The Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 is a relatively entry level Android device from the Korean tech giant aimed at anyone who wants a pocketable, sturdy mobile with smartphone capabilities and NFC. Modestly specced with Gingerbread, an 800 MHz processor and a 3.2-megapixel fixed focus camera, the asking price of £150-£180 seems a little steep off the bat, but does the Galaxy Mini 2 have any tricks up its sleeve to warrant the cost?
Samsung Galaxy Mini 2: Design
The Galaxy Mini 2 looks like a well balanced phone. Good screen to fascia to bevel ratio, textured back and an 11.6mm thick 109.4mm tall chassis make for a decent, tactile candy bar. Samsung's trademark centrally located hard key is present below the 3.27-inch display with two capacitive buttons either side. There's a chrome effect trim along the front sides and a lightly textured bold yellow back cover on the reverse. The sides of the phone recess sharply resulting in a nice fit in the hand and a good overall impression.
Samsung Galaxy Mini 2: Screen
The HVGA 3.27-inch screen on the Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 offers washed out colours and patchy viewing angles. It's responsive, but the keyboard is too small for touch typing. When considering for about £20 more you could get a Sony Xperia U or for £80 less a Huawei G100, both with considerably better screens, the Mini 2's appeal starts to waver.
Samsung Galaxy Mini 2: User Interface
Running Android 2.3.6 with Samsung's TouchWiz over the top, the Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 offers an out of date version of Google's operating system for a summer 2012 device. Samsung do go to efforts to customise the Mini 2, improving the experience with a redrawn interface and custom widgets. It also offers a more intuitive lock screen and Samsung's Social Hubs, aggregating your social network accounts under one roof.
That said, beyond the inclusion of the NFC Tags app, there's little if anything to differentiate the Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 interface from that of the Samsung low to mid range Android handsets released this time last year. So while HTC and Sony have spread their new UIs across their price ranges, Samsung are falling behind.
Samsung Galaxy Mini 2: Camera and Multimedia
With a fixed focus 3.2-megapixel camera, the Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 isn't pretending to be a sharp shooter, but for the price, it could try a little harder. The pictures from it take very quickly as it doesn't need to focus, but they tend to come out blurry even in good lighting. With no flash, dim the lights and the results get very noisy very quickly. Good for Instagram and some very casual landscapes in decent lighting, but little more.
The Galaxy Mini 2 records video at VGA resolution with output looking predictably mediocre. Frame rate is decent but the picture and noise manage to limit the realistic use of video exclusively to sharing across phones with similarly low res screens.
The on-board music player is simple to navigate through though doesn't offer any advanced quirks, supporting track playback, playlists and album views. Music sounds decent at low to mid volumes on the Galaxy Mini 2's loudspeaker, however gets tinny at higher volumes.
Samsung Galaxy Mini 2: Browsing and connections
With NFC on board, the Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 is a very well connected little Android, packing all the other staples such as 3G, GPS, Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct. It's also expandable via micro SD card up to an additional 32GB.
Thanks to the small screen and humble resolution, the web browsing experience is less than ideal. Pages don't look great, text has to be zoomed in on in order to be legible and pinching isn't all that smooth. Having said that, streaming video tended to work well, as did apps like BBC iPlayer and Netflix.
Samsung Galaxy Mini 2: Performance and battery
We were dubious as to how an 800MHz processor was going to cope with the demands of todays Android apps, but found ourselves pleasantly surprised. Samsung have syphoned off 1GB of storage for applications so there shouldn't be any low memory warnings anytime soon, and the low-res screen puts minimal strain on the processor. 20 apps in therefore and the Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 was running smoothly enough.
The 1300mAh battery on the Mini 2 tended to last just over a day, though with conservative use you could probably get 2 days out of it.
Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 Conclusion
While the Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 offers snappy performance for a pocket sized phone, between the high asking price, out of date OS, under-performing camera and underwhelming screen, we aren't won over. The NFC on board is a nice touch, but if you're prepared to sacrifice that, the Huawei Ascend G300 costs just £100 and performs better across the board. If you're happy to stump up an extra £25 or so, you could even go dual-core with the Sony Xperia U. So unless you're totally smitten by the design, until the price drops below the £125 mark, we can't quite recommend the Samsung Galaxy Mini 2.