Samsung’s new Galaxy M-series is quite unlike what one has come to expect from budget Samsung phones, in a good way. It brings a fresh new ideology that was much needed from a company that has been losing market share to its competition. The Galaxy M20 (Review) has already proven to be a solid affordable smartphone thanks to a large battery and a stunning Infinity-V display. The Galaxy M10 follows a similar path in a lot of ways, making it a great choice for consumers on a budget.
The Galaxy M10 is cheaper than the M20, and yet Samsung has not cut corners just for the sake of it. At Rs 7,990, the M10 comes with a similar Infinity-V waterdrop display and an ultra wide-angle camera, both of which are quite unique in this segment, a large-ish battery, a familiar Exynos chipset along with a familiar Experience UI. I tested the M10 for a week and here’s what I found.
Galaxy M10 design
If you read our Galaxy M20 review, especially the design part, you can skip this bit. Just kidding, the Galaxy M10 does look similar to the M20, but there are some subtle difference that you should be aware of. For one thing, the M10 does not come with a fingerprint sensor. There’s only the face unlock option for biometric login, which is a little disappointing. Phones in this price range do come with fingerprint sensors now, so there is no excuse for it not being here.
The Galaxy M10 is also mostly made up plastic. The rear panel wraps itself all the way around the frame to the front meeting the glass panel, so it’s nicely curved around the edges to offer a good grip. The phone is definitely lighter compared to the M20, which is obvious since the M10 doesn’t get the same 5,000mAh battery. The volume and power buttons on the side have a nice tactile feel. The 3.5mm headphone jack and micro-USB port can be seen on the bottom. The SIM tray on the left side offers two slots for Nano SIM cards and a third slot for a microSD card (up to 512GB).
The rear panel is clean except for the Samsung branding on the center, dual camera module on the top left corner and a speaker grille on the bottom left corner. Yes, the speaker is on the back and not on the bottom of the frame. The plastic panel does attract a lot of smudges and fingerprints, which is especially visible in blue and should be equally noticeable in black, if not more.
The front-facia is mostly all screen thanks to the new Infinity-V waterdrop display which offers a large screen real estate and minimal bezels all around. The droplet-style notch houses a selfie camera, and an earpiece just above it. The ambient light sensor is also hidden within the notch.
Galaxy M10 display
I loved the Infinity-V display on the M20, but I think I appreciate it a lot more on the M10. This is because the M10 is now the cheapest phone with a waterdrop display, which makes it pretty unique in the budget segment. And you can trust Samsung to make a great display, even an affordable one. The chin is thicker than the one on the M20, but it doesn’t distract you much. This is an immersive display with a droplet notch on top that has a flatter curve to it, making sure it barely intrudes your viewing experience. The outline of the droplet illuminates when using face unlock or the selfie camera, which is a nice little touch from Samsung.
The M10 gets a 6.22-inch display, which makes it slightly smaller than the M20. It also comes with an HD+ (720×1520) resolution and a TFT panel rather than LCD. But don’t let that disappoint you because this is a pretty attractive display and Samsung has done a commendable job in making this display look rich and a lot of times superior than other LCD IPS displays in this segment.
Much like the M20, the M10’s display also offers deep and appealing colours and good brightness levels. But HD+ still has its limitations and you will notice graininess if you know where to look. Videos will lack sharpness, but it is good to know that even the M10 comes with Widevine L1 support to offer full 720p resolution on supported platforms like YouTube and Prime Video.
Galaxy M10 performance and software
The Galaxy M10 runs on a tried and tested Exynos 7870 chipset. It’s a 14nm based octa-core chipset with all eight ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.6GHz. The chipset has powered a number of Samsung phones in the past like the Galaxy On6, Galaxy J6 and Galaxy A6. It’s a fairly decent processor, if you’re looking to run basic day-to-day tasks and aren’t looking to work it too much.
Running operations like messaging on WhatsApp and frequently browsing through Instagram and Twitter offered a fairly smooth experience with very little lag or slowdown. The unit we received has 3GB of RAM, but you can also go for the 2GB variant that’s priced at Rs 7,990. Although, we would recommend going for the 3GB RAM model if you want a more lag-free experience. But even the 3GB variant doesn’t help much when it comes to multitasking. There is a noticeable delay while switching between apps and I also found the touch responsiveness to be a little iffy as it would take longer than usual to open something.
The Galaxy M10 handles racing games like Asphalt 9 surprisingly well, with no noticeable drop in frame rate or lag. I managed to complete the races without a glitch or random freezes. However, this isn’t a great device for playing PUBG, if you were hoping for that. Even on the default low graphics settings, there is a lot of lag and stuttering to be found which can make the experience pretty disappointing.
The Galaxy M10 does not run on Android Pie out-of-the-box, but Samsung has promised the update for later this year. For now, you’ll be greeted with Android Oreo with a new Experience UI 9.5 on top, which Samsung claims offers a cleaner, smoother experience with lesser bloatware. And while I know this is no One UI, I must say that Experience UI 9.5 looks really nice. It is definitely smooth and optimised so you won’t see any lags or stuttering as you go about the day. The icons come with a new coat of paint which also makes it look fresh.
It still gets the usual number of pre-installed apps which includes a bunch of Samsung’s own apps, Microsoft’s Office suite, and a few more. You won’t be able to remove all of these apps, which may become an issue for the base model that comes with only 16GB of storage.
It’s nice to see a budget Samsung phone come with an ambient light sensor, although I did find it to be a little finicky at times, especially while playing PUBG when it would suddenly dim the brightness even when I wasn’t covering the sensor. Speaking of sensor, the M10 lacks a gyroscope, which means the phone will not be able to understand when you’re tilting a phone. You probably won’t miss it much during day-to-day usage, but you may feel its absence if you’re someone who loves to use the gyroscope in PUBG.
The face unlock feature is the only biometric option here, which is kind of a bummer. It works well enough with adequate lighting around. It’s not as fast as an Honor or Oppo phone, but it gets the job done. It does struggle in low-light, often forcing you to go back to pin/ pattern unlock.
The back-firing speaker gets pretty loud and you’re not likely going to cover it while watching videos or playing games. The sound quality is strictly average as it gets muddled and lacks clarity. The Galaxy M10 also offers a 3.5mm headphone jack and Dolby Atmos support for wired headphones, which is great to see.
Galaxy M10 camera
The Galaxy M10 gets the same 13MP + 5MP dual camera system as the Galaxy M20, so consider me impressed that Samsung has not made compromises here. The primary sensor comes with an f/1.9 aperture while the secondary sensor gets an ultra wide-angle lens, which is definitely the USP in this segment. On the front, the M10 comes with a 5MP f/2.0 cameras, which is slightly lower compared to the M20.
The rear camera manages to capture good-looking photos when there is adequate sunlight around. Colour reproduction is decent, although colours can look washed out rather than rich. The photos look decent in general as long as you do not zoom in as you will notice a lack of detailing. The camera also doesn’t offer the best dynamic range, but you probably shouldn’t be looking for that in this segment right now. Photos captured indoors will lack detail and the autofocus tends to get really slow here. In low-light conditions, the camera struggles quite a lot.
The camera also offers Live Focus for both the rear and selfie modes. Live Focus only works if the camera detects faces, so you won’t be able to capture take bokeh shots on objects. The rear camera does a decent job at blurring the background without making the subject look unnatural. The selfie camera does a fair job as well, although you will notice some unevenness and choppiness with the blur here and there.
Arguably, the best thing about the rear camera setup is the secondary ultra wide-angle camera. You can tap the three-tree icon to quickly switch to the wide-angle mode or pinch the screen to zoom out, enabling you to capture a lot more scene in a single frame. It works best in daylight if you want a clear image, but it won’t offer a lot of detail if you zoom in. You won’t be able to tap to focus on a subject here, but you can manually adjust the brightness.