ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX502 Glacier Blue

When Samsung made the announcement that they are entering the mid-range market with a slew of smartphones and with new phones coming to the market every month, we were excited to see what Samsung is able to bring to the market. And here we have the Samsung Galaxy M20 from the new M-series of mid-range smartphones.

Just how well does the Samsung Galaxy M20 compete against other mid-range smartphones? Let’s find out in this review here.

ASUS ZenBook 14 AMD

We only have the phone itself for this review. We can confirm that the Galaxy M20 comes with a USB-C cable and also a Samsung Adaptive Fast Charger since it does support 15W fast charging too. This is the same charger that is found on the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note flagship smartphones too.

Samsung Galaxy Note9
From the Galaxy Note9.

Like any mid-range smartphone, the design of the Galaxy M20 is made simple yet effective. It has a plastic body with a very simple glossy back body too.

Samsung Galaxy M20

Obviously, phones with glossy backs are a grease and fingerprint magnet but it looks shiny. A TPU case can solve this issue but we are not sure if the Galaxy M20 comes with a TPU case in the box since we do not have the retail package. Also, this glossy back can get scratched up easily too.

Samsung Galaxy M20

Samsung manages to retain the essential geometry of what makes a phone comfortable to hold and use – a curve on both sides at the back so that it does not bite into your palm and fingers.

Like many other smartphones in this price range, the Galaxy M20 does not have 5GHz WiFi. It seems to be a norm that 5GHz is absent in this price segment of smartphones.

Though, the Galaxy M20 does come with triple dedicated slots for two nano SIM card slots and also a microSD card on the left side. Good job here, Samsung.

Samsung Galaxy M20

Also, looking at the bottom, Samsung retains the headphone jack, a USB-C port, a microphone, and also a speaker grill. It is very rarely to see USB-C at mid-range smartphones at this price range. More on this later.

Samsung Galaxy M20

At the top, there is only a secondary microphone.

Samsung Galaxy M20

All of the physical buttons – power and also the volume rocker – are located at the right side of the phone. They are nicely placed and definitely ergonomic enough to use one-handed. That is, if your hands are big enough.

Samsung Galaxy M20

The Galaxy M20 comes with a 6.3-inch IPS LCD display with 2340×1080 pixels in reoslution and also with Samsung’s Infinity-V notch. The difference between Infinity-V and Infinity-U notch is just the sharpness of how the notch tapers back into the bezels. In this case, the Infinity-U has a wider notch.

Samsung Galaxy M20

Even though it comes TFT display, it does look rather good and the viewing angle is surprisingly great.

The overall colors on the Galaxy M20 is fine and well-calibrated. Nothing caught me off guard and appeared weird. That is a good job from Samsung too. But then again, the display’s auto brightness could have been better. For some reason, it is quite dim even at the highest brightness offset when auto brightness is turned on. A simple firmware update can fix this minor issue.

Obviously, with today’s day and age, the Samsung Galaxy M20 also comes with dual rear-facing cameras. Instead of having the typical depth sensor, Samsung has these cameras for the Galaxy M20:

  • Dual rear-facing cameras
    • Main camera: 13MP f/1.9 with PDAF
    • Ultrawide angle camera: 5MP f/2.2 with fixed focus
  • Selfie camera
    • 8MP f/2.0 fixed focus

Samsung Galaxy M20

With that said, let’s take a look at the pictures taken by the Galaxy M20.
As usual, all of the images can be viewed in its full glory alongside with its metadata over at our Shutterfly album here.

Rear-facing cameras

I took the Galaxy M20 with us on a work day and started shooting at random things that happened to breeze through my day. I can instantly conclude that the white balance is great – but the details, brightness, and dynamic range – not so much.

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Let’s start off with the main camera. Under direct sunlight, the overall picture quality actually looks decent. There might be quite a bit of detail loss here and there – but overall, still looking good. Once the night falls however, the lack of dynamic range of the Galaxy M20 shows up. The images are noisy and lacks details too.

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Then comes the ultrawide angle camera. I took 3 shots under direct sunlight and two of them turned out completely dark. You can see the stark difference in dynamic range and overall brightness of the picture taken between the main camera and the ultrawide angle camera.

Selfie camera

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Once again, not a big fan of selfies and the images turned out to be okay for a smartphone of this price range.

Camera UI

Honestly, the camera UI didn’t change at all since the Galaxy A7 (2018) that we reviewed here. Check out that review for a complete breakdown on the camera UI instead.

It struck me as odd when the Galaxy M20 comes with Android 8.1 Oreo and with Samsung Experience 9.5. It is not entirely a bad thing – just feels a tad outdated since the Galaxy A30 which has very similar specs as the Galaxy M20 – comes with Android 9.0 Pie with Samsung One UI instead. Obviously as a Galaxy S9 user, the Samsung One UI is a lot better.

Samsung Galaxy M20

With that said the Samsung Experience 9.5 here is very similar to what the we have previously seen on the Galaxy A7 (2018) and also the Galaxy A9 (2018). However, there is one major difference – the Galaxy M20 does not have Samsung Pay. Though with the ever-increasing fintech industry here in Malaysia, not having Samsung Pay feels more like an inconvenience rather than a disadvantage.

I still would like Samsung to include the Edge Panel on their mid-range devices but that seems to be a Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series exclusive. Other than that, all of the features that I use and love are still in the Galaxy M20 – including the Game Launcher which is the best game assistant tool out there.

Samsung Galaxy M20 bloatware

It also comes with minimal amount of bloat – which is good.

The Galaxy M20 is a mid-range smartphone with the specs to match. However, the chipset is something new to us – and hence we need to compare it with other phones that we had previously reviewed. But before that, here are the list of specs of the Galaxy M20:

  • 6.3-inch PLS TFT display 2340×1080 pixels in resolution
    • Infinity-V notch
  • Exynos 7904 chipset
    • 2x Cortex-A73 @ 1.8GHZ + 6z Cortex-A53 @ 1.6GHz
    • Mali-G71 MP2 GPU with 2 cores
  • 4GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • 64GB internal storage (expandable with microSD card)
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • Android 8.1 Oreo with Samsung Experience 9.5

Let’s take a look at the benchmarks and see how it holds up against its slew of competitors.Samsung Galaxy M20 3DMark benchmarkSamsung Galaxy M20 VRMark benchmarkSamsung Galaxy M20 Geekbench benchmark Samsung Galaxy M20 Antutu benchmark

From here, we can see that the Galaxy M20’s CPU score in particular – is a little lacking. It trades blows with the Snapdragon 632 that is found in the ASUS ZenFone Max (M2) as the Exynos 7904 has better GPU scores but lags behind in CPU.

Gaming

As usual, we test the phone with 3 of our usual games – Honkai Impact 3, Asphalt 9, and also PUBG Mobile.

Starting off with Honkai Impact 3, the game recommended us to use graphical setting number 2 and to my surprise, it ran smoothly even when God Kiana uses her ultimate skill.

Then comes Asphalt 9. We proceeded with default graphical settings and once again, it ran smoothly. We played a few races and to my surprise once again, the Galaxy M20 is able to handle the game smoothly. Very enjoyable race experience overall.

Samsung Galaxy M20

As for PUBG Mobile, things get a little weird. We tuned the graphical settings all the way down low and tried a match. When we played the zombie mode, the game turned very laggy when night comes and the fog appears, to the point where it is sub-20FPS. Even without the fog, the frame rate drops drastically when driving around Miramar.

This is an interesting finding because going back to our benchmarks above – particularly Geekbench – we find out that the single-core CPU score is only somewhat around the ASUS ZenFone Max (M2) which uses a Snapdragon 632. As for the multi-core, the Galaxy M20’s Exynos 7904 is unfortunately, the lowest.

But then again – looking at the 3DMark benchmark, the Galaxy M20’s Exynos 7904 scored higher than the Snapdragon 632 that is found in the ASUS ZenFone Max (M2). Hence that is why the Galaxy M20 is able to run Honkai Impact 3 and Asphalt 9 smoothly – but suffers a little on PUBG Mobile.

Amazingly enough, Samsung opted to use USB-C for their Galaxy M-series of smartphones. The M20 even comes with a massive 5,000mAh battery – the biggest battery in a Samsung smartphone yet. Also, Samsung included their Adaptive Fast Charging into the Galaxy M20 as well. 5,000mAh battery with fast charging? That is definitely a first for us.

Take a look at how well the 5,000mAh performed in our battery life test.

Samsung Galaxy M20 battery life benchmark

And this took by by surprise. The Galaxy M20 defeated our reigning battery life champions from ASUS and takes the top spot effortlessly. Clocking in at 16 hours and 42 minutes, the Galaxy M20 will definitely last you for two days of usage.

Charger

As for the charger, we are using the one we have from our Galaxy S9, since they both share the same Adaptive Fast Charging standard as well. With 9V at 1.67A, it can have a maximum output of 15W. Not the fastest in today’s fast charging standards, but it is still faster than the commonly-found 5V 2A chargers.

Take a look at our charging graph down below where we compare the 5V 2A charger with Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging.

Samsung Galaxy M20 battery charging curve

For the Adaptive Fast Charging, it takes about 44 minutes to reach 50% of battery and about 74 minutes to reach 75% worth of battery. That is actually quite fast, considering that this is indeed a 5,000mAh battery.

As for the 5V 2A charger, it took about 54 minutes to reach 50% battery charge and about 100 minutes to reach 75% battery. Again, stark difference compared to the Adaptive Fast Charging

Honestly speaking, the Galaxy M20 is offering a unique proposition here. The chipset is actually quite okay for most of the games, but your mileage may vary depending on how CPU-intensive the title is. As we have said, PUBG Mobile has some frame rate drops at certain scenarios, but generally it is fine.

The battery on the Galaxy M20 is the best that we have tested yet and it will be difficult for other mid-range smartphones to dethrone it. Also, fast charging on a mid-range smartphone is definitely a boon. Samsung is also pushing the shift to USB-C since the Galaxy M20 comes with it.

Samsung Galaxy M20

Though the camera is rather disappointing, it does do its job good enough in most scenarios. Overall for the price of RM799, I still feel that it is a little bit on the expensive side. However, there are certain unique aspects that are exclusively on the Galaxy M20 alone – like the extremely long battery life which I can’t put a price on.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Materials
7
Software
8
Connectivity and ports
8
Screen
8
Performance and gaming
7
Camera
6
Battery and charger
10
Value
6
The enthusiastic nanoelectronic engineer who found his way into simplifying the world of tech for everyone. Introverted, but noisy. Nice to meet you!