Samsung has introduced the Galaxy M series, back in 2019; the budget phones targeted for the highly competitive market in the country. Ever since the lineup has been expanding to other tiers like mid-range and lower mid-range devices. The expansion here didn’t stop the company from ditching the budget segment, which is yet competitive as it was a couple of years ago. With the competition, Samsung has been aiming to its consumers to offer better models in the segment with highlighting features like – bigger display, a bigger battery, and multiple sets of cameras.
And, in 2021, Samsung chose to bring higher refresh rates to the display with its latest Galaxy M12 release. It comes with a 90Hz refresh rate display, which is the first in the segment, and it’s in for review with us. We have been testing this device (6GB+128GB variant) for quite a while now; you can consider this as a long term review. Let’s dig in.
Samsung Galaxy M12 — Design
Right of the bat, the Galaxy M12 is a solid phone to hold on to. It naturally feels a tad bit heavier (weighs 221 grams) than the smartphones, which I am used to, but the curved edges make it easier and offer a convenient grip. The device comes in a polycarbonate shell that feels rigid could be due to the heaviness of the phone. It is offered in a dual-tone finish with a textured pattern up top around the rear cameras and a matte finish towards Samsung’s branding. The textured pattern offers a better grip than the matte one; as it felt slippery, especially using it with one hand. Without a benefit doubt, the Galaxy M12 feels better off when used with both hands.
We have got a Blue variant of it for review, which is refreshing, but if it’s not your preferred colour of choice; Samsung has got you covered with other colour options like Black, and White, for instance. More on the design, on the Galaxy M12; you get a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, accompanied by volume rockers up top. On the left, you have the SIM tray slot that has arrays for two Nano SIMs, and a MicroSD slot for storage expansion. There are two microphones for noise cancellation up top, and one at the bottom. Further, you have a 3.5mm headphone jack, USB Type-C port, and a speaker grille aligned perfectly.
Samsung Galaxy M12 — Display
The bigger device comes with a bigger display, which measures 6.5-inches. It is an Infinity-V display from Samsung, though a punch-hole display (Infinity-O) would have been ideal since the dewdrop display kind of feels dated. Yet, it is still a brighter display featuring HD+ resolution, which is good considering the price point the device is offered in: what’s better is it has higher refresh rates.
Yes, it comes with a 90Hz refresh rate, which has been first introduced with flagships, later shifted to mid-range/lower mid-range devices as well. Samsung bringing to the budget segment is the key takeaway for the Galaxy M12. Though it might not be a top tier device that utilizes higher refresh rates for resource-intensive gaming tasks, it is still good to have smoother animations in the interface; be it scrolling in apps like Twitter/Instagram or while digging into device settings in general. The display here is an LCD and it’s comfortable to use in broad daylight and the adaptive brightness is intact in low lighting conditions. There’s an eye comfort mode too, which eliminates blue filters and eases on your eyes while viewing in the night.
Moreover, the display comes with Widevine L1 certification, which allows HD streaming on OTT platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime video. The Galaxy M12 display here offers better viewing angles and content consumption on it has been pretty decent, on the whole.
Samsung Galaxy M12 — Performance
Under the hood, the Galaxy M12 packs in Samsung’s in-house developed Exynos 850 SoC. For those who are unaware, it is the same processor featured in the latest year’s mid-range device from the company – the Galaxy A21s. The chipset is an octa-core processor built on an 8nm process and utilises Cortex A55 cores and has Mali G52 for graphics. In terms of performance, the Galaxy M12 delivers just about right considering the price segment it is offered in.
It features up to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage with microSD expansion of up to 1TB. The day to day tasks handling on the device is pretty straightforward: using multiple apps in the background hasn’t made the device stutter or whatsoever. The multiple apps on a daily basis here included running Microsoft Teams, for work, which always runs in the background. Apart from that, social apps like Instagram and Twitter always run on the device since they’re indeed addictive to me, so, that’s there. Switching between apps is hassle-free and smooth — thanks to the 90Hz refresh display, which makes it look even faster.
The SoC, however, struggled during gaming for us; we have run games like Asphalt, for instance, the device struggled here: loading the game took a significant amount of time; similarly we faced the same with higher-end games like Call of Duty as well. It does struggle to load the games, but the games here are still comfortably playable once that’s done. Again, it boils down to the price point where the device sits; and we cannot expect the Galaxy M12 or any device for that matter to give us a smoother gaming experience. Nonetheless, the M12 still feels significantly faster in handling the conventional tasks, which is a good thing considering the price point.
Samsung Galaxy M12 — Cameras
The Galaxy M12 has a four-camera system housed in a square module in the back; it features a 48MP f/2.0 primary camera, a 5MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, a 2MP macro and a 2MP depth sensor. The 48MP camera can capture decent photos by showcasing bright colours, particularly reds in general. The other colours, however, appeared to be washed out in some instances. There’s the autofocus but point and shoot could be on the difficult end as it takes time to process the image while clicking in the 48MP mode. This might allow you to miss a moment on how you wanted to capture, particularly if it’s on the move.
There’s a regular 12MP mode, which allows you to take pictures quickly, but you could miss the details. We would suggest you wait and capture the shot in true 48MP rather than missing out on the details in colours and subject, but that might not be the case for all. So, that’s there. And, there’s a 5MP wide-angle camera, which does a decent job and allows you to capture more in the frame, without you wanting to step back to get the job. The colours, however, look different on the shot you captured using the wide-angle camera than the one you captured on the main sensor. In low light, however, the cameras performed strictly average; not having a dedicated night mode is a minus, for sure.
The other depth and macro sensors work just fine. There are dedicated modes for them on the camera interface too, but we struggled with focusing and also the colours appear dull, for us. Hence, we had to opt for primary sensors again, to capture those close up shots as well. There are a couple of filters to play around like masks, for instance, that can be applied to the photos post capturing. To know how the cameras have performed you can see for yourself in the camera samples below.
These samples also include the 8MP, front camera samples. It delivered fine results in capturing selfies; it supports portrait mode and as well as a slightly wider selfie capture mode, which helps to capture more area like, more people, for example.
The monstrous 6000mAh battery is the other key takeaway for the M12. Even though the higher capacity made the device a tad bit heavier, the device delivers what it has promised with a monstrous battery. I could easily manage to get two days of battery life while performing the aforementioned tasks, and it is hard to kill. The drawback here would be the slow 10W charger provided in the box, which takes around two hours to top the battery to full. While not in use, the standby times are fair enough as well. The software optimisation also helps here in achieving higher standby times on the device.
Samsung Galaxy M12 — Software
Speaking of software, the M12 comes with Android 11 out of the box, which runs on Samsung’s One UI Core 3.1 on top. The experience in using it is near as equivalent as you would find on Samsung’s top tier device running on Android 11. The 90Hz display, as mentioned earlier, makes the experience smoother including animations. It’s fast, reliable and there’s no bloatware assuming you opting for not to install those apps during the initial setup of the device.
The other highlights of the device include the side-mounted fingerprint, which is secure, and easy to rely on. Though it has face unlock, amidst the pandemic with wearing masks all the time while you’re out or indoors, having a secure and convenient fingerprint sensor is always handy. The speaker on the device outputs satisfactory audio, and gets blocked easily during gameplay, and video playback, which can irk you often. The connectivity options of the device include 2.4GHz Wi-Fi support (no 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, and a 3.5mm headset, which is always handy to have.
The Galaxy M12 starts at Rs 10,999 (4GB+64GB) and the variant, which we have tested (6GB+128GB) retails at Rs 13,499. There are tons of options floating around to consider in the highly competitive segment out there; including the one from Samsung, which offers similar specs – the Galaxy F12. The Galaxy M12 can compete with them in all aspects; be it in display or resolution, performance, or in the cameras, like having a 48MP primary camera, for instance. Despite the heaviness of the device; the M12 here, besides, has better, in fact; a huge battery that gives you at least two days of battery life or higher screen on times; ships with Android 11, which is good; the bigger display with a high refresh rate i.e 90Hz. And, having a higher refresh rate on a budget is indeed satisfactory. If you’re looking for a device on a budget that handles day to day tasks easily; then the Galaxy M12 can be the one to look forward to.