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Samsung Galaxy M14 review: Affordable 5G-enabled battery life monster

Review
By 

Last updated: May 8th, 2023 at 14:36 UTC+02:00

It was only a few years back that the first 5G Samsung smartphone was launched. That phone was the Galaxy S10 5G, and it was too costly and its availability was extremely limited.

Fast forward to now, and every Galaxy flagship comes with 5G connectivity globally and Samsung also has a huge number of mid-range 5G smartphones in its lineup. Samsung's attempts to make 5G phones more and more affordable have mostly been successful, and the Galaxy M14 is a result of those attempts.

On paper, the M14 is pretty impressive. You're getting 13-band 5G support as standard (there's no LTE variant), an Exynos chip that isn't just focused on power efficiency but also performance, a 90Hz display, a 50MP main camera, and a 6,000 mAh battery with 25W charging support for roughly $170 (INR 13,990) in India.

But is the real-world experience as good as the specs would have you believe? Our Galaxy M14 review has the answer, so let's get started without any delay.

Design, display

Samsung Galaxy M14 5G review

While Samsung's mid-range phones have seen a considerable leap in design and build quality the last few years, its budget phones — or phones with good specs but a budget price tag, like the M14 5G — have not received the same amount of love. The Galaxy M14 is not a bad looking phone, and Samsung's offering a neat selection of colors, but it's also nothing special.

That goes for both the looks and the in-hand feel. The back is plastic, which should surprise no one. It doesn't offer enough grip because of the smooth finishing, though I never felt like it would slip out of my hands. Its weight is also surprisingly low despite the 6,000 mAh battery inside, which is another way the M14 reveals its budget nature.

Galaxy M14 5G review

The phone also has pretty big bezels around the display, but at its price point, that's hardly a crime. As for the display itself, the 6.6-inch Full HD+ LCD panel's colors can feel a little dull, and the screen's max brightness can fall short outdoors on a sunny day.

The best thing about the M14 display is the 90Hz refresh rate, which makes for mostly smooth animations and navigation through the user interface. It's also nice to see Samsung has upgraded to Gorilla Glass 5 protection from the M13 5G's Gorilla Glass 3.

The best thing about the Galaxy M14 display is the 90Hz refresh rate

For biometrics the Galaxy M14 5G has a traditional capacitive fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button, and it works perfectly. You also get the good old 3.5mm headphone port, though there are no earphones in the box nor is there a charger. You just get a USB-C cable. So, yes, unless you have a 25W charger and earphones already, you will need to spend extra to take advantage of all the features.

Camera

Samsung Galaxy M14 review

With three cameras on the back, the Galaxy M14 might seem like it provides a great photography experience, but the reality is disappointing. That's because one of the two additional cameras is only for depth sensing for portrait photos while the other is a macro camera that's severely limited in utility by its 2-megapixel resolution.

I would have preferred an ultra-wide camera instead of the depth camera as bokeh can be handled through software and doesn't need a dedicated sensor. Samsung could have also priced this phone a little lower if it hadn't put in the macro camera, because the macro camera's quality leaves a lot to be desired.

The 50MP primary rear camera is not half bad, though. Daylight pics have a pleasing amount of fine detail, low noise, and good dynamic range. By default the phone takes 12MP photos using pixel binning. I wouldn't recommend shooting at the full 50MP resolution as the slightly extra detail in 50MP shots does not justify the increased file size.

With artificial lighting indoors, the M14 does a good job of controlling noise, but it also ends up making pictures somewhat soft. As for low-light conditions outdoors, it's best to use the dedicated Night mode for all pictures, as low-light photos captured in standard photo mode can be very noisy.

The video recording capabilities of the Galaxy M14 are nothing to write home about, either. You can shoot at a maximum of Full HD resolution and 30 fps, and while noise is well controlled, the camera can't resolve a lot of detail. It also lacks optical image stabilization, and at times you require a grip of steel to make sure photos and videos don't come out blurry.

The M14 doesn't have a lot of additional shooting modes in the camera app, with options such as hyperlapse and slow motion missing from the list. Surprisingly, though, it comes with a full-fledge Pro mode that lets you control the camera's shutter speed, which can be handy for long exposure shots in low-light conditions. The other available modes include Portrait, Panorama, Food, and Night.

The 13MP selfie camera gets the job done for pictures you want to share to social media, but it doesn't capture the cleanest selfies in situations with artificial lighting. It's basically not all that much better than the 8MP camera on the Galaxy M12 or Galaxy M13 despite the bump in megapixel count.

Software

Samsung Galaxy M14 5G review

The Galaxy M14 5G comes with Android 13 out of the box, with Samsung's One UI Core 5.1 overlay on top. One UI Core is usually a stripped down version of Samsung's full-fledged non-Core One UI, and that's true here as well.

Samsung promises two major Android OS upgrades for the M14

The M14 has some fancy and now standard Samsung features, such as Secure Folder, Samsung Wallet (previously called Samsung Pay), Quick Share, Music Share, Dual Messenger, Game Launcher, Google Discover on the home screen, and themes support, in addition to most of the generic Android 13 features. Features like Bixby or a built-in screen recorder are not available.

Samsung promises two major Android OS upgrades and four years of security updates for the M14 5G. The first big upgrade will be Android 14 and One UI 6.0, and we expect that update to come some time next year once Samsung has released the update for flagship and mid-range devices.

Performance

Samsung Galaxy M14 5G review

The Galaxy M14's performance is a mixed bag. It's good for the price, but like most Samsung budget phones, the M14 can sometimes slow down to a crawl. There were instances where the phone would react a couple of seconds late to every touch. It doesn't happen often, but it's frequent enough to make the variant with 4GB of RAM a bad choice. Unless your budget is really tight, the 6GB RAM variant is recommended.

Gaming performance is more than adequate as long as you stick to the default graphics settings in heavy titles like Call of Duty or PUBG. The phone also doesn't heat up too much when gaming. But if you're a seasoned mobile gamer and are expecting performance that is closer to that of devices like the Galaxy A33/A34 or Galaxy A53/A54, you'll be disappointed.

5G, call and audio quality

Samsung Galaxy M14 review

5G networks in India have taken off at a surprisingly fast pace since they were introduced a few months ago, and Samsung has been equally quick at increasing the number of 5G-enabled phones available in the market at different price points. The Galaxy M14 is among the more affordable ones, and its 5G network performance is excellent.

Call quality is also good, though the M14 suffers from the same issue that other non-flagship Galaxy phones do: neither its earpiece nor its loudspeaker are loud enough. You can hear everything well if you're in a quiet place, but not outdoors. And it's why Samsung's Voice Focus feature, which tries to keep noise in calls to a minimum, continues to be completely unnecessary unless you're using earphones for calls.

The speaker isn't great for watching videos or gaming, either. The maximum volume is insufficient, and the quality of the sound itself is nothing to write home about. However, sound quality over headphones or Bluetooth speakers is pretty good, especially when you enable Dolby Atmos.

Battery life

Samsung Galaxy M14 review

The Galaxy M14 5G's battery life is phenomenal, and Samsung's claims of two-day battery life hold up. The phone can even last a little more than two days. Naturally, the two-day+ battery life is only achievable with light to moderate use, though even with heavy use (including a few hours of 5G mobile data) the phone easily manages to last more than a day.

The Galaxy M14 5G's battery life is phenomenal

In the week or so that I used the M14, I never had to charge it out of necessity, and I also didn't feel the need to charge it fully on most days. Which is good, because even with 25W charging, the 6,000 mAh battery takes an hour and a half to charge all the way up to 100%.

Half an hour of charging takes it up to around 35%. I didn't test it with a 15W charger, which is what most people shopping in this price range will have in their homes, but expect a 15W fast charger to take more than two hours to charge the phone to 100%.

Verdict

Samsung Galaxy M14 review

The Galaxy M14 5G is a better phone than anything Samsung has released at a similar asking price. And the verdict is simple: Buy it if you want 5G connectivity, a phone with better than average performance, and fantastic battery life at a budget, but look for something else if you want an amazing display, camera setup, and performance. The Galaxy M13 5G, for example, remains an alternative for those who want faster performance, though you will be getting a lower-resolution screen and an older version of Android out of the box.

Samsung

What we like

  • 90Hz display
  • Exynos 1330 chipset offers good performance for the price
  • Fantastic battery life, 25W charging support
  • 5G connectivity works great
  • Android 13, One UI Core 5.1 out of the box

What we don't

  • Can slow down and stutter every now and then
  • No charger in the box (effectively raising price if you want 25W charging)
  • Macro camera megapixel count is too low
  • Display feels too dull at times
Review Galaxy M14 5G

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