The year 2019 has been a rather special one for Samsung as they have managed to capture back a market that was slowly slipping away from its grasp. With the newly-formed M-Series of budget handsets, Samsung has managed to disrupt a segment in only the way that they know how. The M-Series handsets are critical masterpieces and Samsung’s strategy of launching handsets in various segments has propelled them back to the summit. With this series of handsets, you get models like the M10 for selling as low as Rs 7,990 and right up to the M30 which goes as high as Rs 17,990.
In a move that literally came out of nowhere, Samsung recently launched the Galaxy M40, a smartphone that defies all expectations. It features a design that’s similar to the flagship, Galaxy S10, a triple rear sensor and most notably it is placed in a price bracket where these specifications aren’t common for a brand that boasts such a lofty reputation.
Having spent a few days with this handset, here are our unbiased thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy M40, a handset that comes with several series firsts such as a Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC, a punch-hole display and the well-received One UI.
The Samsung Galaxy M40 bucks the trend that had been set with previous M-Series handsets and instead of looking like a budget model, this handset comes with a restrained class that very few smartphone manufacturers can replicate. Available in two variants of Blue — Midnight Blue and Seawater Blue, both variants have their own charm that can appeal to a wide audience. In a time where smartphones are fitted with various layers that produce gradient shades depending on how the light touches it, the Samsung Galaxy M40 is finished in an unapologetic monotone rear that oozes appeal. While there are no gradient finishes here, it does have a beautifully curved glossy back panel that looks as classy as some of the handsets that are above the Rs 50K price mark.
Being a midrange device, there are some compromises. Instead of a glass back, Samsung has fitted a polycarbonate shell that has a glass-like finish. It will be really hard pressed to tell the difference from afar and Samsung has done well with the overall design of the M40. The chassis comes with the same finish as the rear and its curved sides make for comfortable handling. Having a glossy finish, the M40 is susceptible to a high amount of fingerprint residue thereby causing the handset to look a bit shabby. The argument always persists — should you use a handset with or without a case? In this case, merely for its aesthetic appeal, we would recommend using a case that not only shows off the design but also prevents smudges. There is a drawback to adding a case as well. By adding a rear protector, you may tend to bulk up the overall width of the M40. Also, being a fairly slim and lightweight handset, you also tend to lose out on the overall handling as Samsung intended. If this isn’t an issue and you have no problem compromising the handling experience for the sake of the design then go ahead and use a case.
The triple camera’s bump isn’t that large as some of the other handsets seen in the market, but it isn’t as flush as some of its Chinese counterparts. The LED flash is located below the vertically aligned rear cameras; giving it a very modern look. The rear also plays home to an oblong fingerprint sensor and setting up your fingerprint is pretty unique. Instead of repeatedly tapping the sensor, all one is required to do is swipe the desired finger on the sensor to register it. This is one of the fastest fingerprint setups we have ever done.
A feature we didn’t appreciate here was the lack of a headphone jack. While it’s true Samsung has done all it can to shrink the M40 as much as it can, losing out on this port is a serious miss. We understand the entire world is going wireless but having that option is always a nice gesture. As a remedy, Samsung has included a pair of really great sounding Type-C earphones as a part of the packaging. The other prominent design inclusions here are the use of a USB Type-C port, easily accessible buttons, and a hybrid SIM tray.
Overall, the design of the M40 stands tall in a crowd dominated by flashy devices.
The handset is fitted with a gorgeous 6.3-inch PLS LCD display which happens to be Samsung’s proprietary technology so you can be rest assured that the brand has fine-tuned it to produce the best possible results without any compromises. Coming to the main headlining feature of the Samsung Galaxy M40, the handset is fitted with an Infinity-O display. If you recall, this is a similar display that’s used on Samsung’s flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S10 and it’s rumoured to make its way on to the Galaxy Note 10 as well. Having a punch-hole display on a smartphone priced under Rs 20K is no small feat and it shows Samsung’s commitment to this midrange segment by aggressively adding features that are common in smartphones above the Rs 30,000 mark. With that being said, Samsung hasn’t used an OLED panel here but rather an LCD display which hardly takes away any of the shine of the Galaxy M40.
The M40 features slim bezels on three sides and a slight chin; which doesn’t take away any of the smartphone’s appeal. If you actually stop to analyse the price of the handset with this punch-hole LCD display, Samsung has done seriously well to keep its sides down to a minimum. The LCD display is one of the most responsive we have seen and swiping through the content here is an absolute breeze. In fact, we were pleasantly surprised to see how fluid it actually is.
The Samsung Galaxy M40 comes with a high-quality display that’s not just bright but also vibrant. This display reminds us of Samsung flagships of old that used to come with the rich, vibrant colours that made them instant fan favourites. Colours here are vivid and crisp even completely viewable in direct sunlight due to the nearly 500 nits brightness. Viewing angles are great as well which makes this device great for media consumption.
Overall, we give this display a strong 5 out of 5 as we rarely see a flagship-grade display on a smartphone priced this competitively.
The Samsung Galaxy M40 comes with Samsung’s One UI 1.1, the same OS that’s found on the brand’s flagship Galaxy S10 devices. For years, Samsung had been limited by its clunky and rather overbearing UI and with this latest operating system, the brand gives you a software that’s not just extremely light but has a lot of similarities to a stock Android handset.
In comparison to the Galaxy S10, the features on this One UI handset are a bit slim; however, it is packed with enough features that offer an intuitive experience. With this skin, you get all the goodness of Android 9 Pie, the software which this handset is based on such as gesture navigation, double tap to wake, Digital Wellbeing, one-handed mode and a lot more. The only feature we found lacking here was the full version of Samsung Galaxy Pay that’s in-built on the Galaxy A70, one of the trendiest smartphones available this month. Interestingly, the handset also comes with a dedicated Dark Mode here but the true blacks here are missing due to the lack of an OLED display. However, it’s pretty great that Samsung added it in nonetheless and way ahead of Android Q, where the feature will appear by default.
With this handset, Samsung aims to give you the best experience even when it comes to content consumption as this handset comes with Widevine L1. With this feature in tow, you can watch HD content on popular video streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. The sound her on the M40 is also taken care off by Dolby Atmos which gives you an all-around media experience.
Lastly, the handset should be upgradable to at least two major Android updates which are namely Android Q and Android R. So, in other words, this device is pretty future-proof; at least where software updates are concerned.
The Samsung Galaxy M40 is fitted with a Snapdragon 675 SoC and paired with 6GB of LPDDR4 RAM along with a massive 128GB of onboard storage. In the performance department, the Galaxy M40 truly excels causing us no problems whatsoever. For those who are interested in comparing smartphones based on its specifications, this is the same processor that fitted on a host of other handsets such as the costlier Galaxy A70, the Redmi Note 7 Pro, the vivo V15 Pro, the Meizu Note 9 and other smartphones that have fared extremely well this year.
This is a performance-oriented octa-core midrange processor and it comes with two performance-based Kyro 460 cores clocked at 2.0GHz and six Kyro 460 cores that are clocked at 1.7GHz. With these in play, you can be assured of 15 per cent faster app launches, and up to a massive 35 per cent improvement in web browsing speeds. Another major plus point with this processor is that it supports triple camera configurations, which is another highlighted feature of the Galaxy M40. This chipset comes with an enhanced version of the Spectra 250 ISP that allows it to easily take care of three camera sensors simultaneously. In fact, this chipset is so good that it is on par with the Snapdragon 710, a processor that belongs to a higher category.
When it comes to raw performance, the Galaxy M40 excels in everything that’s thrown at it; be it multitasking or pulling up apps from the background. Gaming on this device is an absolute pleasure and even with the settings turned up to maximum, it still performs without any lag or stutter. Although the device performed as advertised, we did notice some slight thermal issues when playing graphic intensive games at high settings. For the best possible experience, we suggest using medium settings for graphic heavy games.
The cameras on the Galaxy M40 are the other major talking point of this speedy handset. Fitted with a triple rear camera setup on the rear, the M40 boasts a 32MP primary sensor, a 5MP depth sensor and an 8MP ultra-wide angle lens. Combining these three sensors, you get pretty incredible shots and much better than some handsets that cost Rs 5,000 more. Samsung has done well to add this camera setup in the M40, as it is the same one that’s used on the Galaxy A70, a smartphone that fared extremely well in our review.
To break it down, the 32MP primary sensor comes with an F/1.7 aperture that’s wide enough to take in a lot of light which can help in low-light shots, the 8MP sensor comes with 123-degree field of view which is pretty impressive for a smartphone priced below Rs 20K and an F/2.2 5MP depth sensor that’s used for Samsung’s Live Focus mode which is the brand’s terminology for Portrait mode. Up front, there is a 16MP sensor that comes with an F/2.0 aperture that’s a solid performer as well.
On paper, the Galaxy M40 has very capable sensors and thankfully, this actually does translate into its performances. The rear sensors capture images well in varied lighting conditions with colours appearing natural with a fair amount of detail noticed as well. Like all handsets in and around its price range, there are a few drawbacks here and these are especially noticeable in indoor or low light shots. In well-lit environments, the M40 faces no such obstacles with images having the right amount of saturation and the perfect amount of punch that makes photos look appealing for not just social media but also as keepsakes. The Live Focus mode on the M40 stands head over shoulders above any other smartphone in this price range as its edge-detection is near perfect. Samsung’s neat trick of adjusting the type of blur is another feature that can be a hit with users as you just don’t only get the standard blur, but various effects as well.
The battery is probably the only disappointing feature of the Galaxy M40. When brands are adding 4000mAh batteries on their handset in order to give nearly two days of battery life, Samsung has added a mere 3500mAh battery here. While using this handset as our primary device during the review period, at the end of the workday, with heavy usage the battery was completely dead. Luckily, there is fast charging support of 15W which tops up the battery fairly quickly.
The Samsung Galaxy M40 comes in a single configuration and is priced at Rs 19,990. For this price, you get a smartphone that comes with the coveted Infinity-O display at a price that pales in comparison to its rivals, a speedy chipset that’s found in handsets that cost a lot more and great snappers all around that give rivals a run for their money. While there may be other brands that offer similar specifications, they fail to match the assurances a Samsung can provide. If you plan on purchasing this device, you get transparency that only the South Korean tech giant can back and the peace of mind that only they can offer. If you do buy this handset, which we definitely recommend, you also are offered brand value and bragging rights and that will be the envy of many as you not just get the performance that the handset offers but value for every single rupee you spend....