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Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini review

Is smaller always more beautiful?

Our Verdict

The S3 Mini ticks all the right boxes, and comes in at a very decent price. The truth of the matter is, though, that it's launching right smack bang against the Google phone, the Nexus 4. Would we recommend buying it over the Nexus? Not really.

Product features

  • Rear Camera Resolution : 5 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 14.16 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 480 x 800

View full specification

For

  • Scaled down design
  • Android Jelly Bean
  • MicroSD support
  • Bright Screen

Against

  • Expensive
  • Dual core
  • Low Screen resolution
  • Samsung Apps

They may look similar, but there's a whole host of differences between the Galaxy S3 mini and its bigger, more powerful brother - the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Design

A quick glance at the handsets and there's very little to choose between the two, apart from the obvious size difference.

See them on their own though and you may struggle to tell which handset a person has in their hand without some closer inspection.

Samsung Galaxy S3 mini
The Samsung Galaxy S3 mini

One of the key ways to distinguish which handset you're ogling is the location of the front facing camera and sensors. On the Samsung Galaxy S3 mini there are to the left of the ear piece, while on the Galaxy S3 you'll find them on the right.

Flip them over and you'll note there is a subtle layout change on the Galaxy S3 mini, with the speaker grill swapping with single LED flash to sit on the left of the camera, while the flash finds a new home below the lens.

Samsung Galaxy S3
The Samsung Galaxy S3

While this reduces the risk of the flash being accidentally covered in landscape mode, hold the Galaxy S3 mini in portrait and you may find your hand blocks the light.

Screen

The 4.8-inch screen on the Galaxy S3 wowed us, our Phones and Tablets Editor Gareth Beavis branded it "beautiful" during his review, but the HD display didn't make it to the S3 mini.

Size takes a hit, but that's to be expected, with the Galaxy S3 mini sporting a 4-inch display, but slightly disappointingly resolution is also downgraded with a WVGA offering, which means it's less spectacular than the S3.

That said despite the lower resolution, the Super AMOLED screen is bright and reproduces colours very well which makes for a more than acceptable user experience.

Samsung Galaxy S3 mini review

Power

When the Galaxy S3 was launched power was the name of the game, with the flagship handset boasting a punchy 1.4GHz quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM.

Initial reports suggesting the Galaxy S3 mini would be similarly powered turned out to be false with a certain amount of dialling down occurring, leaving the handset with a 1GHz dual-core chip and 1GB of RAM.

While the Galaxy S3 mini may have a more modest offering under the hood it doesn't detract from the overall experience as Android still runs smoothly - although it lacks the lightening pace of the S3.

Samsung Galaxy S3 mini review

Operating System

Here the Samsung Galaxy S3 mini actually has the upper hand as it launched with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean already on board.

The original Galaxy S3 came to market running Ice Cream Sandwich, and while it can now be upgraded to Jelly Bean, the S3 mini is the winner.

Samsung has splashed its TouchWiz interface over Android on both handsets which gives a pretty much identical experience - although the Galaxy S3 mini misses out on some of the fancy features such as pop-up play and displaying two apps on screen at once.

Camera

The Galaxy S3 came with a pretty decent 8MP rear camera and front facing 1.9MP option, but neither were much of a step up from the Galaxy S2, and we sort of expected the Galaxy S3 mini to sport the same.

Samsung Galaxy S3 mini review

Sadly though Samsung decided to plump for the 5MP lens round the back for the dinky device, while the front option has a paltry VGA resolution.

Gone too is the full HD video recording, with the Galaxy S3 mini only managing 720p with its rear sensor, but at least it retains the single LED flash.

Quality of photos and videos therefore suffers and while results aren't disastrous on the Galaxy S3 mini, we're left feeling a little deflated as we imagine what could have been.

4G

Samsung released a 4G variant of the Galaxy S3 allowing users to harness the superfast network, but it decided not to give the same treatment to the more affordable Galaxy S3 mini.

It seems LTE integration is being saved for Samsung's top flight devices, with the Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy S4 also enjoying the speedy connection.

Perhaps the much rumoured Galaxy S4 mini will see the Korean firm finally dabble in affordable 4G handsets.

Battery

Samsung Galaxy S3 mini review

No surprise, the Samsung Galaxy S3 mini packs a smaller battery than it's more powerful brother - with a 1,500mAh removable option hidden under the plastic rear.

What is surprising however is that Samsung didn't just stick with the 1,650mAh option it rammed into the Galaxy S2 - luckily though the Galaxy S3 mini still manages to last a day.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported32 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyHSDPA, HSUPA, GPRS, EDGE
SAR Value0.52 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyGalaxy S III Mini
Cellular Generation3G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 900, GSM 850, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported2
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlue
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSamsung
Battery Talk Time14.16 Hour
Screen Size10.2 cm (4")
Screen Resolution480 x 800
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)120 g
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Processor ManufacturerST Ericsson
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.1 Jelly Bean
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), Instant Messaging, MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email
RealtoneYes
Radio Tuner TypeFM
Call FeaturesCall Log
Pixel Density233 ppi
Height121.6 mm
Width63 mm
Depth9.9 mm
Radio TunerYes
ManufacturerSamsung
Product NameGalaxy S III Mini Smartphone
Processor Speed1 GHz
Processor TypeNovaThor
Product LineGalaxy S III Mini
Screen TypeOLED
Sensor TypeGyro Sensor, Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Magnetometer
Manufacturer Part NumberGT-I8190MBABT
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.samsung.com/uk/
Marketing Information

With its gentle curves and comfortable grip, the Samsung Galaxy S III Mini continues the sophisticated design aesthetic seen in the Galaxy S III. Elegant natural design meets vivid viewing, thanks to a dazzling 4.0-inch Super AMOLED display that brings out the best in all your entertainment. With the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system, you can enjoy a range of great apps and games as well as new functionality. And, with smart and intelligent services like Pop-up Play, Best Photo, Smart Stay and Social Tag, the Galaxy S III Mini helps make life easier and richer.

Limited Warranty2 Year