Samsung is showing a lot of energy in 2019 as it releases phones back-to-back that range from affordable to high-end. But it’s not just about quantity – Samsung has been delivering on quality as well. The company kicked things off with the Galaxy M-series in January that saw two really impressive phones in the Galaxy M10 and M20. The series aims to attract millennials and Samsung seems to have struck the right balance in terms of design, hardware and software. This is particularly true for the Galaxy M30.
The Galaxy M30 is the third phone in the new Galaxy M-series and it slots right above the Galaxy M20. Launched in India a few days ago, the Galaxy M30 comes a starting price of Rs 14,990 for the 4GB/64GB variant and goes up to Rs 17,990 for the 6GB/128GB model. I reviewed the base variant for about a week, and here’s why I feel the M30 offers a lot of value, especially under Rs 15,000.
Galaxy M30 Design
The Galaxy M-series is all about offering affordable phones that look appealing. Despite the plastic back panel, the Galaxy M10 and M20 looked good because they offered good ergonomics and great build quality. That hasn’t changed with the Galaxy M30. You get a similar plastic unibody cover on the back that nicely curves around the frame and meets the glass on the front. The panel is smooth and the curved body sits comfortably in the hand.
That being said, the plastic panel may put off some consumers who feel a glass-backed phone should be offered at this price point. You get phones from Nokia, Honor and even Xiaomi now that offer phones with premium glass designs, which does make the Galaxy M30 look cheaper, but there is some comfort in knowing that the phone offers a strong build that won’t flex easy. The plastic panel doesn’t attract fingerprints much, but it will see scratches and scuffs pretty soon.
The paint job on the Galaxy M30 makes it look even better. The device is offered in two gradient colours – Gradation Black and Gradation Blue. I got the Gradation Blue as my review unit, which sees hues of blue that shifts from light blue to dark navy blue-like colour from the top down. It’s a very subtle yet attractive colour that seems perfect if you want something mellow yet fresh. The Gradation Black colour similarly moves from gray to black. The triple rear camera is vertically placed and Samsung has also added a shiny blue-ish ring around the middle camera which is a nice touch.
On the right side of the frame, you get a power button and volume controls. The buttons are nicely situated and easy to reach in one go. They also give a very sweet clicky feel when you press them. There is a fingerprint sensor on the rear panel that is also well-placed and easy to reach. The bottom of the frame sees a 3.5mm headphone jack and speaker grille flanking a USB Type-C port. The left side sees a card tray that hold two nano SIM cards and a microSD card (up to 512GB).
Galaxy M30 Display
As nice as the rear panel look, it is not Samsung’s most attractive feature. That would go to the bright and crisp 6.4-inch FHD+ (2340×1080) Super AMOLED display on the front. Yes, the Galaxy M30 gets an AMOLED display, which is always great to see in the affordable segment. Add to that, the M30 uses the new Infinity-U waterdrop display. The Galaxy M30 offers a U-shaped droplet notch on the top, a thin-ish chin and slim bezels on the top and sides. Overall, the bezels are quite thin all around so you get about 90 per cent screen real estate. And that means you’re left with a lot of display on a phone that is easy enough to handle with one hand.
As mentioned, the display on the Galaxy M30 is absolutely stellar for its price. The panel is bright, rich and vivid with a good amount of saturation. Brightness levels are really good and so are the viewing angles. Look at the display from any angle you want and you’ll still be impressed. Samsung is offering a number of display modes under Screen Mode, allowing you to choose how saturated or natural, warm or cool you want the display to look.
The Galaxy M30 has a display that you will want to watch a lot of videos and play games on. Games like Alto’s Adventure look visually great with a lot of vibrancy, deep blacks and sharpness. The phone comes with Widevine L1 support, which means you will be able to stream content on Netflix and Prime Video and other streaming platforms in true 1080p resolution. A lot of the streaming apps and games aren’t optimised yet for the notch, so you’ll see a black band across the top to hide the notch while watching videos or playing PUBG, at least for now.
Galaxy M30 Performance and software
The Galaxy M30 gets the same 1.8GHz octa-core Exynos 7904 chipset that powers the Galaxy M20. The 14nm-based chipset is equipped with two Cortex-A73 cores that run at 1.8GHz, and six Cortex-A53 cores that run at 1.6GHz. The new Samsung chipset works effortlessly when it comes to handling day-to-day tasks like social media browsing, messaging and playing games.
The phone can handle games like PUBG and Asphalt 9 smoothly on medium graphics settings, but you will notice some lags and stuttering if you bump up the graphics to high. The Exynos 9604 is a pretty power efficient chipset as I did not notice the battery drop profusely while gaming, and neither did the phone get uncomfortably hot after a 30 minute session of PUBG. Multitasking is pretty efficient as well as I found most lightweight apps stay open for a long time, so switching between them is a breeze. This is based on the 4GB RAM variant that I received for review, which suggests the 6GB RAM model should only work better.
Like the previous two Galaxy M phones, the Galaxy M30 also ships with Android Oreo with Experience UI 9.5 on top. This may disappoint people who were looking forward to experiencing Android Pie with One UI, and it is indeed disappointing to see the M30 ship with a dated Oreo software. That being said, I have enjoyed using Experience UI 9.5 on the Galaxy M phones. This is a new Experience UI that sees a bit of a redesign with a fresh coat of paint for app icons. Some of the icons look similar to what you get with One UI, so psychologically you do feel that you’re getting the latest Samsung software.
Experience UI 9.5 does get rid of some bloatware, and the interface looks cleaner and easier than ever to use, especially if you’re a long time Samsung user. There are a few pre-loaded apps like My Galaxy, Dailyhunt, Amazon and Facebook, most of which cannot be uninstalled, which is disappointing to see. The My Galaxy app also pushes out a lot of spam notifications that can be annoying, but it’s nothing close to what you get on ColorOS.
The fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy M30 is pretty snappy and works accurately most of the times. You also get face unlock which is fast enough in daylight conditions, but tends to take a second when indoors. The bottom-firing speaker isn’t the loudest or clearest that we have heard in this segment, but the call quality over the earpiece is quite clear.
Galaxy M30 Camera
The Galaxy M30 is one of the cheapest phones to come with a triple camera setup. The system on the back includes a 13MP f/1.9 primary camera, a 5MP ultra wide-angle sensor with f/2.2 aperture and a 5MP f/2.2 depth sensor. This means you get a variety of shooting modes at your disposal, which will come in handy depending on scene you want to capture. You can easily toggle between the primary wide-angle lens and the ultra wide-angle lens by tapping on the leaf icon in the camera app, allowing you to capture more of a scene in a single frame if needed.
The ultra wide-angle camera has become pretty common sight in Samsung phones. It is perhaps one of the more useful cameras to have, and one that I found myself using quite often during testing. The ultra wide-angle camera on the M30 does not allow you to manually focus on a subject, so that’s a bit of a bummer.
In terms of photo quality, the Galaxy M30 produces good-looking photos when there is adequate lighting around. Thanks to the AMOLED display, colours look rich and vibrant. If you feel the colours look too saturated, you can switch the display mode to Basic to get more natural-looking photos.
The Galaxy M30 struggles in low-light shots and doesn’t come close to offering the kind of results that the Redmi Note 7 Pro or even the Realme 3 deliver. This is largely because Xiaomi and Oppo now offer dedicated low-light modes that use computational photography to offer better clarity and detailed low-light shots. Samsung is yet to offer a dedicated low-light mode, and this might be its biggest undoing. Low-light shots on the M30 look dark and lack detail, which makes it fall short in front of its competition.
The Galaxy M30 offers a 16MP front-facing camera that captures good-looking selfies in daylight. The beauty mode is enabled by default, but you can turn it off if you aren’t a big fan of over smoothened selfies. Photos taken indoors and under artificial lighting look soft and lack detail. The front camera offers Live Focus as well that lets you adjust the background blur during and after taking the photo. The portrait selfies look good during the day with good separation and background blur.
Galaxy M30 Battery
Apart from a great looking AMOLED display, the other big reason to buy the Galaxy M30 has to be the battery life. The Galaxy M30 houses a large 5,000mAh battery, similar to the Galaxy M20. No surprises that this is easily a two-day battery that makes sure you won’t have to reach for the charger everyday. Whether it is watching movies or playing games or any other intensive usage you can think of, the M30 will deliver exceptional battery life throughout. On an average, I managed to get 7-8 hours of screen-on time, which is fantastic.
In fact, you won’t even have to worry about enabling Always-On Display on the Galaxy M30 as it does drain the battery life as fast as it would on a Galaxy S10+. You get a 15W adaptive fast charger with the box, but given the size of the battery it still takes about two and a half hours to charge the device from zero to 100 per cent.
Should you buy the Galaxy M30?
The Galaxy M-series seems to be getting better and better with each successive phone. With the Galaxy M30, Samsung nails almost every aspect that consumers are looking for in an affordable mid-range smartphone. It gets a stunning AMOLED display, which will be hard to beat by any other brand in this segment, a good-looking gradient design and a battery that doesn’t quit. The performance and cameras are decent, but not the Galaxy M30’s strongest suit. I feel the M30 misses out on a dedicated night mode that can help it truly take on the likes of the Redmi Note 7 Pro.
This is understandably an important year for the company as it looks to win back some market share that has been lost to Chinese competition like Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo. To fight off rivals in the affordable segment, Samsung introduced the Galaxy M-series. The first two phones have impressed us with their value-for-money, and its possible that the Galaxy M30 offers something even better, which makes us optimistic about where Samsung is heading this year. Also, it’s worth going for the base model of the M30 that’s priced under Rs 15,000.