This year we see a lot of new Samsung A Series phones being launched. From my last A series review which was the A71 to the newest A21s that I am currently reviewing, all has been up to par in my opinion. Most of them are greatly improved from last year’s version in terms of memory and SoC, especially for this particular Samsung Galaxy A31.
It is very seldom that we hear a Samsung phone looking away from the main processor such as Samsung’s own Exynos or Snapdragon SoC. But the Galaxy A31 surprisingly comes with a MediaTek processor that does not disappoint. So this is my personal review of the new Samsung Galaxy A31 for your reading pleasure.
First Look and Design
As to most of the A series Galaxy phones, the design is pretty standard. If you put a few lower end A series Galaxy next to each other, you will have a tough time telling them apart from one another. The similar design is familiar, providing an easy transition when you’re switching phones.The only difference that you can tell will be the notch for the front camera. Some of them comes with a U shape notch, while the higher end version comes with a punch hole type like the Galaxy A71.
The large 6.4″ display on the A31 looks good, with a U shaped notch for the camera at the top made it look pretty standard for a mid-low range smartphone. But don’t look down on this A31 because the Super AMOLED display is bright and vibrant. The 1080 x 2400 pixels resolution at 20:9 ratio gives it about ~411 ppi density which looks really good.
At the back, you can see the new standard “platform” that holds the camera modules. Most of the new phones now comes with a rectangular shaped “platform” (which I’d like to call it) that protrudes out about 3-4 mm, giving it a rather large bump instead of being flushed to the surface. It’s okay. It is somehow a trend now.
The platform holds all four cameras plus one LED flash. The primary shooter is a 48MP, f/2.0 26mm wide angle setup. The other three are 8MP ultrawide angle, 5MP macro camera setup and 5MP depth sensor camera. So technically it’s a 3 camera setup if we don’t include the depth sensor camera. Still, it is a good camera setup. Why? Because the front selfie camera is a 20MP wide angle camera setup and the quality is pretty impressive thanks to the large sensor. More on the camera later on.
On the right side of the device, you’ll find the volume rocker at the top while the power button sits below it. On the left is where you’ll find the MicroSD and SIM card slot. On this A31, the slot holds two SIM cards and one MicroSD card. So with this, you can use two SIMs and still able to expand your storage with the memory card. At the top is pretty much nothing except for the tiny mic hole while at the bottom you’ll see the usual USB type-C port, an audio jack, a single bottom speaker and another tiny mic hole.
The Galaxy A31 comes with a large Li-Po 5000mAh battery that charges up from 10% to full within 1 hour or so. Of course, the battery lasts me the whole day without breaking a sweat even when I was playing games most of the time. So for this, I tip my hat (if I’m wearing one) and salute the endurance run by this A31.
Now lets take a quick look at the Samsung Galaxy A31 specifications.
- SoC: Mediatek MT6768 Helio P65 (12nm), Octa-core (2×2.0 GHz Cortex-A75 & 6×1.7 GHz Cortex-A55)
- GPU: Mali-G52 MC2
- OS: Android 10, One UI 2
- Memory: 64GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 6GB RAM
Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
6.4 inches, 98.9 cm2 (~84.9% screen-to-body ratio)
1080 x 2400 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~411 ppi density)
- Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 5000 mAh battery
48 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
8 MP, f/2.2, 123˚, (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
5 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
5 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
- Selfie Camera: 20 MP, f/2.2, (wide)
- Sensors: Fingerprint (under display, optical), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
- Colours: Prism Crush Black, Prism Crush Blue, Prism Crush Red, Prism Crush White
Performance & Usage
You must be thinking how a MediaTek SoC is going to perform on this Samsung Galaxy A31. Let me tell you this, I was very much surprised on the overall performance especially when it comes to my usual benchmarking technique, PUBG Mobile gaming. I gauge this based on the fluidity of the gameplay, battery endurance, graphic setups and many others. The end result, I was pleased with the performance.
The unit I reviewed comes with 64GB of storage with 4GB of RAM which is good enough to run for a whole day use. Once I run PUBG on this A31, it loads up quickly and I am able to set the graphic settings to high (but not the highest). Graphics and details are rendered smoothly. It shows no lag when it comes to full gameplay and the responsiveness is above average. As I said earlier, I was pleased with the gaming experience on the A31. If only Samsung opt to use MediaTek G90T for the SoC, it will be much better for gaming. But this P65 version is not that bad.
While gaming, the battery doesn’t heat up and the device stays cool at all times. But the sound from the bottom firing speaker is not that loud and I tend to unintentionally cover the speaker with my palm while holding it in landscape mode. That can be annoying at times.
As for daily basic use, I managed to push the A31 to last me about 2 days before I plug in the charger again. This was the day I did a non-gaming test just to see how long it can endure without recharging when the day ends. 2 days is not bad, exact hours was about 50 hours or so. This was just on basic use such as calls, messaging and a little bit of social media use.
The optical under display fingerprint sensor works fine, but not as quick as the ultrasonic sensor in the flagship devices. But they have improved the accuracy in the sensor on this A31. In the older devices, I had to scan my fingerprint a few times before it can detects correctly and unlocks the phone. On this A31, I only had to scan once. So that’s a good improvement.
With this A31, it is also the first time I use the gesture control to navigate with the back, home and multitasking options. Usually I won’t activate this function and opt to use the standard on display navigation controls that is located at the bottom of the screen. But for some reason, I wanted to try and see how this navigation option can work with this A31. All I can say is, I will be using this gesture controls on any Samsung devices from now on.
Camera & Photography
Again, if we don’t include the depth sensor camera, this Samsung Galaxy A31 has 3 good camera setup plus one selfie camera setup. The 48MP primary wide angle camera is surprisingly likable. I mean, I like it. It works well when I need it and managed to capture some nice good quality photos. It may not be the likes of the flagship S20 Ultra, but it shoots well enough that I don’t have any bad comments about it.
Now let the photos tell the story.
I managed to find the time to head over to the beach while having the A31 with me and I have a great time shooting some photos with this device. On the primary 48MP wide angle camera, photos are clear and the details are well kept. Love the overall quality of it.
While shooting from the same spot, I switched to the ultrawide angle setup and it still preserves the details but this time the colours are more vibrant. I also don’t see much of image warping at the edges, which is good.
Pointing at a different location, I am still able to see great details from the photo.
And again with the ultrawide angle camera, the colours are more vibrant and still no visible image warping or blur.
Back to familiar ground, photos from this primary wide angle is in good detail.
While we are able to capture more colours with the ultrawide angle camera.
As for the selfies, you can see the wrinkles on my face and the good details on the background. Left photo: normal angle, middle photo: wide angle, right photo: normal with live portrait mode on. I really like the bokeh effect from the live portrait mode. Selfie details are good and the effect is smoothly executed.
From another angle.
And with the ultrawide camera.
Now we are seeing this area just to see if we can get a good detail with the 48MP primary camera. Not bad in my opinion.
The same location, but with the macro camera instead. I have to get very low to capture this shot. It’s not bad actually. The focus is right in the center of the photo, so the outer edges are a little bit blurry. Nevertheless, the macro mode works.
Another shot with the macro camera.
And another one with the macro camera. This one turns out good actually.The bokeh effects are perfect.
Just to look at some colour and texture details indoors with less light. Still impressive.
I don’t know about you guys but I’m seeing some good quality photos that was produced by this Samsung Galaxy A31. The bokeh effects are spot on and doesn’t look fake. Colours are great on the ultrawide angle and the details are great too.
Selfie camera is pretty impressive too. I don’t usually take selfies, but those who love taking them will love how it turns out. Do use the live portrait mode. You will enjoy taking selfies even more. I know I did.
The new Samsung Galaxy A31 proved to me that it is a capable phone in today’s competitive market at this price point. Although it is not using the usual Exynos or Snapdragon processor at its core, the A31 still managed to perform well even when you throw everything at it.
The 5000mAh battery is a huge plus point for me. Just like the flagship S20 Ultra, it holds up enough juice to last a full 2 days. It even last longer than the S20, maybe because of the lower setup or simpler usage for the A31.
Gaming is great. I had tons of full gaming time that I often lost track of time (like sleeping at 4am everyday). Not just gaming, binge watching some of my Netflix series was a whole lots of fun too. The Super AMOLED display on this mid-range device is a huge bonus. Colours are vibrant and it made everything looks great.
I have good comments about the camera, especially the primary and selfie camera. It shows that you don’t need to invest in an expensive device to get a similar end result. The A31 may have a little miss in certain areas but it also has many plus points. I would like to see a first dual front firing speakers from Samsung one day. And I do hope it will come from one of the future A series.
With that I conclude my full review of the new Samsung Galaxy A31. You can get one right now at Samsung’s official web store. The Galaxy A31 retails at RM1,049.00.