Samsung has been losing its ground to brands like Xiaomi, Nokia and Honor in the affordable and mid-range segments. The reason being that these brands have managed to offer attractive designs, good hardware at great prices and in keeping with the current trends. This is why Samsung has decided to launch a brand new series which comes with a brand new philosophy, one that aims to cater to the millenials. The Galaxy M10 and M20 are the first phones in this new series and are Samsung's first phones to bring a new Infinity-V display.
The Galaxy M10 and M20 have been launched in India priced starting at Rs 7,990 and Rs 10,990, respectively. The phones share a lot in common in terms of design and hardware, with a few exceptions such as the screen resolution, chipset and battery capacity. Today, we are looking at the Galaxy M20 first, which falls in the mid-range segment alongside the likes of the Realme U1, Redmi Note 6 Pro and Nokia 6.1 Plus. I spent a week with the Galaxy M20 and here's what I found.
Galaxy M20 design
Like the Galaxy M10, the M20 is mostly all plastic. The plastic rear panel wraps around the sides all the way to the front, meeting the glass panel that sits awkwardly on top. It gives the device a clean look from the back and it feels comfortable to hold. However, the plastic feels quite cheap in this segment, and I feel Samsung should have gone with a better quality plastic here, perhaps with some sectional lamination like the Honor 10 Lite and Realme 2 Pro.
The design is pretty conflicting as the M20 looks really premium on the front with that lovely waterdrop display, but the back feels like it belongs in the sub-Rs 10,000 segment. The rear panel is also a fingerprint and smudge magnet, and you will find yourself wiping it clean often during the day. That being said, the M20 offers a pretty solid build quality and its weight is on the heavier side, but the generous use of plastic makes sure the weight is balanced.
The M20 is also the only one among the two new Galaxy M phones to offer a fingerprint sensor on the back. It has a good placement, allowing you to reach the sensor easily. It is a pretty responsive sensor and is fairly accurate. Registering your fingerprint requires you to simply swipe the sensor from the top down with your finger, which was pretty simple.
Completing the design is a 3.5mm headphone jack and a speaker grille on the bottom on either sides of a Type-C port, which is great to see in the segment. Overall, the design isn't quite as premium as the Honor 10 Lite, Nokia 5.1 Plus or Realme 20 Pro from the back, but you're not likely to pay attention the back thanks to that Infinity-V display on the front.
Galaxy M20 display
Samsung has been working hard to bring some unique features to its affordable lineup rather than keep them for its flagship lines only. This is why the Galaxy A7 (2018) and A9 (2018) last year got triple and quad camera, respectively. This is also why the Galaxy M20 and M10 are the first Samsung phones to come with the company's new Infinity-V displays. The 'V' stands for the V-shaped waterdrop notch on the top. These are the first Samsung phones to adopt the notch, and I am glad that Samsung chose for the droplet-style notch.
Samsung has always impressed with its display panels and we were excited to try out the new Infinity-V display. Suffice it to say that the 6.3-inch FHD+ display of the Galaxy M20 is absolutely stunning. The display offers deep colours with good brightness levels and contrast. This is a sharp panel as well and you can feel that while reading texts or watching videos on YouTube. It is definitely one of the best displays you can get in this segment, giving the Realme 2 Pro's waterdrop display a run for its money.
Speaking of videos, the Galaxy M20 supports Widevine L1 standard, which means it is capable of delivering true HD quality videos on platforms like YouTube and Prime Video. And videos do look sharp and vibrant on the Google-owned platform. However, Netflix does not offer HD video playback support for the M20 yet, so videos on this streaming platform will not look sharp, at least for now.
Galaxy M20 performance and software
The Galaxy M20 gets a brand new Exynos 7904 that was recently announced by Samsung. This is an octa-core chipset based on a 14nm process and is equipped with two Cortex-A73 cores that run at 1.8GHz, and six Cortex-A53 cores that run at 1.6GHz. Samsung says the chipset has been optimised for India to deliver high-end multimedia capabilities. However, the spec sheet is not built for power users. In fact, the chipset has a weaker CPU compared to the Exynos 7885 SoC.
In fact, the new Exynos chipset is weaker than the Snapdragon 636 as Qualcomm's SoC offers four performance cores while Samsung's Exynos chip only offer two performance cores. We ran some benchmark tests on the Galaxy M20 and the Redmi Note 6 Pro (which is powered by a SD636 chip) and the Xiaomi phones leads in pretty much every way.
All of this is to say that you should not expect intense multitasking capabilities with the Galaxy M20. The phone handles day-to-day tasks like messaging, social media and website browsing well enough with little to no noticeable lags, unless you're browsing some heavy websites and apps. The 4GB RAM variant is probably the one to go for, if you plan on working the phone a lot.
The Exynos 7904 comes with a Mali-G71MP2 GPU similar to the Exynos 7885, which is decent for low-intensive games, but it won't really handle games like PUBG and Asphalt 9 really well. A 30 minute sessions of PUBG on medium graphics runs mostly fine with a few jitters and lags. Crank the graphics to high and the experience gets much worse with frequent drops in framerate and lags. The phone also heats up after about 10 minutes into the game, which means fast battery drain, although this isn't noticeable on a phone with a large battery.
The Galaxy M20 ships with Android 8.1 Oreo with Experience UI 9.5 on top, which is disappointing as we were hoping to see new devices in 2019 to run Android Pie out of the box. Samsung has confirmed that the Pie update will roll out to the M10 and M20 in August, which is a while away. For now, consumers will have to make do with Experience UI 9.5 rather than One UI. Samsung says this is a new version of Experience UI that reduces bloatware and offers a simpler UI.
I did find a cleaner UI on the M20, but it still comes with a bunch of preloaded Samsung apps and Microsoft's Office suite. What I liked about the new UI is that some of the apps get a fresh coat of paint and redesigned logos, which looks similar to One UI based on Android Pie. It also makes the experience feel smoother, and I certainly did not face and lags while swiping through the interface.
As far as call quality and speaker performance go, the M20 offers a good amount of clarity through the earpiece and I did not experience any issues while making calls. The single speaker port on the bottom, however, does not offer a lot of clarity as the sound does get quite muffled especially on higher levels.
Galaxy M20 camera
The Galaxy M20 does not offer a terrific set of cameras, but it does offer a lens that is unique to this segment - an ultra wide-angle camera. The M20 comes with a 13MP primary sensor on the back with f/1.9 aperture and a secondary 5MP ultra wide-angle sensor with f/2.2 aperture. With the secondary lens, you will be able to capture more area in a single frame. The camera app lets you switch between the standard field of view and an ultra wide field of view with a simple tap.
Photos captured through the rear camera in daylight look decent. Colours reproduction isn't great as photos often look washed out. In comparison, the Redmi Note 6 Pro tends to offer more detail and more accurate colours in similar lighting conditions. The M20's camera does not offer the best dynamic range, but it does come with a pretty fast shutter speed so photos rarely come out hazy.
Galaxy M20 battery
Perhaps the biggest USP of the Galaxy M20 apart from the Infinity-V display is the battery. This is the first Samsung phone to come with a massive 5,000mAh battery. That's 1,000mAh more than what the Galaxy Note 9 offers. And no surprises, the M20 delivers battery aplenty. The phone refuses to give up on you no matter what you throw at it. I managed to get a day and a half of battery life on average and around 6-7 hours of screen on time during the review period on intensive usage. On days with light usage, you should get through two days with ease.