budget category. And this has been the weak spot of Samsung. Will Samsung be able to change that with the M10? Let’s find out in this Samsung Galaxy M10 Review.

Samsung Galaxy M10 Specifications:

  • Display: 6.2-inch IPS LCD display with 2.5D curved glass on the top
  • Resolution: HD+ (720 x 1520 pixels) @ 269PPI
  • Chipset: Samsung’s Exynos 7870
  • CPU: Octa-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A53
  • GPU: Mali-T830 MP1
  • RAM: 2/3GB
  • Storage: 16/32GB; Expandable via micro SD card (Dedicated slot)
  • OS: Android 8.1 (Oreo) with Experience UI 9.5 on the top
  • Rear Camera: Dual camera – 13MP wide-angle + 5MP ultra-wide-angle camera, LED flash
  • Front Camera: 5MP
  • Sensors: accelerometer, proximity, compass
  • Battery: 3400mAh non-removable battery

Design and Build

First off, the design of the Samsung Galaxy M10 looks not-so-new. It looks, cheap and feels the same in your hands, especially with the speaker grill at the back, which used to be a feature in very old Samsung phones. But compared to what we used to get in the past, this is an improvement. The plastic back has a glossy finish and is not a fingerprint magnet as we usually see on glass or other glossy back phones from OPPO and Vivo.

The build quality seems decent – sturdy enough, and exactly what you’d expect from a phone at this price range. It is plastic, so, durability might be a concern, but when it comes to taking abuse, we know plastic backs do a much better job than metal or glass even if they don’t look as good or premium.

samsung galaxy m10 rear camera

This phone, however, feels a bit hollow inside like the weight distribution is off somewhere. But there are no creaks or bending, or things like that, so its okay.

I am, however, unsure about the front display’s glass protection. I used it without a screen protector and until now, we had minor scratches, but nothing serious.

To talk about other aspects of the design, all buttons are on the right – a volume rocker and the power button. Thankfully, no Bixby button! But being a budget phone, it’s no surprise that there’s no Bixby here. The buttons are also tactile enough.

Display

The display here is a big 6.2” IPS LCD and not the AMOLED one, but it’s pretty good for a budget phone. The resolution is only HD+, so, don’t expect all that sharpness.

In terms of brightness, it is stellar, even outdoors, there is literally no problems. And this is something you cannot say for most Samsung phones even today.

samsung galaxy m10 display

The color reproduction is fine too, crispy and vibrant. I cannot say I disliked any part of the display, really. And look Samsung has also included an auto-brightness sensor!

For the price, this is as good as it gets. One thing I have to complain is that while its outdoor brightness is remarkable, its minimum brightness is still too bright for taste.

If you have this habit of using your phone in the dark before going to bed, then, it will be difficult to do so with this phone.

samsung galaxy m10 notch

Also, the smartphone has a notch on the top. Samsung is a company that has been ranting others for having ugly notches on their screens. But this time, they have a notch up top and calling it the Infinity-V display, because, well, it’s a V-shaped notch. It looks like pure hypocrisy from the company, as Samsung used to make a lot of fun of notches in the past. But, to be honest, the notch does not look that ugly and it’s easy to get used to. Looks like Samsung understood that as well.

Performance

On to the performance, the Galaxy M10 packs an Exynos 7870 processor, and not the rumored Exynos 7872. But with the SoC, it runs as expected. Of course, the chipset is around 3 years old, it was first seen on the J7 2016, and the fact that it is still being used on an upgraded phone bugs me a bit. Did they make a truckload of the 7870 chips or something? Because it seems they’re still using it from the same batch every now and then.

But the performance leaves very less to complain about though for a budget phone. The unit I reviewed had 2 GB RAM, but for that, the performance is quite good. The user interface is smooth enough. There were no lags of any kind or any stutters either. Apps like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube run smoothly. Games like Asphalt 9 runs pretty smooth too, albeit at low settings.

PUBG is playable too, at lowest settings. The frame rate isn’t that good actually, but it is still playable without much hiccups. And it is very unlike Samsung to provide something this good at this price range. So, there is not much to complain, but again they should have gone with a more powerful chipset.

The phone will also be available in a 3 GB / 32 GB variant, and that might be able to perform slightly better.

Software and UI

Moving on to the software, this phone still runs on Android 8.1.0 Oreo, but Samsung has already announced that this phone will get the Android Pie update later in August. So, okay, we need to bear with it for the time being.

And of course, since, it’s Samsung, you get Samsung Experience 9.5 designed for Galaxy M skin on top of it. So, it is more or less similar to a typical Samsung phone, with a few changes. There are obviously, a bunch of bloatware and unwanted apps. But you can always choose to disable them, so, that’s a nice feature to have as well.

samsung galaxy m10 software

And since this is Samsung’s first phone with a notch, the implementation of it is quite good. There is also an option to hide the notch under Display Settings inside FFull-ScreenApps, and you can also set personal preference for each app. And if you find Samsung’s navigation buttons organized in the wrong way, then, that, too, can be changed from the settings menu. From here, you can also switch to gestures instead of display button navigation. Apart from these, there aren’t worth anything mentioning in the UI or software.

Battery

This phone packs a 3400 mAh battery, which is a good size for a phone at this price. With this battery, you can easily expect over 6 hours of on-screen time with ease. Plus, the display is only HD resolution and the 14nm based Exynos 7870 is power efficient, which helps to improve battery life.

With around half-an-hour of PUBG, around 5 hours of YouTube, 30 mins of scrolling through Social Media, and about 20 minutes of smaller games, this phone still had 60% of battery left. So the battery offers a substantial backup! But to be fair, it was all at minimum brightness. But, you get the idea though.

samsung galaxy m10 charging

I also started my day with just about 40% of battery, and I was fairly confident that it would last me the whole day. And it did with around 5% left by the end of the day. The standby times were also great. The battery dropped only by 3% when kept idle for 10 hours, and all of this was without any kind of battery saving turned on. Samsung’s effort on battery optimization really shows here. I was not expecting something like this. So, it pleasantly surprised me.

The one thing it lacks is the USB Type C port and Fast Charging, but with the 2A/5V charger, it took around 2 hours to get charged from 0 to 90%, but it’s not that bad at all.

Camera

Now the cameras. What we have seen in even budget phones these days is a dual camera, and the Galaxy M10 is no different.

It has a dual camera of 13 + 5MP, but the secondary 5MP lens here is not a depth sensor, but a wide angle one. That is a strange convention, but it is good to have a wide angle lens as it is a nice touch.

The camera quality from the primary 13MP lens is nothing to go on about. Basically, there are less sharpness and details. Also, the autofocus is slow and there is no autofocus for wide angle lens. What I found strange was the wide angle lens has better colors and dynamic range when compared side by side with the primary 13MP lens.

samsung galaxy m10 camera

You might also notice a bit of fish-eye effect in the images from the wide angle lens, but that can be fixed later by a shape correction option. But what it does is just crops out the fish-eye bit parts of the phone, so, I don’t know what to say about that.

There is also a Live Focus feature for taking portraits, and without a depth sensor, the portraits are as expected. The bokeh isn’t aggressive enough and unlike previous Samsung phones, you don’t get an option to adjust the blur or choose the focus area, before or after taking pictures.

On the notch we talked earlier, there lies a 5 MP front camera, which is pretty good. The details are okay. It actually better than the rear camera. The selfie portrait is done by software and looks decent as well. You can also find the smart beauty option that smooths the skin and removes the blemishes. It’s not that aggressive as you see on OPPO or VIVO phones, which is good.

There are also a few stickers which are fun to use for a time. Other than that, there’s nothing worth mentioning about the cameras.

Talking about the video, you have the option to record from the wide angle as well as the primary lens. But, I suggest you chose the wide angle option, mainly coz of 3 reasons: wide angle, better stabilization, and better colors.

Overall, the camera is not a WOW factor and I think they could have made it a little bit better.

For high-resolution samples click here.

Extras

To round up other aspects of the phone, the speaker seems a bit tiny. It is loud, but the sound quality is not very enjoyable. And since the speaker grill is on the back, it is easy to muffle while laying it on the table.

samsung galaxy m10 speaker

As for the security features, it does not have a fingerprint sensor. There is face recognition, which doesn’t work in low-light and is very inconsistent, i.e. it works sometimes, and sometimes not.

Also, it has DRM Widevine L1 security, so if you watch Amazon Prime content or Netflix content, you can watch it in HD or better. I am bringing this up because even in celebrated phones like Pocophone F1, we don’t get this feature.

Besides that, there is not much to talk about. After all, it is your regular Samsung phone with some revamps and upgrades.

Verdict

So, to sum up, the Samsung Galaxy M10 is a good upgrade over Samsung’s previous budget phone and it has a considerable number of upgrades, except for the chipset, obviously. But still, this is the company’s best effort so far. They’re really trying to listen to the customers. We had been saying from a long ago that they needed to improve their budget and mid-range sector. And now, they are trying to listen.

Having said that, I still feel it’s not enough, especially in India where the Galaxy M10 is targeted to. For instance, the Redmi Y2, that is known as the Redmi S2, here in Nepal packs a Snapdragon 625, making it a better performer than the Exynos 7870. Plus, the Redmi Y2 has better cameras than this one.  Samsung has improved a lot but, does it do enough to beat the competition in every aspect? Not really.

Yes, it can compete with the present contenders. But beating them will take some more effort. There is no denying that this is a great phone, even among the best in the Nepali market. They’re trying guys. They’re trying really hard.

But, even for all that attempt, it’s still not a perfect “Budget phone”. Am I willing to give Samsung the benefit of the doubt, and choose this phone over others at the same price? Maybe for once considering the best-in-class after sales it has. But Samsung, keep in mind that there is still a long way to go.

Samsung Galaxy M10 Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Price to performance Face recognition
Display No fingerprint sensor
Software/UI Plastic back looks uninspiring
Battery life Bad Loudspeaker
Design Build Quality
    REVIEW OVERVIEW
    Design and Build
    7
    Display
    8
    Software & UI
    8
    Back Camera
    7
    Front Camera
    6
    Performance
    7
    Battery
    8
    Value for money
    8
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