The Galaxy M series is Samsung’s attempt at taking over the reigns from Xiaomi when it comes to the budget smartphone segment, with the M20 being the flag bearer of this attempt. So, does the Galaxy M20 succeed, or is it a failed attempt? That’s what we are here to find out.
I have been using the phone for more than a week now and while I haven’t had a great experience with Samsung’s budget phones in the past, be it the Galaxy J or Galaxy On series phones, honestly I was excited to use the M20. I has been hyped to be the Samsung budget phone that can truly take on the competition.
Well, after using it for a while now, I can tell you that the M20 is definitely a better attempt at budget phones than what we have seen from Samsung. And that’s saying a lot. Let’s see if it can really take on the competition?
Samsung Galaxy M20 Specifications
Before we get started, let’s take a look at the specs of the Galaxy M20:
|Display||6.22” HD+ PLS TFT Panel, 1080 x 2340 pixels,
|Processor||Samsung Exynos 7904 octa-core 14nm SoC|
|RAM||3/4 GB RAM|
|Storage||64 GB, expandable upto 512GB via microSD|
|Primary Cameras||Main Camera: 13MP AF, F1.9 + Ultra Wide: 5MP, F2.2|
|Secondary Camera||5MP (F2.0)|
|OS||Android 8.1 Oreo
|Sensors||Accelerometer, Barometer, Face Unlock Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, Proximity Sensor, RGB Light Sensor|
|Network and Connectivity||LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/(2.4/5GHz) Dual VoLTE, Bluetooth 5.0, headphone jack, USB Type-C Port|
Samsung Galaxy M20 Design and Build Quality
Let me tell you about my experience by starting off with the design. So the overall design of the Galaxy M20 is pleasing but it’s not great when it comes to looks, or to put it another way, lacks personality. I prefer the Redmi Note 7‘s premium glass design any day over the M20’s bland glossy plastic shell, but I have to admit it’s functional and Samsung is clearly going for that. If you have read our Galaxy M10 review, the Galaxy M20 is only a slight improvement with the plastic build sticking out in this day and age. It’s not bad by any means, it’s just not wow.
The Galaxy M20 has you covered on all fronts in terms of ports. You get the headphone jack, dedicated slots for SIM and microSD cards, fingerprint scanner on the back and a USB-C port, which is still rare in this price range.
That doesn’t mean it all works perfectly. The fingerprint scanner here is a little annoying. First of all, it’s placed awkwardly and I am still getting used to it. Secondly, it’s inconsistent. There’s no haptic feedback here, and sometimes it’s pretty fast, but sometimes it only detects my fingers on multiple attempts.
I also don’t like the fact that there’s no notification LED. I understand that this is a limitation due to the teardrop notch design, but Samsung could have placed it on the bottom chin like in the Redmi Note 7.
Samsung Galaxy M20 Display
The teardrop notch design aka Samsung’s Infinity V display certainly looks beautiful, despite the limited functionality. Ignore the bland back of the M20, and you will enjoy a beautiful looking smartphone. The modern front and the beautiful display complement each other well.
I know it’s a TFT display and there’s this perception that TFT displays aren’t good when compared to IPS LCDs, but trust me when I say that the display on the M20 is great. It’s vibrant, the viewing angles are great and while it’s not the brightest display I have used, it’s decent enough outdoors.
Samsung has done a good job when it comes to the display on the Galaxy M20, and the notch-laden front design is fine too, but the average fingerprint scanner is a problem for sure when it comes to the exterior of the phone.
Samsung Galaxy M20 Performance
Let’s take a look at the internals that keep the Galaxy M20 powered. I had my doubts about the performance of the all-new Exynos 7904 SoC which is backed by up to 6GB RAM. Unfortunately, the performance of the M20 is a mixed bag.
I am sure you already know that the Exynos 7904 benchmarks do not match up to the Snapdragon 660 or the Snapdragon 636 (as seen below), so we’ll only stick to the real world performance.
The phone has fine and smooth when it comes to usual day to day tasks, but I did notice some lag when I had multiple apps open or a heavy game like PUBG Mobile running in the background. It’s not too bad, to be honest, since I was using the phone as my daily driver, so it has a lot more apps than an average user in this mid-range segment, but I would have certainly liked a lag-free experience.
When it comes to gaming performance, a lot of you have asked us about the PUBG Mobile experience on the M20. Well, by default, PUBG Mobile runs on Medium graphics settings on the Galaxy M20, but the experience on medium is definitely not very good. There are a lot of frame drops, stutter, and it’s not really playable. Things are better when graphics are set to low, where it’s definitely playable, but it’s not the smoothest experience.
I also played Asphalt 9, where the graphics are automatically set to low, and the gameplay was good enough. Yes, there was some occasional stutter, but it wasn’t a huge problem. Also, if you are wondering about any heating issues, the phone did get warm for me but it wasn’t overheating by any means.
Overall, the performance on the M20 is just average and honestly, compared to the Redmi Note 7 and the ZenFone Max Pro M2, both of which have the more powerful Snapdragon 660, the Galaxy M20 just fails to match up. And it doesn’t help that the Experience UI 9.5, which is supposed to be more optimised, has its issues as well.
First of all, it’s Android Oreo, which is disappointing. Secondly, there are the ads. Yes, the Experience UI here has its own version of ads. Firstly, there’s Lock Screen stories, which shows you a new story on the lock screen, which are basically promotional photos for different companies. Now, you can disable this feature, but it’s really annoying.
Ads are also being pushed as notifications from the MyGalaxy app. I have never even opened the MyGalaxy app and I got clickbait notifications such as these. I really wasn’t expecting this when I started using the phone, and that has left me really disappointed.
Now, this is the reason I prefer stock Android over any other custom skinned UI. I mean, credit where it’s due, the Experience UI here has some great features, like the decently fast face unlock, navigation gestures like in One UI, and I like that it lets you choose if you want certain apps to be pre-installed or not, but ya, the sluggish performance and the ads in the UI don’t make a great case for the Galaxy M20.
Samsung Galaxy M20 Cameras
Moving on to the cameras now. The Galaxy M20 has dual cameras on the back, with the secondary sensor being a pretty cool wide angle sensor, so that’s nice. Anyway, here are some photos from the phone.
Now, as you can see in these photos, the photos aren’t mind-blowing, but they definitely look decent. The colors are nice, the details are good enough and yes, some photos have white balance issues, but it’s generally decent in good light. When it comes to low light, like every other budget phone, the M20 is a mixed bag. Now, the f/1.9 aperture does manage to capture photos with decent light, and some photos are okay but most low light photos have low detail with some noise. So, it’s definitely average.
I also took a few shots from the wide angle lens, and while the quality in wide angle photos isn’t very good, it results in some really cool shots, so it’s definitely good to have.
The M20 also has the live focus mode aka the portrait mode, and it works decently. Most portrait mode photos look good, with some nice colors but some shots do not have the best edge detection. But there’s one problem and it’s the fact that it only works on faces, and it does not work even when someone is looking away.
Compared to the ZenFone Max Pro M2 and the Redmi Note 7, you can see that the Galaxy M20 manages to beat the Asus phone on most occasions, but in almost every comparison, the Redmi Note 7 photos are just way better.
Anyway, let’s talk about the selfie cameras on the Galaxy M20. Now, I wasn’t really expecting much from the 8MP camera, and well, I was right in not expecting much, because as you can see, the selfies are pretty average. The selfies lack detail, the colors are off, it’s just not very good.
Moving on to videos, the Galaxy M20 only supports 1080p at 30FPS, and the videos tend to be a little overexposed. Plus, I have noticed that the M20’s autofocus does not work too well in videos and the white balance issues are present here as well. There’s no EIS or OIS either, which means videos aren’t the most stable, and are certainly worse than the Redmi Note 7.
Overall, the Galaxy M20 definitely has decent cameras for a budget phone. It’s not anything extraordinary, but it manages to beat the ZenFone Max Pro M2 in a lot of scenarios, which is great since the Max Pro M2 is one of the best budget phones out there. Having said that, it fares poorly against the Redmi Note 7. The M20’s cameras are no match for the Redmi Note 7.
Samsung Galaxy M20 Battery Life
I am sure you must have noticed that I have mixed feelings about everything in the M20 so far, but if there’s one thing in the M20 that has outright impressed me, it’s the battery. The M20’s massive 5,000 mAh battery lasts long.
Generally, the phone would be around 40 to 50% by the end of the day after being on 100 percent at the beginning, and on most days, I use my phone extensively. My usage includes Google Maps, music on Bluetooth, a few games of PUBG Mobile, usual web browsing, social media, camera usage etc. So, I like the fact that usually the M20 easily went to the second day. Plus, the M20 charges fairly quickly. The phone has a 15W fast charger in the box that charges the Galaxy M20 from 10 to 100% in just 1 hour 50 minutes. It’s really great, because it’s a 5,000 mAh battery we are talking about. The Max Pro M2, which also has a 5,000 mAh battery takes 3 hours to get fully charged, so the M20 is definitely amazing on this front.
Samsung Galaxy M20 Connectivity
Lastly, let’s talk about the connectivity, where again, the Galaxy M20 is a mixed bag. So, the Galaxy M20 has dual 4G VoLTE support and it has the Widevine L1 license, so HD videos on apps like Netflix and Prime Video shouldn’t be a problem.
However, the problem is, that the Galaxy M20 does not have support for 5GHz Wi-Fi. I know, the Max Pro M2 too does not have it, and I know it’s not a big deal in India but honestly, it’s something I expect from every phone.
Unlike in the past, where Samsung has cut costs by dropping sensors, I am glad to say that the M20 does not skip any of the major sensors. It has an ambient light sensor, a gyroscope, the proximity sensor and the accelerometer.
Samsung Galaxy M20: What’s Good and What’s Bad
I guess we have answered pretty much all your questions, so let’s move on to our verdict. It will help us to sum up the good and the bad in the phone.
- Really nice display
- Great battery life
- USB Type-C charging
- Interesting wide-angle camera
- Plain, functional design
- Performance is a mixed bag
- Ads in Experience UI
- Bad photos in low light
- No support for 5Ghz Wi-Fi
Samsung Galaxy M20 Review: Buy or Wait for Redmi Note 7?
Samsung really seems to have made an effort to compete in the budget smartphone segment, but having used the Galaxy M20, I believe Samsung still has a long way to go before it can truly compete with the likes of Xiaomi, Honor or Asus. Look, the Galaxy M20 has decent cameras, the design is functional and practical, the battery and charging is super impressive, but the inconsistent performance just does not match up against the competition.
Plus, there are some issues in Samsung’s Experience UI. The average fingerprint scanner also makes it hard for me to recommend the Galaxy M20. So, if you are looking to buy a budget phone right now, the ZenFone Max Pro M2, which is a great all around smartphone, even though it does not have the best cameras, is the option to go for.
And if you are in no hurry to buy a phone, I’d suggest you to wait for the Redmi Note 7, because the Xiaomi phone is just way better than the Galaxy M20 in almost every aspect from what we experienced.
So, there you have it. That was our Galaxy M20 review. If you still have any doubts, just comment down below and we will respond to them as soon as we can.
Design and Build Quality
Value for Money
With a great display and stunning battery life, the M20 has a lot going for it. If you are in no hurry to buy a phone, I'd suggest you to wait for the Redmi Note 7, because the Xiaomi phone is just way better than the Samsung Galaxy M20 in almost every aspect from what we experienced.