Tech reviews

Samsung Galaxy M14 5G review

When testing entry-level smartphones, I usually have lowered expectations as most devices fail to deliver on key aspects. However, every once in a while, there comes a phone that just exceeds all my expectations by punching above its weight, and the Galaxy M14 5G seems to be one such device.

Samsung’s newly launched Galaxy M14 is an affordable 5G smartphone that seems to deliver a complete smartphone experience on a budget. In a world where devices from Redmi and Realme rule, does a budget Samsung phone stand any chance? Check out my comprehensive review of the Samsung Galaxy M14 5G to find out.

The back panel comes with a glossy finish and offers enough grip. (Image credit: Vivek Umashankar / Indian Express)

Design: Practical but not fancy

The Samsung Galaxy M14 is the most minimalistic-looking phone in the Rs 14,000 price range in India. Despite being a budget offering, the design language is in line with that of the flagship S23 series, and I am a fan of the triple camera array on the back, although only one of them pulls all the weight.

Like most phones in this price range, the Galaxy M14 has a plastic body. However, unlike brands, the South Korean tech company isn’t ashamed of that and doesn’t try to make it look like a glass back panel. The glossy back panel of the Galaxy M14 is a smudge magnet, however, it offers plenty of grip and the phone doesn’t slip that easily.

Just as one would expect, the Galaxy M14 has everything that they want from a mid-range phone, including a dedicated microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It also has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor. All-in-all, Samsung doesn’t compromise on delivering a core smartphone experience on the Galaxy M14.

Samsung Galaxy M14 5G has a 90Hz FHD+ resolution display. (Image credit: Vivek Umashankar / Indian Express)

Display: Definitely needs some improvement

The phone comes with a large 6.6-inch FHD+ screen with a 90Hz refresh rate. It also has Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection, a rarity among phones in this price range. However, the dated Infinity-V notch, chunkier bezel, and subpar brightness take away a few points from this phone.

The display on the Galaxy M14 works well in most situations, such as casual gaming, content consumption, and even during endless social media scrolling as long as you are using it indoors. However, under direct sunlight, the display loses its charm, and this is one area where the company has cut corners, most likely to arrive at this price point.

The phone has a triple camera setup with a 50MP primary sensor. (Image credit: Vivek Umashankar / Indian Express)

Cameras: Consider this a one-camera phone

The triple camera module gives Galaxy M14 a premium look. However, the specs sheet tells an entirely different story. The phone has a 50MP primary camera with an f/1.8 aperture accompanied by two 2MP cameras. At the front, there is a 13 MP selfie camera with an f/2.0 aperture.

The phone takes good photos in the day-light situation. (Image credit: Vivek Umashankar / Indian Express)
The camera does capture a lot of details with bright and vivid colours. (Image credit: Vivek Umashankar / Indian Express)
Due to the higher resolution and wider aperture, even the photos from indoor lighting conditions look good. (Image credit: Vivek Umashankar / Indian Express)
The 2MP macro camera does an average job. (Image credit: Vivek Umashankar / Indian Express)
The phone takes impressive selfies with accurate skin tone. (Image credit: Vivek Umashankar / Indian Express)
Even the portrait mode works pretty well and does a good job when it comes to edge detection. (Image credit: Vivek Umashankar / Indian Express)

When it comes to camera performance, there is nothing special here. However, this does not mean that the cameras are futile. Under good lighting, they capture decent shots. Following are some sample pictures to help you judge the camera performance.

The device is powered by the Exynos 1330 SoC with up to 6GB RAM. (Image credit: Vivek Umashankar / Indian Express)

Galaxy M14 is adequately powerful

The Exynos 1330 is not offering an award-winning performance. Regardless, it manages brilliantly by offering adeqate performance and can withstand daily tasks such as extensive social media scrolling, video streaming, uninterrupted music streaming. And to my delight, even with continuous usage, the device did not heat up.

Again, this is not a phone to pay BGMI at 90fps, but if you are a casual gamer, the phone can easily handle it without breaking a sweat.

The phone ships with Android 13-based OneUI 5.1. (Image credit: Vivek Umashankar / Indian Express)

Flagship class software experience

The Galaxy M14 ships with Android 13-based OneUI 5.1 and the company has confirmed that the phone will get two major Android OS updates and four years of security updates. The software is well optimised and the phone feels snappy in most scenarios. However, when compared to more expensive Samsung phones, the Galaxy M14 comes strapped with bloatware.

The phone offers excellent 5G download speeds on the Jio network (Image credit: Vivek Umashankar / Indian Express)

Excellent connectivity, superior battery life

This is a 5G-capable smartphone and it supports both NSA and SA 5G networks. In simpler words, the Samsung Galaxy M14 supports both Jio and Airtel 5G networks. To my surprise, I got higher 5G speeds on the Jio network on the Galaxy M14 when compared with the almost 10 times costlier Galaxy S23 Ultra. And, this says a lot about the 5G modem on this phone.

The phone comes with a 6,000 mAh battery with 25W fast charging. (Image credit: Vivek Umashankar / Indian Express)

Coming to the battery life, the backup of the 6,000 mAh battery with support for 25W fast charging at this price range just blew my mind. For me, this is the first phone that lasted for over two days on a single charge. This phone could easily last for about one-and-a-half days for heavy users. The phone comes with just a USB cable and the charger has to be bought separately.

The phone delivers on the core smartphone performance with excellent battery life and connectivity (Image credit: Vivek Umashankar / Indian Express)

Verdict: Easy to suggest budget 5G phone

Samsung has finally made a compelling 5G phone that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. This is competitively priced and goes head-to-head against the contemporaries. If you could overlook the subpar display and a mono speaker, the Galaxy M14 is a great phone, especially for those, who are looking for a 5G phone with excellent battery life.

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First published on: 29-04-2023 at 10:00 IST


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