Samsung Galaxy M14 Review: You’ll need some patience..

Samsung Galaxy M14 Review
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Budget smartphones are never the fun-nest to review but they do give you a unique perspective on how many things we generally take for granted. Things like the general usability of the device, the decent shutter speed, and the appeal to spend that extra minute scrolling. I found most of it missing on the Galaxy M14 (4G) maybe except for the first one. It’s a modern smartphone and you can do most modern smartphone things on the M14 but…you’ll need some patience.

The 4G variant of the Galaxy M14 was recently launched in Nepal starting at Rs. 16,999 for the 4/64GB configuration that I’ve been using for a week or so. The 6/128GB variant crosses that 20,000 rupee mark costing an additional 5,000 rupees.

Samsung Galaxy M14 Review: Specifications:

  • Display: 6.7-inch PLS LCD Infinity-U Display, 90Hz refresh rate
  • Resolution: Full HD+ (1080×2400 pixels)
  • Processor: Snapdragon 680 (6nm)
  • Software & UI: One UI 5.1 based on Android 13
  • Rear Camera: Triple
    – 50MP main, OIS
    – 2MP depth
    – 2MP macro
  • Front Camera: 13MP
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5, GPS, VoLTE
  • Battery: 5000mAh with 25W charging (25W charger free with every purchase)
  • Color Options: Artic Blue and Sapphire Blue
  • Price in Nepal: Rs. 16,999 (4/64GB), Rs. 22,999 (6/128GB)
  • Check out the full specs of the Samsung Galaxy M14 4G here.
  • Buy Samsung Galaxy M14 LTE here

Samsung Galaxy M14 Review:

Design and Build 

Let’s start things off with the overall looks and feel of the M14. It’s basically the Galaxy A05s in a repackaged format so I wasn’t expecting anything different or surprising. And as boring as it is, the Galaxy M14 looks and feels pretty decent for a budget phone. 

Samsung Galaxy M14 Review - Front Design

The back has Samsung’s triple camera cutout design that makes the M14 indistinguishable from most other models. But turn to the front and……yeah! That’s definitely a budget Samsung. No one else would dare to ship a phone with that waterdrop notch and those big bezels in 2024, even in the budget segment. Keeping that aside though, the phone doesn’t feel cheaply built despite being all plastic and the weight distribution is decent enough to not let the heft get to you.

Display 

  • Type: LCD, 90Hz
  • Size: 6.7 inches, 107.8 cm2
  • Resolution: 1080 x 2400 pixels (~394 ppi density)

The Display is a 90Hz LCD panel which is pretty common in the below 20,000 market in Nepal. But if you’re opting for the 6/128 model for 22,000, there are better screens out there. The resolution and viewing angles are fine for the price but the brightness is way too compromised on the M14. Using the device under direct sunlight is a struggle and although there isn’t an official number, I reckon the max brightness is below 500 nits. 

Samsung Galaxy M14 Review - Video Playback

Being an LCD, there are no deep blacks or super poppy colors, but you don’t even get the option to switch color modes or fix the refresh rate to 90Hz. These are the kinds of things you don’t even expect compromises on but there it is. Of course, there’s no HDR, but I surprisingly found Widevine L1 support on the Galaxy M14. That means you’ll at least be able to play Full HD content on OTT platforms like Netflix.

Speakers, Haptics, and Sensors (or the lack of)

The Galaxy M14 ships with a single speaker at the bottom which sounds ok-ish at best. It isn’t very loud and you don’t even get a hybrid setup with the earpiece. Buzzy Z-axis vibration associated with budget smartphones is here as well and the sensor situation is also very barebones. There’s an Accelerometer, a Light sensor, and a proximity …that’s it. No gyroscope, no compass, no nothing. These small compromises are not the most surprising but they are something you should know about if you’re considering a purchase. 

Performance …Ouch!

  • OS: Android 13, OneUI 5.0
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 680 (6nm)
  • CPU: Octa-core (4×2.4 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.9 GHz Cortex-A53)
  • GPU: Adreno 610

Although the Galaxy M14 doesn’t look terrible on paper, the user experience is very slowwww in real life. Everything from opening apps to scrolling through Instagram, and using the camera takes some patience to get used to. Maybe it’s because of the 4GB (LPDD4x) RAM in my unit, or maybe it’s because I rarely remove apps from memory, but the M14 would feel slower and slower as I used it more. That might have to do with the slow Snapdragon chipset or maybe the bigger culprit is the EMMC memory that Samsung has opted for here.

Benchmarks-wise, it scores pretty similar to other smartphones with the chipset but the EMMC storage makes it feel slower in day-to-day usage. Gaming is …doable on the M14 but it’s a budget phone that’ll meet budget phone expectations. You’ll be able to run PUBG Mobile at 30 fps but it’s far from a very enjoyable experience. Call of Duty had fewer frame drops and was able to run at around the 40 fps mark on Low settings. To see if the M14 could push extra fps, I also played Mech Arena at the ‘Good + 60’ preset where it actually did pretty decent at an average of 56 fps. That being said, you’ll find frame drops and stutters to be a common occurrence in almost all games. 

Software

  • Android 13 with One UI 5.1 out of the box
  • 2 years of OS, 4 years of security updates

Samsung Galaxy M14 Review - UI

The Galaxy M14 came with Android 13 out of the box, but the option to upgrade to OneUI 6 is already there. It does feature the more-toned down ‘Core’ version but besides the secure folder and the edge panel, I didn’t find myself missing other features. That being said, using the device did start to make me wonder if even the core OneUI is still too heavy for budget smartphones. I mean, the sluggishness that I mentioned before can be partially attributed to a heavier Android skin and I didn’t get the stability or reliability from the software that I’d come to expect of other Samsung phones. A few system apps like the camera froze in time a couple of times, and there were a few crashes as well. So, unlike most other times where I praise Samsung’s software game, I have to deduct a few points here. But at the end of the day, it’s a budget phone after all. So, getting a UI with no ads, minimal bloatware (relatively), and decent support (2 years OS, 4 years security) isn’t terrible of a deal.

Camera

  • Rear: 50MP, f/1.8, + 2MP depth + 2MP macro
  • Front: 13MP, f/2.0

Moving onto the camera section, I have mixed feelings here. On one hand, the Galaxy M14 spews decent-looking everyday shots with characteristic Samsung colors that look nice at a glance. On the other hand, the usability and the experience of using the camera app could be a LOT better. 

Samsung Galaxy M14 Review - Back Design

How do I put it..everything just feels super slow. Granted it’s a budget phone, you don’t expect super snappy successive shots, I at least didn’t expect using the app to feel like a chore. 

Besides the things like slow shutter, and operation, every preview taught me patience as I had to wait a bit before seeing how the image actually turned out. On occasions, the shoot button (the white one) simply didn’t respond to touch and I was left wondering if something even happened or not. So yeah, if you are considering this device, be ready to shoot slow and steady. 

Daylight

The images themselves look more pleasing than you’d expect of a budget phone. The colors are punchy and shots have the Samsung look to them. On closer inspection, you’ll find holes in details and dynamic range but that’s expected of the price. I was expecting a bit better performance on the detail end because of the high-res 50MP sensor, but it’s just okay-ish there.   

Portraits

The Galaxy M14 definitely punches above its weight class when it comes to portraits. It’s not the most consistent when it comes to skin tones, but if you can look beside that, there is very little to complain about elsewhere. The depth’s nice, colors are vibrant, and the overall look of the portrait is very aesthetic.

Selfies

Selfies aren’t that good though. You can get ok-ish looking shots but the M14 doesn’t play nice with all skin tones and some people end up looking way too pale or yellowish. The details are decent but insufficient lighting like in an indoor situation will lead to visible softness.

Lowlight

The low-light performance is decent here and you get a dedicated Night mode that’s hidden in the more tab. The default shooting mode takes its sweet time during lowlight so switching to the ‘5s’ Night mode doesn’t hurt much. Doing so will give you a brightened-up image where light sources are handled much better, but it’s not all sunshine and roses as some compositions can come out looking unnatural and noisy.

Videos

Video-wise, Samsung does offer you more options than most other budget phones in this range with up to 1080p 60 fps recording from both the front and back cameras. But like you’d expect the overall quality including the audio pickup and stabilization aspects is nothing out of the ordinary. In a pinch? Want to quickly capture a moment? Fine. Looking to create the next ‘Behold’? Better luck next time, chief!

Battery and Charging

  • 5000 mAh and 25W charging

Talking of the battery, you see a smaller 5,000 mAh cell on the LTE version of the M14. But I don’t think it really matters a lot when we are talking about budget phones with not-so-powerful chips and screens that don’t demand a lot of juice. As such, I was able to rock the Samsung Galaxy M14 for two days on average during my review period. Sure, it did reach below 20% in one instance where I was testing games, and played a lot of media, but I reckon the endurance will be sufficient for most folks even with the reduced capacity. 

Charging is fine too as there’s fast charging support and Samsung Nepal has generously bundled a 25W adapter. I didn’t have the exact brick with me but testing with a compatible USB PD charger, I found the Samsung Galaxy M14 to reach 45% percent in half an hour, 80% in an hour, and 100% in about one and a half hours.

Samsung Galaxy M14 (4G) Review: Conclusion

As a budget device, the M14 does decently well with good photos, clean UI, and lasting endurance. It does fall short in terms of fluidity or responsiveness but you wouldn’t be getting any kind of other-worldly experience with competitors from other brands.

If you can muster up the patience, the base 4/64GB model is fine for the price. But if you can afford to go above 20,000 rupees, there are devices that provide a more complete package for not much extra. Under 25,000 NPR, the Redmi Note 13 (review) or even the cheaper Honor X7b (review) will provide you with a better overall user experience. And if you stretch your budget to that 27-30k bracket, Samsung’s own A15 (review) strikes a good balance between smooth everyday performance, good cameras, and decent everything else.

Samsung Galaxy M14 Review - Back Design

Even if you are searching for an everyday-er in the 15 to 20,000 rupees segment, the Redmi 12 and POCO M5 offer better memory and snappier performance. That’s to say, there are alternatives left and right according to your budget and needs. But if you’re one of those folks who don’t dig Chinese software with ads, want Samsung’s photos, and share Buddha’s perspective on patience, the Galaxy M14 LTE might not be a bad deal.

Samsung Galaxy M14 Review: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Pleasing photos from the main camera
  • Portraits look very nice for the price
  • Long-lasting battery life

Cons:

  • Runs pretty slow
  • Lackluster speaker and sensors
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design
7
Display
7
Performance
6
Back Camera
7.5
Front Camera
6
Software and UI
7
Battery
7.5
Value for Money
6
samsung-galaxy-m14-4g-reviewThe Galaxy M14 LTE is a new contender in the budget space with a focus on good photos and clean software. The patience-testing performance might not be everyone’s cup of tea but if you can look past that, the rest of the smartphone delivers for day-to-day needs. That being said, I’d recommend pushing your budget if possible to get a more complete package in the 25k segment.