Despite the profound impact of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the deluge of Samsung phones shows no sign of abating. At £245, the Galaxy M31 is one of the most affordable devices in the company’s current lineup, The latest mobiles in Bangladesh , aiming to provide a great smartphone experience at a fraction of the cost of the S and Note lines.
With a mammoth 6000mAh battery and competitive specs across the board, on paper it looks like Samsung is onto a winner. But how well does that translate to real-world usage? Read our full review to find out.
Design and build
Samsung has clearly cut some corners with the Galaxy M31’s design. The most notable is the plastic back and frame of the device, meaning any illusion of this being a premium device is quickly lost. I was initially fooled by the Galaxy A51’s so-called ‘glasstic’ design, but there’s no mistaking that Samsung has opted for the cheaper material here.
It frustratingly remains a fingerprint magnet, but on the black model I tested the smudges aren’t too noticeable. The phone’s also available in blue and red, if you’d prefer. Choosing plastic over glass usually leads to a more lightweight device, but that’s not the case here. The M31 comes in at 191g, significantly heavier than the regular S20 and only slightly lighter than the stylus-wielding Note 20.
While these things would be significant drawbacks for some people, I found they quickly faded into the background once I started using the device as my main phone.
That’s due in part to the screen, a gorgeous 6.4 Full HD (1080×2340) OLED panel which offers rich, vibrant colours and an excellent level of detail. I often wonder just how much of a tangible benefit displays of 1440p and above actually provide, so this was a wise compromise for Samsung to make.
It’s only 60Hz, but with the latest iPhones still not supporting a higher refresh rate, it would be wrong for me to complain about its absence here. That is something you’ll find on the £179.99 Realme 7, though.
Where I will complain is the teardrop notch, which protrudes into the top of the display and houses a 32Mp selfie camera. It feels completely unnecessary, Bangladesh Samsung Galaxy S23 price, particularly when the bezels aren’t the smallest and there’s a sizeable chin.
It does at least support a face unlock, offering a mostly reliable alternative to the physical fingerprint sensor on the back of the device. The latter is a bit higher up the phone than feels natural, but was impressively resistant to dust and moisture in my testing.
Next to it is a rather imposing camera module, housing 64Mp main, 8Mp ultrawide, 5Mp macro and 5Mp depth sensors. It doesn’t quite sit flush with the back of the device, but it’s sufficient that there’s not too much rocking when flat down on a table.
There’s not much to write home about the sides of the device, which thankfully means there’s no Bixby button in sight. Power button and volume rocker on one side, dual SIM card tray on the other, simple as that.
It’s at the bottom where you’ll find the most notable inclusion: a 3.5mm headphone jack. The M31 is something of an outlier in a world where most phones, including many Samsung handsets, have ditched the port. The phone supports Bluetooth 5.0, but it’s still nice to have the option to connect wired headphones.
Hardware and performance
The Galaxy M31 comes running the Exynos 9611 chipset, which combines with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage on the model I tested. Samsung’s own processors have typically struggled when compared to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line, although there are signs it’s fighting back. Performance on the Exynos 9611 is thought to be similar to the Snapdragon 712, with both found primarily on mid-range phones.
Unfortunately, in my testing time it fell short of what I expect from phone in 2020, even one that’s priced so affordably. The main problem I encountered were app freezes, with Chrome one of the big offenders. It would often lag on a website for quite a few seconds, although that may be due in part to the number of open Chrome tabs I had.
The other notable area of slowdown was in opening and switching between apps. I found it taking a comparatively long time to launch everything from Facebook Messenger to Spotify, while the aforementioned double tap of the power button to launch the camera was far from instant.
These issues don’t make the phone unusable by any means, although they are frustrations you’re likely to experience on a regular basis. It’ll still work fine if you’re willing to be patient, but the M31’s shortcomings are more glaring when you consider the strong performance in so many other budget phones.
The performance gap is illustrated in the below benchmarks, where the M31 pales in comparison to some of the best cheap phones around