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Samsung Galaxy A31 review

  • 64GB 4GB RAM

Introduction

Navigating Samsung’s sprawling device lineup in 2020 is no easy task. The Korean giant is hardly the root of the problem but is still part of the trend. Through a combination of factors and processes, we currently have a potent smartphone market where both model volume and turn-over are at an all-time high. That’s especially true for the budget and mid-ranger space, which is precisely where the Galaxy A31 positions itself.

It is one of Samsung’s cheaper entry points into the sought-after Super AMOLED display tech, giving it a neck up ahead of siblings like the Galaxy A11 and A21s. The confusion starts to settle in once you look further up the Galaxy A device lineup, though. Particularly the Galaxy A41, which the A31 manages to outpace with a longer 6.4-inch screen diagonal and a larger 5,000 mAh battery. An odd choice, for sure, especially since the A41 is a bit more expensive in stores than the A31.

Samsung Galaxy A31

  • Body: 159.3×73.1×8.6mm, 185g; Plastic body and frame; Colors: Prism Crush Black, Prism Crush Blue, Prism Crush Red, Prism Crush White.
  • Display: 6.40″ Super AMOLED, 1080x2400px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 411ppi.
  • Chipset: Mediatek MT6768 Helio P65 (12nm): Octa-core (2×2.0 GHz Cortex-A75 & 6×1.7 GHz Cortex-A55); Mali-G52 MC2.
  • Memory: 64GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 6GB RAM; eMMC 5.1; microSDXC (dedicated slot).
  • OS/Software: Android 10, One UI 2.0.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 48 MP, f/2.0, 26mm, 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF; Ultra wide angle: 8 MP, f/2.2, 123°, 1/4.0″, 1.12µm; Macro: 5 MP, f/2.4, (macro); Depth: 5 MP, f/2.4; LED flash, panorama, HDR.
  • Front camera: 20 MP, f/2.2.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 1080p@30fps; Front camera: 1080p@30fps.
  • Battery: 5000mAh; Fast charging 15W.
  • Misc: Fingerprint (under display, optical), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass; FM radio, RDS, recording.

Things get weirder still when the Galaxy M family comes into play. The Galaxy M21 offers the same 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display, paired with a bigger 6,000 mAh battery and a slightly different chipset. The in-house Exynos 9611 might be lacking behind the A31’s MediaTek P65 in raw performance, but it is made on a more-efficient 10nm manufacturing node and impressively manages to squeeze 4K video recording and gyro-based EIS from a nearly identical main camera setup. To get the same kind of video capture versatility from a Galaxy A series device, you have to look at the more expensive Galaxy A51, which relies on the Exynos 9611 chipset, just like the Galaxy M21 and has a smaller 4,000 mAh battery.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewConfusion seems to be the most appropriate response to all this. To be fair, not all of the Galaxy A and Galaxy M models are universally available across all markets, even if there is often a big overlap. This helps when trying to navigate the sea of choices.

On another positive note – the Galaxy A31 which we are looking at today, still manages to stand-out among its Galaxy A siblings as a high-value offer. One that combines the inky blacks of a Super AMOLED panel with a 5,000 mAh battery – the largest in the lineup. The Galaxy A51 has it beat with 4K video capture, EIS and higher resolution 12MP ultrawide camera but if none of these is particularly high on your wish list, the Galaxy A31 remains the most sensible choice from the lot.

Unboxing

Being part of the relatively more-premium Galaxy A family still has its perks, here and there, like a richer accessory package. Our base configuration 64GB, plus 4GB Galaxy A31 review unit shipped with a solid, even if basic pair of GH59-15055A earbuds, with an in-line microphone and volume controls. Also, a standard 15W Adaptive Fast Charging wall adapter and a Type-A to Type-C USB cable. Last, but not least, we find a soft, yet thick and sturdy, transparent plastic case. So out-of-the-box you’ve got everything you need to get you up and running.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewThe box itself is nothing special. Cost-savings are apparent, with a sleeve in place of a top cover piece and no plastic cradles or dividers on the inside. Still, the outer material is tick and perfectly adequate enough to serve its purpose and protect the Galaxy A31 in transit.

  • Zain

camera is not so good n display is also they mentioned in advertising super amoled but display quality is poor

  • Nick

Why do they always get away for giving weak processors and plastic build for all prices. I do get that there are others also giving a plastic build but above 300 usd it doesn’t look good. And what makes it worse is almost bo reviews call them ou…

Design

The overall design of the Galaxy A31 has been refreshed for 2020 in a fashion, quite similar to the Galaxy A51, we recently reviewed. In fact, the pair are actually quite similar in terms of overall footprint and silhouette. Measuring 159.3 x 73.1 x 8.6 mm, the A31 is just a bit thicker than its A51 sibling. It also weighs a little over 10 grams more, at 185 grams, which is easily justifiable through the 1,000 mAh of extra juice it has to carry. The same goes for the thickness. The Galaxy M21 actually comes closer to the overall dimensions of the A31, while also sharing a few more similarities in design, especially on the front.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewThe Galaxy A51 and to a lesser degree – the A41, both managed to noticeably trim down all of the bezels around the display and especially the chin. In this respect, the A31 is still rocking a rather last-gen look, with more “buffer” space on all sides of its 6.4-inch Super AMOLED. Hardly a dealbreaker in the grand scheme of things, but it’s still odd to see that even the M21 and M31 appear to have slightly slimmer bezels and chins in comparison.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewThe Infinity-U notch design for the 20MP selfie still looks perfectly modern, even if not as slick as the Infinity-O punch hole on the Galaxy A51. We were kind of hoping that it would provide enough space for Samsung to fit-in a notification LED. While there was space for that, the A31 lacks one, in favor of AOD icons, pop-ups, and animations.

Since we are already knee-deep in frontal comparisons across Samsung’s lineup, it is worth noting that the Korean giant hasn’t officially specified exactly what kind of protective surface it is using. Most sources seem to agree on Gorilla Glass, with an unknown rating. In contrast, the Galaxy A51 clearly lists Gorilla Glass 3 in its specs and so do the Galaxy M21 and M31. For the sake of clarity – none of these devices offer any official dust or water ingress protection. But we hardly expect it in their price bracket.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewThe Galaxy A31 has a traditional three-layer “sandwich” construction, with all three pieces made of plastic. It doesn’t feel as premium as metal to the touch, but at least, plastic or not, the middle frame seems really sturdy, with no flex to it. Samsung could have done a slightly better job with its finish, but that’s just us nitpicking.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewThe design team has put a lot of thought and effort into the back of the Galaxy A31. With a trio of seemingly random lines, breaking the surface up into four quadrants of a different shade and a line pattern on the bottom, the A31 looks unique. Even next to devices like the A41 and A51, which also share in this design language, you still get very distinct looks, since Samsung decided to switch up the position of the lines for each one. Our Prism Crush Blue unit really shines, pun intended, once it catches the light and its bottom part starts shining in a full rainbow spectrum.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewIt is worth re-emphasizing again that the curvy back side of the Galaxy A31 is plastic, as opposed to a fancier Gorilla Glass sheet of material. The latter would have inspired a bit more confidence in the overall rigidity of the phone, but also bumped-up costs. Plus, we aren’t sure Samsung could have pulled-off as unique of a design on a more specialized surface.

Pressing down on the back with a single finder reveals quite a bit of flex. Perhaps there was room inside for a slightly bigger battery pack, but one was simply not in the budget. Even so, the A31 feels sturdy and well put together. The plastic surface offers plenty of grip. The gently sloping curvature of the back helps with handling, as well. Fingerprints are still plenty.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewBesides the unique geometric pattern on the back, you can distinctly identify the A31 as a 2020 Samsung phone through its main camera cluster design. Like it or not, oversized rectangular clusters in the top left corner that group all shooters under the same roof is how the company’s phones have currently adapted to the ever-growing number of modules. On the Galaxy A31, in particular, the assembly is just slightly raised above the rest of the back and does not introduce wobble.

Controls

The Galaxy A31 takes a conventional approach to its control scheme. On the right – a power button and volume rockers. Ideally positioned height-wise, “clicky” and responsive. Perhaps, just a bit on the thinner side, but not unusably so, even with big fingers.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewYou probably won’t be reaching for the power button too often if you opt for one of the biometric security options. On the A31, these include Face recognition and an in-display fingerprint reader.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewUnfortunately, the particular fingerprint module on the A31 did not impress us with speed. Unlocking the phone from a turned-off display, using the always-on functionality of the fingerprint reader takes a good two to three seconds. Still, at least reading accuracy is high.

On a side note, Samsung now has separate info menus for checking and getting security patches specifically for its biometric security, as opposed to only delivering those together with an overall OS OTA update. Neat.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewThe left side of the bezel only houses a nanoSIM, plus microSD combo tray. Its shape is a bit odd since Samsung went for an extra-wide approach. On one side – two separate nanoSIM slots (or one, if you get a single SIM unit like we did), on the other side – a dedicated space for a microSD card. This way you don’t have to choose between a second SIM or more storage, which is a plus in our book.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewThe bottom side of the A31 is rather busy. A USB Type-C port takes centerstage. It supports USB 2.0 speeds and USB OTG, too. Next to it – a trusty-old 3.5mm audio jack on one side and a single bottom-firing speaker, on the other. Unfortunately, the A31 does not have a stereo speaker setup.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewSince we kind of touched upon connectivity here, it is worth noting that the A31 has an FM radio receiver with RDS. Also, NFC, complete with two distinct modes of operation – a full-featured one, with reading and writing and a “Card mode”, which only leaves authentication capabilities on, for use with payments, transit cards and the like.

  • Zain

camera is not so good n display is also they mentioned in advertising super amoled but display quality is poor

  • Nick

Why do they always get away for giving weak processors and plastic build for all prices. I do get that there are others also giving a plastic build but above 300 usd it doesn’t look good. And what makes it worse is almost bo reviews call them ou…

6.4-inch Super AMOLED panel

The Galaxy A31 is one of the cheaper options with an OLED panel in Samsung’s current lineup. Most budget options beyond that rely on PLS TFT. This alone is a reason to consider going for an A31. Super AMOLED might be an older generation technology in Samsung’s roster at this point, but it still offers solid performance.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewWe measured a respectable 420 nits of max brightness in our tests. The Galaxy A31 has a max auto mode on top of this, which allows it to boost its brightness up to 635 nits temporarily. That makes it usable outdoors, under direct sunlight without any issue.

And thanks to OLED tech, the screen’s contrast ratio is amazing with blacks nice and inky.

Display test100% brightness
Black,cd/m2White,cd/m2Contrast ratio
Xiaomi Redmi K30 (Max Auto)0.5277141355:1
Samsung Galaxy M30s (Max Auto)0642
Samsung Galaxy A51 (Max Auto)0636
Samsung Galaxy A31 (Max Auto)0635
Samsung Galaxy A41 (Max Auto)0624
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro (Max Auto)0.4876161265:1
Nokia 7.2 (Max Auto)0.4215851390:1
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S (Max Auto)0.425751369:1
Xiaomi Redmi K300.3995501378:1
Nokia 7.20.3714981342:1
Huawei P40 Lite0.4254611085:1
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro0.3554561285:1
Realme 60.3434511315:1
Realme X0448
Samsung Galaxy M30s0441
Samsung Galaxy A310423
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S0.3034211389:1
Samsung Galaxy A410417
Samsung Galaxy A510413

FullHD, or rather, 1080 x 2400 pixels, in this case, look perfectly sharp on the 6.4-inch diagonal with a pixel density of around 411 ppi. Samsung’s panels have been growing steadily in vertical direction. The 20:9 aspect ratio is more or less the current norm and the Galaxy A31 shares in that trend.

Samsung has a good track record of offering displays that are not only bright, but also perform well with color reproduction. That is true for the Galaxy A31. In its default Vivid mode, it managed to score an average deltaE2000 of 5.1, with a considerable maximum deviation of 14.4 in red. Colors have that distinct OLED “punchy” look in this mode. The exaggerated red channel results in a “hotter” overall color profile, for lack of a better term. If you find that a bit off-putting, the brightness settings section includes both a simple cool and warm slider, as well as custom white point adjustment, which we appreciate.

Color modes and custom white point - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewColor modes and custom white point - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Color modes and custom white point

Natural mode is what you should opt for if you want accurate colors. We measured an impressive average deltaE 2000 of just 1.8 in this mode and a maximum of 4.7 in green, with other colors keeping a noticeably smaller variance. Naturally, our first instinct was to try and dial back the misbehaving green channel in the custom white point menu. However, it’s only available in vivid mode. After a lot of fiddling, we didn’t manage to get a better calibration that the one Samsung already offers in Natural mode. Still, the results we measured in Natural mode are already enough for the panel to be considered color-accurate.

There is no fancy HDR support on the Galaxy A31. Not that we would expect it in its price segment. However, the phone has Widevine L1 certification, meaning it can take advantage of HD and higher streaming resolutions through services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Battery life

The Galaxy A31 packs a beefy 5,000 mAh battery pack. Bigger than the 4,000 mAh in the Galaxy A51 and bigger still than the 3,500 mAh in the Galaxy A41. The Galaxy M21 and M31 do offer-up a whopping 6,000 mAh, which might be important for context.

The Galaxy A31 managed an impressive 124 hours of endurance in our proprietary test, with solid scores across the board, in every sub-category. There isn’t anything to complain about in this department.

Samsung Galaxy A31 review

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSer App. The endurance rating above denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Samsung Galaxy A31 for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We’ve established this usage pattern so that our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you’re interested in the nitty-gritty. You can check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we’ve tested will compare under your own typical use.

Charging on the Galaxy A31 and the current Galaxy A and Galaxy M families, in general, is capped at 15W. That’s nothing to phone home about on the modern smartphone scene. Still, there is an argument to be made about mitigating battery degradation over time by going for a tamer charging speed.

Charging from zero, we managed to get around 30% of the battery charge back in 30 minutes, with a full charge taking almost 3 hours (2:48h). Perfectly serviceable on a budget device but far from chart-topping.

Speaker test

The Galaxy A31 only has a single speaker at its disposal. It is a bottom-firing unit, which makes it less than ideal for multimedia consumption.

The speaker is not particularly loud and is mostly tuned to boost louder mid-tones. Still, it does surprisingly well with vocals and even manages to retain some of the lower bass frequencies. While we wouldn’t go and praise it for music listening by any stretch of the imagination, it seems to be doing rather well among its budget peers. It is perfectly serviceable for following dialog in movies and tv shows.

0:00
0:00

Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal “0db” flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.

Audio output quality

We’ve recently discontinued our audio output quality test.

The reason for that is that most phones that arrived for testing were already excellent in this regard and whatever difference there was, it was marginal and probably indistinguishable to anything but our lab equipment.

  • Zain

camera is not so good n display is also they mentioned in advertising super amoled but display quality is poor

  • Nick

Why do they always get away for giving weak processors and plastic build for all prices. I do get that there are others also giving a plastic build but above 300 usd it doesn’t look good. And what makes it worse is almost bo reviews call them ou…

One UI 2.1 on top of Android 10

The Galaxy A31 ships with Samsung’s current and up-to-date software combo, consisting of Android 10 with OneUI 2.1 on top. The Korean giant has managed to maintain a surprisingly consistent look for its custom skin for quite some time now. Most recent refinements are subtle and mostly aim to polish the experience further. Things like sizing-up important interactable components and optimizing element placement for easier reachability. All the while, existing Samsung users on older devices should feel right at home with the general layout.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewOneUI 2.1 has reached a level of maturity where simplicity, order, and good organization are a given. The Galaxy A31 greets you with straight-forward lockscreen and home screens, complete with a full set of customization features as well as various widgets for the Always-On display.

Lockscreen - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewHomescreen - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewFolder view - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewApp drawer - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewNotification shade - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewTask switcher - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Lockscreen • Homescreen • Folder view • App drawer • Notification shade • Task switcher

If you are into customization, OneUI is surprisingly malleable. The built-in themes capabilities are extensive and include a rich online repository of both free and paid options. You can mix and match individual aspects of the design, like icons. YOu can also have the lockscreen background change automatically.

Samsung Themes - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewSamsung Themes - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewSamsung Themes - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewSamsung Themes - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Samsung Themes

The Always On display feature can also be heavily customized. Beyond a built-in selection of watch faces, you also get interactive controls, Samsung calls FaceWidgets. Also, there is a whole section in the Samsung Theme store dedicated to AOD animations.

OAD features and customization - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewOAD features and customization - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewOAD features and customization - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewOAD features and customization - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


OAD features and customization

Samsung also gets top marks for trickling-down what were originally flagship-grade software features to the rest of its lineup. Edge screen is a notable example. Edge panels is a well-known, long-standing feature that gives you quick access to apps, actions, tools, etc. with a single swipe from the side. You can choose which side the handle is located on, as well as adjust its position along the edge of the phone.

There is also Edge lighting – it’s a feature that can light up different types of peripheral glow for notifications, and as you’ve probably guessed, there are tons of options and styles to choose from.

Edge screen, edge panels and edge lighting - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewEdge screen, edge panels and edge lighting - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewEdge screen, edge panels and edge lighting - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewEdge screen, edge panels and edge lighting - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewEdge screen, edge panels and edge lighting - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewEdge screen, edge panels and edge lighting - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Edge screen, edge panels and edge lighting

Samsung is all-inclusive when it comes to navigation options. Out-of-the-box the Galaxy A31 is set up with the old-school, familiar nav-bar. Gesture navigation is also available, and you get to pick between the One UI 2 set of actions or go back to the One UI 1 way of doing things. The former is similar to the current native Android 10 approach with a swipe-in from the sides for ‘Back’ and swipe-up from the bottom for Home or task switcher. The old way is by swiping up from three separate areas on the bottom that do what the on-screen buttons before them used to do. This works well alongside the default Samsung Pay swipe-up interface, if that is your cup of tea.

Navigation options - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewNavigation options - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewNavigation options - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Navigation options

Dark mode is a relatively new feature, at least in its current, dynamic and customizable state. It skins UI elements in black and shades of dark gray and also invokes the dark modes of supported apps, which include the in-house ones as well as most of the Google suite. Oh, and the GSMArena app, since its last update. You can also make use of an automatic scheduling system that toggles Dark mode at sunrise and sunset, respectively or set your own time-based schedule.

Dark mode - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewDark mode - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewDark mode - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewDark mode - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewDark mode - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Dark mode

Biometrics on the Galaxy A31 include an optical fingerprint reader and basic camera-only face detection. We have little issue with the fingerprint training process, other than the fact that it is a bit slow. That’s easy to forgive, though, since you only have to do it once.

After that, the Galaxy A31 managed a high level of consistency when it comes to fingerprint recognition, which is a potential benefit of going with a traditional optical reader, instead of the company’s more complicated and often inconsistent ultrasonic units.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewSpeed is still an issue in daily use, though. It’s not the fastest of sensors and feels sluggish like the ultrasonic units used in Samsung’s flagships as opposed to a good, nearly-instant optical one used by Chinese brands. The laggy unlock animation doesn’t help with perceived speed. Our point is that this fingerprint reader is mostly usable and doesn’t get in the way very much but we’ve seen much faster ones.

Biometric security options - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewBiometric security options - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewBiometric security options - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewBiometric security options - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewBiometric security options - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewBiometric security options - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Biometric security options

On a more positive note, we appreciate the inclusion of separate menus and update fetching for fingerprint and face recognition biometric security patches. Also worth noting is the ability to speed-up facial recognition at the expense of some security. The phone even allows you to override the requirement for open eyes for the unlock to work.

As a result of some of its extensive partnerships with third parties, like Microsoft, Samsung also throws in a few MS pre-loaded apps out of the box, to accompany its already above-average collection of in-house offerings. This might be considered bloat by Android purists, but if you don’t want to use them, Microsoft apps are not too much in your face.

Additional baked-in features and apps - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewAdditional baked-in features and apps - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewAdditional baked-in features and apps - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewAdditional baked-in features and apps - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewAdditional baked-in features and apps - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Additional baked-in features and apps

There are also features like seamless connectivity with Windows 10, Samsung’s excellent Health suite, and SmartThings home and IoT automation hub, the Game Launcher and Game Booster, AR zone, with doodling and AR Emoji support and they are all seamlessly integrated into OneUI 2.1.

Game Launcher, Game Booster and Game Plugins - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewGame Launcher, Game Booster and Game Plugins - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewGame Launcher, Game Booster and Game Plugins - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewGame Launcher, Game Booster and Game Plugins - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewGame Launcher, Game Booster and Game Plugins - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Game Launcher, Game Booster and Game Plugins

Synthetic benchmarks

Armed with a MediaTek MT6768 Helio P65 chipset, the Galaxy A31 is hardly a powerhouse. Two Cortex-A75 cores, with a maximum frequency of 2.0 GHz and six Cortex-A55 ones, working with a 1.7 GHz cap does not scream performance, even on paper. Even so, this is the first time that a Helio P65 has made it to the office for proper testing. That alone merits some extra attention. Doubly so, since we really wanted to see how it measures-up to Samsung’s own in-house Exynos 9611 – a popular alternative in this price segment, notably powering devices like the Galaxy M21, M31, M30s and A51.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewThe Exynos 9611 uses a slightly more-efficient 10nm process, compared to the 12nm node of the Helio P65. It’s DSP is also capable of capturing 4K video, which the MediaTek and consequently the Galaxy A31 are sorely lacking. Perhaps, the Helio P65 can make up the difference in raw power then, through the use of its newer cores? Well, starting with GeekBench and some pure-CPU loads, we find a very small difference between the two and not always in MediaTek’s favor.

GeekBench 5.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

The Helio P65 manages to outpace the Exynos 9611 in single-core loads, even if barely, but then falls short under a multi-core load. The CPU performance difference is hardly big enough between the two to be noticeable in real-world use. Still, with better features on its side, the Exynos 9611 seems to be stealing the spotlight away from the P65, putting it and the Galaxy A31 in a hard spot.

GeekBench 5.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

Beyond this one on one battle, we can clearly see that MediaTek’s G80 and G90 family of chips, as well as Snapdragon’s 700 line and Huawei’s mid-range Kirin 810 are all a noticeable step above in performance. All the while, they can be found in handset within the same rough price bracket as the Galaxy A31.

Moving on the more compound performance numbers and AnTuTu 8, we unfortunately find the Galaxy A31 at the bottom of the pack. This can be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that our review unit is the base-configuration one, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. AnTuTu does take memory and especially its speed into account. Perhaps the bigger, optional 6GB RAM chips on the A31 would have scored better. The same is true for 128GB storage chips, since solid state drives typically have better performance as their capacity increases. Even so, it is worth noting that the Galaxy A31 uses eMMC 5.1 for its storage, as opposed to UFS 2.0, as found in something like the Galaxy A51. The latter standard is generally faster.

AnTuTu 8

Higher is better

Unfortunately, the bad news continues for the Galaxy A31 in graphics tests, as well. Starting with the lowest intensity test we still run, using OpenGL ES 3.0, we see the Mali-G52 MC2 struggling to even break the 30fps mark both on and off-screen.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

Looking at the Galaxy A51 and its Mali-G72 MP3 chipset in the same tests, we do notice a couple of frames less in overall performance. However, in an odd development, the Galaxy M30s, M21 and M31, all rocking the same Exynos 9611 chipset and Mali-G72 MP3 GPU as the Galaxy A51 manage to score significantly higher and easily outpace both the A51 and the A31. We re-ran our tests and also cross-referenced this odd finding with GFX 3.1 runs, just to find the same relative results.

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

For some bizarre reason, the Exynos 9611 seems to perform significantly worse inside the Galaxy A51 than it does in a trio of Galaxy M-series devices, all with consistent results. And, mind you, we are only comparing off-screen rendering results here, where native display resolution is not a factor.

Things got weirder still in the higher-tier Aztek GFXBench tests. Here the Galaxy A51 managed to close the gap and fell in line with its Galaxy M sibling. All the while, leaving the Galaxy A31 at the bottom of another chart. We re-ran the test multiple times and the numbers always came back consistent. Across Vulkan and OpenGL 3.1, no less.

Aztek Vulkan High (onscreen)

Higher is better

Aztek OpenGL ES 3.1 High (onscreen)

Higher is better

The only logical explanation we can come up with is some issue with the current state of Helio P65 GPU drivers. Either that, or the Galaxy A31, in particular, is bumping hard against some other hardware bottleneck during all of these GPU test, tanking its scores. We are hesitant to blame the Mali-G52 MC2 GPU directly, since it is also found in the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 and the Realme 6i and performs notably better as part of their respective Helio G85 and Helio G80 chipsets.

For further proof, here are 3DMark numbers, showcasing the exact same trend.

3DMark SSE OpenGL ES 3.1 1440p

Higher is better

3DMark SSE Vulkan 1440p

Higher is better

After analyzing all of the data, we are leaning strongly towards our driver or otherwise software optimization issue theory, hurting synthetic runs on the MediaTek Helio P65 in its current state. However, even if we assume that the Galaxy A31 should be nearly identical in both CPU and GPU performance to its Samsung siblings, running the Exynos 9611, that still leaves it at a noticeable disadvantage. Namely, that Samsung’s own chip has the benefit of a more efficient manufacturing node and a more capable camera DSP, pushing 4K video capture.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewBeyond that, it is hard to ignore the performance difference between the bunch of Samsung handsets in these graphs and some similarly priced competitors, primarily because of their objectively better chips. If the best performance per dollar is what you are after, then silicon like the Helio G90T or the Snapdragon 730G are clearly better choices.

The Galaxy A31 runs perfectly smooth, with no slow-downs or stutters in day-to-day use. The underperforming GPU, however, makes it hard to recommend for playing graphically-intensive games.

  • Zain

camera is not so good n display is also they mentioned in advertising super amoled but display quality is poor

  • Nick

Why do they always get away for giving weak processors and plastic build for all prices. I do get that there are others also giving a plastic build but above 300 usd it doesn’t look good. And what makes it worse is almost bo reviews call them ou…

A familiar camera setup

Samsung’s camera choices for the Galaxy A31 are expected and unsurprising in most respects. While devices like the Galaxy A51 and Galaxy M31 put a few twists on a generally familiar mid-ranger setup, the A31 just follows the current convention.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewThe main 48MP Quad Bayer camera is what you would probably see on most modern midrangers. It is dependable and has proven its salt in numerous occasions.

Accompanying it on the A31 is an 8MP ultrawide snapper. It’s a noteworthy downgrade compared to the 12MP unit on the A51.

Complementing these two, we have a duo of 5MP cameras – one is a dedicated depth sensor, with a higher than average megapixel count and an equivalent focal length of around 26mm, allowing you to stand a bit further away from your subject. And finally – a 5MP depth unit to mostly aid in portrait shots. Or “Live focus”, as marketed on the A31.

On the front of the phone – there is a 20MP unit. Again, relatively low on the spectrum of current budget Samsungs, which can also be seen featuring 25MP and 32MP units.

Add it all together and also throw in the unfortunate FullHD video capture cap and you get a camera setup that most similar to that on the Galaxy M21, as opposed to most other Galaxy A and Galaxy M alternatives, we have been mentioning throughout the review.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewThe camera app is the same you’d find on every Samsung with a few minor design tweaks introduced with One UI 2.0 like the larger font for the modes and the outline for the selected mode as opposed to the solid bubble of before.

Functionally, it’s mostly identical to any other camera app out there. Swiping left and right will switch between all available modes, and there’s also an option to re-arrange or remove some of the modes from the viewfinder. Vertical swipes in either direction will switch between front and rear cameras. The settings icon is located in the upper left corner of the screen and gives you fine control over the cameras. You don’t get separate setting screens for photo and video, since the options aren’t that many in total. The usual stuff like video resolution, grid lines, location data, etc., can be found there. You can also turn on and off the Scene optimizer. Once on, you still have to toggle it on a second time from the main UI though. Keep that in mind.

Camera UI - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewCamera UI - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewCamera UI - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewCamera UI - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewCamera UI - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewCamera UI - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Camera UI

Certain options are annoyingly missing, like manual HDR controls. There is an Auto HDR toggle in settings, which leaves the decision to the automatic algorithm. You can’t manually force HDR on. Video capture stabilization is also notably missing.

Camera settings - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewCamera settings - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewCamera settings - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewCamera settings - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Camera settings

The color Filters and the Beauty mode are somewhat confusingly combined into one interface. The latter includes sliders for skin tone, smoothness, jawline and eye size.

Filters and Beauty mode - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewFilters and Beauty mode - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewFilters and Beauty mode - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewFilters and Beauty mode - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Filters and Beauty mode

There’s a Pro mode too, but as we’ve come to expect from the company’s midrangers, it’s not very Pro. You can only choose ISO (in the 100-800 range), exposure compensation (-2/+2EV in 0.1EV steps), and white balance (by light temperature). There’s no shutter speed selector or manual focus.

Image quality

Starting with the main camera, the SAMSUNG ISOCELL S5KGM2 sensor, better known by its shorthand GM2 name is a familiar piece of kit. One we know is perfectly capable of capturing great photos. The Quad Bayer module is implemented in a familiar fashion too, sitting behind an f/2.0 lens, with an equivalent of around 26mm width.

Photos captured with it in its default 12MP mode, with Auto HDR and Scene optimizer both enabled, are pleasing and quite satisfactory, even if not amazing. There is a lot of detail, noise is kept at bay well, and dynamic range is surprisingly wide.

Main 12MP camera samples: Auto HDR and Scene optimizer - ON - f/2.0, ISO 25, 1/655s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 12MP camera samples: Auto HDR and Scene optimizer - ON - f/2.0, ISO 25, 1/523s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 12MP camera samples: Auto HDR and Scene optimizer - ON - f/2.0, ISO 25, 1/606s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 12MP camera samples: Auto HDR and Scene optimizer - ON - f/2.0, ISO 25, 1/655s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 12MP camera samples: Auto HDR and Scene optimizer - ON - f/2.0, ISO 25, 1/526s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 12MP camera samples: Auto HDR and Scene optimizer - ON - f/2.0, ISO 25, 1/803s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Main 12MP camera samples: Auto HDR and Scene optimizer – ON

Colors come out looking nice too. We were lucky enough to get a bright and sunny day for our shots. Bathing our subjects in light understandably washes the visible colors out a bit. Even so, Samsung’s color science on the A31 appears to be airing on the more conservative side. Nothing looks artificially oversaturated even if the sharpening algorithm is a bit heavy-handed in most of these shots. Dare we say, that the A31 is showing signs of more mature processing, which we very much appreciate.

Main 12MP camera samples: Auto HDR and Scene optimizer - ON - f/2.0, ISO 25, 1/541s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 12MP camera samples: Auto HDR and Scene optimizer - ON - f/2.0, ISO 25, 1/492s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 12MP camera samples: Auto HDR and Scene optimizer - ON - f/2.0, ISO 80, 1/59s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Main 12MP camera samples: Auto HDR and Scene optimizer – ON

The 48MP mode is available if you absolutely insist on getting super large files to little practical benefit. You could potentially extract some more detail going that route, but you’d be sacrificing dynamic range in the process as AutoHDR is disabled. Also, certain fine patterns lead to moiré fringing in this resolution.

Main 48MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 25, 1/752s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 48MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 25, 1/860s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 48MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 25, 1/860s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Main 48MP camera samples

Scene optimizer gets automatically disabled in 48MP mode, so you can expect less algorithmic aid as well. For comparison purposes, here are the same three scenes, shot at full Auto in 12MP with Auto HDR and Scene optimizer.

Main 12MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 25, 1/700s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 12MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 32, 1/926s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 12MP camera samples - f/2.0, ISO 25, 1/802s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Main 12MP camera samples

The 8MP, f/2.2 ultrawide camera on the Galaxy A31 is serviceable, but not much beyond that. The level of detail is OK, considering its resolution. Though, we would have very much preferred having the 12MP module from the Galaxy A51. Dynamic range is narrow, noise is an issue throughout the frame, and sharpening is heavy-handed. On a positive note, we do like how the colors came out.

Ultrawide 8MP camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/1014s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewUltrawide 8MP camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 40, 1/818s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewUltrawide 8MP camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 40, 1/939s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewUltrawide 8MP camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/667s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewUltrawide 8MP camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 40, 1/939s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewUltrawide 8MP camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 40, 1/248s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Ultrawide 8MP camera samples

It is worth noting that all of the above photos were taken with both Auto HDR and Scene optimizer on. Just like the main camera, there is no point in turning any one of these systems off.

Low light photos out of the Galaxy A31 aren’t great. The main camera’s output is soft and noisy, while the colors are relatively desaturated. At least dynamic range is decent.

Main 12MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 2000, 1/10s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 12MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 3200, 1/10s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 12MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 3200, 1/10s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 12MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 3200, 1/10s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 12MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 1000, 1/16s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMain 12MP low-light samples - f/2.0, ISO 640, 1/19s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Main 12MP low-light samples

As expected, the ultrawide camera fairs even worse in these conditions.

Ultrawide 8MP low-light samples - f/2.2, ISO 1600, 1/10s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewUltrawide 8MP low-light samples - f/2.2, ISO 1600, 1/10s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewUltrawide 8MP low-light samples - f/2.2, ISO 1600, 1/10s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewUltrawide 8MP low-light samples - f/2.2, ISO 1600, 1/10s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewUltrawide 8MP low-light samples - f/2.2, ISO 2000, 1/17s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewUltrawide 8MP low-light samples - f/2.2, ISO 1600, 1/17s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Ultrawide 8MP low-light samples

The Galaxy A31 notably lacks a dedicated Night mode. That’s an unfortunate reality. The best you can do for your night shots is no leave the scene optimizer on.

Portraits

The Galaxy A31 has a pair of supplementary 5MP snappers in its main camera array, which are both put to surprisingly good use. Starting with the depth sensor, it does a splendid job of gathering information for portrait shots. Or as Samsung calls these – Live focus.

Subject detection and separation in these shots is exemplary. The algorithm only misses its mark very rarely, typically with fine detailed patterns. The applied blur looks great at its default 5/7 setting. You can adjust its intensity both before and after taking a photo, which is great versatility.

Live focus samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/50s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewLive focus samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/50s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewLive focus samples - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/50s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewLive focus samples - f/2.0, ISO 25, 1/602s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewLive focus samples - f/2.0, ISO 25, 1/120s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewLive focus samples - f/2.0, ISO 32, 1/119s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Live focus samples

Live focus works on non-human subjects as well. Though, the algorithm prefers seeing a face, and capturing objects is a lot fiddlier. Even so, the mode is nice enough to constantly give you directions on distance in the viewfinder, as well as a reassuring “OK” label, once it thinks it’s got the scene figured out. Results can be surprisingly usable.

Live focus samples with non-human subjects - f/2.0, ISO 160, 1/29s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewLive focus samples with non-human subjects - f/2.0, ISO 500, 1/23s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewLive focus samples with non-human subjects - f/2.0, ISO 200, 1/29s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewLive focus samples with non-human subjects - f/2.0, ISO 160, 1/39s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Live focus samples with non-human subjects

Close-ups

The dedicated 5MP, fixed-focus, f/2.4 snapper on the Galaxy A31 can produce surprisingly good shots too. It does require some patience and practice to get the distance from the subject just right, though. The focus plane is fairly narrow.

Macro 5MP camera samples - f/2.4, ISO 64, 1/40s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMacro 5MP camera samples - f/2.4, ISO 50, 1/40s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMacro 5MP camera samples - f/2.4, ISO 100, 1/119s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMacro 5MP camera samples - f/2.4, ISO 50, 1/129s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMacro 5MP camera samples - f/2.4, ISO 64, 1/40s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewMacro 5MP camera samples - f/2.4, ISO 400, 1/20s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Macro 5MP camera samples

We appreciate Samsung’s decision of not upscaling these shots and leaving them in their native 5MP resolution.

We also shot our usual posters with the Galaxy A31. Here’s how it stack-up against the competition. Feel free to browse around and pit it against other phones from our extensive database.

Photo Compare ToolPhoto Compare ToolPhoto Compare Tool


Samsung Galaxy A31 against the Samsung Galaxy A51 and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 in our Photo compare tool

Selfie camera

The Galaxy A31 has a 20MP, f/2.2 selfie shooter. Yet, it produces shots with a resolution of around 8MP. The sensor used here is the SK Hynix Hi-2021 – part of their Black Pearl CIS lineup, specifically optimized for ultrawide and selfie use and rocking a 1.0μm sensor, down from the 1.12μm in its predecessor. It uses a Bayer algorithm. More specifically – “Quad Pixel function to resize the pixel areas, as well as the Quad to Bayer (Q2B) Re-mosaic algorithm that is more efficient compared to the one adopted in competing products”. Circling back to the 8MP figure, there seems to be some constant upscaling at play here.

Selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/120s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewSelfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/1402s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewSelfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/411s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewSelfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/569s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewSelfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/1848s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewSelfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/116s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Selfie camera samples

Regardless if the specific pixel math going on behind the scenes, results look very impressive. Selfies have plenty of detail and look really sharp. Colors are pleasing. The dynamic range is impressive for a selfie camera. We particularly like how the Galaxy A31 handles bright light and heavy shadows in the same frame.

8MP Selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 160, 1/33s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review8MP Selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 125, 1/49s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review8MP Selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/1848s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review8MP Selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/116s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review8MP Selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 250, 1/33s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review8MP Selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/123s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


8MP Selfie camera samples

Like many other Samsung phones, the selfie on the A31 has a toggle to determine how wide the frame will be. This setting annoyingly defaults to the narrower option, which is unfortunately also the norm with Samsung devices. When shooting in the wider aspect, selfies come out in 12MP, adding yet another interesting spin on the inner-working of the Bayer algorithm.

12MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 250, 1/49s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review12MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 200, 1/49s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review12MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/1996s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review12MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/112s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review12MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 400, 1/49s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review12MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/120s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


12MP selfie camera samples

The absence of Scene optimizer for the A31 selfie camera is also noteworthy. You do still get Auto HDR, though. There is a filters menu, which also houses the Beauty sliders. Four of them, to be exact. Here are some sample Beauty mode shots. The effects are rather subtle, compared to other implementations we have seen.

Beauty mode selfie samples: Off - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/123s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewBeauty mode selfie samples: Medium - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/125s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewBeauty mode selfie samples: Max - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/112s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Beauty mode selfie samples: Off • Medium • Max

Selfie portraits are a thing on the A31 and surprisingly impressive, at that. Subject separation with a single camera is hard to pull off, and Samsung has done a great job of it.

Selfie portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/294s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewSelfie portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/305s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewSelfie portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/1848s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewSelfie portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/1851s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewSelfie portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/112s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewSelfie portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 64, 1/110s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Selfie portrait samples

SK Hynix specifically boasts about improved low-light performance on the Hi-2021 and we’re inclined to agree. After all, it is a fairly big sensor that also gets to benefit from Quad Bayer tech. The Galaxy A31 is relatively well-behaved when it comes to preserving detail, sharpness and keeping noise at bay.

Low-light selfie samples - f/2.2, ISO 2000, 1/24s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewLow-light selfie samples - f/2.2, ISO 2500, 1/8s - Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewLow-light selfie samples - f/2.2, ISO 3200, 1/8s - Samsung Galaxy A31 review


Low-light selfie samples

Overall, the selfie snapper on the Galaxy A31 offers a pleasantly-surprising standout experience. The only really unfortunate omission in its feature set is autofocus. That and some soft of stabilization. But, that’s just asking way too much out of a budget phone.

Video

The Galaxy A31 is woefully underequipped when it comes to video capture. Even though it theoretically has the resolution to pull-off 4K capture, the DSP inside the Helio P65 can’t. The A31 is capped at 1080p and 30fps. You can’t even get 60fps at 720p through the default app. The latter is possible via a third-party solution like Open Camera, but the FullHD limitation stands. You can, technically, capture in a 1440 x 1440-pixel square, if that is your thing. These exact limitations apply to video from the main, ultrawide as well as the selfie camera.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewBy default, videos get encoded with an AVC video stream at 17 Mb/s and two-channel, 48 kHz AAC audio, inside an mp4 container. The Galaxy A31 does allow you to use HEVC (h.265) instead, if you are after some space-saving, at the potential expense of a bit of quality.

Videos from the main camera come out looking a bit washed and desaturated in terms of colors. Dynamic range is sub-par and sharpening is heavy-handed.

The ultrawide surprisingly fairs a bit better with color reproduction. Also, thanks to its wider aspect, it seems naturally less susceptible to camera shake.

The lack of any kind of stabilization, OIS or EIS, is another unfortunate reality on the Galaxy A31.

We captured a quick clip in low light, so you can check out how the Galaxy A31 fairs in these conditions as well.

The selfie camera on the A31 continues to impress in the video department, as well. Aside from the obvious omission of autofocus and stabilization, the 20MP SK Hynix Hi-2021 module really comes through with impressive detail and dynamic range. We would even go as far as saying that it’s a good enough experience for casual vlogging. If that is your thing.

Finally, closing the camera section off, here is the Galaxy A31 in our video comparison database.

Video Compare ToolVideo Compare ToolVideo Compare Tool


Samsung Galaxy A31 against the Realme 6i and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 in our Video compare tool

  • Zain

camera is not so good n display is also they mentioned in advertising super amoled but display quality is poor

  • Nick

Why do they always get away for giving weak processors and plastic build for all prices. I do get that there are others also giving a plastic build but above 300 usd it doesn’t look good. And what makes it worse is almost bo reviews call them ou…

Competition

Samsung is unlikely to get an easy shot at the mid-ranger and budget segment any time soon. At least not while players like Xiaomi with Poco and Redmi and the BBK corporation with Realme, Vivo, Oppo and OnePlus. Of course, there will always be something to be said about brand value, potentially even loyalty. But the truth is that even amidst Samsung’s own sprawling and ever-expanding device lineup, the Galaxy A31 doesn’t stand out as a great value offer.

Samsung Galaxy A31 review

Naturally, not all of the Korean giant’s lineup will be easily or instantly available on every market. That’s kind of the point of having so many similar devices out. Still, for just a few dollars more than the A31, you can have the A51. That nets you 4K video capture and better ultrawide and selfie cameras, among other things. You do have to sacrifice of some battery endurance, though, since the A51 only managed 86 hours in our tests. The good news is that you can get all of the above improvements, plus a 1,000 mAh extra battery on top of the already ample 5,000 inside the A31, with almost no adjustment to your original budget. The Galaxy M31 seems line a no-brainer alternative, if you can get your hands on one.

Samsung Galaxy M31Realme XXiaomi Redmi Note 9 ProRealme 6


Samsung Galaxy M31 • Realme X • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro • Realme 6

It should be noted that outside camp Samsung, in this price bracket, OLED options are rather scarce. There is the very intriguing Xiaomi Mi 10 Youth 5G, also known as the Mi 10 Lite 5G, that it is unlikely to ever escape China and is hence hard to get, especially at its too-good-to-be-true MSRP.

The slightly older, but still excellent Realme X comes to mind, though. You will be sacrificing on an ultrawide camera and some battery life. However, the Snapdragon 710 is a nice step up in performance, 20W VOOC 3.0 fast charging is a nice little bonus and so is the motorized selfies camera, leaving the gorgeous 6.53-inch AMOLED undisturbed edge to edge.

Finishing the list of competitors off, we just have to include the Realme 6 and the Xiaomi Mi Note 9 Pro. Two devices that are currently blowing-up in popularity on the site and likely don’t need an introduction. Each of these tries its best to squeeze as much value out of a similar budget price tag. Both have the Galaxy A31 beat in raw performance, offer 4K video capture, as well as a set of slightly-different bells and whistles, that you might personally find more appealing. The Realme 6, of instance, has its gamer-geared 90Hz refresh rate panel to stand on.

Verdict

We’ve been spending a lot of time deep-diving into Samsung’s newly-refresh Galaxy A lineup lately. Between all the new models joining it and the Korean giant’s sprawling Galaxy M family, we honestly think some devices, like the A31 have ended-up on the bad side of market segmentation.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewIn isolation, the A31 can stand on its own as a decent, if not perfect budget to mid-range offer. If you are after an AMOLED panel on a budget, Samsung is kind of the place to look. Doubly so, after the A31’s panel managed solid performance all around in our tests. Furthermore, it has excellent battery life and its camera setup is both versatile enough and competent enough to recommend for stills.

However, the MediaTek Helio P65 chipset unfortunately disappoints in terms of performance, especially GPU, as well as DSP capabilities, leaving the A31 with a FullHD@30fps video capture cap. One that is not even backed-up by any kind of stabilization.

Samsung Galaxy A31 reviewAll the while, devices like the Galaxy A51 and especially the Galaxy M31 manage to fill most of the holes left inside the A31’s specs and feature sheet, while also staying at or close to its original budget. For that reason alone, and before even looking around, outside Samsung’s current offers, we find it hard to recommend the Galaxy A31. You can get more for your money elsewhere.

Pros

  • Solid feel. Very unique, recognizable design and finish on the back side.
  • Super AMOLED display that’s plenty bright and color accurate with the Natural profile.
  • Impressive all-round battery endurance and decent charging speed.
  • The single bottom-firing speaker offers solid performance for its class.
  • Android 10 out of the box, One UI 2.1 has plenty going for it.
  • Superb portraits, better than average closeups, generally good daylight image quality from all cameras.
  • Standout photo and video quality from the selfie camera.

Cons

  • Slightly older design with bigger bezels and some uncertainty regarding presence of Gorilla Glass.
  • Slower than usual fingerprint reader.
  • Chipset isn’t as powerful as what the competition has to offer. GPU performance is particularly lacking.
  • Camera app is a bit light on options. No Night mode. No manual HDR.
  • No video stabilization at all. Video recording is capped at 1080p@30. No 4K, no 60fps.

Current prices

  • Zain

camera is not so good n display is also they mentioned in advertising super amoled but display quality is poor

  • Nick

Why do they always get away for giving weak processors and plastic build for all prices. I do get that there are others also giving a plastic build but above 300 usd it doesn’t look good. And what makes it worse is almost bo reviews call them ou…

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