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The Galaxy M12 is the cheapest phone in the Galaxy M series, but when the line was first introduced two years ago, being the cheapest phone didn’t necessarily mean a boring spec sheet. The Galaxy M12 has the same large battery as other Galaxy M smartphones, but it’s also unique with its 90Hz display, which surprised everyone when the phone was announced.
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The rest of the spec sheet is nothing special. It is combined with a 90 Hz refresh rate LCD display with HD resolution and a battery charging speed of 15 W. There’s a 48-megapixel primary rear camera with low-resolution ultra-wide, macro and depth sensors, the software is basic One UI 3.1 (which means Samsung’s best features are removed), and it’s powered by a low-end Exynos 850. chipset.
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But does that mean the Galaxy M12 shouldn’t be on your list when buying a new phone? Not really, and this review will tell you why.
In Samsung’s M series phones, the beauty of the design is inversely proportional to how good a given sheet is. For devices with impressive features like the M31s or M51, Samsung opts for a simple and boring design. For devices that don’t have many flashy features, the company focuses more on design, and the Galaxy M12 is another example of that.
The back panel of the M12 looks great, with a few diagonal lines running across the back, and the rest of it looking plain texture-free with the Samsung logo on it. This design allows the phone to easily transition to something more premium, and the texture on the back panel also provides a great grip.
As you’d expect, the Galaxy M12 is a heavy phone, weighing in at 221 grams, but you get two days of battery life in return. The front panels are also quite large, at least compared to the cheapest M-series and A-series phones. Still, you wouldn’t expect anything from a Samsung device at this price, although it’s pretty dated now, and I wish the company would change.
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The fingerprint sensor is built into the power button, and like all capacitive fingerprint readers, it reacts instantly and is very accurate. For those wondering what’s in the box, it only has a 15W charger and a USB-A to USB-C cable. No hair, no headphones.
The 90Hz refresh rate is the only saving grace of the Galaxy M12’s display. The screen is not very clear, the colors are dull and the brightness level is not very warm. But I wonder how well the higher refresh rate works here, the Exynos 850 is so focused on performance despite being a modestly low-end processor. Works better on the M12 than the A32, which costs almost twice as much.
Except for the occasional lag when switching between apps or going to the home screen, the M12 is able to offer fluid scrolling and animations in most apps. However, like the Galaxy A32, which has a 90Hz screen, the notification shade and quick toggle area are permanently locked to 60Hz for some reason. The 90Hz mode also turns off when using apps like YouTube in picture-in-picture mode and navigating the UI and other apps at the same time.
Still, you’ll get a smooth scrolling experience 70-80% of the time in most apps. The display’s lower resolution means the GPU doesn’t have to work as hard to keep things running at their maximum refresh rate, and once again it’s amazing to see the Exynos 850 handle it so well. Unfortunately, the display is pretty average – an AMOLED display would have greatly improved the experience. I’m complaining given the M12’s starting price (Rs 10,999/$150).
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For a budget phone, the M12 with its 48-megapixel main camera takes great pictures outdoors during the day and even at night when there is a lot of artificial light. With very little artificial light, photos turn out noisy and dark, and there is no night mode. In fact, the camera app has very few modes – you can only choose from Pro, Panorama, Portrait and Food modes.
The 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera just gets the job done. Even photos taken in bright daylight have a watercolor effect and color reproduction is not very accurate. Ultra-detailed night pictures have a lot of noise and very poor dynamic range. As for the 2-megapixel depth and macro cameras, the less said about them, the better. Bokeh photos look good enough, but the macro camera’s megapixel count is too low for any meaningful results.
Selfies are often too soft, although skin tones are mostly accurate. At the same time, recording a video is a very simple matter. It shoots Full HD at a high 30fps, and videos are slightly shaky with motion due to the lack of optical image stabilization, which is standard fare for Samsung’s mid-range and budget phones, or even the Galaxy. A52 and Galaxy A72 appeared.
As you might have guessed from the display section of this review, the Galaxy M12 performs very well, at least for the asking price. There are occasional lags when navigating the interface or switching between apps, but overall the phone keeps things running smoothly. That’s a stark contrast to last year’s Galaxy A21s, which had a 60Hz display and the same processor and still had a lot of lag.
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Gaming performance is a bit more interesting: you can easily experience graphics-intensive titles like Call of Duty and Asphalt 9 at the lowest settings. That’s pretty good for a chipset like the Exynos 850, and you can’t expect much from a Galaxy device at this price point. In short, this is not a gamer’s phone.
The Galaxy M12 runs One UI Core 3.1 on top of Android 11 and has a very limited feature set. No always-on display, no built-in screen recorder, no Samsung Pay, no Bixby, no secure folder… the list goes on. You get basic features like one-handed mode, dual messenger, theme support, game launcher, actions and gestures.
. There’s also Quick Sharing for quickly transferring files to other Galaxy devices via Wi-Fi Direct, and Music Sharing for sharing Bluetooth audio devices with others.
The Galaxy M12 will likely receive two major OS updates, similar to previous devices like the Galaxy M10, but don’t expect these updates to bring many new features considering the software is out-of-the-box.
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Thanks to the powerful Exynos 850 chipset and 6,000 mAh battery, the Galaxy M12 can last two days with light to moderate use on a single charge. And a full day is possible even with heavy use. If battery life is a concern of yours, the Galaxy M12 will make you very happy. Don’t expect ultra-fast charging. It is powered by a 15W charger (a 15W charger is included in the box) that takes two hours and 45 minutes to charge the battery from 0 to 100.
The Galaxy M12, like all of Samsung’s recent mid-range and budget phones, has very quiet speakers that cannot be heard even with the slightest noise. There’s also no headphones in the box, so you’ll need to bring your own, but having Dolby Atmos means wired and Bluetooth audio will be fine. Calls that need to be received on the headset to hear the other person properly work fine and enable network reception. However, unlike other M-series phones, you don’t support carrier aggregation, so you can only connect to 4G/LTE networks, not 4G+/ or LTE-A networks.
I was impressed with the Galaxy M12, as you may have guessed from reading the title of this review. Display quality is fairly average, but the 90Hz refresh rate works well for most of the time and allows for smooth animations and scrolling.
Battery life is excellent, performance is good despite the low-end Exynos chipset, and the main camera works well in good natural or artificial light. You also get the latest Android and Samsung software, although it’s not the most feature-rich.
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If you’re looking to buy a smartphone under $150, the Galaxy M12 is a great choice that packs a user experience that punches above its weight. buy it
PS: Want to know something about Galaxy M12 not reviewed? Ask me in the comments section and I’ll do my thing
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