The Samsung Galaxy A31 marks another entry in the company’s 2020 lineup. It is the “budget” of the budget range and sits below the Samsung Galaxy A51 which you can read my review of here. While it is not as extravagant as the flagship S20, it delivers some pretty impressive features and specs. This includes a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display, an in-display fingerprint reader, 128GB of storage, four camera sensors and a 5,000 mAh battery. While these specs are truly impressive, Samsung skimped on the CPU including only a Mediatek Helio P65 chipset. In short, it is not the most powerful device on the market.
Samsung Galaxy A31 Tech Specs
- Display – Super AMOLED 6.4-inch 1080×2400
- CPU: Octa-core 2x.20GHz Mediatek P65
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 128GB
- Sensors: In-display fingerprint reader
- OS: Android 10 + One UI 2
- Camera: 48PM Wide / 8MP Ultrawide / 5MP Macro / 5PM Depth / 20MP Front-facing
- Battery: 5,000 mAh
- Water/dust proof: No
- Price: R6,999
Samsung Galaxy A31 Design
Anyone familiar with any Samsung Galaxy device released in the past three years will recognize the A31 pretty easily. On the front, you have the impressive 6.4-inch Super AMOLED screen that reaches almost the entire front of the display. The front camera forms part of the waterdrop notch and the bottom bezel is pretty large given industry standards.
As for the outer shell, there’s nothing magical going on here. Samsung, along with every other smartphone maker in the world is using the same boring design we have seen in phones for years now. The A31 does not push any boundaries nor did it wow me. It is lightweight and big enough to hold in one hand. On the back, there’s a glass-looking plastic shell and the sides merge into the shell quite smoothly. It is plastic. No high-end materials here at all.
The display packs the in-display fingerprint sensor and it works pretty well. This also means the phone comes with a screen protector installed on it already which is great too. Like all devices with the hardware, you don’t see the sensor or even know it’s it there until you need it.
As for the camera design. Well, it is also as generic as everything else on the market. A big black rectangle on the back of your phone. Groundbreaking (not really). Samsung has not tried to innovate the design of its camera layout in any way. Its a bunch of lenses crammed together. At the bottom of the device, there’s a USB Type-C port, a headphone jack, microphone and speaker system. Keep in mind that this device is not waterproof so ports and speakers need to be kept clean.
Samsung Galaxy A31 Performance
When it comes to the performance of the device it is okay. Don’t expect skyrocket benchmark results here as the CPU is not the best on the market. However, the performance is decent. The display is vivid and bright making the overall user experience feel like a high-end device on a budget. Overall user performance can get a sluggish, especially when jumping between heavy apps.
One thing that this CPU limits is gaming on the device. You can get away with simple mobile games like Candy Crush and Pokemon GO but as soon as you look at the big games such as PUBG and Fortnite, you are going to have issues. The Samsung Galaxy A31 just does not have the power to run high-end games at their best. Furthermore, you will have to run any graphical-intensive games at the lowest setting. For games that don’t have these modes, the experience is almost unplayable.
Samsung includes a “Game Booster” mode on the device which meant to lower background tasks so you can increase gaming performance. However, this does nothing at all and feels like bloatware.
Gaming aside, general use is decent on the A31. It won’t fly you to the moon but social media, WhatsApp, YouTube and other non-3D games work great. You will notice some slowdown while using the device though as it often can’t keep up with the requirements needed to load mass apps at a time.
This then ties into the battery which is great. The 5,000 mAh battery lasts more than a full day of use and less when using the device for long periods of time. It can endure quite an extensive amount of use before needing to be charged again. Even with heavy use, the Samsung Galaxy A31 can last a good 12-14 hours before hitting 10%. It also helps that the device charges super-fast too. The 15W adapter means less charge time for more battery life.
Samsung Galaxy A31 Camera
Lastly, we have the camera. The A31 has a large array of them slapped at the back of the device and each includes a list of pros and cons. Overall, the picture quality is great. The 48MP lens delivers some fantastic daytime shots with little noise. Colours are sharp and the image quality is generally good in high light situations. However, low-light is bad. The lens just cannot deliver a low-light shot without high noise and less detail.
Don’t expect any social-media worthy shots taken at night without the flash. The lack of a Night Mode also does not help here either. I feel like Samsung could have pumped fewer megapixels into the device and included a better night camera. But the company has been overselling its camera megapixels for years now. More megapixels does not mean a better camera.
The same issue is found throughout the camera system. Every one of them delivers a somewhat decent photo in a good light. However, take the light away and it is hard to look at. The ultra-wide lens even in decent light is noisy too. But given the phone’s price tag, the camera system is fantastic for what you pay for. As for the front-facing camera, it too has some great day capabilities. It will provide perfect selfies for those who enjoy taking them.
The Samsung Galaxy A31 only retails for R6,999. Its biggest selling point is a fantastic display and it is great. While the performance may be lacking due to the CPU and some games just won’t work, the camera system and overall performance are decent for its asking price. You could, however, just put in a few extra thousand and pick up the A51 which is a far more superior device especially when it comes to CPU.