Review: Samsung Galaxy A31 packs a powerful punch, but at a price

Cape Town – Mid-tier market smartphones have to work hard to get your attention. As one of the most popular and most populous of segments, these are the phones that South Africans buy in droves with the smallest differences ending up as the biggest factor when they choose one. That, combined with an economy set to increase prices, these phones have to impress to catch your eye and wallet.

Enter the Samsung Galaxy A31, baby sibling to the A51 and successor to last year’s A30. The A-Series is a big seller for the Korean brand and so they’re working hard to convince you to upgrade for the key headline features. Let’s discuss those features.

Samsung keeps three things in mind when it comes to their phones: “Awesome screen, awesome camera, long-lasting battery life”. It’s a catchy phrase for the TV adverts, but it’s also nice of them to indicate where they focused on and what we must pay more scrutiny towards.

The Galaxy A31 packs a 6.4-inch 2400×1080 UHD+ display bursting with colour and brightness. Photo: Sam Spiller

At first handling, the A31 is a buff box. Weighing 185 grams, it’s heavy compared to other Samsung A-Series phones. That said, it’s still a comfortably-sized phone to use. It’s better described as a tall phone rather than a phablet, measuring 159.3mm tall and 73.1mm wide. It sits comfortably in the hand and while any device these days can be difficult to wrap around, holding and operating it with the same hand is possible with one’s thumb free to traverse a fair distance. There is something that stands out in its appearance, though.The 6.4-inch display of the A31 is saddled with a large black chin at the bottom. Seriously, the gap between the lower bezel and the display is immense, bordering on being big enough to house the home buttons that previously would have been there. I can only assume this extension is thanks to the technicals stuffed inside it, but it is very noticeable thanks to the current trend of the front of your phone being nothing but screen.

Probably responsible for weighing and heightening the A31 is what I believe to be its best feature, the battery. This 5 000mAh power canister is a beast and combined with a restrained, Mediatek Octa-Core processor, one can get by on a full charge for two full days, possibly a third depending on your usage. This is the same battery that Samsung has put in their flagship S20 lineup and what it’s doing here in the lower end of their mid-tier lineup is a bit of a mystery. Still, I’m glad it’s here and it’s wonderful.

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