Review of Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21: a spoon of Korean tar in a barrel of Chinese honey


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Just over a year ago, Samsung launched the Galaxy M range of affordable smartphones for emerging markets.

It aims to compete with numerousthe Chinese, who tightly occupied the middle and budget price segments. And, it is worth saying, it competes quite successfully. Its main advantage is a set of SuperAMOLED display, large battery and NFC for an adequate price. These are some kind of “workhorses”, which are usually equipped with good screens, an up-to-date set of wireless interfaces and large batteries. Recently, two new representatives of the line went on sale, the Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21, which we will talk about today. Smartphones are very similar to each other, the differences are minimal, so there is simply no point in doing two full-fledged separate reviews.

  1. What is it?
  2. What do the Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21 look like?
  3. How good are the screens?
  4. What are the unlock methods?
  5. What about performance, memory, sound and autonomy?
  6. What about the interface?
  7. How good are the cameras?
  8. In the dry residue

What is interesting and how are the Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21 different?


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Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21 are inexpensiveAndroid smartphones with a 6.4-inch FullHD+ AMOLED display (2340x1080, aspect ratio 19.5:9), waterdrop notch for the front camera, Exynos 9611 octa-core processor, a full set of necessary wireless interfaces (including dual-band Wi-Fi and NFC), a large battery for 6000 mAh, support for fast charging 15W and a plastic case. They work on Android 10 OS with a proprietary One UI 2.0 shell. Cameras are the main difference between smartphones. The older model Galaxy M31 received a rear quad camera with a 64 MP main module with an aperture of f/1.8, 1/1.72″, 0.8µm and phase detection autofocus, an 8 MP ultra wide-angle, f/2.2, a 5 MP macro, f/2.4, and a sensor depth 5 MP, f/2.2. Front - 32 MP, f / 2.0. The younger Samsung Galaxy M21 has a triple camera on the back: a 48 MP main module, f/2.0, PDAF, an 8 MP ultrawide, f/2.2 and a 5 MP depth sensor, f/2.2. There is no macro camera. The front camera is also a bit more modest: 20 MP f/2.0. The memory sizes are also different, at least for the currently sold configurations. Galaxy M21 received 4/64 GB, Galaxy M31 - 6/128 GB. This is where the significant differences end.

What do the Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21 look like?


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The Samsung Galaxy M line of smartphones has never beenaspired to some special design delights, the emphasis rather on practicality. In this regard, the Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21 continue this tradition. These are large smartphones with a design typical for inexpensive models: a large screen with a teardrop-shaped cutout for the front camera, above which is a conversational speaker. The frames are not too wide, it all looks quite neat, although a rather large “chin” betrays belonging to an inexpensive line.


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Only the front is made of glass in smartphonespanel, the rest of the body is solid and made of glossy plastic. So there are no joints between the edges and the back, the transition is as smooth as possible. The layout of the functional elements of smartphones is completely the same and it is absolutely standard. Volume and power buttons on the right side. On the left is a tray.


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Both smartphones received a triple tray, which will fit both two SIM cards and a MicroSD memory card. A nice solution that is typical of inexpensive smartphone models.


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Above - only an additional microphone:


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At the bottom of Type-C smartphones, there is a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack, a microphone and an external speaker:


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The backs are plastic, glossy.We reviewed the blue Samsung Galaxy M31 and the black Galaxy M21, both smartphones are available in three price colors. M31 in blue, black and red, the junior model received a green variant instead of red. As a practical matter, plastic is not as slippery as glass and (theoretically) harder to break. But it is very easily soiled: prints in a huge amount remain instantly. As well as minor scratches that will begin to appear almost immediately after the start of use. So for aesthetic purposes, the bumper really does not hurt.


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The layout is almost identical:in the middle is a fingerprint scanner, in the upper left corner is the main camera module. In fact, only the cameras are visually different: the older Galaxy M31 has 4 cameras and they are located in the letter L, while the Galaxy M21 has 3 cameras lined up.


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Some critical remarks on the design andusability does not arise. But it is worth remembering that smartphones are quite large and cannot boast of an ultra-slim body, which is expected given the 6000 mAh battery inside. And the dimensions will become even larger when using protective bumpers.

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How good are the screens?


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In Samsung Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21screens that are absolutely identical according to the declared characteristics are used. This is a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED with FullHD + resolution (in this case, 2340x1080, aspect ratio 19.5: 9), a waterdrop notch for the front camera and a pixel density of about 403 ppi. The set of screen settings is standard: brightness, font size, scale of interface elements, blue filter, dark interface theme, Always on Display. The screen has two color display modes: “natural” and “saturated” with the ability to adjust the color temperature. Visually, the settings differ a little from those that we saw in the latest models of the manufacturer due to the fact that the heroes of the review have not yet received an update to One UI 2.1, but this is absolutely not essential.


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Measurements have shown that the screens are indeedalmost identical, the difference is minimal, within the margin of error. The screens turned out to be very good in quality, especially considering the class of smartphones. Measurements showed that in the “natural” mode, the maximum screen brightness of the Samsung Galaxy M31 is 407.393 cd / m², the screen is well calibrated, and the color gamut is slightly different from sRGB:


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In "saturated" mode, the maximum brightness of the screen remains almost the same: 410.688 cd/m². At the same time, the color reproduction is less natural and the color gamut is much wider than sRGB:


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Galaxy M21 in "natural" mode showed a maximum brightness of 402.932 cd / m², the calibration is almost the same as the Galaxy M31. This was quite expected.


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In "Saturated" mode, the calibration of the Samsung Galaxy M21 is also the same as the corresponding mode of the Galaxy M31, and the maximum brightness is 405.356 cd/m²:


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Comparison with other models:

Device name
White field brightness,
cd / m2
Black field brightness,
cd / m2
Contrast

Samsung Galaxy M31
410.688
0

Samsung Galaxy M21
405.356
0

Samsung Galaxy A71
384.283
0

Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
398.897
0

Sony Xperia 1
394.97
0

Huawei P30 Pro
447.247
0

Samsung Galaxy S10
378.72
0

Samsung Galaxy Note9
340.32
0

What are the unlock methods?


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Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21 are equipped withtraditional capacitive fingerprint scanners on the back. They work very quickly and accurately. As for their position, this is already individual. It seemed to me that it would be nice to set them a little lower. There is also face recognition of the owner, implemented by the front camera. In general, it works, but very slowly. Mostly it takes a second or a little more. So recognition should be used rather as an additional unlock option.


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What about performance, memory, sound and autonomy?

Both smartphones received almost identicalstuffing. The Samsung Exynos 9611 proprietary 10nm eight-core processor is responsible for performance. It includes 4 ARM Cortex-A73 cores with a frequency of up to 2.3 GHz and four Cortex-A53 at 1.7 GHz Cortex-A53. Graphics accelerator - Mali-G72 MP3. The Samsung Galaxy M31 has 6 GB of RAM, the Galaxy M21 has 4 or 6 GB (we both had 6 GB of RAM). Built-in memory - 64 or 128 GB, to which you can painlessly add a memory card. Smartphones do not have high performance, but the filling is quite enough for the normal operation of the shell and any applications. Yes, and in the game, if you wish, you can also drive. Significant throttling is not observed, the Galaxy M31 in the stress test showed a performance drop of up to 88%, which is not critical. Galaxy M31 benchmark results:


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The Samsung Galaxy M21, as expected, shows almost the same level of performance. But we decided to post screenshots just in case:


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Smartphones work stably and without brakes.Although the interface, of course, does not work as fast as in the flagships. With modern games, everything is also quite good. Call of Duty Mobile offers medium graphics settings, although high settings are also available. At high levels, the game as a whole goes very well, but there are single short-term FPS drawdowns. PUBG Mobile offers high settings. In general, it works relatively stably, although sometimes there are slowdowns.

Wireless interfaces have everything you needgentleman's set: dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, FM tuner and NFC for contactless payment. Interestingly, NFC is not available in all modifications. But don't worry: the official Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21 in Ukraine have it. For global positioning systems, a standard set is supported: GPS, GLONASS, Beidou and Galileo. There is only one external speaker, of average quality, but it performs its main functions. A standard 3.5mm jack is also included. The power reserve is enough for most “mass” headphone models.

One of the important advantages of the Galaxy M lineare impressive batteries. Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21 have a capacity of 6000 mAh. Formally, there is support for fast charging at 15 W, but with such a capacity it turns out not very fast. It takes just over 2.5 hours to charge. But you don’t need to charge your smartphone so often: even with impressive loads with games, a camera, and without denying yourself anything at all, the smartphone can withstand 2 days of work.

What about the interface?


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Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21 run on OSAndroid 10 with a proprietary shell version of One UI 2.0. The update has not yet reached version 2.1, although there are no cardinal differences. In general, everything is well known from our numerous reviews of Samsung smartphones. The shell is comfortable, functional and works quite fast. Not as lightning fast as in the flagships, but it does not cause discomfort either.

Various options for navigating the system:


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Application manager, dual-window mode, the ability to open the application in a window or minimize it to a shortcut:


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Branded applications, including the application manager, voice recorder, notes, Game Center and more:


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How good are the cameras?


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The older model Galaxy M31 received a rear camerafor 4 modules. The main one is 64 MP with f/1.8, 1/1.72″, 0.8µm aperture and phase detection autofocus, 8 MP ultra wide-angle, f/2.2, 5 MP macro, f/2.4, and 5 MP depth sensor, f/2.2. Front - 32 MP, f / 2.0. The younger Samsung Galaxy M21 has a triple camera on the back: a 48 MP main module, f/2.0, PDAF, an 8 MP ultrawide, f/2.2 and a 5 MP depth sensor, f/2.2. There is no macro camera. The front camera is also a bit more modest: 20 MP f/2.0. Based on technical differences, the main camera of the Galaxy M31 has faster optics and a larger physical size of the matrix than the Galaxy M21. Theoretically, this can give a slight advantage, primarily at night. As in practice - you can see the examples of the photo below. The camera application is familiar, as in other current Samsung smartphones. Swipe switches the main modes: photo, video and live focus. Additional modes include Pro (with manual settings), Food, Night, Slow Motion Panorama and Macro. The last mode is not in the Galaxy M21 due to the lack of a corresponding module.


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The main camera of the Samsung Galaxy M31 copesvery good, especially considering the price category of the smartphone. The colors are mostly natural, the detailing is at a very good level. During the day, the “point and shoot” system works like clockwork. At night, noises and a drop in detail are already clearly visible, although it is quite possible to take decent photos:


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Sample photos on the Samsung Galaxy M21, taken in approximately the same conditions:


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Samsung Galaxy M31 Wide Angle Camera:


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Samsung Galaxy M21 Wide Angle Camera:


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Background Blur Samsung Galaxy M31:


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Background Blur Samsung Galaxy M21:


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Samsung Galaxy M31 macro camera:


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Smartphones shoot video in maximum 4K resolution, while stabilization is only available in FullHD. Video examples in 4K:

Stabilization does not work in the best way: detail drops and image trembling is visible.

Original photos of Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21

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In the dry residue

Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21 showed themselvesvery good smartphones with an impressive set of features for a humane price. Interesting models for brand lovers who are not ready to shell out a large amount. Given that smartphones are not much different from each other, the overall experience of using them is very similar. First of all, smartphones delight with their high-quality screens and large batteries, which provide a very impressive battery life. Pleasant and important bonuses are the availability of all modern wireless interfaces, including NFC and dual-band Wi-Fi, as well as the ability to install two SIM cards and a memory card. Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21 available for 6555 and 5555 UAH respectively.At the same time, the Galaxy M31 is sold in a 6/128 GB configuration, and the Galaxy M21 is 4/64 GB. In other words, if you want to get a slightly more versatile main camera, then you should look towards the Galaxy M31. If you want to save 1000 UAH - Galaxy M21. As for competitors, for the same money you can find smartphones with a more powerful processor or with a more interesting design. But such a set of AMOLED, a large battery, decent cameras and NFC will be difficult to find.

5 reasons to buy Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21:

  • solid AMOLED screens;
  • long battery life;
  • availability of all necessary wireless interfaces, including NFC;
  • separate connectors for 2xSIM and MicroSD;
  • convenient shell One UI 2.0 on Android 10.

2 reasons not to buy Samsung Galaxy M31 and Galaxy M21:

  • you need a more productive smartphone (competitors have such models);
  • branded and quickly scratched back cover.

Samsung Galaxy M31

Inexpensive Android smartphone with AMOLED display 6.4 inches FullHD + (2340x1080, aspect ratio 19.5: 9), waterdrop notch for the front camera, eight-core Exynos 9611 processor, large 6000 mAh battery, support for fast charging 15 W, main quad camera and plastic body.

Rozetka
MOYO
Allo

Samsung Galaxy M21

Inexpensive Android smartphone with AMOLED display 6.4 inches FullHD + (2340x1080, aspect ratio 19.5: 9), waterdrop notch for the front camera, eight-core Exynos 9611 processor, a large 6000 mAh battery, support for fast charging 15 W, the main triple and a plastic case.

Rozetka
MOYO
Allo

Specifications

Samsung Galaxy M21
Samsung Galaxy M31

Display
Super AMOLED, 6.4 inches, 2340×1080 (19.5:9 aspect ratio), 403 ppi

Housing
dimensions: 159×75.1×8.9 mm, weight: 188 g
dimensions: 159.2 x 75.1 x 8.9, weight 191 g

CPU
Samsung Exynos 9611 64-bit octa-core (10nm): 4xARM Cortex-A73 2.3GHz + 4xARM Cortex-A53 1.7GHz Cortex-A53, Graphics: Mali-G72 MP3

RAM
4/6 GB
6 GB

Flash memory
64/128 GB microSD

Camera
48 MP, f/2.0, 26mm, 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF; ultra wide angle: 8 MP, f/2.2, 12mm, 1/4.0″, 1.12µm; depth sensor: 5 MP, f/2.2; video: 4K 30 fps; front camera: 20 MP f/2.0
64 MP, f/1.8, 26mm, 1/1.72″, 0.0.8µm, PDAF; ultra wide angle: 8 MP, f/2.2, 12mm, 1/4.0″, 1.12µm; macro: 5 MP, f/2.4, 25mm, 1/5.0″, 1.12µm; depth sensor: 5 MP, f/2.2; video: 4K 30 fps; front camera: 32 MP f/2.0

Wireless technology
Wi-Fi 802.11 b / g / n / ac (dual band, 2.4 and 5 GHz), Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, FM

GPS
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO

Battery
6000 mAh, non-removable, fast charging 15 W

operating system
Android 10 + One UI 2.0

Sim card
2xNanoSIM

Additionally
rear fingerprint scanner


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