When it comes to the mid-range segment, people prefer buying phones from brands like Redmi, Realme, Poco, Oppo, Vivo, Motorola, and others—basically all Chinese handsets. That’s because one can get the most value for their money when buying phones from these brands. Also Read - How to enable Data Saver mode on Android smartphones: Here is a step-by-step guide
However, there are also some buyers that still (in 2023) prefer buying non-Chinese phones. Well, there’s only one prominent option when we talk about non-Chinese brands and that’s Samsung. Also Read - Apple iPad most-selling tablet in March quarter, followed by Samsung Galaxy Tabs
But Samsung lately has been notorious for overpricing its phones, what that means is buyers must go out of their budget only to get a good Samsung handset. Also Read - Samsung Galaxy S23 to get new Refreshing Lime shade
Samsung recently launched its new budget phone dubbed Samsung Galaxy M14 5G in India. The device offers a minimal design and has capable hardware given its price segment.
And it looks like, buyers aren’t at a loss when buying the phone, unlike some other handsets from Samsung. That said, I took the Galaxy M14 5G for a spin for a few days to find out whether it’s worth your money or if you are better of with other Chinese alternatives.
Samsung Galaxy M14 5G: Design and Display
The Samsung Galaxy M14 5G isn’t a fancy smartphone, rather it’s for those who like simpler and cleaner looks. The device isn’t about big camera modules, textures, or brandings. It’s about keeping things minimal.
In fact, the silver colorway that I have doesn’t clearly show off the Samsung logo on the back. You’ll have to hold the device at different angles to see it. So, the point is, Samsung hasn’t worked on adding fancy textures or anything of that sort, which we do see otherwise in this segment.
Having said that, the design of the phone could be subjective. I would keep it simple. If you give the device to your parents, they would simply like its design. On the other hand, if you hand it over to the youth, they may find it boring.
For me, though, I like the design, even though am not elderly. I like the cleaner back of the Galaxy M14 5G as opposed to the textured back of the Galaxy A14 5G, which costs a bit more but keeps similar hardware.
The back holds a triple camera setup placed vertically and has an LED flash unit. It is made up of plastic that wraps around the sides.
There’s a power button and a volume on the right spine and a SIM ejector tool on the left side. At the bottom, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack, a primary microphone, a Type-C port, and a speaker grille. On the top side, there’s the secondary microphone.
Keeping the back aside, the front is another reason why the youth may find it boring. That’s because of the water-drop notch panel, which Samsung should have shelved off from all its sub-Rs 20,000 segment phones. But it’s there.
A water-drop notch-style display in 2023 feels traditional. Keep it on the desk with the screen turned on and anybody would notice and judge it to be either an older phone or a cheaper entry-level phone.
As you’d expect in this range, it’s an LCD panel but of good quality. The has rich colors and is enough sharp for reading e-books and streaming content. After all, it’s an FHD+ resolution panel that boasts a 90Hz refresh rate, which is a welcome upgrade over the predecessor’s 60Hz refresh rate screen.
Although, a 120Hz refresh rate would have been better. Nonetheless, it’s a great panel overall that’s protected by Gorilla Glass 5. I wish it was slightly brighter since the display was barely visible in harsh sunlight.
Interestingly, the 6.6-inch screen supports Widevine L1 certification so you can easily watch HD content on Netflix and other OTT apps. The device weighs 201 grams which is slightly heavier but that’s for a reason to which we’d get later in this article.
Samsung Galaxy M14 5G: Cameras
By the looks of it, the camera setup on the Galaxy M14 5G may not draw eyeballs since it has a basic camera alignment. However, the main lens paired with the software processing may impress you in some scenarios.
Samsung has concerted three cameras on the back. It’s led by a 50MP main lens, a 2MP depth, and a 2MP macro lens. The main camera shoots good daylight shots and even nightlight shots are good depending on the amount of light.
Sometimes, though, in daylight, the sky gets blown out. I tried the dedicated Night mode as well and it works but sometimes it adds a lot more light which makes the shot look hazy.
So, it’s better to take control of the exposure when clicking pictures. As for camera modes, there are Pro, Panorama, Food, Macro, and Portrait modes. All work as intended but I like the Pro and Macro mode the most.
You can have a look at the original quality images on Flicker.
Moving to the video, the device shoots average video. It lacks optical stabilization but the video comes out to be sharp. The maximum the device can shoot is 1080p 30fps video from both the front and the rear camera.
There are face filters and options to smoothen the skin tone—features like these can be useful for some.
Samsung Galaxy M14 5G: Performance
At the helm, there’s the Exynos 1330 SoC that keeps the phone running even in heavy tasks. Thanks to this 5nm chip, the phone feels fluid to use. Although the refresh rate is 90Hz, scrolling is smooth, app opening is quick, and there is no stutter whatsoever.
In my more than a week’s usage, the phone didn’t lag a single time. I have the 6GB variant and does help in keeping a few tabs open in the background.
The device scored 4,00,000+ points on AnTuTu and maintained a stability score of 78 percent. The new Exynos beats Snapdragon 4 Gen 1, Snapdragon 680, and some other similar SoCs.
While the chip inside is doing its job well, I think the software here plays a major role. Samsung’s One UI is one of the top custom skins in the Android space and this one rocks the Core edition UI.
That said, there’s less load, and overall, the phone’s performance is fluid. My unit runs on Android 13 out of the box and has One UI Core 5.1 with April’s security patch.
Interestingly, Samsung will offer up to two years of OS updates and security updates will also be taken care of for up to four years. The skin has less bloatware, I mean some pre-installed apps including LinkedIn, Outlook, etc, so there’s nothing to worry about.
Most importantly, there are no ads as such in the UI, which is the case with many Chinese phones.
One of the major selling points of the M14 5G will be its battery. The device packs a mammoth 6,000mAh battery, which will offer a solid 2-day battery life. I was able to use the phone for three days with light usage which involves calling, WhatsApp, YouTube, listening to music, and some GPS.
It’s an easy recommendation for everyone with battery anxiety. Take the phone and forget it, simple. The bigger battery is the reason for the slight heft, which I mentioned above. But that’s alright since it’s not too heavy.
What’s not alright is the charging speed. The massive battery supports 25W fast charging, which, although, is fast isn’t the fastest. Samsung really needs to up its game when it comes to charging speed.
Similarly priced phones come with 33W or up to 67W fast charging. Since the battery is big, the phone takes around three hours to charge fully.
Moving to the connectivity, the device has dual-SIM 5G support and comes with Wi-Fi 6/6E supporting up 5GHz frequency. It also has recent Bluetooth support and boasts GPS. I tried pairing up my Galaxy Buds 2 and the connection was seamless.
The calls were clear and the network reception on Jio was pretty good. The device has a 3.5mm headphone jack for audio, which is great, but unfortunately, features a mono speaker setup.
Although the speaker is loud and clear, I wished Samsung had offered a stereo speaker system.
Apart from this, the device has a side-mounted fingerprint scanner and facial unlock support. Both are responsive and work most of the time.
Samsung Galaxy M14 5G: Verdict
At a price of around Rs 15,000, the Galaxy M14 5G is a device for those looking to buy a good Samsung smartphone. It offers a good display, an impressive main camera for the price, a solid battery life, and amazing software. Samsung also promises long software and security support for the phone, unlike other brands.
However, the device does have some missing pieces. It lacks true high refresh rate support, i.e. 120Hz, a faster charging speed, and a stereo speaker setup.
Overall, if you manage to grab the device under Rs 15,000, then it’s a solid budget choice in the market. However, if you are low on cash and have a budget of Rs 20,000, then there are many other choices provided that you are alright with buying a phone from a Chinese brand.
In the said segment, Motorola’s G73 5G and some phones like Realme GT Neo 3T (in sale) are solid options.