HTC and Samsung have produced smaller versions of their leading edge, flagship handsets in the past, and Samsung is continuing that strategy with the Galaxy S4 Mini. The small format phone retains lots of the things that have made the Samsung Galaxy S4 so popular, but puts them in a more hand-friendly shell. While it has 4G and NFC built in, not everything has been carried over.
Of course, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is
smaller than its full-sized counterpart. Its 4.3-inch
screen (versus the five-inch screen of the full-sized
Samsung Galaxy S4) is just about the perfect size
for reading webpages and text, and for viewing
video too. Samsung has reduced the pixel count
considerably though, in comparison to the
Samsung Galaxy S4. The 960 x 540 pixels deliver
just 251ppi compared to the Galaxy S4’s 1,920 x
1080, 441ppi. That’s a shame, however, the screen
is still fine in everyday use.
A smaller screen means a smaller phone, and
the Galaxy S4 Mini feels very comfortable in the
hand. The design is every inch Samsung, and effort
has been made to mimic the button placement
and general look of the larger handset.
While 1080p video capture and a 1.9-megapixel
front camera are retained from the original Galaxy
S4 model, Samsung has reduced the main
camera’s capabilities of the Galaxy S4 Mini. There
are eight megapixels as opposed to 13, and fewer
fancy shooting modes.
You’ve still got quite a bit of fl exibility here,
though, with high dynamic range, best face, beauty
face, best photo, panorama, continuous shooting
and Samsung’s sound shot mode, which adds a
short sound clip to photos. A couple of those
modes (best face and best photo), let you select
from a range of photos taken in quick succession
to produce the best composite single image.
There are more instances of reduced
capabilities over the Samsung Galaxy S4 in the
core specifi cations. 2GB of RAM in the full-sized
model is reduced to 1.5GB here and the processor
is a less capable 1.7GHz dual-core model rather than a 1.9GHz quad-core. To be frank, these
reductions don’t affect performance hugely. If you
are experienced with quad-core processors in
handsets then you will notice a defi nite slowing,
but for those people upgrading to this phone, the
knowledge that the S4 Mini is smooth under the
fi ngers will be welcome. The RAM is still above the
average of 1GB and does help for switching
between multiple apps as well.
This being a Samsung handset, Android 4.2 is
bolstered not only by the TouchWiz user interface
but also by a huge range of add-on applications and usability tweaks. Not everything from the
full-sized handset has made it across the divide,
and if you want everything the Samsung Galaxy S4
has to offer then you should do a detailed
comparison online to check out all that’s missing.
Notably present features include Samsung’s S
Planner, S Translate, Samsung Hub, WatchON and
ChatON apps, variously duplicating some Android
features and offering a separate app store. These
features divide opinion – whether you see them as
bloat or useful is a matter of personal opinion. If
you are on the bloat side then you may be
disgruntled to learn that the 8GB of built-in memory
is reduced to 5GB that’s user accessible, partly
because of Samsung’s pre-installed apps. There’s
a micro SD card slot next to the micro SIM slot
under the battery for extra data storage.
Many of the gesture and motion-based features
that are loved by Samsung smartphone fans have also made it into the Galaxy S4 Mini. Air gestures
are absent – the ones where you hover a finger
above the screen – and S Health is not here either.
But you can tilt the phone for plenty of actions and
the rather good Smart Stay, which knows when you
are looking at the phone, is present.
In the end, then, the S4 Mini is not only smaller
in size to the Galaxy S4, it is also less capable. In a
sector that is proving highly competitive with some
excellent handsets from HTC and Sony, the
decision to go with this model may not be quite as
clear cut as it is for the flagship version.