For many of us, our first experience with an Android smartphone was likely with a budget Samsung Galaxy device such as the Galaxy Young and Ace which made Samsung the king of the budget smartphone market in India for a long time.
Lately, Samsung has been struggling to keep up with tough competition from Chinese manufacturers such as Oppo and Xiaomi that have been offering high specs at a low price point.
Samsung aims to make a comeback with a new line of Galaxy devices designed to offer great specs at a good price point with the reputed Samsung quality and experience.
The first and the cheapest device in line is the Galaxy M10 but does it really offer the best value for your money? Let’s take a look.
Galaxy M10 Review: Under the Scanner
The Galaxy M10 seems like the perfect answer to companies like Oppo and Xiaomi with its fresh new look, an Octa-core processor under the hood, Dual rear camera setup and of course, The Samsung Galaxy brand name at an affordable price tag that is sure to make your wallet happy.
However, with formidable devices like the Redmi 7 in a similar price point we will have to take a deeper look as we determine if this device really offers a good value for what it asks.
Display and Design
Nobody likes big bezels taking up space on the front of their phone but nobody likes big wide notches on top of their screen either.
To achieve this Samsung has gone with a small V-shaped notch that takes up very little space on the top of the phone and also houses the speaker and the front camera.
With a 90% screen-to-body Ratio* the Galaxy M10 has a beautiful 15.8cm (6.22inch) HD+ Infinity Display with a 19:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 720×1520.
While Samsung calls this screen the Infinity V display we are disappointed to see that this is just a 720p TFT panel and not a 1080p AMOLED panel.
It is also not like the premium Infinity display that curves to the edges like on the premium flagship Galaxy devices.
This, however, is still a great display at the price point with great viewing angles and vibrant colors.
Battery Life and Camera
Having a powerful phone means nothing if the battery can’t keep up making you charge frequently throughout the day.
Long lasting battery life has also been a strong point on devices from manufacturers like Xiaomi giving 4000mAh battery even in budget devices.
The Galaxy M10 doesn’t get to the 4000 mark but manages to pack in a very reasonable 3400mah battery that should easily last you through the day on a single charge.
On the back of the device, you see a strong camera array with a 13MP f/1.9 wide-angle camera and a secondary 5MP f/2.2 ultrawide camera with support for panorama and HDR.
There is no OIS or EIS and the camera shoots video at 1080p 30fps with no 60fps support or a higher 4K resolution support.
The front remains simple with a 5MP selfie camera with HDR support and video shooting capability at 1080p 30fps.
No front flash here which is understandable due to the small notch but at least an 8MP sensor would have been a better choice for a device in 2020.
The Galaxy M10’s cameras don’t offer the same experience as its more premium sibling devices it still manages to provide good quality images with the rear camera.
It also offers useful features like the ultra-wide lens however the front camera remains a disappointment.
The front camera does, however, pack in support for face unlock that lets you unlock your Galaxy M10 quickly.
High specs don’t always mean a fast phone and while that is true there is a limit to how long one can make this claim.
On paper, Samsung is offering an octa-core processor and that coupled with the 3GB RAM in the 32GB and 2GB in the 16GB model should mean that the device should be able to handle most of the basic tasks but its 2020 and we expect our phones to be able handle a lot more than just the basics.
The Exynos 7870 processor is built by Samsung and is powered by 8×1.6ghz cortex a53 cores. It is designed on the 14nm process for good efficiency and also performs well for most basic tasks while giving a decent advantage to its battery life due to the lack of high-performance cores.
However, as soon as you throw something intensive at it like going through multiple apps quickly or trying to play large games the device slows down more than we would like especially when there are faster phones on the market.
While benchmarks don’t always reflect real-world performance we still get a clear view of the power gap between the Exynos 7870 and other competing processors in a similar budget like the Snapdragon 632 on the Redmi 7.
While the device manages a fairly decent multi-core score on the Geekbench test here we see that it falls behind the competition in the single core performance test.
B) RAM & Storage
The M10 comes in two variants, one with 2GB RAM coupled with 16GB Storage and 3GB RAM coupled with 32GB Storage.
While 2GB RAM is still enough for most basic apps like WhatsApp and Instagram it will be very limited for multitasking and that coupled with the already slow processor will make this a laggy experience.
The 3GB RAM variant is what we recommend as that will give the processor enough room to keep apps in memory so it does not have to reload them every time.
The MALI-T830 MP1 GPU is responsible for handling the graphics on the Samsung Galaxy M10.
This GPU will handle most of the basic games such as Subway Surfers, Temple Run and even more intensive games such as Asphalt 8 on low to medium settings.
However, it is quite underpowered for any big games like PUBG or Asphalt 9 as this GPU will struggle to keep up playable framerates at decent graphic levels especially in multiplayer environments.
The Galaxy M10 will let you play most basic games and some graphic intensive but older titles however it is not a device for the serious gamer, especially for new large games.
D) Communications & Sensors
Samsung has been criticized in the past for omitting basic sensors from their budget devices like the auto brightness sensor or the proximity sensor.
While the proximity sensor is here along with the accelerometer we can’t say the same about anything else. There is no compass, gyro sensor or even a fingerprint sensor.
Other basics are covered with 802.11 b/g/n wifi, Bluetooth 4.2 with A2DP & LE, GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS & BDS.
Samsung has also retained support for FM Radio and the 3.5mm Headphone jack giving you a lot more flexibility on what you listen to while also removing the need to carry a separate dongle with you just to connect a pair of wired headphones.
The microusb2.0 port handles charging and data transfers and lets you connect supported USB devices with a supported OTG cable.
The Galaxy M10’s hardware shows is not the most powerful phone in its price range with a slow processor and an underpowered GPU but hardware is only half the story.
Samsung has been improving their software experience over the past few years and moving on from the days of the slow bloated TouchWiz UI experience to the smoother and much leaner Samsung Experience 9.5 that the M10 comes with out of the box.
While it still doesn’t come close to the snappy experience provided by Stock Android or a custom UI such as OnePlus’s Oxygen OS, we are happy to see that Samsung Experience performs well in day to day use.
There are still lots of pre-installed apps but it comes packed in with a decent number of extra features that contribute to the Galaxy Experience.
We also hope that Samsung updates the device soon to Android 9.0 Pie as other devices on the market have been launching with it out of the box.
The Galaxy M10 is a step in the right direction for Samsung and the device offers good looks with a nice in hand feel and a great display even with the lower 720p resolution.
Samsung Experience also keeps the device going with a good user interface however that still cannot make up for the lack of power if you wish to do anything that’s resource intensive.
The device manages to cover most of the needs one has from a smartphone in 2020 but we would have preferred to see a faster processor under the hood and a minimum of 32GB storage even in the base variant.
Samsung Galaxy M10 Review: Should you buy?
The M10 is a great affordable option if you are looking for a Samsung Galaxy device in the lowest budget possible.
The device provides essential features like a good battery, keeps the headphone jack and provides a high screen-to-body ratio with a vibrant display.
The lack of processing power will not be a problem if you only need to use most basic apps and only play simple games occasionally.
The device tries to make up for the lack of a fingerprint sensor with face unlock.
If you are looking for a basic smartphone on a budget then the Galaxy M10 will cover most of your needs while providing a decent battery life. The phone is also slim and looks modern with its Infinity V display panel.