Written by Cheryl Tan
Midrange phones are slowly moving away from the perception that they’re slow, underpowered or have less than ideal battery life. The Samsung A31 builds on the foundation of the A30 and improves in certain areas, but still falls short in others.
Let’s start with the build. Undoubtedly, the back of the phone looks good. The model we have on hand is the Prism Crush Blue, which has a tinge of purple and hints of refraction when held at certain angles. It does look nice, and the camera module is unobtrusive at the top left. All in all, it’s a decent, unassuming rear design.
On the bottom, you get a down-firing speaker, microphone, USB-C charging port and a 3.5mm headphone port, which is a big plus in my books. The power button and volume rocker are on the right side of the phone, and there’s a discreet speaker grill on the top of the display, right above the U-shape cut out for the front camera.
The speaker on top is only used for calls, however, so don’t expect stereo sound. However, the speaker on the bottom is able to get quite loud, although I recommend not blasting music at the maximum volume since distortion does start to come in.
The 6.4″ Super AMOLED display is decently sharp, but colours do look a little washed out at times. Videos and movies play fine on these, but you might want to tweak the settings to get the screen to your preferences.
You get the MediaTek MT6768 OctaCore processor inside, alongside 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage expandable up to 512GB through a MicroSD card slot. Unfortunately, if you’re used to fast and snappy phones, the A31 will disappoint. There’s a noticeable lag when opening and closing apps, swiping from the side to go back and more.
Granted, it’s a tradeoff that has to be made when you’re looking at a midrange phone because of cost constraints. If you’re used to midrange phones, this won’t be too much of an issue.
On the back, the quad-camera module is definitely crammed into a small rectangular area alongside the flash. Camera quality isn’t the best, but at this current price point, I think there are some good points here.
The macro lens does quite well, with a good amount of detail retained and accurate colours.
General shots with the 48MP main camera are also sharp and relatively well-lit thanks to the pixel-binning in effect. Unlike most other phones, the option to take 48MP photos isn’t in the settings page. It’s activated via the button on the top to change the aspect ratio.
Night photography isn’t great, and there’s no dedicated night mode on the phone either. With lights around, it’s still relatively passable. But if you’re taking a photo in almost complete darkness, it won’t work.
The best part of this phone? The 5,000mAh battery inside. It’s definitely bigger than a lot of midrange phones, and even some flagship phones. Unfortunately, there’s only 15W fast charge, which means you’ll definitely be waiting a while for the phone to fully charge up.
At S$348 though, can you really complain that much about the phone? Samsung has found a pretty nice balance between price and value, and the A31 is definitely an option that’s suited for people who don’t use their phones intensively.
More information and purchase options about the Samsung A31 (S$348) can be found on Samsung’s website.