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Galaxy M10 and M20: Finally, Samsung is making budget smartphones that are bang for the buck

After weeks of leaks and teasers, the Samsung Galaxy M series is finally revealed in India. It features a huge screen, a large battery and most importantly, an affordable price tag that’s less than RM1,000.

While Samsung covers a wide range of products from the top of the line Galaxy Note to their entry-level Galaxy J lineup, the volume driver has always been budget phones. The Korean smartphone brand was once a dominant player in a huge market like India but lately, they were overtaken by new and affordable Chinese rivals like Xiaomi. Apart from Xiaomi, there are other “cheap and good” contenders like Pocophone, Realme and ASUS with its Zenfone Max Pro M2.

As consumers are getting spoilt by great smartphone options at affordable prices, Samsung knew that it has to do something in this growing affordable segment. With the Galaxy M series, it appears that Samsung is trying to wrestle back market share from Xiaomi.

According to Samsung, the Galaxy M series is targeted at millennials and they will be releasing several models throughout the year. For now, they are launching just two options, the M20 and M10.

Samsung Galaxy M20

The Galaxy M20 is a device that would appeal to the majority of mid-range smartphone buyers. It features a 6.3″ Full HD+ Infinity-V display that has a tiny notch at the top for its 8MP f/2.0 selfie camera. The bezels are significantly thinner than their previous Galaxy J models but there’s still a noticeable chin at the bottom. In terms of design, the front is identical to an OPPO F9 or a Realme 2 Pro while the rear looks like last year’s ZenFone Max Pro M1.

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Under the hood, it runs on a 14nm Exynos 7904 Octa-core processor that’s mated with either 3GB or 4GB RAM and has internal storage of up to 64GB. There’s also a microSD card expansion option that accepts capacities up to 512GB.

At the rear, you get a dual-camera setup with a 13MP f/1.9 main shooter and a secondary 5MP ultra-wide-angle camera that supports live focus. Samsung has highlighted that the Galaxy M20 supports Widevine L1 Certification for HD video streaming and there’s also Dolby Atmos which is supported on stereo headphones and bluetooth speakers.

The Galaxy M20 gets a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and there’s also the option to use Face Unlock for quicker access. Powering the device is a huge 5,000mAh battery and the best part is that it uses a USB-C port for charging. Also included is a 15W charger which claims to push 3 hours of video or 11 hours of music playback with a quick 10-minute charge. Out of the box, it runs on Android 8.1 Oreo and it has Samsung Experience v9.5 instead of the latest One UI.

The base 3GB RAM + 32GB storage model is priced at 10,990 INR (about RM629) while the 4GB RAM + 64GB storage option is going for 12,990 INR (about RM745).

Samsung Galaxy M10

For a more affordable option, the Galaxy M10 comes with a slightly smaller 6.22″ Infinity V display that pushes a lower HD+ resolution. Under the hood, it runs on an Exynos 7870 processor which is the same unit that’s powering the Galaxy A6 (2018). It comes with either 2GB RAM + 16GB storage or 3GB RAM + 32GB storage which are also expandable via microSD.

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For imaging, it also gets a 13MP f/1.9 main + 5MP Ultra-wide-angle shooter while the front gets a lower resolution 5MP f/2.0 selfie camera. Unlike the M20, the M10 doesn’t come with a fingerprint sensor, but it still has support for face unlock.

In terms of battery, the Galaxy M10 gets a 3,400mAh capacity which charges via microUSB. Similar to the M20, it still runs on Android 8.1 Oreo with Samsung Experience v9.5 skin on top.

The Galaxy M10 2GB RAM + 16GB storage model is listed at 7,990INR (about RM461) while the 3GB RAM + 32GB storage variant is priced at 8,990INR (about RM519).

In India, there’s also a special launch offer with Jio where Galaxy M series customers can enjoy double data for 10 months. The devices will go on sale on 5th February 2019 and so far there’s no mention of its global availability.

Overall, the Galaxy M10 and M20 are interesting contenders in the budget segment. While we feel that the mid-range Exynos SoCs might not be on par with the newer Snapdragon 636 and 660 processors, the Galaxy M series is still packing a whole lot more for your money compared to its previous Galaxy J series.

Looking at the top of the range, the Galaxy M20 with 4GB RAM + 64GB storage is only 12,990 INR (less than RM750), which is significantly cheaper than the ASUS ZenFone Pro M2 4GB RAM + 64GB storage that’s going for 14,999 INR (about RM868) in India. If the Galaxy M20 is made available in Malaysia with a similar price tag, would you consider this over the Redmi, ASUS or Realme? Let us know in the comments below.

Alexander Wong