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Samsung Galaxy M12: High refresh rate experience on a budget

TechLekh

TechLekh

Samsung Galaxy M12: High refresh rate experience on a budget

If you can look past its low-powered Exynos chipset, then it is an excellent option with a good camera, splendid battery life, and a smooth software experience

Samsung Galaxy M12 is the latest phone to enter Samsung's 2021 lineup of M-series smartphone. It starts at Rs. 18,499 for the 4/64GB variant and is a one-of-a-kind budget smartphone. Why? Because it is the only phone with a 90Hz display under Rs. 20,000.

But is the high refresh rate display good enough to make it a good budget phone? Well, you will find out in our review of the Samsung M12.

90Hz PLS IPS display

Sadly, the 90Hz refresh rate is the only thing that redeems Samsung M12's display. The screen isn't very sharp, the colors are dull and the brightness level is only average. But top marks for Samsung for optimized integration of high refresh rate display on a rather low-powered Exynos 850 chipset.

M12 is able to offer fluid scroll and animation in most apps. But, the notification shade and quick toggle area are permanently locked to 60Hz. Interestingly, it is also an adaptive display that can switch to 60Hz while the screen is not in use which is not the case on the more expensive A32.

The high refresh rate also gives it an impression of being a fast phone which it is certainly not.

The 720p display helps in this case as the GPU doesn't have to work as hard to keep things running at a high refresh rate. But it comes with a caveat as this panel is not even as good as the display of A12 when it comes to sharpness and overall quality.

Design

Samsung M12 is one of the good-looking M-series smartphones. If you look at the design of the M31 and M51, they look pretty plain but they have an impressive spec sheet. While the M12 doesn't have a top-of-the-line spec, it gets a really good design.

The rear panel has a dual-tone finish with a textured finish on the top half and a plain finish on the bottom half. It clearly looks like a mid-range phone rather than a budget phone.

M12 is a chunky phone weighing in at 221g and measuring 9.7mm thick. Thanks to this, it gets a very good battery life. The front bezels are what you expect from a budget phone at this price range, though it is becoming very old at this point and a refresh would be a welcome change in the new iteration.

Like most of the new phones, M12 has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor integrated into the power button. On the other side, it gets a triple-slot tray with two nano-sim and a MicroSD support.

Camera

Samsung Galaxy M12 has the same camera setup as its A-series counterpart, the A12. There's a triple camera setup on the rear with a 48MP ISOCELL GM2 main sensor, a 5MP depth sensor, a 2MP depth sensor, and a 2MP macro sensor.

For a budget phone, the M12 takes fairly good pictures with its 48MP main sensor especially during daytime outdoors. The details are fine and the dynamic range is pretty decent on the normal 12MP photos.  The 5MP Ultra wide-angle camera is average at best. As it captures photos with low detail, the textures get lost even in bright daylight.

Performance

Samsung Galaxy M12 keeps things neat and tidy when it comes to performance. Lag and stutter are noticeable when you're navigating through the interface or switching between apps, but it feels smooth most of the time.

Exynos 850 on M12 feels improved compared to last year's Galaxy A21s. Exynos 850 is clearly not a performance-oriented chipset. If you want good gaming performance at budget, M12 isn't the phone for you.

Battery and charging

With a 6000mAh battery and an efficient chipset, M12 can deliver two days of battery life on moderate use. It can easily last for more than a day even with heavy use.

Battery life is exceptional but the charging is pretty normal. A 15W fast charging support is decent at this price tag. It takes almost 3 hours to charge the phone from 0 to 100

Speaker and security

Like most budget phones, Samsung M12's speaker doesn't feel loud. It is good enough indoors without any ambient noise but the speaker will feel a bit tiny outdoors.

It is also a single bottom-firing speaker and doesn't get a stereo setup.

In terms of security, you get a fingerprint sensor that works really well. It is fast and consistent. The face unlock is also fast but it doesn't work well in poor light conditions.

Software

M12 runs on One UI Core 3.1 on top of Android 11.

With this, you get a very limited set of features as it doesn't come with a built-in screen recorder, always-on display, or secure folder. But, the integration of Google News on the home screen is a much welcome change. Except for the cut down on these features, the experience is pretty much the same as we get from mid-range M-series phones.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy M12?

Yes! You should. And, I'm referring to those who want a high refresh rate experience on a budget but are willing to sacrifice gaming performance and a sharper display.

If you can look past its low-powered Exynos chipset, then it is an excellent option with a good camera, splendid battery life, and a smooth software experience.

While it's arguable if it's the best phone under Rs. 20,000. It is definitely one of the best phones under Rs. 20,000.

Pros

  • Good build
  • Good main camera
  • 90Hz panel
  • Impressive battery and fast charging

Cons

  • Display is not sharp
  • Low-light camera performance is not good
  • Not a performance-oriented phone