Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini review: first look
We go hands on with the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini — a smaller, more affordable version of the company’s current flagship, the Galaxy S3
With the Galaxy S3 Mini we get the impression that Samsung is going after Apple’s iPhone demographic – i.e. users that want smartphone functionality just without the slab-like proportions. And with Samsung’s Galaxy S3 Mini you – sort of – get just that.
But was anything lost in translation?
First things first – the Galaxy S3 Mini is not the Galaxy S3 shrunk down to a more pocketable size. It’s a vastly different device positioned at a completely different niche in the market, with a lower price point, lesser hardware, and a reduced display resolution.
Available for £299.99 offline and running Android Jelly Bean (version 4.1.1), there’s a lot to like about the Galaxy S3 Mini. But we’re not sure the price is low enough for it to really strike a chord with customers en masse, especially with the recent entry of Google’s Nexus 4 to the space.
Samsung loves plastic. It uses it on all its products and here it’s the same deal as before just smaller. Normally that’d be okay, there is a place in the market for smaller handsets, but here something’s amiss. And this is palpable as soon as you handle the phone.
It just doesn’t feel right in the hand being a little too weighty (111.5 grams) for its size and extremely plasticky to the touch. The Galaxy S3 got away with this via a combination of top-end hardware and super slim styling. Here, the Galaxy S3 Mini is not so fortunate.
Performance is good thanks to the combination of its 1GHz dual-core processer, 1GB of RAM, and Android Jelly Bean. In our brief time with the handset everything flew along and we encountered zero lag while loading up applications and navigating its TouchWiz-themed UI.
Using a 4-inch Super AMOLED display with a pixel density of 233ppi means what you’re getting here isn’t Samsung’s best setup, which is disappointing given large asking price. The display isn’t bad. It’s just no way near as detailed as similar LCD setups present on rival handsets like the HTC One V.
You get support for S Voice, Google Now, and Chrome out of the box. But Music Hub does require a download from Samsung Apps. Smart Stay and Direct Call are both also present, as is the latest version of TouchWiz, securing Mini users that all-important S3-like experience.
Imaging isn’t great and Samsung has swapped out the Galaxy S3’s 8-megapixel shooter in favour of a cheaper 5-megapixel setup. There’s a VGA imager on the front for video calling and video quality has been reduced to 720p. We’ll look at this in more detail in our full review. Initial impressions aren’t great, though.
The Galaxy S3 Mini comes in two flavours: 8GB and 16GB. Both models support microSD cards, meaning you can add up to an additional 32GB. There’s no 4G model as yet – and we don't expect to see one either – but you do get Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 3G, DLNA, and Bluetooth 4.0 as standard for everything else.
Call quality is decent enough and we have very little to complain about with its battery life as well, with the S3 Mini easily running an entire day from a single charge. Yet despite all this we’re still not convinced by this handset at present, it just seems too expensive for what’s on offer, with the only real USP being that it runs Android 4.2.
Perhaps our opinion will change when we’ve spent more time with the device. Check back next week for our full review.