Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review

GSMArena team, 25 Feb 2020.

Software

The Samsung Galaxy M31 runs on Samsung's latest One UI 2 on top of Android 10. Our review unit came with the latest February 2020 security patch, which means at the time of writing, this is about as current as the software can get on an Android device.

Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review

Samsung released One UI 2 alongside Android 10. The latest version makes a host of changes to the UI across the OS, most of which are centered around improving the user experience and ease of use rather than just making things look different. As such, some of the changes won't even be noticeable unless you have been using the previous version for a long time or compare the old and the new version side by side.

User experience has improved considerably over the years and the latest One UI 2 is extremely easy to use with well thought out UI and feature-set. One UI 2 also incorporates all the new Android 10 features, such as the new permission options as well as some of the updated UI design paradigms.

One UI 2 Launcher - Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review One UI 2 Launcher - Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review One UI 2 Launcher - Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review One UI 2 Launcher - Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review One UI 2 Launcher - Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review
One UI 2 Launcher - Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review One UI 2 Launcher - Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review One UI 2 Launcher - Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review One UI 2 Launcher - Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review
One UI 2 Launcher

We do wish that Samsung would ease up a bit on the bloatware on these devices. While these things depend on region, our Indian review unit came with a bunch of pre-installed apps. Some of these can be uninstalled but others can only be disabled. One particularly notorious app is Facebook, which comes with three other apps that are buried under system apps. Even if you disable the main app, these other services will keep running in the background unless you dig around and disable them individually.

Samsung AppCloud - Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review Samsung AppCloud - Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review Samsung AppCloud - Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review Samsung AppCloud - Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review
Samsung AppCloud

Samsung also has another app, whose whole point is to cajole you into downloading even more bloatware on your device. Called AppCloud, this app will keep nagging you after you've set up your device to install additional apps and you can't disable its notifications. You have to go through its setup, which involves giving it personal information which it then uses to recommend you groups of apps to batch download on your phone. You can choose to unmark all the apps and install nothing to finish the setup and it's only then does it stop bothering you.

We also noticed multiple Samsung apps offered to show us promotional content (read: ads). Unlike Xiaomi, these aren't enabled by default and you can deny them permission, after which you will neither see the ads nor get prompted about it. However, we wish manufacturers didn't indulge in these practices in the first place.

Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review

These annoyances aside, we really had no issue with the software on the Galaxy M31. Samsung has done a good job over the years balancing the design, features and usability of its One UI to a point where we think it's close to being the best software experience on Android and it is easily the best among the non-stock looking interfaces.

Performance

The Galaxy M31 runs on the same Exynos 9611 that we have seen on a few Samsung devices so far, including the Galaxy M30s. It's an octa-core chipset based on the newer but not quite the latest 10nm process. Our review unit also had 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage space.

GeekBench 4.4 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    7008
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    6999
  • Realme X2
    6926
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    6863
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 SE
    6017
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
    5620
  • Samsung Galaxy M30s
    5566
  • Samsung Galaxy M31
    5487
  • Nokia 7.2
    5440

GeekBench 4.4 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    2558
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    2537
  • Realme X2
    2508
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    2472
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 SE
    1905
  • Nokia 7.2
    1534
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
    1519
  • Samsung Galaxy M31
    1510
  • Samsung Galaxy M30s
    1489

GeekBench 5.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Realme X2
    1750
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    1703
  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    1692
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    1622
  • Nokia 7.2
    1398
  • Samsung Galaxy M31
    1315
  • Samsung Galaxy M30s
    1288

GeekBench 5.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    548
  • Realme X2
    545
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    542
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    493
  • Samsung Galaxy M30s
    349
  • Samsung Galaxy M31
    349
  • Nokia 7.2
    332

AnTuTu 8

Higher is better

  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    279355
  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    272229
  • Realme X2
    257443
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    257146
  • Samsung Galaxy M31
    195284
  • Samsung Galaxy M30s
    180321
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
    167395
  • Nokia 7.2
    164484

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    30
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    29
  • Realme X2
    29
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    27
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 SE
    26
  • Samsung Galaxy M30s
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy M31
    16
  • Nokia 7.2
    15
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
    13

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    27
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    24
  • Realme X2
    24
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    24
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 SE
    24
  • Samsung Galaxy M30s
    14
  • Samsung Galaxy M31
    14
  • Nokia 7.2
    13
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
    11

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    18
  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    17
  • Realme X2
    16
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    16
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 SE
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy M30s
    10
  • Samsung Galaxy M31
    10
  • Nokia 7.2
    9
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
    7

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    15
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    14
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 SE
    14
  • Realme X2
    13
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy M31
    9.2
  • Samsung Galaxy M30s
    8.7
  • Nokia 7.2
    8.1
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
    5.9

3DMark SSE OpenGL ES 3.1 1440p

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    2467
  • Realme X2
    2402
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    2363
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    2182
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 SE
    2082
  • Samsung Galaxy M31
    1599
  • Samsung Galaxy M30s
    1425
  • Nokia 7.2
    1333

3DMark SSE Vulkan 1440p

Higher is better

  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    2447
  • Realme X2
    2263
  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    2244
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    2035
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 SE
    1989
  • Samsung Galaxy M31
    1559
  • Samsung Galaxy M30s
    1502
  • Nokia 7.2
    1277

The performance on the Galaxy M31 is decent. Most of the time the phone seems fast and fluid while scrolling through or switching between applications. Occasionally, however, there is some hitching and we also noticed animations stuttering while opening and closing apps. This is usually solved by restarting the phone but we hope Samsung fixes whatever is causing this issue. The UI was also noticeably stuttery when the battery got low, as the phone switches automatically to a low performance mode. Aside from that, the phone also takes quite a while to install applications once they are downloaded and performance when using AR filters in apps such as Instagram and Snapchat isn't great, either.

Samsung Galaxy M31 hands-on review

Multimedia performance on the Galaxy M31 is also decent. The single loudspeaker isn't ideal but it sounds okay and gets loud enough. You also get a headphone jack for wired headphones, which is always great. You also sort of need it on this phone because it also comes with an FM radio. Of course, you can always use Bluetooth headphones and if you have the Galaxy Buds or the new Galaxy Buds+ then you can also use Samsung's optimized scalable codec with them. However, if you have aptX HD headphones you're out of luck, as the Galaxy M31, like other Samsung phones, only supports aptX and not aptX HD.

The Galaxy M31 also includes Dolby Atmos feature. However, we can't help but feel this feature is half-baked. It does upscale stereo sound into the 3D surround sound that Dolby Atmos promises, but the device itself does not support the Dolby Atmos codec, which means if you want to watch files that already include Dolby Atmos audio track on this phone, you will get a codec not supported error while playing and then you won't have any audio at all.

We tested this with multiple Dolby Atmos files and none of them were compatible with this device. The Tidal app also does not support its Dolby Atmos feature on this device. Usually, when a device claims Atmos supports, it supports both, upscaling of stereo as well as actual Atmos encoded content but the Galaxy M31 just does the former.

Reader comments

  • nks

100% to 40% in just 3 hours

  • Channu

Phone is getting heated, it's in between the range of 36 to 40 Celsius always. Retailer asked to charge to only till 100% exact, how stupid if a phone is getting overcharged with all this technology. This phone is shit or may be the one I got is...

  • don

battery decaying rate is little bit higher .. not giving performance like 6000mah device