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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

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For

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

Against

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

The question we asked ourselves with the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini was whether the 5MP camera offering was expected or not. Generally we're not surprised, given the fact that the Galaxy S3 had 8MP, but then so does the Galaxy S2. Maybe that says more about the Galaxy S3 than its Mini brother.

Then again, the Galaxy S2 is around the same price as the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini, as are the 8MP smartphones in the form of the Taiwanese HTC One S and the Google Nexus 4.

Decent cameras aren't measured on the size of their sensors though, so we were curious to see how much damage, if any, 3 missing megapixels would do.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini review

Before we go any further on reviewing the camera, and getting into its finer details, we have to mentioned a slight niggle we had.

We can be a bit all fingers and thumbs sometimes, so maybe it was that, but the camera placement, coupled with the size and shape of the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini, meant that occasionally we caught a snap of our digits.

We also scared ourselves on more than one occasion. The camera app has an amazing ability to remember whether you had the front or rear sensor engaged, meaning we often opened the app to find the screen plastered with a lower resolution screen filled with our 'beautiful' face.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini review

Joking aside, we can envisage this being a real problem if you need to take a quick snap, yet had left the camera in the wrong mode.

The camera app itself is, visually, slightly disappointing. We were hoping for the same dark colours and high contrasts that graces the Galaxy S3 Mini's dialler app and notifications bar, but the app has a much less exciting dark grey colour.

That said, the app is pretty well stocked feature wise. It has both autofocus, as well as selective focus should you wish to focus off centre.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini review

This is a feature we've always liked on touchscreen smartphones, and is generally included, however we do occasionally stumble across the odd device without it, which makes us more thankful for its inclusion.

As for features, Samsung has a habit of throwing in a decent amount of them, and the Galaxy S3 Mini isn't the exception that proves this rule.

There's the flash (we'll get to that later), shooting mode (and we'll get to that as well), colour effects (the usual), as well as scene modes, auto/macro focus, timer, white balance, ISO, GPS tagging and guidelines.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini review

In all, there are a lot of features that grace every compact camera. The shooting modes are Single Shot, Continuous, Panorama, Buddy Photo Share, Smile Shot and Cartoon. Single Shot and Continuous are fairly self explanatory, as is the Panorama mode. Cartoon Mode makes the image seem almost hand drawn.

The two most interesting modes are Smile Shot and Buddy Photo Share. Smile Shot is for those who, well, don't smile so much. This mode sets the camera to automatically capture an image when the subject smiles, which is great if you need to spend your time and energy making them smile. Buddy mode is very similar in that it shoots when it detects faces, and allows for photo tagging.

There's by no means the same level of photo options are there are on the Galaxy S3, but as this isn't Samsung's flagship device, we can accept that.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini review

We did like the quick access from the lock screen - holding the screen while rotating the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini opened the camera app, freeing up a space for another app on the screen.

Overall we were very impressed with the camera. The three missing megapixels we mentioned earlier aren't missed, as all our test shots turned out clear, and dare we say it, are good enough that you wouldn't worry had you left your compact camera at home.

Maybe worry if you've left a DSLR at home, though.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini
Colours are bright and there is a good level of contrast. The different colours in the brick are noticeable, despite being a fair distance off.

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Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini review
Focusing on brighter areas such as the sky makes the rest of the image seem a lot darker and grainier, with a lot of detail lost in really dark areas.

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Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini review
In negative mode, everything seems a little space age. The lizard is, in real life, green. Colour modes don't add a lot, but can be a lot of fun.

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Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini review
The 4x digital zoom is by no means the greatest, but colours are still reproduced well. The image loses a lot of sharpness though, with edges seeming a lot more blurred.

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Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini
Camera focuses well on important details, with contrast maintained throughout the image.

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Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini review
Turning the flash on brings a certain level of glare from shinier surfaces. Colours appear very vivid, with a high contrast, although image is a little grainy.

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Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini review
Front facing VGA camera is poor at best. It might be ideal for making video calls, and for quick profile pictures, but images appear grainy and there is a lot of image blurring.

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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