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Samsung Galaxy M31 First Impressions: A Pleasing Experience

Things I Like

  • Huge Battery
  • Super AMOLED display is impressive
  • The camera is versatile and looks capable

Potential Weakness

  • Performance is decent it’s not best for gaming
  • The plastic build doesn’t inspire confidence in me. I have been very careful about where to place it so that it doesn’t scratch.

Samsung boasts a number of top-notches smartphones. When we think about premium smartphones, Samsung is right up there. Though they produce very kind of smartphones from budget to flagships. Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi, Realme, and OnePlus have dominated the mid-range value market.

Samsung M31 Design
Samsung M31

Samsung launched it’s affordable M series during Q1 2019 to compete with its Chinese competitors. It was a positive start with phones like Samsung Galaxy M30. It focused on providing value with good performance, good display, and huge battery along with affordable prices.

They followed up the M30 with Samsung M30s and it was even better than the M30. It was one of my favorite mid-range phones of 2019. And, now Samsung is stepping up its game again with the latest Samsung M31.

Samsung M31 Specifications

  • Body: 159.2 x 75.1 x 8.9 mm, 191 g, Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
  • Display: 6.4 inches Super AMOLED, 1080 x 2340 Resolution, 19.5:9 Aspect Ratio, 403 ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Chipset: Exynos 9611 (10nm)
  • CPU: Octa-core (4×2.3 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A53)
  • GPU: Mali-G72 MP3
  • Memory: 128GB ROM 6GB RAM, 128GB ROM 8GB RAM, UFS 2.1
  • OS: Android 10, One UI 2.0
  • Rear Camera: 64 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.72″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    • 8 MP, f/2.2, 12mm (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
    • 5 MP, f/2.4, 25mm (macro), 1/5.0″, 1.12µm
    • 5 MP, f/2.2, (depth)
    • Video: 4K@30fps, 1080p@30fps, gyro-EIS
  • Front Camera: 32 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 1/2.8″, 0.8µm
    • Video: 4K@30fps, 1080p@30fps
  • Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 6000 mAh battery, Fast charging 15W
  • USB: 2.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector, USB On-The-Go
  • Misc: Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, 3.5mm Headphone jack
  • Colors: Ocean Blue, Space Black, Red

Samsung M31 Price in Nepal: Rs. 30,999 (6GB/128GB) / Rs. 35,699 (8GB/128GB)

Samsung M31 First Impressions

Samsung M31 still uses the same design and build as the older M30s. It also has the same processor as the M30s with Exynos 9611. But, it has upgraded the camera sensor as it uses a new 64MP Samsung ISOCELL GW1 sensor.

So, what do we get with the new Samsung Galaxy M31?

Familiar Design

Samsung Galaxy M31 is no different from its predecessor when it comes to how it looks. It is pretty much similar to the Samsung M30s.

The back is made up of plastic which looks like glass. It’s prone to scratches and smudges so, I’ve been very careful with it. I like the deep blue color, it’s glossy and doesn’t stand out. The rectangle camera module is still here just like the M30s but it has an extra sensor. Altogether there are 4 sensors that are flanked by an oval-shaped fingerprint sensor.

Samsung M31 Body
Samsung M31 Design

Samsung M31 has a single speaker on the bottom. I haven’t used the phone for long enough to comment on its quality but it’s surely loud enough.

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Speaking of audio, we get a 3.5mm headphone jack right beside the Type-C port for charging. It supports 15W fast charging which is not the quickest in its price range.

Then there are microphones on the top and bottom sides. Also, the earpiece is tucked away neatly right on the top on the notch.

In regards to the overall weight and feel of the phone, I find the Samsung M31 feels slightly hefty. It’s not on the lighter side but it doesn’t feel too heavy either.

On the other hand, it’s a tall phone but you can reach the top if you adjust your hand positioning. However, it’s easy to handle and feels grippy even with a gloss finish on the back. I think the curved sides make it easier to handle.

Impressive Super AMOLED Display

The Samsung Galaxy M31 has a 6.4 inch 1080×2340 (FHD+) AMOLED display. It’s a 60Hz panel with deep blacks and impressive color reproduction.

Samsung M31 Display
Samsung M31 Display

We know that Samsung has the best displays and it’s one of the only manufacturers that provide an FHD AMOLED display at this price tag. Looking at the display of M31, it’s amazing.

I’m using it on the Vivid color mode and the colors really pop out because of it. The contrast ratio is also quite high and so far I’ve really enjoyed watching YouTube videos on the Samsung M31. Talking about the brightness, it’s quite good as well. It’s not hard to use the screen under the sunlight.

I’ll do a more thorough display quality assessment in my full review.

Samsung’s 64MP Sensor Looks Promising

Samsung Galaxy M31 is using Samsung’s new 64MP ISOCELL GW1 sensor. It’s a large 1/1.7″ sensor with a 0.8μm pixel size. This is the same sensor that you can find on Realme XT and Redmi Note 8 Pro.

Along with this, it has an 8MP Ultrawide angle sensor, a 5MP depth sensor, and a 5MP macro camera. Whereas, you get a single 32MP selfie camera on the front.

Samsung M31 Camera
Samsung M31 Camera

So far, I’ve only clicked a few photos with it and I like what I see so far. The 64MP sensor provides crisp details. The details are preserved even when you zoom in. There’s not much pixelation compared to the 16MP images.

However, I’ve noticed that the 64MP images do not have a good dynamic range. The 16MP images have a much better dynamic range than the 64MP images.

Check it out in the images below.

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Moving on, the Wide-angle sensor is a 123-degree wide-angle sensor. It’s all fine but the images are saturated.

Now, this is all about personal preference, but sometimes the ultrawide angle does not look as good when it’s oversaturated.

samsung m31 wide angle
Samsung M31 @ Wide-angle – Sample Photo

Now, what I like about mid-range Samsung phones is that they have a 5MP macro sensor when other manufacturers stick with a 2MP macro sensor.

Macro photography is cool but the images do not look appealing if it doesn’t have a good amount of details. So far, I like the macro sensor on the M31. The extra pixel certainly helps it to achieve more detail.

samsung m31 macro sensor
Samsung M31 @ Macro – Sample Photo

Next, I haven’t clicked any portrait images from the M31, so we will take a look at its portrait mode in the full review. Also, we will discuss it’s night time capability in the full review.

Now, let’s talk about its selfie camera. It has a 32MP snapper on the front. And, it’s actually impressive. I like the details on the selfies. But the images do have a warmer tone to it. So, far it’s all good.

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About videos, it can capture up to 4k30fps. I’ll include the camera sample down below. We will talk about its video quality in the full review.

Same Old Processor

Samsung Galaxy M31 still uses the same processor as the Samsung M30s; the Exynos 9611.

Exynos 9611 is definitely not the best performing processor in the mid-range category. It is made in a 10nm process and has Octa-core (4×2.3 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A53) CPU along with Mali-G72 MP3 GPU.

It performs identically to the Snapdragon 660 but the Snapdragon 675 is superior to Exynos 9611. However, Exynos 9611 is a more efficient processor than the Snapdragon 660, 665, and 675. Also, it supports high megapixel cameras than the mentioned Snapdragon processor.

So far, the performance has been good. I mean, there are no lags when I’m using apps or switching between them.

Also, I’ve only played only a single game called “sky”. It’s a third-person game with quite good graphics. It ran fine and there were no frame drops or stutters. But I just played it for a few minutes. So, I will reserve the full performance review in my full review.

Monstrous Battery with Fast Charging

Samsung Galaxy M31 has a huge 6000 mAh battery. That is one of the biggest you can find in any phone. Samsung claims 21hrs of internet usage time with WiFi. But we will have to wait and see if that holds true.

Samsung M31 USB and Charging
Samsung M31 USB and Charging

So far, the battery has been good. I mostly need to charge it in 2 days.

We will test the full capacity of this battery in our full review. Now, regarding the charging. It still uses 15W charging whereas some devices in the same price range now come with 18W fast charging.

Given the battery capacity, it needs a faster charging as it takes almost 2 and a half hours to fully charge it from 0 to 100.

Android 10 with OneUI 2.0

On software sides of things, it has Android 10 along with OneUi 2.0. OneUI is definitely one of the good UI out there right now. I mean after the One UI update, Samsung’s phone just feels much better.

Samsung M31 Android 10
Samsung M31 Android 10

We get new gesture-based navigation, new volume control styles, and some settings page are also updated. Also, with the Android 10, we get Google’s digital wellbeing.

So far, I haven’t had an issue with the software. I’ll report if I get any issues in my full review.

Follow Up

So, Samsung Galaxy M31 looks good for the price. I have been using it for a few days now and I like it so far. Its display and battery are it’s headlining features whereas I’m not convinced with its performance.

This is just an initial impressions article about a few days of using the M31, I’ll revisit what I talked about here in my full review.

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