Samsung A31 smartphone review

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Content

  1. Contents of delivery
  2. TECH SPECS
  3. Positioning
  4. Design, dimensions, controls
  5. Display
  6. Battery
  7. Memory, chipset, performance
  8. Communication capabilities
  9. Camera
  10. Software – features
  11. Impressions

Contents of delivery

  • Smartphone
  • Charger (fast charge 15W)
  • USB Type cable
  • Clip for SIM tray
  • Instructions

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

TECH SPECS
Dimensions and weight 159.3 x 73.1 x 8,6 мм, 185 грамм
Body materials Plastic (Glastic)
Display 6.4 inches, 1080×2400 pixels (20: 9), SuperAMOLED, 411 ppi, automatic brightness control, AlwaysOn Display, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Operating system Google Android 10.0, OneUI 2.0
Platform MediaTek Helio P65 MT6768 (12 nm technology), two Cortex A75 cores up to 2 GHz, 6 Cortex A55 cores up to 1.7 GHz, Mali G52 MC2
Memory 4 GB RAM, 64 GB ROM (49 GB free), microSD memory card up to 512 GB
4/128 GB variant (free 118.4 GB)
Wireless Interfaces Wi-Fi a / b / g / n / ac, dual-band, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC
Сеть 2G: 850/900/1800/1900
3G: 850/900/1900/2100
4G: B1/B2/B3/B5/B7/B8/B20; 4G TDD LTE B38/B40/B41
Dual SIM, nanoSIM (not combo slot)
Navigation GPS / GLONASS / Beidou / Galileo
Sensors and connectors USB Type C (USB 2.0), OTG
Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Light Sensor, Gyroscope, Geomagnetic Sensor
In-screen fingerprint sensor
Face unlock
Main camera 48 (f / 2.0) + 5 MP (f / 2.4, depth-of-field sensor) + 8 MP (f / 2.2, telephoto) + 5 MP (f / 2.4 – macro without autofocus), LED flash, 4K video recording, electronic stabilization FullHD video
Front-camera 20 MP (f / 2.2), bokeh effect, various additional effects, no autofocus
Battery Li-Ion 5000 mAh, talk time up to 33 hours, video playback up to 22 hours, LTE battery life up to 20 hours 
Degree of protection no
Colours Prism Crush Black, Prism Crush White, Prism Crush Blue
Sound FM radio
Payment System Samsung Pay, Google Pay 
SAR Head SAR: 0.488 W / kg
Case SAR: 1.68 W / kg (European Test Method)

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

Positioning

Samsung gripped a winning strategy for the mid-market in 2019, the A-Series became a sales locomotive, and the Galaxy A50 was the top-winning model in terms of price / performance ratio. The update of this model for 2020, the Galaxy A51, echoes the success of its predecessor, it is the most massive model in its price segment.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

When there is a super popular model in the lineup, which is widespread in all sales channels, this creates a number of problems for the manufacturer. The first problem is popularity and sales volumes, which force a number of players to reduce prices at their own expense, this becomes their marketing ploy to attract buyers. And here we come to a paradoxical situation: the older and most popular model A51 is more profitable in cost than the just outgoing A31, which is lower in positioning.

Formally, if you look at the difference between the devices, it is somewhat cosmetic, somewhat serious. So, the A31 has only one amount of RAM – 4 GB, which is strange, since in the A51 you can choose the 6/128 GB option. Outwardly, these are the same devices, the sizes, control elements and everything else are the same. But the filling is very different – in the younger model there are fewer antennas (read, frequencies and their aggregation capabilities in 4G), there is no ANT + support (important for some sports and fitness sensors), fewer sensors. But the most important thing is that MediaTek was chosen as the processor, not Exynos, it is worse in terms of the process technology (12 nm versus 10 nm), it is also a more budget solution in terms of performance and graphics. And this is noticeable even in the usual interface, although everything is subjective here and, perhaps, these are my ideas about beauty. The device does not slow down, but the interface is not as responsive as in the A51.

Sales of the Galaxy A31 were supposed to be comparable to the A51, but in the current conditions this is unlikely, since the older model looks more attractive if the price is equal. And the focus goes to the A51, the existence of the Galaxy A31 is possible only if the prices are again aligned so that the difference between these devices is about 2 rubles. At the moment, the A000 is cheaper by a thousand rubles than the Galaxy A51, which looks crazy. Therefore, anyone choosing a smartphone in this class should check the prices for these two devices, and if the A31 does not cost 51 rubles more, then definitely choose it – the older model is better in most aspects. The fact that the battery in the A2 is larger is an attempt to neutralize the more voracious chipset from MediaTek, the gain in operating time is rather small. Let’s take a closer look at this device.

Design, dimensions, controls

All modern devices can be easily confused, they have the same faces and a slightly different backdrop. In the A31, just like in the A51, they decided to use a geometric pattern to make the back panel easily recognizable. The difference is minimal, the “prism” stripes go the other way, but who will see it? Outwardly, these are similar models, it is easy to confuse them and it is impossible to recognize where which apparatus is.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

So far there are exactly three color solutions in Russia – black, white and blue. In other markets, these may be different solutions.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

The material used in the A31 is Glasstic (a combination of the words Glass and Plastic). This is plastic covered with a glossy protective layer, which creates the effect of a mirror, in the sun and at different angles the body starts to play, it always looks a little different. The glass does not cover the back panel, it is only used on the screen.

The dimensions of the device are 159.3 x 73.1 x 8,6 mm, the weight is 185 grams. It fits well in the hand, there are no problems with ergonomics.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

The fingerprint sensor is built into the screen, it responds to pressing even when the screen is off, but this is a specific area. This is not a flagship, and it is impossible to wait for the maximum speed of the sensor. The sensor response speed is about a second or less. For its price segment, this is an excellent result, in which there are no flaws. On the other hand, it is this moment that for many becomes the subject of criticism of the A-series, the sensors are slow compared to Chinese smartphones.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

For the rest, there is face unlock and it works great. It is important to note here that both accelerated and conventional recognition are used, the second cannot be deceived with a photo or video. For Samsung Pay, only a fingerprint is used as authorization, so there are no problems either.

On the right side there is a paired volume key and an on / off button. On the opposite side, you can see a slot for two nanoSIM cards and a microSD memory card. The slot is not combined, so you are not limited by anything.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

At the bottom there is a speaker output, right there is the main microphone (the second one on the top), as well as a 3.5 mm jack. The single speaker at the bottom sounds good, but not as loud as if there were two. There are no complaints about it anyway, you can hear it well in different conditions.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

The presence of two microphones and a noise canceling system in a street, club and other loud places is simply irreplaceable, the device does its job well here.

The bottom line is the excellent build quality, pleasant material and the fact that the model looks more expensive than it really is. I would like to have protection against water, but it is not in the device, just as it is absent from most direct competitors. Also, for obvious reasons, there is no front LED, there was simply no room for it.

Display

The technical characteristics of the screen are as follows: 6.4 inches, 1080×2400 pixels (20: 9), SuperAMOLED, 411 ppi, automatic brightness control, AlwaysOn Display, Corning Gorilla Glass 3. In the A51, the camera is built into the screen, right there it is an O-cut, as when something in the A50. This is a simple version of the screen, in the A51 it is more complicated. But other display capabilities are at the same level.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

A feature unavailable to competitors in this price segment is the AlwaysOn Display, which is the ability to see a clock or screensaver on the screen, notification icons and quickly switch to applications.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

The screen settings are typical, you can change the color settings.

The screen remains readable in the sun, the brightness is enough for any work. The diagonal of the screen is ideal for watching videos, viewing photos, reading texts. This is a versatile smartphone, and the fact that it has such a good display makes it stand out from all the competition. The presence of AMOLED is a huge plus for this segment.

Battery

The smartphone has a built-in 5000 mAh Li-Ion battery, it supports fast charging, and it comes with a 15W charger. There is no wireless charging, but this is normal for this segment.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

The officially declared battery performance parameters coincide with what we received in the tests:

  • Video playback time at maximum brightness – up to 22 hours;
  • Audio playback – up to 97 hours;
  • Internet browsing via Wi-Fi – up to 20 hours, LTE – up to 20 hours;
  • Talk time in 4G – up to 33 hours.

In everyday life, this device works for about two days with automatic adjustment of the backlight brightness (the algorithm adjusts to you, and it is not aggressive at all, the brightness is always comfortable). In this case, the screen time is about 7.5-8 hours.

The Galaxy A51 has a 4000 mAh battery, which in theory should provide the worst operating time in all modes, in fact it is not. Another and slower chipset, a worse graphics accelerator – all this negates the large capacity in the A31. In fact, the increased battery is intended to neutralize another chipset, which is worse in its characteristics. But the operating time of A31 and A51 is roughly comparable.

The full charging time of the battery is about 75-80 minutes.

Memory, chipset, performance

Samsung used the MediaTek Helio P65 MT6768 chipset (12 nm technology), it has two Cortex A75 cores with a frequency of up to 2 GHz, 6 Cortex A55 cores with a frequency of up to 1.7 GHz, graphics Mali G52 MC2. The performance of this solution is noticeably lower than that of the Exynos 9611 chipset, which is used in the Galaxy A51 – it has better graphics, better individual cores and they have a higher frequency, as well as a 10 nm process technology.

There are two variants of the Galaxy A31 on the market – 4/64 GB base, and 4/128 GB for those who want a model a little faster.

I was surprised by the performance of this solution, since the processor formally runs at the same speed as the Exynos 9611, this can be seen in Geekbench.

Galaxy A31 / Galaxy A51

Galaxy A31 / Galaxy A51

But at the same time, the Antutu test on the Galaxy A31 just crashes, it does not end (commercial device). The feeling that the software is not optimized for new processors for Samsung, and this is noticeable even in the interface, it does not work as smartly as on the A51. The interface itself, plus or minus, feels the same, but microlags and launching programs appear in the menu. And other points, all this creates a subjective impression that MediaTek performs worse than a similar processor from Samsung.

And this becomes the main problem for the A31, since lags appear where they have never been. You press search in the settings menu and you see how the search icon is spinning, there is no quick, almost instantaneous entry into the desired settings. This is clearly a problem in the settings and interaction of the software with the chipset, other power saving settings. Choosing at the moment between the A31 and A51 in terms of speed, I will definitely choose the latter, the older model bypasses the A31 in the speed of work in the UI everywhere. This is another argument in favor of the fact that the speed of work cannot be measured head-on with synthetic tests, they do not give an idea of ​​what the user is facing.

Look at the synthetic test results.

Communication capabilities

In the Galaxy A31, dual band Wi-Fi, which is already a big plus, is supported by VHT80, which provides good data transfer speeds. Unlike older models, ANT + is not supported. But the set of frequencies for LTE is noticeably less than that of the same A51.

Bluetooth 5.0 version, NFC (Samsung Pay / Google Pay) is present, everything works just fine.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

From the point of view of navigation, everything is also very good (GPS / A-GPS / GLONASS / Beidou), a cold start on city streets takes 2-3 seconds, the navigation accuracy is excellent, no complaints.

Camera

The camera interface is familiar to other Samsung models, there are no discoveries here. There are Pro mode, AR Emoji and other effects.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

Front camera 20 MP (f / 2.2), bokeh effect, various additional effects, no autofocus. Look at an example of a picture, everything is familiar here and at the level of other models.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

The main camera module consists of four lenses.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

Let’s look at examples of photos and videos, they are incomparable with flagships, but in their price segment everything is not bad, this is a typical quality for models of this level.

But examples with macro, the module does not have autofocus, the effective distance is from 3 to 5 centimeters. If they miss, the picture will be blurred.

But when you zoom in on the phone correctly, the result is very good.

Software – features

The model is originally based on Android 10 and OneUI 2.0, that is, this is the latest version of the interface, which in the literal sense can be called one of the best in terms of flexibility of settings and capabilities, and in other points.

A few words about the multimedia capabilities of the device. It has a built-in radio with the ability to record programs. The headphones act as an antenna.

Standard applications are represented by a calculator, file manager, voice recorder and other applications that are necessary for comfortable work out of the box.

Unlike the A51, there are no Bixby scripts here, this is clearly a marketing division into senior and junior models. The function is cool, and the fact that it is software and is removed from the junior device looks strange. At least strange.


Impressions

The connection quality is worse than in the A51, it is at the level of Chinese smartphones such as Xiaomi, Honor, but not the same Galaxy A51. And this, of course, is amazing, if not amazing. Understandably, most buyers don’t see what’s under the hood, how it works. But the quality of the connection is an important parameter that is perceived as something that comes by default. The fact that Chinese manufacturers have this parameter worse than that of the same Samsung does not mean at all that it is necessary to go down to the same level. I don’t like this approach.

It’s hard to take a very popular machine as a basis and simplify it so that customers don’t see much of a difference. And in Galaxy A31 everything seems to be in place, but as soon as you start digging into the details, you see that these are different devices. The MediaTek Helio P65 chipset may be good overall for this price segment, but it is clearly inferior to the Exynos 9611 in every aspect. Integration of OneUI with this chipset is noticeably worse than on the native chipset or on Qualcomm Snapdragon, maybe it’s a matter of time. At the moment, there is a clear deterioration in the speed of work, write it off as a subjective component, but I can see it.

Another set of frequencies, there are fewer of them, as a result, the device is worse for travel, less opportunities for frequency aggregation. There is no ANT +, which for many is indifferent, but this is another trifle. And from such trifles, the perception of the apparatus arises.

The cost at which the Galaxy A31 came out is 17 rubles. In Russia, Galaxy A990 with the same amount of memory is sold at this cost. But what is even funnier, in some federal networks A51 costs 51 rubles (“MVideo” at the time of writing the review). And in this situation, the A16 has no chances for sales – anyone interested in the device will discover before buying that the older model is more affordable. I think that this situation will persist for some time. It should be borne in mind that the A990 came out in a new pricing paradigm, taking into account a different course. But a quick return of A31 to a new price level is hardly possible.

There are a huge number of competitors for the Galaxy A31 from Chinese manufacturers, a cart and a small cart.

Let’s take a look at the most popular offering from Xiaomi – Redmi Note 8 Pro.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

This device is popular, but it has only an IPS-display with all the resulting disadvantages and battery life. Cameras can be assessed as plus or minus the same, if you do not look for individual modes and advantages of a particular model. The popularity of Xiaomi does not match Samsung, while the model is cheaper – from 16 to 18 thousand rubles. The model is outgoing in the Xiaomi lineup, so it is on its way out. But the price justifies being considered a competitor.

If you look at the offer from Huawei / Honor, then there is not much choice – Honor 20s, this is a device with a fingerprint sensor on the rear panel, a smaller battery capacity, an IPS matrix at a cost of about 17.5-20 thousand rubles (6/128 GB). It is also a competitor for the A31.

Smartphone review Samsung A31 (SM-A315F / DS)

The market has changed a lot, as we see a decline in prices for outgoing models, while new items from Chinese manufacturers are slightly more expensive. But Galaxy A31 first of all loses the competition in the A-series line from Samsung, this is the most important thing for this device. If you like the A31, then you will definitely buy the A51, as they are similar in design, ergonomics and feel. At the same time, buying A51 is more profitable! Madness? Not that word. Before us unfolds an amazing story of raskardash in the A-series lineup, since the Galaxy A41 is even more expensive than the Galaxy A31, and at the same time weaker technically. We will talk about this in a separate review.

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