“Did Samsung just put a phone on top of a power bank?” This was the first thought that crossed my mind when I saw Samsung Galaxy M51’s social media teaser glorifying its giant 7,000mAh battery. This definitely came as a pleasant surprise for someone like me whose daily driver has been Google’s Pixel 3 whose relatively puny 2,915 mAh battery that barely lasts a full day. But Samsung’s latest offering is not just about the battery. The South Korean electronics giant has managed to cram a host of other goodies such as a quad-camera setup led by a 64MP sensor, a large AMOLED display for media consumption, and a capable Qualcomm chip to name a few. After using it for around a week, here’s my nitty-gritty for the Samsung Galaxy M51:
Design: Shiny and chonky
It is thinner than I expected
Packing a 7,000mAh battery inside a pocketable phone is no small feat, but Samsung has managed to accomplish that without making the phone unwieldy. Now, the Galaxy M51 is not a small phone by any means, measuring 163.9 x 76.3 x 9.5mm and tipping the scales at 213 grams. But, if you’ve used the Galaxy Note20 Ultra (164.8×77.2×8.1mm, 208g), you’ll feel right at home. Here’s a size comparison of how the Galaxy M51 measures against the OnePlus 8 and Realme 7 to give you an idea of what you’re dealing with here:
The Samsung Galaxy M51 is not dramatically taller than your average smartphone out there, but you’ll definitely find it thicker than most, and a tad heavier too. Needless to say, you’ll feel it in your jeans pocket. However, the Samsung Galaxy M51 is not unwieldy by any means, and I got used to its size and heft within a couple of days. Plus, the subtle curves offer a comfortable in-hand feel.
Talking about aesthetics, this is one glossy phone. The luster atop the blue paintjob on its rear panel gives the Samsung offering an identity of its own, but it is nowhere as eye-catching as the soft gradient textures or the signature finish of glass. However, the rear panel is a dirt magnet and gets smudged in no time. I found myself obsessively cleaning it every time I happened to gaze upon the rear panel.
Keep a handkerchief handy though!
The rear panel is made out of what Samsung calls “Glasstic” (a composite of glass and plastic), while the surrounding frame is made out of polycarbonate. I did not notice any flex across the rear panel and was impressed with the Samsung Galaxy M51’s build quality. My only grumble is that the rear panel gets scuffed really fast, which is something a layer of glass can easily evade. Here’s how the edges of my review unit look after a few weeks of usage:
Display is Samsung Galaxy M51’s hidden ace
Samsung has equipped the Galaxy M51 with a 6.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus display that offers a 21:9 aspect ratio. Now compared to a traditional Super AMOLED panel (RBGB array, 2 sub-pixels), the Super AMOLED Plus panel has a 3 sub-pixel (RGB RGB) arrangement that is claimed to offer a sharper image output. Also, Super AMOLED Plus panels are said to be brighter and more energy-efficient compared to their non-plus counterparts.
Now, Samsung’s AMOLED panels have simply been among the best out there, and the one on Galaxy M51 is no exception. The colors are vibrant, sharpness is adequate, viewing angles are good, and the contrast is eye-pleasing as well. I was also pleased by the sunlight legibility, and had no issues reading a few articles on the phone while having my morning coffee on the balcony or during the afternoon strolls. The screen has a slightly warmer tone by default, but you can adjust it to your liking.
A beautiful display tailor-made for multimedia consumption
Reaching for content in the upper of the half screen can be a stretch while using the device with one hand, but the immersive multimedia experience more than makes up for it. I played my fair share of Genshin Impact on the Samsung Galaxy M51, and loved the fact that the on-screen controls are not cramped. I also binged a full season of Transformers Prime on the Samsung Galaxy M51, because who doesn’t like humanoid robots duking it out in space?
The bezels are uniform on all sides except the chin, which is also not too thick either. The centrally-aligned hole-punch looks somewhat odd if you’ve gotten used to the notch, but it is actually a better implementation and gives the device a more modern feel. And in case you are wondering, yes, you can watch hi-res content on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video.
No high refresh rate display
However, one aspect that I truly missed – and something that the spec-savvy young smartphone users will complain about – is the lack of a high refresh rate display. I miss the fluidity of a 90Hz panel after using it on phones that cost much less, but that’s a pet peeve.
If you are yet to experience a 90Hz panel on a personal device, you won’t find it to be a huge red flag because the Samsung Galaxy M51’s display offers a great experience. But for buyers who have already tasted the smoothness of a high refresh rate panel and can’t live without it, they can look elsewhere.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 730G SoC is at the heart of the Samsung Galaxy M51, ticking alongside 6/8 GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage. There is a dedicated microSD slot for storage expansion (up to 512GB), which is a neat touch. In my daily usage, I didn’t find myself missing out on raw firepower, as the phone handled everything from heavy multitasking to gaming with ease.
Not the best chip for its asking price
Of course, if you go by the value proposition, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G is not the best processor in this price bracket, as you can get phones powered by the 5G-ready Snapdragon 765G SoC in the market right now. Benchmark scores reflect the same story – that of an underpowered processor – talking purely from a value perspective, that is.
I noticed that games took a tad longer to load. And if you play something like Call of Duty: Mobile at peak graphics presets, a few stutters happen, especially during intensive combat scenes. But if you don’t care much about benchmark figures and want a device that is snappy, the Samsung Galaxy M51 will serve you just fine.
The single bottom-firing speaker is decent. The audio output is clear and even at peak volume, you won’t notice any vocal tearing or shrillness. However, the soundstage is not too wide, and the instrumental background elements sound a tad suppressed. But for watching a few YouTube videos or social media clips, the speaker is sufficiently loud and clear. If you want to get a better audio output, try plugging in your headphones to enjoy the perks of Dolby Atmos (only with headphones), which does create a noticeable difference.
Call quality was great and there was no audio tearing or degradation for the person listening to my voice on the other end. Cellular network reception was good, and the Samsung Galaxy M51 quickly latched on to the Wi-Fi network as well without exhibiting any signs of abrupt drops. Also, I used my true wireless earbuds all day long and didn’t come across any intermittent pairing issues or signal loss.
Software side of Samsung Galaxy M51
On the software side, the Galaxy M51 runs One UI Core v2.1 based on Android 10. Our review unit was running on top of the August Android security patch at the time of publishing this article. The device comes pre-installed with its own share of first-party and third-party apps that send a lot of notifications, but thankfully, the latter can be uninstalled.
One UI Core 2.1 looks clean, but there is still a ton of bloatware
Samsung’s own apps such as the Galaxy Store also show their fair share of ads, but you can disable them as well. I found my way around by putting some of the in-house apps such as Galaxy Themes, My Galaxy and Samsung Daily to sleep. (You can do this by going to Settings > Device Care > Battery > App Power Management > Deep sleeping apps).
However, I quite like the clean look of One UI and the accessibility-centric changes Samsung has added to it. It is especially easy on the eyes with dark mode enabled. The Quick Share feature for transferring files to multiple recipients at once is convenient, and live caption is another tool that comes in handy.
Promising software, uncertain update cycle
My only worry is the update scenario. Samsung is yet to reveal its Android 11 plans for the Galaxy M51, and the monthly security update cycle is not too punctual either. And if the past track record of software updates for non-flagship Samsung phones is anything to go by, don’t hold your breath for a major upgrade after Android 11.
Cameras – The good, bad, and ugly
Let’s talk about cameras now. The Galaxy M51 comes equipped with a 64MP (F/1.8) primary camera that relies on tetracell (4-in-1) pixel binning to deliver 16MP photos by default. It sits alongside a 12MP (f/2.2) wide-angle camera, a 5MP (f/2.4) macro camera and a 5MP (f/2.4) depth sensor. For selfies and video calls, you get a 32MP (f/2.2) front camera. There is no OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) for negating hand-movements, which is kind of a bummer. Another disappointment that the phone can only record videos at 30fps, both at 1080p and 4K resolutions.
Capable imaging hardware held back by bad software
Talking about raw image quality, the main camera captures detailed photos with good control over dynamic range and colors look punchy. The colors are not neutral though, and in typical Samsung fashion, they turn out slightly oversaturated that ends up looking more pleasing to the eyes. The exposure adjustment proved to be finicky at times, especially under broad daylight.
There is also an option to click photos at full 64MP resolution. Compared to the regular 16MP pictures, the 64MP shots offer more details when you zoom in, but they have a slightly warmer tone and misfire when it comes to shadows. The Galaxy M51 also captures acceptable portrait shots. Edge-detection is a hit or miss, but the depth effect is satisfactory with a natural bokeh look to it.
Low-light performance needs some work
But in low-light, the camera often employs aggressive denoising, which ends up softening the surface textures. The dedicated night mode does a commendable job at bringing out the colors, but it works best for close-range shots. For long-range shots, the images have a lot of grainy texture. If there is some source of artificial light, the night mode shots occasionally turn out good, but I’ve seen lower-priced phones perform better in low-light scenarios.
Samsung could have achieved better results by using a more effective image stacking process that combines more frames clicked at different exposure levels. Yes, in doing so, it will take a few more seconds to click a low-light photo in Night Mode, but the results would be much better. On inspecting the EXIF data, I also noticed that keeping the camera shutter open for a little longer might also have helped the cause. (For low-light shots, the shutter speed is 1/10 sec in normal mode and barely higher at 1/8 sec in the dedicated night mode).
The 12MP wide-angle camera does its job well. It captures images at a slightly higher ISO value by default. The wide-angle shots are slightly warmer, but they retain a healthy amount of detail and offer a satisfactory dynamic range. I compared the images clicked by the primary and wide-angle sensors in multiple lighting scenarios, but the difference in color tonality persists and is easily noticeable. Some aggressive sharpening is also noticeable in the wide-angle shots, but the results are overall pleasing and worth sharing on social media.
There's a 'pink' problem with selfies
The pixel-binned 8MP photos clicked by the selfie camera are just above average.
A peculiar thing that I noticed is that quite often, the front camera often made my skin look a little too pink and smoothened the finer details such as blemishes even without any AI beautification enabled. However, it mostly happened in challenging lighting conditions and indoors. Under natural light, selfies turned out fine and had an ample amount of detail.
Full-resolution 32MP selfies solve the ‘pink problem’ to a large extent and preserve more details, but some smoothing is still visible. Interestingly, the 32MP shots are clicked with a wider field of view, but I still prefer them due to superior sharpness, slightly better skin tone reproduction, and better depth.
The live focus feature works well for selfies. However, if you increase the bokeh strength beyond the halfway mark, the edges of the subject start getting blurred. It is not perfect (especially if you have wavy hairs), but Samsung’s implementation is better than most other phones I’ve tested in this price bracket.
Close-up shots clicked by the macro camera are good, but you have to hold the phone really still as the focus lock is quite finicky. Macro shots retain a healthy amount of surface detail and offer punchy colors. However, a minor annoyance is that you can not switch to the macro camera the way you can toggle between the primary and wide-angle lenses.
Instead, you have to swipe through the on-screen controls to access the dedicated macro photography mode. Samsung could have fitted the Galaxy M51 with a telephoto camera instead of a macro camera, as the former is way more useful in my opinion.
Unparalleled battery life
Battery life is Samsung Galaxy M51’s forte, thanks to a ginormous 7,000mAh battery under the hood. With regular usage, I was able to clock almost three days worth of usage on a single charge. And even with intensive usage that involved at least two hours of playing graphics-intensive games, I made it past two days without reaching for the power brick. Those figures are simply unparalleled.
You can easily binge watch a full season of your favorite TV show without charging it.
Samsung also bundles a 25W adapter inside the retail package. It takes around 25 minutes to go from 0 to 30 percent, and fills up to the halfway mark in nearly 45 minutes. Charging it fully takes almost two hours, which is not too bad. The phone misses out on support for wireless charging, but it can be used to reverse charge another phone or accessory such as TWS earbuds – a thoughtful convenience nonetheless.
Samsung Galaxy M51 review: Final words
Let’s put it in straight words. The Samsung Galaxy M51 should be on your radar if you are looking for a phone that lasts long. Really long. And if that’s the case, the 7,000mAh battery inside the Samsung offering won’t disappoint you. Plus, the device doesn’t look half-bad either. But there is more to the device than just a beefy battery.
The Galaxy M51 has a beautiful Super AMOLED display that is a treat for multimedia consumption and gaming. It also has a versatile set of cameras with a tonne of features to play with. Yes, there is room for improvement, but they can hold their own against the competition. The Snapdragon 730G is quite a capable processor and won’t leave you wanting for more, unless you want to play the most demanding games out there at peak graphics settings and also desire some future-proofing as well.
Yes, there are devices such as the Poco X3, Realme 7 Pro and the Vivo V20 that far outweigh the Galaxy M51 in terms of hardware as well as looks. However, the most obvious alternative to the Galaxy M51 is the excellent OnePlus Nord, which goes squarely against the Samsung offering and appears a better deal on paper, both in terms of hardware as well as software.
Overall, the competition will offer a much higher value-for-money quotient than the Samsung offering. But the Galaxy M51 is targeted at a section of buyers that seeks a reliable phone which can free them from the worries of “low battery” warnings. And for that segment, the Galaxy M51 is just about the best option.
Samsung Galaxy M51 is an interesting mid-ranger that comes equipped with a huge 7,000mAh battery that can last up to three days of moderate usage. It packs a large sAMOLED display that is great for media consumption and draws from the fairly capable Snapdragon 730G SoC. The 64MP quad camera setup is versatile and produces decent results, but it is not best in this price bracket. On-paper the Galaxy M51 is not the best value for money, and is easily overshadowed by rivals from Xiaomi and fellow Chinese smartphone brands.