Samsung had been the best-selling brand when it came to smartphones a few years ago, however, recently the company has seen this position being taken up by Xiaomi. All efforts to produce low-cost smartphones by Samsung have gone in vain and were not competitive enough when compared to the other offerings from brands like Xiaomi, Honor, and Realme. While Samsung did bring in the J series, it was too underpowered and had too few features that would set it apart from the offerings of Xiaomi and Honor.
The brand has finally picked up the pace and changed its strategy with the brand-new Samsung M series. Two smartphones were launched as a part of the M series, and the third one is due to be launching soon. India was the first market to see the Samsung M10 and the M20, this clearly indicates the importance of India as a market for the brand. This is a huge shift for the company, both, in terms of the design as well as the specifications and is aimed directly to compete with the Xiaomi, Realme and Honor smartphones.
The Samsung M20 looks very different from a typical Samsung smartphone but does look very generic in general. The smartphone draws major cues from other smartphones like the Oppo F9 Pro and the Realme 2 Pro making it almost indistinguishable in terms of the appearance. This was the first major release of Samsung where the brand showcased the ‘infinity-v’ display notch that is generally called as a waterdrop style notch. The 6.3-inch display on the Samsung M20 has an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 and comes with rounded corners affirming with the current smartphone trend.
The bottom chin isn’t very thick either and has a minimal design, both, the M10 and the M20 smartphones look very similar with the m20 being slightly taller with a smaller chin resulting in over a 90-percent screen to body ratio. The top and side bezels are thin, and the earpiece is still placed within the frame, above the display. The Samsung M10 and the M20 will be available in Ocean Blue and Charcoal Black colors. The finish is very dark and comes with a glossy layer and a fine grain pattern.
The material of choice is not mentioned but the look and feel suggest the back panel to be made of plastic, the sides are seamless with no antenna lines on it. The smartphone has a decent grip and is bulky as well, mainly due to the 5,000mAh battery that it comes with. The M20 has a USB Type-C for charging and data transfer and has a fingerprint sensor on the rear which is placed in the not most convenient location.
The bottom of the Samsung M20 comes with a 3.5mm audio jack while the power and volume buttons are to the right. The left accommodates the dual-Nano SIM cards and there is also a dedicated microSD card slot. The rear also houses a dual rear camera setup protected by a ridge to prevent scratches or other damage.
Specifications and Performance
The Samsung M20 comes with the brand new Exynos 7904 chipset and is designed dedicatedly for value smartphones. The chipset comprises two high-performance Cortex A73 cores at 1.8GHz and six power efficient A53 Cores running at 1.6GHz paired with the Mali-G71 GPU. Samsung has been using their in-house chipsets for some of the higher end variants, it is not very common to see Exynos chipset being used on a value-based smartphone. The device is available in 3GB RAM with 32GB internal storage and 4GB RAM with 64GB internal storage variants.
The display has a resolution of 1080 x 2340 bringing the pixel density to 409 PPI. The device comes bundled with their Adaptive Fast charging adapter that supports up to 15W fast charging, this charges the 5,000mAh battery at a very decent rate and about 10 minutes of music can give enough battery for over 11 hours of music playback according to the brand.
Sadly, the Samsung M20 only comes with the Android 8.1 Oreo operating system, while the security patch is updated and runs the latest revision, we hoped to see the new One UI on the device while it still runs on the Samsung Experience UI. The software now comes with an application called Glance that shows a different wallpaper or promotional content every time we wake the phone up from sleep. This can be distracting and also can potentially hinder the notification view in some cases. The software appears to be filled with advertisements and we even got several messages to open certain apps and websites, to exercise opinion on common topics.
The lock screen ads can be disabled by choosing a wallpaper instead of the default Wallpaper & Stories option. The software appears very intrusive and might be a major let down too many, we strongly feel that the brand should cut back on the monetization efforts making their consumer a product. The regular apps like My Galaxy and others are still present, while the brand does add some nifty features as a part of the Experience UI, the Stock Android experience is still much more comfortable and easier to use.
The Samsung M20 works well for the daily usage tasks including slight gaming and the common applications. Multitasking is also a breeze and we could only experience lag very occasionally. Face recognition in the M20 is noticeably slower than most other devices but the fingerprint sensor works very quick. The display on the M20 is bright and sharp with good viewing angles. The phone handles common games like Modern Combat, PUBG and Asphalt 9 well at medium settings. The phone does get warm occasionally, but it doesn’t render the phone unusable. This being the first Samsung device with a notch, we had our concerns on the software compatibility, but the software does adapt itself pretty well and provides a good overall experience.
AnTuTu benchmark returned a score of 106,987 which is about the same that we get on most Snapdragon 636 phones, Geekbench returned about 1,312 for the single score and 4088 for multi-core performance. The battery life of the Samsung M20 is extremely good and despite a day filled with heavy usage including photography, gaming and regular usage we had about 60 percent left in the evening.
The rear camera is a dual camera setup with a 13MP primary sensor having an f/1.9 aperture, the secondary sensor has a 5MP resolution with a 120-degree field of view. The front camera has a resolution of 8MP and is a wide-angle lens. The camera application is well laid out and all the modes and options are easily accessible. The camera gets a lock on the focus very quickly and there is almost no shutter lag that we could notice. The app also retains the state of the app from the last time it was used instead of defaulting to a particular option.
The Pro mode in the camera application gives manual control for ISO, White Balance, exposure compensation and other options. Their Live Focus feature only works with faces which is a disappointing thing, in our attempts we could not get the depth effect to work for the regular objects. The app comes with a beauty mode and offers a range of enhancements.
The overall image quality wasn’t the best we’ve seen in the price range and the images lacked detail and sharpness that is often present in other Rs 15,000 phones. The day time shots look good at first sight, but closer inspection reveals the lack of fine details and realism. The images were all vibrant with a good amount of saturation, the image quality further demerited with the secondary camera and we could also notice a fish eye effect due to the wide-angle lens.
Despite the wide aperture, the low light performance was terrible, and several images were so bad they couldn’t be used anywhere. Even in artificial lighting, the sensor stayed open for way too long and created a motion blur resulting in huge loss of detail. The recording is supported up to 1080p with no electronic or optical stabilization.
Unlike most other smartphones in the price range, Samsung has the brand advantage and we’ve several users who would make the choice of buying a Samsung smartphone over anything else just because of the brand name. This is a huge opportunity for Samsung to gain back the userbase that it had lost in this price segment. Samsung offers a higher level of confidence with their huge 1,650+ service centers across the nation.
The Samsung Galaxy M20 offers similar performance to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro but slightly lesser battery life due to the software optimization. There are other phones in the price range like the Realme U1 and the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 that offer better processors but a lower end RAM variant. The competition is tight in this segment and the Galaxy M20 struggles to catch up with the rivals, however, Samsung has a huge brand advantage and is very likely to be a huge success.