Thursday, November 30, 2023

Samsung Galaxy M31: To buy or not to buy


By M. Das

The Samsung Galaxy M31 is a mid-range budget smartphone with several features that are perfect for users with regular purposes, but not suitable for gaming.

Spending an amount between Rs 12,000 – Rs 16,000 is something very common these days. Also, at this price range, the customer is spoilt for choice with so many brands offering their eye-catching products. The mid-range phones are now loaded with features and functions that even a few years ago were available only in premium smartphones. While the Chinese brands like Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Realme are all dominating the Android space, Samsung too seems to have found a little of its lost ground thanks to the new Galaxy range of phones.

Back in December 2020, I was searching for a new smartphone, as my last device, Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 gave up suddenly. I was never very keen on buying a Chinese branded smartphone, no matter how wide and exclusive their range of features are. The thought of buying an Apple iPhone once crossed my mind, but the price tag was too heavy for me. Hence, I limited my search options to Samsung and Nokia.

While going through the range of potential smartphones from these two brands, I found the new Galaxy M series pretty interesting, at least by their look and the features on offer. After restricting myself to a budget of around Rs 15000, my focus was getting a phone with good battery performance, a phone that will not lag and of course a decent camera. The Samsung Galaxy M31 seemed the right choice, but to buy that online I had to stretch my budget a bit more. However, at Rs 17,000 the phone seemed justified with all its specs and features.

My friends who have been using Xiaomi or Realme phones, nudged me to try my hands on those, but I was not that convinced. My first smartphone was a Samsung Galaxy, even my first-ever phone was a Samsung one as well. Hence, I was experienced with the brand. It’s not that Samsung doesn’t make great phones anymore, it’s just that the brand’s budget phones have not been that exciting. At least, not compared to the competitions. The Samsung Galaxy M31 didn’t look as hot as the Chinese branded phones, but it was quite a looker.

It’s been nearly 10 months since I have been using this phone. The experience can be termed as a mixed one. Here is what I experienced.

Samsung Galaxy M31

A utility smartphone with a premium finish

I don’t play games on my smartphone. It is strictly for receiving calls, texting and surfing the internet. Apart from that, have to keep some additional Work from Home related apps. Considering its prime usage for work purposes, I required a bigger battery. The Samsung Galaxy M31 comes with an impressive 6,000 mAh battery that is decent for continuous internet accessibility for the whole day. I have used it for one and a half days without recharging, and the battery wasn’t completely drained out. This is a plus point, as once it’s charged, you don’t need to worry about battery life for quite a while.

Shoving a monster 6,000 mAh battery results in a bit of weight for the Samsung Galaxy, but at 191 grams, that is not a major issue. The phone gets a glasstic back giving it a premium finish. It is actually plastic but looks like glass. However, being plastic it’s prone to scratches. Also due to the glossiness, it can slip. Hence, the user should use it carefully, especially people with butterfingers. So far, its overall design doesn’t make it look cheap.

A downside of this phone is the lack of colour variants. You only get two colour options to choose from – Space Black and Ocean Blue. Having no gradient but the only plain colour is kind of boring these days.

The Samsung Galaxy M31 comes with a quad-camera setup at the back, positioned in a rectangular camera module, similar to what we have seen in Galaxy S20, S20 Plus and other Galaxy S phones. The camera module has a slightly protruding appearance. Hence, using a phone cover is adviseable. You have to buy that separately, as Samsung doesn’t provide any.

The Samsung Galaxy M31 gets a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED Infinity Display with a waterdrop notch at the top centre. It also gets thin bezels and chin along with curved edges. The back gets a fingerprint sensor, while the bottom edge gets a Type-C port, headphone jack and speaker grilles. Overall, it looks good but nothing extraordinary.

Samsung Galaxy M31

A camera that works well in daylight, but awful at night

Nowadays mobile camera often replicates the DSLR. I am not different, as I prefer travelling light whenever I am travelling somewhere. Not that I don’t take the DSLR, but having a good smartphone with a good camera makes things easy. This was another reason why I selected the Samsung Galaxy M31.

The rear camera includes a 64-megapixel primary sensor, 8-megapixel wide-angle camera and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. Also, there is a 5-megapixel macro sensor as well. That’s quite a handful for sure. The images I have clicked in daylight so far, are impressive. Details and clarity of the images are mostly up to the mark. The ultra-wide-angle shots taken with the phone too were decent. However, taking an image in macro mode is not something I will recommend with this phone, as it takes an eternity to focus.

With the impressive daylight shots, I expected similar performance in low light and night as well. However, the phone failed miserably in those cases. The low light results in hazy images, sans anty clarity and too much noise. The night mode too is not of use. All it does is just brightens the images, nothing else. Coming to the front, the 32-megapixel sensor is good at taking clear selfies with rich details and colours.

Samsung Galaxy M31

A motherboard that burnt despite normal usage

The Samsung Galaxy M31 is the seventh phone I have been using so far. This was the first time I had to deal with a burnt motherboard. I don’t play games on my phone, restrict myself from dumping too many apps in it. Even despite that, just within six months, the phone gave up suddenly. One fine morning I found there was no display at all. All I was staring at was a device with a black screen. After taking it to the service centre, they said the motherboard was gone and it had to be replaced. Thankfully the phone was well within the warranty and the service centre replaced the motherboard (as they claimed) within two days.

This was a major hiccup in my ownership experience of the Samsung Galaxy M31. Besides that, so far, I have not seen any more glitches. But, in recent times, I find the phone a bit lagging whenever I’m swapping between apps. It is not as smooth as before, even though there are only a few basic apps installed. However, it still serves my purpose and is fine for daily tasks.

The phone comes powered by an Exynos 9611 processor. It runs on Android 10 and is equipped with 6 GB RAM and up to 128 GB expandable storage. If you consume a lot of videos, then it seems fine with its AMOLED display combined with the mammoth battery and good sound quality from a single speaker.

My verdict

After using the Samsung Galaxy M31 for 10 months, my verdict for the phone is a mixed one. It’s majorly positive though. The display is fine and the overall performance with the Exynos 961 chipset and a monster battery is pretty good. However, that is applicable as long as you don’t intend to play games much on this phone. The only hiccup I found was the motherboard issue I faced a few months back and the recent lagging. Apart from that, the phone seems a good buy.

On the flipside, phones such as Realme 6 Pro and Redmi Note 9 Pro Max come as more powerful, more exciting, and with better cameras. These rival phones charge faster as well. I had my own logic of not buying a Chinese branded phone. You can choose yours for or against that.

👍 👍 👍

  • Overall design
  • Super AMOLED display
  • Daylight camera
  • Sound quality

👎 👎 👎

  • Build quality
  • Slightly laggish
  • Motherboard burnt within six months
  • Low light camera

Also Read: Smartwatch fascination is welcoming a multipronged crisis

(M. Das is a Journalist and technology content writer.)

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)


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