Monday, August 19, 2019

Dawn of New Era for Samsung Galaxy M20?

India is fast outgrowing the sub-Rs 10,000 segment, at least that’s what one recent report would have us believe. And while it may not be the most conclusive report, we can tell from the products that get the biggest hype – the fluid mid-range segment ranging from Rs 12,000-Rs 15,000 in pricing, more or less. But Samsung is convinced the sub Rs 10,000 segment still has legs and is hedging its bets with the Galaxy M series.

The Galaxy M10 should make Samsung’s rivals worry. For the first time in a long time, Samsung has had to dig deep to arrest its slide in India. The Galaxy M10 can very well stop it; it could lead to a second coming for the brand, many label as aging and boring.

At first glance, the M10 fits that label but Samsung has priced it enticingly, which is the biggest deal about this phone. Starting at Rs 7,990, the Galaxy M10 competes with the Realme C1 (2019) and the Redmi 6 in India. The 3GB + 32GB variant is priced at Rs 8,999 in India. Both those phones are serious competition with Realme’s momentum and Redmi’s market standing, while Samsung has the pedigree of a premium brand with its after-sales service network. Does the M10 have enough to give them a tough fight? Let’s find out:
Samsung Galaxy M10 Specifications

Before we get started on our initial experience with the M10, here’s a look at the specs:
Display    6.22” HD+ PLS TFT, 720 x 1520 pixels
Processor    Samsung Exynos 7872 hexa-core 14nm SoC
RAM    2/3 GB RAM
Storage    32 GB, expandable upto 512GB via microSD
Battery    3,400mAh
Primary Cameras    Main Camera: 13MP AF, F1.9 + Ultra Wide: 5MP, F2.2
Secondary Camera    5MP (F2.0)
OS    Android 8.1 Oreo
Sensors    Accelerometer, Barometer, Face Unlock Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, Proximity Sensor, RGB Light Sensor
Network and Connectivity    LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/(2.4/5GHz) Dual VoLTE, Bluetooth 4.2, headphone jack

There are some notable omissions such as the lack of a fingerprint sensor, which does make the M10 seem less appealing. And we’ll see if it that impacts user experience negatively.

Samsung Galaxy M10: What’s in the Box

The M10’s retail package is rather spartan. The box doesn’t look like it contains much and that’s pretty much true, but it’s also expected given that this is a budget phone. This is what you get inside the box:

    Samsung Galaxy M10 smartphone
    1 x USB Type-A to Micro USB Cable
    1 x 5V 1A Charging Adapter
    1 x Ejection pin
    User Manuals

It would have been great if Samsung had thrown in a clear Silicone or PVC case along with the phone to keep the plastic back free from scratches.
Samsung Galaxy M10: Design and Build Quality

The Galaxy M10 has two stark design qualities that seem incompatible and half-thought at first glance. Let’s start with the front, which has that trendy teardrop notch, which the company calls Infinity-V. It’s the first time we are seeing a Samsung phone with a notch and it is less intrusive than most notches in this price segment. The screen to body ratio of the M10 is a healthy 81.6 % which is higher than the Realme C1 and Honor 9N, both phones with notches in this price range.

The all-glass front picks up fingerprints rather easily, and cleaning the panel turns into an hourly ritual. The notch and the slim bezels on top and the sides give the phone an unmistakable modern identity. The notch holds the 5MP front camera, which is also used for face unlock. There is the so-called chin and it’s pretty thick, relative to the top and sides. I don’t quite love the look, but it’s definitely a step above the competition.

That modern look is in stark contrast to the polycarbonate rear as I mentioned in the beginning of this section. The overall look of the rear seems years old, thanks to the lack of a fingerprint sensor. The only thing that hints at this being a 2019 phone is the dual 13MP+5MP (ultra-wide) camera module, which have become oh-so-common even in the budget segment. We have the Ocean Blue variant of the phone and the glossy plastic back doesn’t really have a premium feel. It’s a budget phone and it definitely feels like one as far as the back is concerned.

The sides of the phone are plastic too, since the back wraps around the side for a monolithic look. The glossy treatment on the sides starts looking dirty as soon as you use the phone for a few minutes. The left side has the SIM slot, while the right has a clicky power button below the volume rocker. You will find the 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom, along with micro USB port and the speaker holes.
Compared to Galaxy M20 (left)
Compared to Galaxy M20 (left)

The plastic build means handling the phone is easy and there’s no real sharp edges to be worried about. The phone feels light despite weighing 160 g, and is slim but it doesn’t feel flimsy.

I am not sure anyone will be bowled over by the M10’s design. It’s utilitarian at best and the back just looks too simple, rather than pleasantly minimal. Clearly, Samsung is confident the overall user experience will outweigh the plain design.
Samsung Galaxy M10: Display

The big talking point with this phone will be the presence of the Infinity V notch, which is a first for a Samsung phone, along with the Galaxy M20, which was also launched today. The notch is not intrusive and certainly doesn’t get in the way of the UI. It reminds us of the notch on the OnePlus 6T, which is not a bad thing.

One of the highlights of the M10 has to be the display. The 6.22-inch PLS TFT panel has a HD+ resolution of 720 x 1520 pixels with a 19:9 aspect ratio and around 271 ppi of pixel density. It’s a bright and vibrant panel which is a bit surprising given that it is a TFT panel, and not IPS. It has good viewing angles and the sunlight legibility is quite good too.

The overall color tone of the display is a little cool for my liking, with a noticeable blue tinge in white backgrounds. To be honest, we didn’t expect a flawless panel, but even so the Galaxy M10 has a really good display for the price range. I would say this is one of the top budget phone displays right now.

The front camera is also used for face unlock which works well, and shows this really cool rippling or wave effect around the notch when unlocking the phone.
Samsung Galaxy M10: Performance and Software

The Galaxy M10 is powered by the Samsung Exynos 7872 hexa-core 14nm SoC with 4 x 1.6 GHz Cortex-A53 cores and 2 x 2.0 GHz Cortex-A73 cores. For GPU, the chipset has the Mali-G71 MP1.

The phone didn’t seem bogged down by multiple apps open and didn’t seem to have any lag that got in the way of the user experience. We installed the latest version of some leading games, let two Google accounts sync to the phone, while also installing updates for other essential apps from the Play Store. The phone didn’t have any problems keeping all the open apps in memory either, which means Samsung has done a good job in terms of optimization of the memory.

For gaming, we tried out Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile. Neither game looked its best self on this phone, likely due to the less-than-top-tier hardware. Asphalt 9 showed some screen tearing when the cars went into hyper drive, while PUBG Mobile was smoothest at low settings. It’s not the best phone to have for someone who wants to keep gaming on the go, but it’s certainly more than good enough for casual gaming as well as shorter sessions.

The combination of the SoC as well as 3GB of RAM provided a decent, stutter-free experience in our first few days with the phone. We will be running extensive benchmark tests to compare the Exynos SoC’s performance in the next few days. Stay tuned for our full review to find out more.

The M10 runs Android 8.1 Oreo, with the Samsung Experience UI bringing its share of bloatware to the out-of-the-box software experience. Samsung has said the Galaxy M10 will only get Android Pie in August. That’s almost when Android Q is expected to be out. This is a major disappointment for potential buyers. And it only reinforces Samsung’s image of being lethargic when it comes to updates for the mid-range and budget segment.

Once you get used to the UI/UX quirks and Settings pages of Samsung Experience, the experience is more or less like any other budget phone with the only difference being the OEM skin. I won’t really pan Samsung Experience for the bloatware since the competition isn’t doing any better. At least, Samsung does not inject ads into your notification banner by default like on MIUI.
Samsung Galaxy M10: Cameras

Dual cameras are becoming very common in the budget segment, but not like the ones on the Galaxy M10. That’s because Samsung has added an ultra-wide sensor, instead of the typical depth sensor found in the competition. We have seen a similar sensor in action in the Galaxy A7 and A9 and the wide-angle definitely makes certain kinds of photos look more immersive and impactful.

As one might expect the rear camera has a host of shooting modes and options. Here’s a look at the UI of the rear camera’s modes and Pro photo settings.

Here are some samples from the rear camera:

And here are a couple of examples of the wide-angle camera in action:
Ultra-Wide Angle Camera
Main Camera
Ultra Wide Angle Camera
Main Camera

The notch on the front houses the 5MP f/2.0 selfie camera. These selfies are nothing great to speak of, but Samsung has added a Live Focus mode which helps you take shots with blurred background. You can also add stickers to you selfies – because, why not?
M10 Selfie with Live Focus mode
M10 Selfie Sample
M10 Stickers Sample

We aren’t quite ready to deliver a verdict for The Galaxy M10’s dual rear cameras. We will be comparing the the 13MP f/1.9 main camera and the 5MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera to the competition, so stay tuned for the full review which should be coming up soon.
Samsung Galaxy M10: Battery Life

Another key focus area for Samsung with the M10 is the battery. Samsung has packed in a 3,400 mAh battery, which falls short of what some of the competition offers – Realme C1, for example, has a 4,230 mAh battery. The Galaxy M10 should ideally provide all-day usage, and the smaller battery pack is likely to reduce the weight of the phone. At 160 g, it’s already on the heavy side so the weight must surely have been a consideration on Samsung’s part.

The Galaxy M10 doesn’t have fast charging support and comes with a standard 5v 1A charging adapter in the box. Samsung has not mentioned any support for fast charging standards, unlike the Galaxy M20.

We will be doing our standard battery tests with the Galaxy M10 to see whether that battery is actually a problem.
Samsung Galaxy M10: First Impressions

I won’t lie: I was looking to be impressed by the Galaxy M10 before I went ahead and used the phone. But the first impression is that it’s an underwhelming device. Perhaps it’s down to the plain design of the back – we have become spoilt by the finish and look of some of Honor’s budget phones – or the fact that nothing on the specifications sheet seems to grab our attention from the outset.
Compared to Galaxy M20 (bottom)

It’s really a very run-of-the-mill kind of product. I would contend that while the M10 signals a new approach for Samsung, it might not be enough to take on the competition.

Of course, I could very well eat my words after using the phone extensively and coming at it from a budget user’s point of view. Samsung is hoping to change the budget segment user experience with the Galaxy M10 and over the course of this next week, we will be seeing exactly how it has gone about it and whether it works. Stay tuned for our full review, and do let us know what you think about Samsung’s specs and design decisions for the Galaxy M10.

    Samsung Galaxy M10
Last year’s Nvidia GTX 1060 was a mid-range champion that offered smooth and stable frame rates for a flawless 1080P gaming. Not only was it chasing the coat-tails of its big brother, the Nvidia GTX 1070, but it also locked horns with the AMD Radeon RX 580. The 6GB version of GTX 1060 was on top of the list of my recommendations for 1080P gaming builds.

It’s 2019 and enter the new RTX 2060, a successor to one of my favorites. The new card is based on Nvidia’s new Turing architecture, and it sits right below the more expensive RTX 2070, RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti in Nvidia’s current lineup of GPUs. We had a great time reviewing the RTX 2080 last year, and now, I am equally excited to put the new RTX 2060 through its paces.

I have been using the Founders Edition of the RTX 2060 GPU that carries a price tag of Rs. 31,000. It’s the cheapest RTX card out there, and it’s also your gateway to the world of real-time ray tracing. But is it a big enough upgrade to be worthy of your attention and wallet? That’s what we are here to find out:
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition Specs

Before we get started with the review and dip our toes into some benchmarks, let’s talk numbers, shall we? Here are the key specs that should give you an idea of what we are dealing with –
Architecture    Turing
CUDA Cores    1920
Base Clock    1365MHz
Boost Clock    1680MHz
Ray Tracing    Yes
Giga Rays    5
Memory Clock    14Gbps GDDR6
Memory Bus Width    192-bit
TDP    160W
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060: What’s in the Box

As is the case with many other GPUs, the box contents are fairly minimal when it comes to the RTX 2060 Founders Edition. Inside the box, you’ll get the GPU itself along with a standard set of booklets which you’ll end up ignoring if you know your way around computers.
Whats in the box rtx 2060
RTX 2060 Box Contents

    Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition
    Quick Start Guide
    Support Guide

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Design and Build Quality

Although the GPU is going to rest inside your PC, it’s essential that your card looks good and has glowing lights to make it look pretty when you peek inside through the cabinet window. Well, I am happy to report that the RTX 2060 looks and feels premium.
RTX 2060 top shot
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060

It follows the same design language as the other Founders Edition cards, and it looks identical to the other RTX cards. Much like the other cards in the lineup, 2060 also sports two fans to keep things cool while rendering demanding AAA titles like Battlefield V. I’ll talk more about the thermals later in this review.

Just like the RTX 2070 GPU, the RTX 2060 Founders Edition has a single 8-pin power connector on the front of the card. As you can see, it also lacks the NVLink SLI connectors as only the RTX 2080 and above support SLI. Around the back, you’ll see two DisplayPorts, a USB-C (for VirtualLink) and an HDMI 2.0 input.
RTX 2060 ports
Port selection on RTX 2060

No, I didn’t forget the GeForce RTX logo that lights up in Nvidia’s signature green. Just look at that beauty:
Glowing RTX logo
Glowing GeForce RTX logo

Overall, I’d say that the RTX 2060 Founders Edition looks great and is a well-built card. Of course, a lot of third-party cards will start showing up with funkier lighting and design, but the Founders Edition card will always have a special place on my shelf. I’ve always been a huge fan of the design language of these Founders Edition cards and the RTX 2060 is no exception.

    The RTX 2060 Founders Edition Looks Great and is well-built

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Performance

Alright, it’s the numbers time. In the performance section, we’ll be taking a look at what the RTX 2060 is really capable of. By the time you’ll finish reading this part, you’ll know exactly what you’re actually getting with the RTX 2060.

All the RTX 2060 cards right now have 6GB of super-fast GDDR6 memory that’s clocked at 14Gbps. We’re looking at 1920 CUDA cores, which, if you’re keeping a track, is exactly the same number that you would get with the GTX 1070.
RTX 2060 backplate
Back plate of Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition

Despite having less memory (6GB vs 8GB on the GTX 1070), the RTX 2060 can rip through the data at a rate of 336GB/s. It’s significantly better than what you would get with, say the GTX 1070, and its Ti variant. We won’t be diving deep into a comparison here, but you’ll see how the RTX 2060 chews through most AAA titles without breaking a sweat.

Also, if you are a spec nerd, then I am sure you must have noted that the RTX 2060 runs a bit slower than both the GTX 1060 and the GTX 1070 with a base clock of 1365MHz and a boost clock of 1680MHz. Again, the third-party cards may have a slightly higher clock speed (both base and boost), but that’s not a deal breaker, really. Why? Well, I’ll let the benchmarking and real-world gaming performance do the talking.

For the purpose of this testing, I installed the RTX 2060 on a test bench with other components like AMD Ryzen 7 2700 coupled with 16GB of DDR4-3200MHz RAM. All the games and the benchmarking tools were loaded on a 500GB HDD, whereas the OS was loaded on a 120GB SSD.

    RTX 2060 chews through most AAA titles without breaking a sweat

If you’re planning to pair the RTX 2060 with high-end components like we did (which you should BTW), you’ll be plowing through almost every AAA title out there, for real. Here, see the results yourself –
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition Synthetic Benchmarks
RTX 2060 Synthetic Benchmark Graph
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition Synthetic Benchmarks. Scores represent Avg FPS

As a part of a standard procedure, I started with some benchmarking tools like 3DMark, PCMark, etc., and I must say that I finished my benchmark tests with some good numbers. In 3DMark’s TimeSpy Extreme test, our system managed to get a graphics score of 3,327 while maintaining well over 100FPS. The GPU, however, struggled with just over 20FPS when I ran the TimeSpy Extreme 4K test. That’s not really surprising since the RTX 2060 is not ideal for 4K gaming.

In 3DMark’s Port Royal Ray Tracing test (1080p), we got an average of close to 30FPS. When it comes to PCMark10 and VRMark Orange test, our system scored 5,440 and 8,449 respectively. I also tried the Blender test, in which we usually time how long it takes a GPU to render a 3D object in Blender. I rendered an image of a BMW car, and the GPU finished it in 314 seconds.

We tested the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition with a similar set of benchmarking software and you can find those results in our full review of the RTX 2080 GPU.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition Gaming Performance

First, I ran all the games at 1920×1080 resolution and the highest possible in-game graphics settings (Very High, Ultra, Extreme, etc.) to push the GPU to its limits. You can get better results by going for custom graphics settings and tweak Motion Blur, View Distance, and more as per your needs.

Here’s a quick look at the average FPS that I managed to get –
Gaming Performance RTX 2060
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition Gaming Performance. Scores are Average FPS

The graph, which you see above, clearly sums up the 1080P gaming performance of the RTX 2060. But where this particular GPU really shines is gaming at 2560×1440. Yes, I did play a similar set of games in 1440P and I had a huge smile on my face during the test. The GPU managed to punch through a lot of titles with near flawless 60fps on near-ultra settings. With a little bit of graphics tweaking, I was able to play a lot of titles at playable frame rates. Check out the graph below –
Gaming performance rtx 1440p
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition Gaming Performance. Scores represent Avg FPS

As you can see, the RTX 2060 was averaging well over 60fps at 2560×1440 resolution. Of course, you won’t be able to play all these titles at the highest possible settings, but it’s impressive to see that RTX 2060 can churn out so much power. These are the kind of numbers you’d get with, say, the GTX 1070Ti.

Look, I can keep going with all these numbers to show how powerful the RTX 2060 really is, but I think you already have a clear picture in front of you. Getting stunning visuals with close to 80fps in titles like Battlefield V is certainly impressive in my books.

Pin Connector

In fact, I would say the RTX 2060 even proved its worth as an entry-level 4K card. If you are willing to put down the settings to ‘Medium’, then you’ll be looking at around 40-50fps in titles which I thought would be toughies for the GPU to handle. That being said, I don’t recommend pushing this card to its limit by forcing 4K gaming. You’d be better off playing titles at 1080P or 1440P or get a more powerful card like the RTX 2080 Ti.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Ray Tracing Performance

When Nvidia announced RTX last year, it made a huge deal about Ray-tracing and DLSS support. I for one thought it was overrated until I had first hands-on experience with ray tracing. Though there aren’t many supported titles out there, they do look a lot better with ray-tracing. It’s not something that will significantly change your experience, but the visuals are noticeably better when you play with the ray tracing setting turned all the way up.

Ray tracing support, for those of you who don’t know, makes it easier for game developers to incorporate lifelike lights and realistic shadows and highlights in their games. Thanks to Nvidia’s game engine tools developers just have to specify values for lights and shadows which the GPU will render in real-time to produce incredibly realistic lighting effects. I played Battlefield V with ray tracing turned all the way up (Ultra), and the visuals, in some places such as in gun-fights, were simply stunning. Here’s a screenshot of Battlefield V with ray tracing turned on: –
Battlefield V ray tracing
Ray-Tracing in Battlefield V Powered by RTX 2060

Without adding too much fluff to this part of my review, I am just going to say that the thermal performance of the RTX 2060 is pretty impressive. With an open air cooler design with dual axial fans, I found the results to be in line with other RTX cards. Much like the RTX 2080, which we tested last year, the RTX 2060 stayed under 75-degrees Celsius, which is quite normal.

GeForce RTX

Even while playing the most demanding titles like Battlefield V for extensive time, the maximum temperature that I recorded was 79-degrees. Here’s a graph to show you the temperatures for different use cases and games:
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Thermal Performance. Numbers represent temperature in Degrees (Lower is better)
Pricing and Availability

RTX 2060

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 is priced at Rs. 31,000 in India. The associated price tag instantly makes it an appealing card when compared with, say, the GTX 1070 Founders Edition that’s currently going for Rs. 40,350. You can pick up an RTX 2060 directly from Nvidia’s official site with which you’ll also get either a free copy of Battlefield V or Anthem (when it releases in February).

Buy the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition (Rs 31,000)
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition: Worth It?

The RTX 2060 is one compelling card. No, it’s not the Turing stuff that makes it special, but it’s the price tag that makes it a great value offering. All the other RTX cards, be it the RTX 2080, the 2080 Ti or even 2070, are significantly more expensive. The RTX 2060, however, offers as much, if not more, juice than the GTX 1070 Ti at quite a bit less. In fact, I can no longer recommend the GTX 1070 Ti to anyone who’s looking dip their toes in 1440P gaming.

The RTX 2060 is the most affordable RTX card that’s out right now, so I’d say it’s your cheapest entry to the world of ray tracing. Don’t let the lack of titles supporting ray-tracing make you settle for a 10-series card. It’s only a matter of time until we start seeing more titles that take advantage of ray tracing and DLSS, and the RTX 2060 has that element of future-proofing that you’ll wish your 10-series has, if you do end up buying the last-gen GPU right now.

Also, unlike the RTX 2080, which we thought was a little overpriced once you remove the factor of ray tracing from it, the RTX 2060 is more than just an incremental upgrade. That being said, if you already own a 10-series card like the GTX 1070 Ti or a GTX 1080, then you might want to wait out purchasing the RTX 2060 and see whether ray-tracing picks up momentum among game developers. But if you are still rocking an older card and are itching to upgrade, then you can jump on the RTX 2060 in a heartbeat.

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