Samsung’s M-series smartphones have been quite popular in the budget segment. Although they are not very performance-centric, they sure have qualities of their own that make it different and desirable. The new Galaxy M31 is probably the most hyped mid-range phone from Samsung this year! So, Let’s find out if the Galaxy M31 is worth buying in our Full Review!
Samsung Galaxy M31 Specifications:
- Body: 6.26 x 2.96 x 0.35 inches; 191 gm
- Display: 6.4-inches Super AMOLED panel
- Resolution: FHD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels); 19.5:9 aspect ratio
- Chipset: Exynos 9611; 10nm Mobile Platform
- CPU: Octa-core (4×2.3 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A53)
- GPU: Mali-G72 MP3
- RAM: 6/8GB
- Storage: 64/128GB UFS 2.1 (expandable using SD card)
- Software & UI: Samsung’s One UI 2.0 on top of Android 10
- Rear Camera: Quad-camera; 64MP primary lens, 8MP ultra-wide lens, 5MP depth sensor, 5MP macro sensor
- Front Camera: 32MP, f/2.0 lens
- Security: Physical capacitative fingerprint scanner
- Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack, Dolby Atmos
- Connectivity: Dual-SIM (Nano), WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS/AGPS/GLONASS/BDS, USB Type-C
- Battery: 6000 mAh with 15W fast charging
- Colors: Ocean Blue, Space Black, Red
Design-wise, the M-series does not make it to the list of the most attractive. On top of that, the design of this one is strikingly similar to the M21, except that the M31 is a little bit heavier. Just like the M21, the back is plastic and the frames are plastic too.
That being said, the looks of the Galaxy M21 didn’t bother me. Well, because it comes for a cheaper price. But when you are moving higher at the price with the M31 here, we expect some changes, some improvements, to be more precise which seems lacking in the M31! For instance, we still have that rear-mounted fingerprint scanner when most of the others at a similar price have gone for either in- display or side-mounted ones. In comparison, the Redmi Note 9 Pro looks and feels so much better and modern even.
What also makes the M31 look like an older generation phone is the U- shaped notch, or the infinity U notch that Samsung likes to call it. Maybe they could have implemented a punch hole like the M40, which would have looked better. I say this because the M31 is very similar to the M21 and the last year’s M30s, so if they could have just changed the design and the build materials a little bit, there would be some kind of differentiation among them.
Except for the punch hole, everything else about the M31’s display is awesome. First thing, not many brands give an AMOLED display for this price, that too of this quality, so applause to Samsung for that. It’s not a higher refresh rate display though, but, the tradeoff is fine for the price. If you are someone who is more into watching YouTube or other video streaming platforms, the M31 would be a better choice in terms of display quality than say the Poco X2 or the Realme 6 Pro or the Redmi Note 9 Pro.
Talking more in-depth about the display, it has amazing contrast, colors, and brightness. Plus, this one’s Widevine L1 certified as well so that’s a good thing too. Also, because the screen is an AMOLED one, Always-on display is something you can take advantage of. For protection, you get the older generation Gorilla Glass 3. A newer generation of glass protection would have been great though!
Okay, now let’s talk about performance, which, is not something exciting about the Galaxy M31. It seems like Samsung had a truckload of Exynos 9611 with them and they wanted to finish it off in 2020 (pun intended). But jokes aside, seeing the same chipset in almost every budget and mid-range phone is rather frustrating. And we would not have complained if it was an excellent performing chip, but its performance is average, especially when compared to its contemporary rivals, like the Poco X2 and the Realme 6 Pro and the Redmi Note 9 Pro.
Talking about how the M31 performs in real life, its normal performance is okay, one is not going to feel lags while doing daily tasks. Multitasking is fine too, especially, when you have light apps opened. The phone does find it a little difficult to manage heavy multitasking though!
About the gaming performance, it will give you a respectable 35 fps when you are maintaining a high graphic profile and HD settings in games like PUBG. Anything more than that will result in a laggy experience. But if you really want to push it further, you have the option to play at Ultra frame rate with HDR graphics, but the fps is going to be very low. In comparison, it’s no surprise that the Redmi Note 9 Pro performs much better!
Other aspects of the phone’s performance are satisfactory though, which is all thanks to the base 6GB of RAM it has.
Software and UI:
Additionally, the Android 10 based OneUI 2.0 helps make the user experience better. Navigating through the phone is swift, so that means the optimization is done well here unlike what we saw with the One UI 1.0. Also, Samsung’s dark mode optimization is one to cherish. Taking of updates, the unit we have has gotten security updates till May 2020, as of this date.
The cameras on the M31 have been hyped a lot, so testing it has been quite an experience. Here in the M31, there is a quad-camera setup that consists of a primary 64MP Samsung GW1 sensor, an 8MP ultra-wide-angle sensor, a 5MP depth-sensing camera and the last one is a 5MP macro lens.
Let’s get done with the macro images first. Well, they are nothing extraordinary, although you can get a few good shots when the lighting is proper!
The portrait images from the 5MP sensor are good. Subject focus on the portrait images is good and the background looks adequately blurred. Also, HDR in portrait images works well, actually better than the Note 9 Pro.
About the 64MP primary images, they look good too. The colors on them are punchy and pleasing, so you can be sure that if you get this phone, you are going to get good pictures from it. Similarly, they have quite good details in them but when put in comparison against the Note 9 Pro, its images to be sharper. The HDR function, however, is a hit or miss on both the phones. Color-wise, the Note 9 pro looks oversaturated sometimes, with it overdoing the greens and blues in the images. The M31, makes the colors look more natural.
Similarly, the 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens captures photos with sufficient details and dynamic range. Although it’s not as good as the 64MP primary lens, the end result is actually very good, and even better than the Note 9 Pro.
Talking about night time images, normal night time images have a lot of muddiness in them, so I suggest you take night time pictures from the night mode. When you do that, you will notice that the night mode crops your pictures a little bit. Why that happens is, because, in night mode, the camera takes 5-6 images in different exposures and merges them, the edges don’t always look proper while doing that, so the software crops the picture.
For the selfies, you get a 32MP selfie camera and the quality is evidently better. Xiaomi always has a weird filter sort of thing in selfies which does not look very good. Samsung, on the other hand, makes the skin color look nice. Portrait selfies on the M31 however, lack proper edge detection and are okayish only.
Video-wise, as the standard Samsung mid-range tradition, you get options for 4K and FHD at 30fps among which videos at FHD are only stabilized. But if you Vlog, we suggest you use a gimbal and shoot in UHD. Talking of quality, the videos have good dynamic range and colors just like the photos.
Additionally, you get slow-mo, super slow-mo, super steady mode, etc in the cameras as you get in most of Samsung’s offerings. And If you are a Tik Tok user, you can use the slow-mo video feature for selfies and make your videos more interesting.
On a different note, what is impressive on the M31 is its battery life. The 6,000 mAh battery easily makes it a two-day battery phone on normal to medium usage. On heavy usage too, you can still get through a day easily with some juice left to keep the device running for a few hours the next day. But, what’s painful is the charging as it takes exactly 2 hours and 18 minutes to get the device charged from 0-100%.
So, this is definitely a phone that you should charge overnight which is painful in today’s time because other brands give you much faster charging for the exact same price. So, I think Samsung should have given a 25W charging on this one, but maybe it’s the chipset limitation as well.
Audio on this thing is good. The single speaker at the bottom is loud and not distorted at high volumes and the experience with headphones is quite good too. You get Face unlock as an optional biometric security option which is fast as the fingerprint sensor. Call quality is good over mobile networks and over VOIP apps, so that’s nice as well.
The Galaxy M31 is a great option if you are looking for a stellar camera phone on a mid-range phone. It’s 64MP primary camera is the best you can find in this price range. Similarly, the M31 provides an excellent Super AMOLED display and enduring battery life. However, if you look at competitors like Redmi Note 9 Pro, they are offering better designs than the M31 and most importantly, better performance. But the M31 holds it’s own ground.
Samsung Galaxy M31 Review: Pros & Cons
- Excellent Super AMOLED display
- Good battery endurance
- Great Cameras (Front & Back)
- Plastic build
- Average Performance