So brands like Xiaomi have been dominating the lower end segment in India for quite some time now, and that has been for good reasons, because brands like Samsung just didn’t offer the same features and quality in the sub 15,000 Rs. Segment, which is getting increasingly competitive with phones like Asus M2. But with the Galaxy M20, that might change, because it does seem like a phone that Samsung is trying to be more competitive with.
The design of this phone is pretty decent, it’s made of plastic but the quality is good, and the overall feel in hand is nice too. You have the loudspeaker, a USB Type C port, and a headphone jack at bottom, which has become a feature these days. The glossy plastic body is pretty slippery though, so using a cover is something that I will recommend. (also helps with feeling the fingerprint sensor)
The camera doesn’t protrude out of the body, because it is not the thinnest phone at 8.8 millimeters, and the weight is also on the heavier side, but that is for a very good reason, because you are getting a 5000 mah of battery inside, which is going to last for a really long time, and you also get a semi fast charger that fills it up in around 2 hours.
You can use the oval fingerprint sensor at the back, or facial recognition to unlock the phone (works with eyes closed), and while both of these methods aren’t as fast as flagships or even the Chinese competition, the difference isn’t significant enough to bother you.
The display is a 6.3 inch Full HD+ PLS display, its bright, and contrast is also great for a non OLED panel, but the color temperature seems to be on the colder side, and I couldn’t find a way to adjust that in the software, and the skin tones on the display also seem to be a little brighter for some reason, but for the general public, the display will seem saturated with punchy colors.
The viewing angles are also surprisingly great with no shift in color or contrast even at extreme angles, and the backlight is also almost perfectly consistent.
You have a water drop notch for the front camera with this nice animation to highlight it, which is kind of ironic because Samsung used to make fun of notches, but OnePlus also removed the headphone jack after making fun of Apple, so these guys seem to be pretty bad at predicting their own way forward in the industry. The bezels are pleasingly thin, and it does make this phone look more expensive in hand than it actually is, but you do miss out on a notification LED, which is an important feature.
SOFTWARE & PERFORMANCE
Samsung has their Experience UI running on Android 8.1 on this phone, not the latest version, and the Exynos 7904 CPU does not seem to be able to handle it perfectly. Everyday tasks like social media and internet will not lag, but there are noticeable delays occasionally which phones of this segment don’t have, and while the Samsung UI looks cleaned up and lighter, it’s still a relatively heavy skin, and while the performance isn’t terrible, I think this would have performed significantly better on a lighter skin, and the fact that this phone just doesn’t have the raw processing power compared to the competition also doesn’t help it.
The graphics performance is also mediocre, so while you can play PUBG on it, it won’t be at higher settings or at high frame rates, even at lower settings.
You do get the usual Samsung features though, if you’re a fan of those, the gesture navigation is nice, and reducing the animation duration does make it feel snappier.
3 GB RAM with 32 GB of storage on the 11,000 Rs. Variant, and 4 GB RAM with 64 GB of storage on the 13000 Rs. Variant keeps the pricing fair, and one really great thing is that in addition to the Dual LTE stand by Sim slots, Samsung also included a microSD card slot.
The dual camera setup at back consists of a 13 megapixel primary sensor, and a secondary 5 megapixel sensor with an ultrawide lens. The primary camera is good in the day, but in low light it isn’t that great, and while I haven’t done a side to side comparison, I think you should be able to get better shots with a Redmi Note 6 pro.
The wide angle camera, while great to have in theory, fails to capture even decent levels of details, and I just wouldn’t bother taking shots with this, as everything is blurry and the shots only look acceptable when you have them fully zoomed out on the phone screen.
Portrait mode also isn’t that great, as edge detection doesn’t work very well, but I personally don’t care about this feature, so I don’t consider this to be a downside.
The 8 megapixel camera on the front camera captures good levels of detail, and colors and exposure is also good, it gets water colory in low light but overall, you are not going to be disappointed.
The video recording is limited to Full HD 30 fps, and while the quality is good, it doesn’t have any stabilization, and while I am not a fan of EIS in general, the lack of it is something that leaves me with mixed feelings about the video performance.
So in conclusion, the M20 is a phone that is a very interesting entry by Samsung, and it’s almost funny to see people asking if they should buy a Samsung phone over a Xiaomi phone, as the situation was quite opposite few years ago.
The Galaxy M20 offers a good design, good display, great battery life, and while I have been fine with Xiaomi’s service center experience, I would assume that Samsung has more coverage in rural areas.
The cameras and performance are areas where the Galaxy M20 doesn’t seem to perform well enough to be the perfect budget phone, so while their first effort is very good, this is not going to tank the sales of the competition. So the phone is interesting, but it’s not that special.
But if you know what you are getting, you understand its strengths and you are fine with the small compromises, and if you think that Samsung brand has some quantifiable value, you are certainly not going to be disappointed as a buyer.