Not everybody wants the giant size of the phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note or the new Mega 6.3 so Samsung have the Galaxy SIII Mini a compact version of the SIII with a 4 inch screen. Is the cut down Mini any good? The name implies its just a smaller version SIII but it’s not just the screen size that is smaller. The SIII’s quad core processor is replaced by a dual core 1GHz, the 8MP camera of the SIII is a 5MP on the Mini. The screen is 4″ WVGA screen (480 x 800) and is clear and bright, it comes with Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). It also has a MicroSD card slot which is something I miss on the Nexus 4, I tend to load it up with music and then I leave my main storage for apps. In the box you get a charger, USB cable and a pair of headphones which are actually quiet good.
The SIII Mini fits nicely in the hand and its 4 inch screen make it very nice for one handed use, the smooth plastic has a nice feel and it weights only 123g. While it doesn’t have a premium feel its solid enough not to feel cheap. The phone feels very snappy, the dual core processor seems to cope well with the TouchWiz UI and there were no slowdowns when using things like the browser or music apps. I tested apps like Netflix and Google Music and had no problems with performance.
Battery performance seemed pretty reasonable, I took the phone to The Gadget Show Live and used it to take photos and check Facebook and Twitter and found that I got nearly two days without charging the phone which is about what I get from my Note and Nexus 4. The camera is easy just and the shots are ok but I did find them a little washed out as you see from the examples at the bottom of this post.
The Mini comes with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI layer on top of Android and as I have said in other reviews while I prefer standard Android TouchWiz has improved over the last year and now has some extra features over native Android. It has things like Direct Call which is a nice feature where if your reading a text message and want to call the person back you can just put the phone to your ear and it will call them. It has Smart Alert which gives a vibrating nudge to let you know there are missed calls or messages, S Voice where you can use your voice to do things like taking a call or changing music tracks and Smart Stay which uses the camera to work out if you are looking at the phone and if you are it keeps the screen on and the brightness up. This is a feature recently introduced the Galaxy Note and is a nice feature especially if your reading a long email or browsing a web page. There is also Samsung’s Video, Game, Reading and Music Hubs which is basically access to Samsung’s online store, plus there is Samsung’s own app store. You also get Dropbox pre-installed and it includes 50GB for storage which is free for two years.
Overall I liked the SIII Mini, it has a lot of the features of its bigger brother in a nice small package and is a lot cheaper than the S3. I found it on Amazon for around £224 Unlocked which is a about £200 than the bigger SIII. This would be an ideal device for someone wanting an Android smartphone but wants a smaller package than the SIII.
Samsung Galaxy SIII Mini next to my Nexus 4
The SIII Mini with a Nexus 4 and Galaxy Note
The white plastic back of the SIII Mini
Taken with the SIII Mini camera