Samsung Galaxy A31: a lot for a little


The Samsung Galaxy A31 is a smartphone with a striking number of cameras, an OLED screen and a large battery. The price tag? About 250 euros, sometimes even less. That sounds almost too good to be true. In this Samsung Galaxy A31 review you can read whether the device is really that good.

Samsung Galaxy A31

MSRP € 259, –
Colors Black and blue
OS Android 10
Screen 6.4 inch OLED (2400 x 1080, 60 Hz)
Processor 2 GHz octacore (MediaTek Helio P65)
RAM 4 GB
Storage 64 or 128 GB (expandable)
Battery 5,000 mAh
Camera 48, 8, 5 and 5 megapixels (rear), 20 megapixels (front)
Connectivity 4G (LTE), Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi b / g / n / ac, nfc, gps
Format 15.9 x 7.3 x 0.86 cm
Weight 185 grams
Other Headphone port, fingerprint scanner behind screen
Website www.samsung.com/uk/ 8 Score 80 Score: 80

  • Pros
  • Design
  • Screen
  • Battery life
  • Negatives
  • Slower than the competition
  • Photo quality in the dark
  • Intrusive Samsung software

There is no shortage of affordable Samsung smartphones. We recently tested the popular Galaxy A41, a handy device with an OLED screen. The Galaxy M21 also passed by and impressed with its excellent battery life. Now it’s the turn of the Galaxy A31, which is in the same price range but has slightly different specifications.

Plastic, colorful design

The Galaxy A31 case is more interesting than you might think. The device is made of plastic, but is more luxurious because it is pleasant to hold and the back discolours when the light shines on it. This gives a great effect. At 185 grams, the Galaxy A31 is no heavier than the competition, while it has an equally large screen and a larger battery. Samsung has done this well.

OLED screen

The Samsung Galaxy A31 scores points with a part from its own stable: the screen. It is an OLED screen, which is more beautiful and energy-efficient than an LCD screen. Because an OLED screen is also more expensive, you will mainly find LCD screens in budget smartphones. Samsung makes OLED displays itself and can therefore put them in its devices more cheaply.

The Galaxy A31 is one of the cheapest smartphones with an OLED display. The screen looks colorful with really black images. The full HD resolution delivers a sharp image on the larger 6.4-inch screen size.

Behind the screen is an optical fingerprint scanner. Very futuristic, but the scanner is a bit slower and less accurate than an old-fashioned scanner on the side or back of a smartphone. It doesn’t bother me, but I would have liked a scanner on the back (like on the Galaxy M21) just as much.

Slower processor

The Samsung Galaxy A31 has 4 GB of RAM and at least 64 GB of storage memory. That is a common combination in this price segment. The MediaTek Helio P65 processor used is less impressive and in benchmarks performs slower than desirable. You notice that: the Galaxy A31 is a bit slower than the competition with everything and therefore feels a bit cheap and simple.

Popular apps like WhatsApp run without problems, but this is not a phone to switch between Office apps, a video calling app and four other programs. Gaming is also not recommended. Given the simple processor, I also wonder how fast the smartphone will still be in two years.

It is nice that the Galaxy A31 is suitable for NFC, for contactless payment in shops. Wi-Fi 5 support (Wi-Fi 802.11ax) is also built-in.

Battery life and charging

A plus of the Galaxy A31 is its battery life. Thanks to the large 5000 mAh battery, the smartphone will last at least a long day, even with intensive use. I expect most people to be able to move forward two to two and a half days. Charging is fast enough via the 15 Watt USB-C charger.

Lots of cameras

Four cameras are placed on the back of the Galaxy A31. It concerns a 48 megapixel main camera, an 8 megapixel wide-angle lens, a 5 megapixel macro camera and a 5-megapixel depth sensor.

The cameras work properly, but do not perform as well as many competing devices. Photos from the main camera quickly become a bit dull and gray and with the wide-angle lens you quickly have a fishbowl effect and less sharp images. In the dark, the wide-angle lens is hardly usable. The normal camera is also disappointing in the dark, especially because it does not have a night mode. Many comparable smartphones do and therefore make clear pictures.

With the macro camera you can take pictures very close. The focus is fine, but the colors are not impressive and the 5 megapixel resolution is just too low for the fun to take sharp pictures.

Normal
Wide angle

The Live Focus function via the 5 megapixel depth camera works better than I expected. Photos have a beautiful depth-of-field effect and can, for example, also show a specific object in color with a gray background. Nice effects, especially on such an affordable smartphone. Below you will find a few sample photos.

Software

Samsung supplies the Galaxy A31 with Android 10, which came out in the fall of 2019. Version 11 – available since the fall of 2020 – is still under development for the smartphone. Too bad, but the update will come. You can also count on Android 12, although that is still a long way off.

Samsung also makes security updates available for two years, one per quarter. That is less often than desirable (monthly) but common in this price segment.

I find Samsung’s OneUI software dispute over Android user-friendly but also intrusive. Setting up the Galaxy A31 seems like a maze, with all kinds of menus that want to convince you to install numerous apps and games from Samsung and partners. And whether I also want to create a Samsung account immediately. After installation, I also get notifications about Samsung services that I don’t need at all. Unfortunately.

Conclusion: buy Samsung Galaxy A31?

The Samsung Galaxy A31 is an affordable smartphone with a solid housing, a beautiful OLED screen, a long battery life and two years of software updates. It does everything you want and is therefore a good buy at 229 euros. Keep in mind a few points for attention. The Samsung software is intrusive, the Galaxy A31 is slower than average and does not have good cameras. If you want a faster smartphone with better cameras, the Poco X3 NFC is worth considering. It also has a nice 120 Hz screen, but shows commercials in the software.

Motorola’s Moto G9 Plus is also an interesting alternative, just like Samsung’s Galaxy M21 with an OLED screen and an even better battery life. Knowing more? Then check out our buying guide with the 10 best smartphones up to 300 euros.

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