The Samsung Galaxy S3 has been the mobile phone success story of the year. However, with it’s quad-core processor and 4.8-inch screen, for many people, this high-end phone is simply too expensive.
Samsung has always had a range of cheaper phones in its Galaxy range, such as the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 and Samsung Galaxy S Advance. But the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini is different - offering a little of the Galaxy S3’s magic, for less money. Is it any good or does it sully the Galaxy S3’s name?
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini: Design
The Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini really does look like a shrunken Galaxy S3, with the same curved edges, it feels comfortable to hold and comes in pebble white and glossy marble white. Those who find the Galaxy S3 too big will appreciate the Galaxy S3 Mini’s smaller design, which feels sturdy, yet plasticky - a trait we’ve seen throughout Samsung’s Galaxy phone range. There have been some aesthetic differences since the Galaxy S3. The front-facing camera has swapped sides and the flash for the primary camera has moved position too, although the three shortcut buttons underneath remain the same.
There are some compromises with the connectivity, so although there’s 3G, WiFi, WiFi Direct and Bluetooth. There’s no NFC or DLNA and the microUSB port doesn't double as an MHL support for HD video.
The phone comes with 8GB internal memory and tucked under the battery there’s a microSD card slot, so you can expand it further. A version is available with 16GB internal memory.
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini: Screen
The Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini has a 4-inch screen, which is an adequate size for watching movies and browsing the web. The resolution of 800x480 is pretty standard though and a little lower than we’d like - text isn’t pin sharp.
Super AMOLED technology ensures the screen is exceptionally bright, with punchy colours and very deep blacks. But as an AMOLED panel, in comparison to LCD white’s aren’t particularly pure and off-angle viewing has a blue tinge.
Overall the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini's screen is good, rather than outstanding.
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini: Operating system
The Galaxy S3 launches with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box. This is overlayed with TouchWiz, so it looks and feels very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S3 and many of the features we loved about the Galaxy S3 are here.
There are seven homescreens, which are customisable with apps and widgets, complete with a 3D transition between each screen and a quick pinch and you can view all homescreens.
Smart Stay is a cool feature that ensures the phone is active as long as you are looking at it, and if you are watching a movie you can even minimise the screen and move it around. Without NFC you don’t get any sharing features though.
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini: Camera
The Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini includes a 5-megapixel camera, with an LED flash and autofocus. We're not overwhelmed, photographs seem a little soft and it doesn't handle noise particularly well. Samsung has equipped the phone with a good selection of features though, including ISO, Metering and White Balance, there are also a selection of filters, including black and white, sepia and negative.
The phone shoots HD movies at 720p, we’re not overly impressed - it’s soft and lacking definition, but adequate.
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini: Performance
One of the biggest complaints following the announcement of the Galaxy S3 was that it has a dual - rather than quad-core processor, which is expected at this price bracket.
The 1GHz dual-core processor performs exceptionally well in day to day tasks, it handles games like Riptide GT without a stutter and you can quickly swap between applications and widgets, without any sluggishness. In fact it's one of the quickest phones we've used in this category.
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini: Verdict
We really like the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini, it might not offer the feature set of the Galaxy S3, but it looks near identical and offers the same experience - with a few compromises. The specification sheet puts the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini firmly in the middle of the mobile phone market, yet actually performs better.
Our main problem with the phone is the price - £300 is too expensive.. For the same price you could get the LG Optimus 4X HD with its quad-core processor and 4.7-inch HD screen, or for £100 more you can get the Samsung Galaxy S3 itself. Unless you are desperate for a small Galaxy S3, if you’re a Samsung Galaxy fan, wait until the price drops.
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