Samsung Galaxy M10 review: recommendations made easier

Samsung Galaxy

Rating: 7.9/10

Yay:

  • Classic Samsung build quality
  • Gorgeous display
  • premium software experience
  • impressive camera performance

Nay:

  • Average chipset performance
  • 5W charger takes ages to charge

For a company that has been making phones forever, it is a shame that they haven’t been able to crack the budget smartphone segment online. Well, better late than never, because this is the Samsung Galaxy M10 and let’s see if this phone is good enough to make a dent in the market.

Also read: Samsung Galaxy M20 review: don’t teach your daddy to make phones

Samsung Galaxy M10 Design: unusually premium

If I say that the Samsung Galaxy M10 is built like a typical Samsung phone, I’d be wrong. If I say that it’s built like a typical budget phone, I’d be wrong again. The phone is made out of glossy polycarbonate, but the phone feels unusually premium. The fact that after two days in my bag, it didn’t scratch one bit was enough to get me impressed. The single unit at the back gives out a seamless look which is probably one of the reasons for the smooth look and feel. Talking about ergonomics, the glossy back does catch smudges very easily. But in no way does it bar M10 from being a comfortable phone to carry around. 

The 3.5mm headphone jack is at the bottom along with a micro USB port instead of a USB-C port. The headphone jack performance is pretty standard with nothing to boast about. However, as for the speakers, I have a few thoughts I’d like to share. The speaker is at the back and fires away from you and I don’t like that. There are barely any situations where the speaker isn’t firing in my complete opposite direction. I understand that a bottom firing speaker is not ideal, but this is even worse and I always ended up covering it up and hence muffling the sound. 

All that being said, I think the Samsung M10 is a well-packaged smartphone that keeps doesn’t let the Samsung name down. 

Samsung Galaxy M10 Display: classic Samsung with a modern touch

Samsung is known worldwide to be the best when it comes to smartphone displays, In fact, that has also been one of the few redeeming qualities of its devices. The one used here is a TFT panel and I’d generally dismiss such a panel from the paper specs, but my god has Samsung done a good job. This TFT panel has to be among the best I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s still inferior to an IPS LCD panel that you find in other phones in a similar price range, but the quality supersedes the aforementioned detail. The color temperature of the display is slightly on the cooler side and Samsung also doesn’t give you the option to fiddle with it. The viewing angles of the panel are really good though with no signs of color shifts. The brightness is really good too, it really stands head high among others in this price range. 

The M10 also supports Widevine L1 which is a rarity in phones under 20,000. I am impressed that Samsung went the extra lengths to get the M10 certified. 

Samsung Galaxy M10 Performance: for an everyday user

The Samsung M10 comes with an Exynos 7870 which is an Octa-core processor, and 2/3GB of RAM. Now, since this is an under 10,000 phone, I will talk about everyday performance first because that’s what it’s mainly built for. 

For people who are looking to buy a phone for casual use, I have good news because the M10 might just be the one. My everyday use was a breeze, surfing through my social media couple of times, watching videos on youtube, checking Youtube studio for analytics, Prime video, Netflix etc. all of it has been fun. I even played small titles on this and had the most fun with it. The Face unlock and even standard pattern unlock were sometimes slow, but that was the extent of it. I think Samsung has done a great job at optimising the software and the experience has been quite graceful.

Now for the geeks out there, the Antutu score of the M10 was rather low at 63,806 and GeekBench was low at 720 for single-core and 3564 for Multi-core Too. The storage inside is also not the fastest hence the slower load times for games. The read/write speeds are 209.01 MB/s and 97 MB/s respectively. Now, these scores should clearly tell you that this phone is not made for the gamers out there. If gaming is your priority then you should definitely look elsewhere, preferably at a higher price range. That said, if you do want to play games on this, even the heavier titles, you most certainly can, sure you’d have to play at bare minimum graphics settings, but I don’t think that’s too bad for casual gamers. Now, if you do want to play heavy games at this price something like an Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 might be a good choice since it has a full HD+ display and 5000mAh battery. 

Samsung Galaxy M10 Software: premium

Coming to software, the Samsung Experience UI has certainly improved a lot, and while it still isn’t my favorite, it’s not my least favorite either. The Samsung experience launcher has a lot of cool things implemented, for example, the ability to customize the home screen, from icon shapes, icon badges, to home screen grids. Generally, you’d have to get a launcher for these kinds of customizations. Even the lock screen shows the notifications in a unique way, where you are shown the icons, but when you tap on them, the notification shade drops down giving you all of those notification cards. Now moving on, the quick settings panel has been very well laid out and I quite like the look of it. There are a ton of options already present in the quick settings panel like a blue light filter, Dolby Atmos toggle, and WiFi calling which lets you make calls to other people on the same WiFi network without having to connect to a mobile network. 

Now, moving on to the settings, we have things arranged in typical Oreo fashion with a Samsung touch. Now rather than taking you through the whole setting page let me take you through my favorites. First, we get to Dolby Atmos. Now we all know what a stupendous job Dolby is doing in audio. Dolby Atmos tuning does lift the sound to a certain extent giving it more oomph if you will. You also can play around with the equalizer here, but I’d suggest you to not do that unless you know what you are doing. The sound settings also has a special adapt mode, which is the first time I’m seeing something like this. So what it does is that according to your age, it adapts the sound for everything from music to phone calls. So for example when you are younger, you have more sensitive ears that can pick up sounds at lower values too but as you get older that ability slowly diminishes. Adapt sound takes care of It. Cool right?

 

Another thing that Ershad went all crazy about was the Samsung theme, I didn’t get time to go in there is the honest truth. If I did, I would’ve probably also found some good themes and icons. Also, the Samsung theme store has been here for the longest time and the number of themes and icons packs you can find on it are just amazing. The device maintenance tab also has a lot of tools built in, like a virus scanner powered by McAfee, you have a built-in memory booster, there is storage maintenance powered by 360 which also provides the ability delete duplicate images, or junk, or even zip unused files tisane space. These are all features that are rarely found straight out of the box. Now, yes these brand names are also a way for Samsung to earn money, but in the end, if it’s useful for the consumers then what’s the harm. You also have Face Unlock on the M10, it works quite fine. Not the fastest out there, but not bad either, it’s mostly accurate and since It’s the only biometric unlock on the phone I had to make do. Now, I’ll be lying if I said that I don’t miss the fingerprint scanner, but I can tell you with confidence that this won’t disappoint. For a company that has been making phones forever, it is a shame that they haven’t been able to crack the budget smartphone segment online.

All in all, I think the whole UI has a pleasant coat of paint and even the native features like the ability to simply swipe right or left to make a call or send a message respectively in the dialer app. These are all tiny features that make the whole experience feel premium. 

Samsung Galaxy M10 Camera: best-in-class

Now talking about the camera, the Samsung M10 has a 13MP f/1.9 aperture lens at the back along with a 5MP f/2.2 wide angle lens. The front has a 5MP camera at f/2.0 aperture. Since it was the least expensive of the Samsung M series, I didn’t really expect a lot from it, but contrary to that, I had a pleasant surprise looking at the pictures. The M10 takes some stunning pictures for its price. The face tones look good and pleasant, the portrait mode looks far more professional than any phone under 10,000. The closeup shots also look really good, the details are simply stunning and the colors have been handled very well. We just put up a camera comparison of the M20 with Realme 2 pro and Redmi Note 6 Pro and the fight was brutal, but the M10 takes equally good pictures, in fact, the M20 and M10 have the same camera specs, and there were a few situations where the M10 took a better picture. Now that says a lot about the cameras on a phone that is this affordable. 

Talking about the camera app, I think this is where Samsung just crushes the competition hands down. There just isn’t any camera app in this price range that can give Samsung competition. The camera app is the same that is used in Note 9 and when you think about that you can understand how premium that software experience is. I am a fan of the Samsung M10 cameras and I think it could potentially be the best smartphone camera under 10,000 period. 

Samsung Galaxy M10 Battery: takes ages to charge

The Samsung M10 comes with a 3400mAh battery. Now when you buy a phone under 10,000, you at least expect to have a chunky battery. 3400mAh isn’t exactly chunky, but it isn’t bad either. The battery will easily last you a full day of casual use and it does hold on to the mAhs well. Now, Samsung does include some heavy power saving modes on the phone and you have a few options to chose from. That said, the one thing that I did think was a big problem was the charging speed. The M10 comes with a 5W charger in the box and it took about 3hrs 7 mins to go from 0 – 100. This is just way too long for me to not mention or worry. In 2019, any consumer phone taking this long to charge is uncalled for. 

I feel like this is the only place where the Samsung M10 falls way behind its competitors. 

Conclusion

Summarizing the whole review you have a well-built polycarbonate body, great quality display with a minimal notch, a premium feeling software with ton of features, a good everyday performer, this is not meant for heavy gamers, you get a reliable 3400mAh battery but it takes forever to charge, and a camera that is potentially the best in class. 

Looking at competitors there are the Redmi 6 pro, the Realme 2, the Honor 9N. It easily beasts all of them but the biggest competitor is the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1. The Zenfone Max Pro M1 has a crisper Full HD+ display be it with a standard 18:9 aspect ratio display and bezels on top and bottom. It also has a bigger 5000mAh battery and a better Snapdragon 636 processor.

Now, yes the Samsung M10 clearly loses out on the processor bit, and if you are looking for a better gaming device at this price then the Zenfone Makes more sense. That said, the more modern display and the premium software experience that extends to the external design and the camera is something that gives the M10 a defined edge. 

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Sreehari
sree.hari@u2opiamobile.com

Sreehari is in love; in love with technology. His enthusiasm for new gadgets can be seen in his videos. He single-handedly built Mr. Phone's YouTube channel and continues to persevere with Nitesh in making world-class tech videos. Sree - as everyone calls him affectionately - is also a big fan of Artificial Intelligence and Industrial Design. If he is not working on gadget reviews, Sree is a trained Carnatic singer. When you meet him, do to request for his rendition of Kabira by Arijit Singh.