The actual Galaxy S3 is still very much top of Samsung’s smartphone tree, so don’t be confused by this stripped down alternative — it looks like a slightly smaller S3 at first glance, but sits quite a few branches further down, with a slower processor, duller screen, less capable camera and a rather inflated asking price.
It’s on sale now for around £290.
While it looks like an S3 from afar, pick it up and you’ll soon notice the difference. It’s a little thicker at 10mm (as opposed to 8.6mm) and the display has shrunk from 4.8-inches to 4-inches. Instead of the original’s 720p HD resolution of 720×1,280 pixels, the Mini makes do with a more conventional 480×800 pixels.
Admittedly the more advanced screen may be too big for some, but it’s a shame the Mini’s display couldn’t retain the HD credentials. It’s not bad though, and the Super AMOLED technology ensures it’s still bright and bold with vibrant colours, even if the details aren’t quite as sharp.
Features and performance
Instead of the grown-up S3′s 1.4GHz quad-core processor backed by 2GB RAM the Mini has a dual-core version clocked at 1GHz and backed by 1GB RAM. But while it may not be at the cutting edge it’s still pretty nippy in action, helped by the Jelly Bean version of Android, which is the operating system’s slickest incarnation yet. It’s running the 4.1 version though — just slightly behind the very latest 4.2 version you’ll find on the Google Nexus 4.
As usual, Samsung has added its TouchWiz interface over the top, which largely consists of some alternative shortcut icons and a few uniquely Samsung-esque widgets, like S-Planner — essentially a calendar app but with a more intuitive layout than the Android alternative. You also get Samsung’s own (rather sparse) app store and S-Voice, the Koreans’ answer to Apple’s Siri, which still has a way to go. It does okay with basic requests like tomorrow’s weather, but doesn’t have Siri’s depth and intuitive capabilities when it comes to more complicated questions.
The 5-megapixel camera can’t match the 8-megapixel snappers on the original S3 or the Nexus 4 — details aren’t quite as clear, and it takes a little longer to focus. That said, pic quality isn’t at all bad, with naturalistic colours and there are plenty of focus and exposure options to play with, as well as extras like smile shot and panorama. There’s a basic VGA quality camera on the front for video calls and video recording on the main camera can go up to 720p and it’s okay, if nothing to write home about.
How good is the phone’s camera?
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini sample photos
For backing up your pictures and videos, it comes in 8GB or 16GB versions, but unlike the Nexus 4, you can add up to 32GB of memory via microSD card.
Despite the name, the S3 Mini has little in common with the original S3. But despite a considerably lower spec it’s still a pretty decent smartphone with a decent level of performance. However, the game-changing price point of the Google Nexus 4 (around £239) which offers a quad-core processor, better screen and camera, plus the very latest Android, makes it seem very expensive for what’s on offer.