Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

Does Samsung's miniaturized Galaxy S4 live up to its name?

Each new generation of smartphones seems to bring with it ever larger screens. Just a couple of years ago a 4.3-inch screen was considered large -- unwieldy, even -- in the grand scheme of things. But as screens for flagship phones reach five inches and beyond, manufacturers seem to be realizing that big screens aren't for everyone. And the result of that realization is phones like the Galaxy S4 Mini.

Featuring a familiar chassis design and a "smaller" 4.3-inch display, the Galaxy S4 Mini seems to promise a high-end experience in a smaller body. And in part, it delivers -- the S4 Mini boasts much of the feature set of its full-size namesake. You'll get everything from S Health -- the food and weight tracking app -- to WatchON -- the IR blaster-based TV remote app.

The chassis design is almost identical to the full-sized S4, right down to the flattened sides, the curves of the profile and the slight camera bulge around the back. But unfortunately the spec sheet has taken a hit, and the S4 Mini packs a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 CPU versus the more powerful quad-core Snapdragon 600 in its big brother. The CPU change doesn't have a huge impact on performance -- Samsung's TouchWiz UI runs as smoothly on the Mini as it does on any other device. But the display has received the biggest downgrade, going from full HD (1080p) to qHD (960x540). Having used higher-resolution phones, the difference is clear, especially when viewing photos and text in the web browser.

If we were to be harsh, we might say the Galaxy S4 Mini name is a little misleading. Buy this device and you're not really getting a Galaxy S4 -- you're getting a mid-range Samsung phone. It's a fast, full-featured mid-range phone, but the display resolution in particular betrays the Mini as a less-than-flagship product. The screen is one of the most important parts of a smartphone -- it's the thing you're looking at whenever you use it -- and so it's disappointing to see Samsung skimping in this area.

Nevertheless, at the right price point, the Galaxy S4 Mini could be a compelling mid-level smartphone. Aside from our gripes with the device's screen, you can't argue with the feature set Samsung's brought to bear, and the Mini benefits from the same feature-packed software experience as the full-sized S4.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is due to go on sale in the UK from July.

 
There are 20 comments

rdybala says:

First!

And I caught a small error "same as last year's Galaxy S4 Mini." should be S3 Mini

darkoman4 says:

Also, last year S3 Mini had worse resolution @ 800:480

They should make a more powerful version to compete with iphone.

Madness87 says:

They did, it's called the Galaxy S4.

neonworm says:

I think he meant the same size as the mini but more powerful than the iPhone.

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Gonoff says:

That will be the S2 then.

mrgwap03 says:

They should have the same specs and design as the original s4 and the only thing that should be different is the screen size. That would sell Alot because some ppl live the s4 but the screen size might be a deal breaker.. Smh come on Samsung

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darkoman4 says:

I agree, except no need for full 1080 resolution at 4.3". 720 would be quite enough.

npco543 says:

I also agree on the screen resolution, but in today's bizarro world, you'll have people claiming they need 4K resolution on a 4 inch screen at minimum, and anything less is physically painful to use.

I really hope the mini is priced right. I've been ready to upgrade for 6 months, but nothing interests me what with the ginormous screen trend.

4ekbrandon says:

I would very much enjoy a super high-end phone with a 4.5 or 4.3 inch screen.

murdomeek says:

loooll same specs wudnt fit in such a small footprint :P

frettfreak says:

why cant they just make it the exact same thing (smaller battery obviosuly)but in a smaller body. Is that really so hard to grasp? people want a smaller phone, NOT a lesser phone just cause its small. WTF sammy?!?

zackmack7 says:

exactly. if they made it the same as the S4 just smaller, it would absolutely blow the iphone 5 out of the water. People wouldn't be able to use "Its too big!" as an excuse

user7618 says:

That's an excuse I hear often. *rim shot*

/day dream

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neonworm says:

+1

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Ry says:

I want one to use as a universal remote.

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Gearu says:

Junk. Destroyed by the HTC One Mini, despite the extra gumby bulk of bezel that it's lumbered with.

artlu629 says:

Samsung couldn't sell all the S2 so they slapped on a 4 over the 2 and call it an S4 mini.

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richwright says:

What is the battery life? Would a higher quality screen decrease battery life?

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Madness87 says:

I'm wondering if, since even these mid-range spec phones can run GS4 software, when the new software will come to the GS3.