Samsung Galaxy M20 Review: A ‘millennial’ attempt with powerful battery, impressive display

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New Delhi | Updated: February 6, 2019 7:07:04 PM

Samsung Galaxy M20 looks to take on the rival devices with its newly-announced Infinity-V Display and, most importantly, a 5000mAh battery. Will it succeed or just fade away? Read our review

Samsung Galaxy M20 is the latest entrant to the budget range in India

While the premium smartphone category is something Samsung prides itself for undercutting the rivals such as iPhone and Pixel models, it has really been a Herculean task for the company down in the trenches to reclaim the entry-level, budget, and mid-range markets in India that are currently seeing smartphones from Xiaomi, Realme, and others flourishing like they are. Samsung has previously tried to woo Indian buyers with many smartphone families such as the On series, J series, and more, but eventually, it did not work out as expected.

2019 is what appears Samsung’s long shot at attacking the sensitive price category with its new, ‘India-first’ Galaxy M series. Samsung tells us that it wants to cater to what today’s millennials are looking for in a smartphone, especially in India. Enter Galaxy M, inspired by the very term ‘millennial’, to cram everything Samsung thinks is enough for the young users in the country.

The Samsung Galaxy M is the first Galaxy series that has been launched in India before anywhere else. It is also the first range to feature the Samsung Infinity-V Display, a term given for the ‘waterdrop’ notch displays. The company launched two models – Galaxy M20 and Galaxy M10 – as the flagbearer of the Galaxy M series in India, to be followed by more models later this year.

The Samsung Galaxy M20 is the bigger sibling of the two, comes with spruced up features and a price tag of Rs 10,990 onward in India. It looks to counter Redmi and Realme models in the price bracket to win customers back to the brand. Can it make a difference? Let’s find out.

Samsung Galaxy M20 Design, Display, and Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy M20 has a design that is clearly not in its favour especially when it intends to tackle phones such as Realme or Redmi head-on. Contrary to what the latter models offer, Galaxy M20 design is bland – a plasticky surface on the back with just the bare essentials. The edges have sloping round corners that make the grip firm – we did never feel the phone was slipping even when not held firmly. We received the Ocean Blue colour variant of the Galaxy M20, which looks decent but we wish there was some pattern or etching to make the phone more dramatic in terms of aesthetics.

There is a dual camera island on the top left portion, an LED flash below it, and the fingerprint sensor towards the centre. On the right side, the phone houses the power/lock button and the volume rocker while the left side provides for the tray to insert two Nano-SIM cards and a microSD card simultaneously. The Galaxy M20 has a 3.5mm headphone jack, a speaker grille, a microphone, and a USB Type-C port at the bottom. The top just has a secondary mic for noise-cancellation. The smartphone weighs 186 grams, which we could feel when holding it for long.

The Galaxy M20 has a display that has never been seen before on a Samsung phone – it’s an Infinity-V Display. It’s essentially the ‘waterdrop’ notch to pack the front camera while the earpiece speaker and sensors have been moved atop it. There are thin bezels on three sides while a thin chin is given at the bottom. While we like the fascia of the Galaxy M20, the fact the screen area, for whatever good reason, juts out on the edges is not somehow appealing.

There is a 6.4-inch full-HD+ display with a screen-to-body ratio of over 90 per cent, which makes the smartphone look beautiful. In our time with the Galaxy M20, we found the display to be on par – it produces good, vivid colours. It shows punchy levels of colour reproduction, as well as good viewing angles. The display, however, has a short range of brightness levels – the sunlight legibility is average, as well.

The waterdrop notch is not something that we have not seen before. It’s better than the wide notches that cover most part of the top display portion. The Samsung Galaxy M20 display doesn’t obscure the elements when playing games because the aspect ratio for the games does not include the area on either side of the notch.

The Samsung Galaxy M20 is powered by an Exynos 7904 processor, which was also recently announced. It has two high-performance Cortex-A73 cores clocked at 1.8GHz while the other six are power-efficient Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.6GHz, both based on ARM architecture. The smartphone packs a Mali-G71 GPU for graphics. There are two RAM and storage configurations for the device – a 3GB/32GB model and a 4GB/64GB variant. Samsung sells the latter for Rs 12,990, which could entice some buyers considering there aren’t many phones with that configuration in the price category. The storage can be expanded via microSD card by up to 512GB. The Galaxy M20 supports dual VoLTE, which is good considering all major carriers in India now support HD calling.

Samsung Galaxy M20 Camera

The Galaxy M20 has a set of two cameras on the rear while a single camera is what we see on the front. The reason why Samsung went with dual cameras has more to do with what the contenders are offering than to what millennials want. But we cannot verify that better than Samsung, which most probably did a study on what exactly is in demand.

There is a 13-megapixel camera with an aperture of f/1.9 along with a secondary 5-megapixel sensor with a bigger 120-degree field of view for wide-angle shots. The cameras are good at locking the subject into the frame and shooting instantly without any shutter lag, whatsoever. The photos taken with the primary camera in the daytime look fine, however, have slightly unnatural colours. We have seen phones in the price category with cameras that take better and more natural-looking photos. There is overexposure in some photos that have a light source behind the subject, but it’s not very noticeable and can be passed. The level of details and sharpness in the photos is above average.

The night-time photography is tricky – some photos have good enough level of details when there is some light source nearby while some just turn out unimpressive. It’s a mixed bag depending on what lighting conditions the camera can make the use of. For example, if there is neon or blue light, the photos come out dramatic and appealing for a phone in the price range. But largely, the photos in dim light are average with not many details.

The secondary wide-angle lens brings in the fisheye effect into the photographs – something we have seen before on Galaxy A7 and Galaxy A9 smartphones. The photo quality in the shots taken using the 5-megapixel sensor is not as good as that of the primary sensor. There is a toggle above the shutter button to switch between the regular and wide-angle modes.

The rear cameras shoot 1080p videos, which are also average but using the LED flash improves the level of detail. The portrait mode on the camera is also quite average. It works with only faces so the blur effect cannot be produced in the shots having products in them. The camera is not quite able to detect the borders properly and often ends up smoothening and smudging them with the subject in focus. The beautification mode for the portraits in turned on by default.

The front 8-megapixel camera, which is now secluded within a closed area on the display, is fairly decent for the selfies. While the selfies do not really stand out or are better than the ones taken from rival phones, they are usable for Instagram, Facebook, and other social media apps. There are stickers to make the selfies beautiful and interactive.

Here are the camera samples:

Samsung Galaxy M20 Performance

The processor used on the Galaxy M20 is fresh, which is why we do not have previous cases in point as the baseline. The smartphone could handle most tasks we threw at it on a regular basis. The multitasking on the Galaxy M20 is good and the phone manages to draw the juice from the 4GB RAM. However, the case could be different for the 3GB RAM variant. Most apps support the new aspect ratio on the display and run smoothly. Since the smartphone is positioned at a low price spectrum, taking it for a powerhouse is not something we would recommend. For moderate usage, the Galaxy M20 does the job, however, with some minute jitters at odd times.

Gaming on the Galaxy M20 is supported by the Mali-G72 GPU, which should be enough for light games. Playing PUBG Mobile on the Galaxy M20 is not that good an experience – the graphics settings have to be set to medium and despite that, there were frame drops, besides random stutters. Asphalt 9: Legends, on the other hand, ran just fine with medium graphics settings. The phone began to heat up after about 30 minutes into gaming, but the build material of the phone did prevent it to some extent.

Coming to the interface, Samsung has introduced Experience 9.5, which seems like a watered-down version of OneUI but without Android 9 Pie, which is disappointing. Samsung told us the Galaxy M models will receive Android 9 Pie later this year after the flagships and upper mid-range devices are updated. The Experience 9.5 is an attempt to offer Galaxy M20 users a flair of the OneUI, which is only reserved, Samsung says, for the flagship models. While most settings and elements have been retained, the visual appeal of the UX seems better on the Galaxy M20.

The icons of the default apps have been redone to make the fit in line with OneUI, and that’s the only material change. Everything else, for example, the notification shade and settings app, has been tweaked to a minimal degree. The UI also seamlessly mingles with the new display design, which is impressive.

The smartphone comes with both fingerprint sensor and face unlock. The former is snappy and unlocks the phone quickly while the latter is not as much responsive. The display took a significant portion of a second to turn on when the lock button was pressed, followed by around 2 seconds taken for the face unlock. While the phone attempts facial scanning, there is an animated wave bordering the notch on the display. Could it be something that can make up for the delay?

The Galaxy M20 belts out clear but not quite loud sound. We did not face any problems while watching videos or listening to music. Also, the Galaxy M20 comes with Dolby Atmos support and we could feel the difference with it turned on in either earphone or Bluetooth mode. Samsung says the Galaxy M20 is Widevine L1 certified, which means Netflix and Amazon Prime Video should be able to play true high-definition video. But it seems it may take some time for the users to experience that as none of the streaming platforms supports the Galaxy M20 as a full-HD device as yet.

Samsung Galaxy M20 Battery

Samsung has touted the 5000mAh battery on the Galaxy M20 – it supports fast USB Type-C charging via a 15W charger. It is the first time that a Samsung phone has a battery that extensive. The smartphone takes about 2 hours to fully charge using the bundled charger. The 5000mAh battery is a lot – probably the biggest highlight of the Galaxy M20. The smartphone managed to go along with all the tasks for up to 24 hours, and sometimes even more before getting fully drained.

Our testing included using apps (social media, WhatsApp, Chrome browser) for over 5 hours, clicking photos for about an hour without flash, playing games for good 40 minutes, and watching a 50-minute long episode on Netflix. The Samsung Galaxy M20 has an impressive battery life, something that millennials definitely want on their phone.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy M20 is sure to attract the buyers with the Infinity-V Display, which looks trendy and showy in the price range. While the design is very minimalistic, it is not bad and may find some admirers who do not crave gaudiness much. The cameras are just fine in regular use and better if topped with some photography skills. The 5000mAh battery works not just for millennials but for everyone.

At Rs 10,990 onwards, the Galaxy M20 may hold the potential to actually make Samsung regain the market. A loyal Samsung user will find the Galaxy M20 extremely appealing, sheerly out of their love for the brand. This is evident as Samsung claims the first Galaxy M20 sale saw all units go out of stock quickly on Amazon.in. The next sale is on February 7 so if you are looking for a decent, ‘millennial’-centric smartphone within budget, the Galaxy M20 could be the one.

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