With its change in business strategy, Samsung has been able to give a tough competition to its Chinese counterparts. The Indian smartphone market, especially the Rs 15,000 - Rs 20,000 segment, is now overloaded with plenty of devices. This trend is not only making it difficult for users to choose the perfect device for themselves, but also pushing the OEMs to bring as many features as they can without putting the burden on customers’ pockets. With this in mind, The South Korean giant has now launched the Galaxy M31 to take on its rivals the Redmi Note 8 Pro and Realme XT.
Before we talk more about the phone, let’s understand the setting around this launch. Samsung has been on a run to launch a slew of handsets in all of its offerings in India, which kept the brand in the news throughout the year. It’s M Series, which is primarily aimed at millenials, has seen a tremendous response in the country. According to Counterpoint Research, Samsung’s overall shipments were driven by its upgraded A and M Series in 2019. In fact, the Galaxy M20, the Galaxy M30 and the Galaxy M30s were among the best-selling smartphones on Amazon India last year.
The Galaxy M31 will be available at Rs 15,999 for the 6/64GB memory variant and Rs 16999 for the 6/128GB memory variant. But will another M Series offering make the cut this year? Let’s find out.
The Samsung Galaxy M31 sports a 6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED panel, which the company calls an Infinity U display. At its core, the phone is shipped with an Exynos 9611 processor which is coupled with up to 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. The USP of the device is its huge 6,000mAh battery, a feature that the phone borrows from its predecessor, the Galaxy M30s.
On the back is a quad-camera setup with a 64MP sensor coupled with a wide angle lens, a 8MP ultra-wide angle camera (123-degree field of view), a 5MP Macro camera and a 5MP depth sensor. The camera app also has almost the same shooting modes, like Live Focus, a dedicated night mode, that can be found in its other offering. On the front, you get a 32MP camera. The phone runs Android 10 with Samsung’s proprietary OneUI 2.0 on top.
The Samsung Galaxy M31 looks strikingly similar to its predecessor, the Galaxy M30s. The display bezels are thin on the sides and the top, and there is a thick chin. The positioning of the SIM tray, volume and power buttons, charging port, speaker grille, 3.5mm port and fingerprint sensor is exactly the same as in the M30s. There is an extra sensor that makes the camera module a little wider than the one in the Galaxy M30s.
Overall, the phone has a decent form factor for people with medium-sized hands. There is a glasstic finish on the back which attracts fingerprints and makes the phone slippery. Samsung doesn’t give a back cover in the box, so it is advised that people who often drop their phones should spend more bucks in purchasing a case. We got the Space Black colour variant for review, and you can also buy the phone in Ocean Blue colour.
Let’s talk about display first. Samsung smartphones offer one of the best displays and the Galaxy M31 is no exception. It is one of the most beautiful-looking displays in the segment and is well suited for content consumption. The video quality (Widevine L1 certification) that can played on the phone maxes out at 1080p (60fps), however, if you need more vibrant colours, you can choose the ‘Vivid’ mode in display settings to enhance the experience.
The Galaxy M31 has an Exynos 9611 processor which also powers the Galaxy M30s. Our 6GB RAM model, things like switching between apps, scrolling, photo-loading in the gallery were smooth. We played traditional and famous games like Call of Duty: Mobile and PUBG Mobile, and didn’t face any noticeable problem. The speaker performance could have been better but Samsung has put in Dolby Atmos for excellent output in headphones.
With an aim to offer ‘the best camera’ in an affordable smartphone, OEMs have pushed the limits, and Samsung is among the top brands to do so. During our testing process, the images shot in the soft daylight came out good. The images clicked with the normal shooting mode were more dramatic and have more contrast as compared to the other modes. However, we found that the photos were not crisp, but good enough to be shared on social media.
Live Focus (L) and Pro Mode (R)
The Live Focus feature looked undercooked. It worked well in daylight conditions, however, when it came to the performance indoors and during low light situations, the camera under performed.
When clicked the same image with a different mode, like Live Focus, or ultra wide mode it loses its contrast and clarity. Under direct sunlight, the images were quite warm but photos clicked under shade came out well. The phone takes a little time and effort to correctly focus on the subject.
The dedicated night mode is nothing extraordinary and it fairly serves its purpose. The photo zooms-in and crops out a considerable part of the image shot with the normal camera mode. The phone also has a Macro camera lens, which we recently saw in the Galaxy A51. The colours in the images captured with the macro mode were preserved though it takes a lot of effort to focus on the subject -- a thumbs-up for its performance.
As mentioned above, the phone has a massive 6,000mAh battery that guarantees more than a day’s usage. Charge and forget -- that’s what we did while reviewing the phone. It took about 2.5 hours to fully charge, and gave a 2-day run-time with a fairly heavy usage.
With a glass finish, a great design, a beautiful display with good sunlight legibility, a great camera and a massive battery, the Samsung Galaxy M31 is one of the contenders to be crowned as the best in the Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000 segment.
Pros: Huge battery, display with good sunlight legibility
Cons: Fair camera performance