Samsung is one of the most popular smartphone and tablet brands in the world. It offers dozens of models covering every niche and segment of the market.
While that strategy of “a smartphone model for every segment” helps Samsung to become the dominant phone maker it is today, it can also be a source of confusion.
Potential buyers who are faced with Samsung’s broad product offerings can have a lot of trouble figuring out which models and series are best suited for them. If that describes you, we are here to help.
Samsung’s smartphone and tablet models are organized by series. Each series is designed for a specific market segment. Models in each series share the same high level design goals in order to meet the needs of the users in that specific market segment.
As of 2020, all Samsung smartphones and tablets carry the brand name Samsung Galaxy. Under Galaxy, there are 6 different series that cater to various market segments. These 6 series are:
- Galaxy Note Series: High end phablets with big screens – a phablet is larger than a phone but smaller than a tablet. These phablets come with styluses as an input device
- Galaxy S Series: High end flagship smartphones and tablets. Offer premium performances at premium prices
- Galaxy Z Series: High end foldable smartphones with screens that can unfold to double in sizes. The most expensive among all Galaxy series
- Galaxy XCover Series: Specialized military grade rugged smartphones that are dust and water proof. Designed to be used in rough outdoor environments
- Galaxy A Series: Midrange smartphones and tablets
- Galaxy M Series: Budget smartphones that are sold online only
For the rest of this article, we will focus on the A Series and the M Series only. We will look at the designs and supports of these 2 series.
We will take a look at what reviewers have been saying about them. We will also compare the 2 series and explain when does it make sense to choose one instead of the other.
By the end of this article, you will know enough about the A and the M Series to make an educated decision on which one to choose. Without further ado, let’s get started.
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Samsung A Series
The A Series is the bread and butter product line of Samsung’s mobile device offerings. As a midrange product line, the A Series does not offer the latest and greatest in performance or features. Unlike the Google Pixel 4 Series, there is no radar system for hand gesture detection. Unlike the LG V60, there is no second display. Unlike the Galaxy Z Fold2, there is no fold out screen. What the A Series does give you are features that you actually need: huge batteries, good quality cameras, good amount of RAM (2GB to 6GB), and plenty of storage (16GB up to 128GB).
At the same time, the phones from the A Series will not break the bank. With phone models selling from $100 to $650, the A Series targets the midrange market sweet spot by offering good performance at a good price.
This midrange market positioning of the A Series has been extremely successful. In 2019, the top 3 best selling Samsung phones were all from the A Series: A10, A50, and A20. These three A Series models combined for almost 75 million units sold in 2019. The same three A Series phones were also the top 3 best selling Android phones in 2019.
When it comes to support, Samsung is not known for providing long term support & updates to their phones. But recently, Samsung has made an announcement that it will provide 3 generations of Android updates to a few higher end models in the A Series: A51, A51 5G, A71, A71 5G, and A90 5G. Unfortunately, the lower end models in the A Series – A01, A10e, A11, A20, A21, A50 – will not be getting that extended support from Samsung.
What People Say About Samsung A Series
Reviewers generally consider the Samsung A Series a line of competent midrange phones. The phones in this series offer good value for a good price. They are not exceptional, but they are good for their prices. Performance is either adequate or a bit lacking. One common complaint is poor photo quality under low-light conditions.
One of the most popular model in the A Series is the Galaxy A51. The video below is a good review of A51. It covers the specs and features of this model and has a particularly good discussion on the trade-offs that were made by its designers.
Key points from the video:
- Price: $400
- Screen: 6.5 inches, 2400 x 1080, AMOLED – big, bright, and good screen. Rare to have a screen this big & this good at the $400 price point
- Selfie Camera: 32 MP. Underneath the screen. It is distracting
- Fingerprint Sensor: Underneath the screen. Very slow.
- Rear Cameras: 4 cameras – 48 MP main camera, 12 MP ultra-wide camera, 5 MP macro camera, 5 MP depth camera
- Photo Quality: Generally OK for a $400 phone, but photo quality under low-light conditions is terrible. Overall photo quality is behind that of the similarly priced Google Pixel 3a & the Apple iPhone SE
- Battery: Battery life is good but not awesome despite having a huge 4,000mAh battery – more than 1 day but less than 2 days on a single charge
- Processor: Exynos 9611 – should be fast but is not. Can tell when the phone slows down
- RAM: 4GB only. Can tell when the phone slows down and needs more RAM
- UI: Samsung’s One UI is great for big screened phones
- Headphone Jack: Yes
- Overall Design & Build Quality: Very nice
- Overall Verdict: Good but not awesome. Not an overachiever – performs as expected for a $400 phone in 2020
Why Samsung A Series Stands Out
The Samsung A Series is the top selling line of Android phones in the world. It manages to find a good balance between performance, features, and price. You will not find the latest and greatest features in this product line. But that is a trade-off many people are happy to make in exchange for a price point that is substantially lower than that of flagship phones.
Phones in the A Series typically comes with a large screen and a large battery. If you are looking for a midrange phone that prioritizes those 2 features, the A Series might just be what you are looking for.
Samsung M Series
The Samsung Galaxy M Series is a line of budget phones that is sold online only. Currently, Samsung only sells this line in India. But people in the US can still buy M Series phones from 3rd party sellers at places such as eBay or Amazon.
As a line of budget phones made for the Indian market, phones in the M Series sell for substantially lower prices than other Samsung phones. The cheapest model in this line, the Galaxy M01 Core (5.3 inches screen, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB storage, 3,000mAh battery) retails for 5,500 India Rupee, or less than $75. The most expensive model, the Galaxy M51 (6.7 inch display, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB, 7,000mAh battery) sells for 27,000 Indian Rupee, or less than $370.
As you can see here, even though the M Series is being positioned as a budget product line targeting a market segment below that of the midrange A Series, some higher end models in the M Series do overlap with certain models in the A Series.
For example, the retail price of the M51 ($370) is very similar to that of the A51 ($400). With M51, you get a 6.7 inch display, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB storage, and a 7,000mAh battery for just $370. Not only does M51 have better specs than the A51 (6.5 inch display, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, 4,000mAh battery), but it also retails for a cheaper price.
If you want features and performance for cheap, the M Series is a good place to look.
When it comes to support, none of the models in the M Series has made it onto the list of phones that will get 3 generations of Android updates from Samsung. So, if you buy an M Series phone, be prepared for the fact that you will not get Android updates from Samsung.
What People Say About Samsung M Series
Reviewers in general love the cheap prices of the M Series. They praise the M Series’ great performance and great features relative to its low prices.
The M31 is one of the most popular models in the M Series. The following video has a very positive review of this phone, going so far as calling it the “best value of 2020”.
Key points from the video:
- Price: $250
- Value: The M31 is a better deal than any phones in the A Series – offers more features than any A Series phone for less than half the price
- Design: Not the most attractive – teardrop notch, thick bezels all around, chunky bottom chin – does not look as nice or modern as the A Series or the S Series phones
- Screen: 6.4 inches, 2340 x 1080 (403 pixels per inch), AMOLED – bright, crisp, sharp, great viewing experience, better than what can be expected at this price point
- Material: Plastic. Feels pretty high quality
- Storage: 64 GB, expandable via micro SD card
- Headphone Jack: Yes
- Fingerprint Sensor: Rear mounted, physical. Fast & accurate. Better than the in-display fingerprint sensors of the A Series phones
- Battery: 6000mAh battery – lasts more than 3 days on a single charge. Battery life is one of the best on the market
- Processor: Exynos 9611
- RAM: 6 GB
- UI: Samsung’s One UI is snappy & fluid
- Gaming: Totally fine even with graphics heavy games
- Cameras: Fantastic. 4 cameras – 64 MP main camera, 8 MP ultra-wide camera, 5 MP macro camera, 5 MP depth camera
- Photo Quality: Main camera captures a ton of detail. Great shots in any condition. Ultra-wide camera not the best – gets a bit dark at times. Macro camera not very useful. Overall – fantastic for its price
- Unlocking: To use this phone in the US requires breaking its region lock. You can buy an already unlocked phone or unlock the phone yourself
- Network Limitation: Not all networks in the US are supported. For example, AT&T LTE is not supported
- Waterproof: No
- IP Rating: No
- Verdict: Incredible value in regions where this phone is supported. Better value than the A Series. But the problem of unsupported networks in the US means it is not for everyone there
Why Samsung M Series Stands Out
The Samsung M Series offers exceptional value. It does not have the most attractive appearance. The material does not feel the most premium. But when it comes to technical specs and features, you get a ton of value out of the M Series relative to the prices you would pay. With prices ranging from $75 to $370, the M Series is one of the best budget phone lines in the world.
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What Is the Main Difference Between A Series & M Series
The main difference between the A Series and the M Series is their respective targeted regions.
The A Series is being sold by Samsung in the US (as well as in most other countries in the world.) It fully supports all the US networks. You buy an A Series phone and you can just use it in the US with no hassles.
On the other hand, Samsung is selling the M Series in India only. You can still buy the M Series in the US through 3rd party sellers. But if you want to use an M Series phone in the US, you need to make sure it is unlocked. Also, the M Series does not support all networks in the US. For example, the AT&T LTE network is not supported.
With the A Series, you get less features for your money but more convenience. With the M Series, you may have to jump through some hoops to make it work in your country but you get a lot more features for your money.
Comparison Chart for A Series & M Series
The table below summarizes how the A Series compares to the M Series.
|A Series||M Series|
|Competitors||Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi||iPhone SE, Pixel 3a|
|Price Range||$150 – $650||$75 – $370|
|Performances Relative to Prices||Good||Exceptional|
|Designs & Materials||Very Nice||OK|
|Value For Money||Good||Exceptional|
|US Network Support||Support all US networks||Some US networks not supported, e.g. AT&T LTE|
|Android Update Support||3 generations of Android updates supported for higher end models||No|
|Ready For Use in the US?||Yes||Need to be unlocked first|
When to Choose the A Series
Choose the A Series if you:
- Want a phone that offers good value at a decent price – but you don’t have to have highest performance at the lowest price
- Want multiple generations of Android updates support from the phone maker
- Value convenience – you do not want to deal with region lock or the hassles of unlocking your phone
- Want to make sure your mobile network is supported by the phone you buy – and you live outside of India
When to Choose the M Series
Choose the M Series if you:
- Want a phone that offers exceptional value at an exceptional price – you want the absolute highest performance at the lowest price
- Do not mind not getting Android updates support from the phone maker
- Do not expect to have any problem with the M Series’ region lock because:
- You live in India, or
- You live outside of India but you know you can buy an unlocked phone, or
- You do not mind dealing with the hassle of unlocking phones
- Do not expect to have any problem with the M Series’ network support because:
- You live in India, or
- You live outside of India but you know for sure your mobile network is supported by the M Series, or
- You do not mind dropping down to 2G or 3G networks, or
- You use your phone mostly on Wi-Fi
In this article, we have covered a lot of information about the Samsung Galaxy A Series and M Series. By now you are well equipped to make an educated decision on which one to pick. Before you go, let us do a quick recap:
- The A Series is a midrange product line designed to offer good value at a decent price ($150 – $650)
- The M Series is a budget product line designed to offer exceptional value at an exceptional price ($75 – $370)
- The A Series is sold by Samsung all over the world
- The M Series is sold by Samsung in India only. But you can still buy it in the US from 3rd party sellers
- The A Series looks prettier and feels more premium compared to the M Series
- The M Series offers a much better value than the A Series – better performance at a lower price
- The high end models in the A Series will get 3 generations of Android update support. The models in the M Series will not
- The A Series can be used worldwide with no problem. The M Series is region locked to India – to use it elsewhere you must unlock your phone first
- The A Series support mobile network worldwide. The M Series does not – some mobile networks outside of India are not supported
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Benjamin is a certified financial advisor, with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He is knowledgeable about various business and financial topics, such as retirement planning and investment management. Ben has been recognized for his work in the financial planning industry. He has also been featured in various publications.