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Samsung Galaxy M02: Top 3 reasons to get this as your first smartphone

The Samsung Galaxy M02 is one of the company’s most affordable handsets. It’s definitely meant for first-time smartphone users. And I’ve spent some time evaluating the phone based on that thinking. As I’ve mentioned in my first impressions story, I’m not the target user for this. But this smartphone might be for you! I’ve listed three reasons why you might consider buying this phone.

Funky, textured design

Samsung lent me a pretty eye-catching color option of the Galaxy M02. It comes in this reddish-orange shade with yellow-red splatters. The textured back has diagonal lines that allow me to grip the phone better. It’s also painted matte, so you don’t have to worry about smudges on the rear panel. This particular variant is unfortunately unavailable in the Philippines. You can get it in black, blue, and gray. The press renders I’ve seen show that the gray color has that paint splatter effect similar to my test unit.

Since smudges aren’t an issue you have to deal with the back panel, you can busy yourself with cleaning the 6.5-inch PLS IPS display with a 1,600 x 720 resolution and 20:9 aspect ratio. With its large display, this is very much a two-handed smartphone. Samsung understandably isn’t using its AMOLED panel here, but it’s still a good enough screen for watching content on. It struggles a bit when you use it outdoors, but again, that isn’t surprising. I know I mentioned in my first impressions that you can watch YouTube videos in 1080p. While it’s possible to toggle that option, your best option is to leave it at Auto, so the app and your phone can decide for you so the video won’t lag and be unwatchable.

The Galaxy M02 might be a basic smartphone, but that doesn’t mean Samsung hasn’t included some customization options you can use. There are options like FaceWidgets that lets you customize what you see on the Lock screen, Side Key that enables you to launch an app of your choice with the power button, and Smart alert that vibrates the phone when you pick it up if you’ve missed a call or message. Explore the Settings menu on the phone to find ways to tweak the phone to your taste.

There is no fingerprint scanner here, so your options for keeping the device secure are either a pattern, PIN, or password.

LiTT Tip #1: You can choose between four different FaceWidgets: Music, Today’s Schedule, Next alarm, and Weather. You can activate all four or just show the one feature you want. I like using the Music option the most since I can play or pause what I’m listening to from the Lock screen. The feature is accessible through Settings > Lock screen > FaceWidgets.

LiTT Tip #2: To customize the power button to open the app you want, head to Settings > Advanced features > Side key. You can choose to launch the camera or any other app by double-pressing the physical button.

Basic access to apps and different content online

The Samsung Galaxy M02 is built to handle more simple smartphone tasks. With a MediaTek MT6739W chipset paired with 2GB of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage, and Android 10-based One UI Core version 2.5, it isn’t designed to handle quick app switching or multitasking. You have to get used to a few seconds wait before an app loads. Those coming from feature phones won’t really mind this. It is a way to get them used to navigating a smartphone’s interface.

For tasks like writing out emails or stories while listening to music in the background, I could pull that off just fine here. I’ve said before that this phone benefits from using the Lite version of apps. It won’t eat up too much of your storage while offering a smoother experience since it uses fewer resources. Thankfully, Samsung offers a dedicated microSD slot here, so you can expand its storage to fit more apps and files you have in it. It also has dual-SIM support if you need that.

I’ve been able to use apps like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook here, along with your usual messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and Telegram. I’ve used OneNote and watched shows on YouTube and Viu. Unfortunately, Netflix doesn’t show up in the Play Store, which means the device doesn’t support it. But I’ve seen Amazon Prime Video and iflix on the app store. Taking calls or writing out text messages perform well. I didn’t have trouble hearing who I was talking to on the phone, nor did they have trouble hearing me.

Since there is limited storage, Samsung tries to lessen the pre-installed apps on the device. I could still do with less, though. I do like that the interface is pretty clean, and you get the option to use gestures instead of buttons for navigation.

The Galaxy M02 still has a 3.5mm audio jack if you want to watch your favorite content in peace. The bottom-firing speaker can be somewhat loud, but, of course, it can’t compete with pricier smartphones. I’ve also connected different Bluetooth earbuds without a problem (I even got to use Huawei’s latest premium earbuds here without any fuss). Samsung also includes its Adapt Sound feature and Dolby Atmos support with this phone. Adapt Sound is a quick way to personalize the audio coming out of earphones to get the best listening experience.

Samsung equips the entry-level Galaxy M02 with a couple of rear cameras, including a 13-megapixel primary wide sensor and a 2-megapixel macro lens. The latter is more for adding that extra sensor, but it isn’t particularly noteworthy. It also has a solitary 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

In well-lit areas, you can take good photos that are shareable on social media. But once the light drops, expect the quality to drop a bit, too. This won’t be the phone for aspiring photographers. But as with its other features, it can help newbie smartphone users familiarize themselves with Samsung’s camera interface. Here are additional sample shots I’ve taken with this phone.

LiTT Tip #3: You can access Adapt Sound through Sounds and vibration > Sound quality and effects. You can even personalize the sound to suit your needs.

Big battery phone

Samsung Galaxy M phones typically have large-capacity batteries, and the Galaxy M02 is no exception. It comes with a 5,000mAh battery that can potentially get you two days of use if you’re not constantly glued to the phone. I’ve tried to use the handset as much as I can, but I can still eke out a day and a half of use out of it.

The downside to a big battery is it takes a long time to charge. The Galaxy M02 doesn’t support quick charging, so it takes around 4+ hours to fully charge it from 0%.

LiTT Tip #4: If you want to get more out of the Samsung Galaxy M02’s battery, use its Adaptive power saving. The mode will automatically set the power mode based on your usage patterns so you can lengthen the time between charges. It’s accessible through Settings > Device care > Battery > Power mode.

What’s lit and what’s not? 

What’s lit about it:

  • Textured design gives it personality, better grip, and keeps it smudge-free
  • Offers basic customizability options
  • Big display to enjoy content on
  • Long-lasting, large capacity battery
  • Budget-friendly Samsung phone

What needs the extra spark:

  • Wished the red color variant was sold here
  • Screen’s brightness struggles a bit outdoors
  • A bit slow to respond
  • So-so camera performance
  • Takes a long time to charge

Final thoughts

The Samsung Galaxy M02 is designed for those taking the plunge into the smartphone world without having to commit too much of their money. It’s a good example of you get what you pay for. It won’t breeze through tasks like other more expensive devices, but that’s expected. It does make a good practice ground for eventually upgrading to something better.

The Samsung Galaxy M02 retails for PHP 4,490 (around USD 90).

Buy the Samsung Galaxy M02 HERE. *

* If you buy something from this link, LiTT may earn a commission, but it won’t cost you extra. Prices are subject to change without prior notice.