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Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini review

The S4 gets shrunk and we put it through its paces

So there we have it, our Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini review. The question is, where does this leave us? Samsung has created a mid-range handset, putting itself right against the 4G-toting Sony Xperia SP and Nokia Lumia 820 - but most importantly now in a war with the HTC One Mini too.

We were a little worried that the Korean's new device would suffer from a bit of an identity crisis, given that the Samsung Galaxy S3 is still selling very well. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini still manages to stand out on its own, albeit in a market now crowded with Samsung Galaxy S4 variants.

We liked

The design of the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini was a scaled down version of the Samsung Galaxy S3, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is a scaled down version of the Samsung Galaxy S4. We were impressed with the design of the Samsung Galaxy S4, our only real criticism being that it seemed similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Naturally then, we are impressed with the design of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, with the thin bezel and its light weight being very impressive.

The screen was also very exciting, if only because it was so bright and vibrant. We also think that the 4.3-inch diagonal also makes it the perfect size for those who find the 5-inch screens on modern flagship smartphones too imposing. At 0.3 inches larger than the iPhone 5, there is a little more screen real estate, in a device that measures only fractionally larger.

We were also big fans of the camera. We know that sensor size isn't something that can truly be relied upon as a measurement of a camera's image quality, but the 8MP sensor on the back of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is more than up to the task, and doesn't leave you wishing that you had a compact camera in your pocket as well.

We disliked

It seems harsh to comment upon the fact that the insides of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini are only dual-core (as opposed to the Galaxy S3's quad-core), given that it managed to cope with just about everything that we threw at it. It must be a testament to the phone that this is one of the few things we could say was wrong with it.

Another minor gripe that we found with the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini was the lack of a notification light. If you have the notification sound/vibrate turned off, there is no way of knowing if you have a missed call or email.

We also have to mention the microSD slot sat behind the battery. We're not overly fussed by the fact that it is not hot-swappable, although this is something that we really wish would be made available on more phones.

What really got us was the positioning, having to lay the card flat against the phone and try to push it in with your nails. Once the microSD card is in, though, we don't see it needing to be popped out too often.

Verdict

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If you read this entire review, then you'll know exactly what we thought of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. If you've just jumped to reading this page then you should know that the things we put into the 'disliked' section are really only minor details.

We could mention the lack of a Full HD screen, the lack of quad-core power and, in reality, the lack of gubbins that make the Samsung Galaxy S4 the flagship handset of the Samsung Galaxy S range.

If we did that, we would be being very critical, given that the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is a lot cheaper, and was never intended to be a flagship smartphone.

What you get with the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a far better trade off of price and features than you got with the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini, and a phone that sits very comfortably within the S4 range.

As for those wondering whether they should buy the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini instead of the Samsung Galaxy S3, truly that is something that you will have to decide for yourself. But the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini more than makes a case for itself, with the upgraded software, decent battery life and 4G tech more than giving the Samsung Galaxy S3 a run for its money.

However, we will say this: the HTC One Mini is a better phone that's available for a very similar price at the moment. Its metal unibody, Ultrapixel camera and Boomsound speakers do exactly what its bigger brother does to the S4: prove that getting the basics right is what matters.

Both of these phones are very similar in spec and layout, but try them side by side and we think you'll probably just prefer the One Mini... especially as the microSD card slot on the S4 mini is a little harder to access.

First reviewed: July 2013

Thanks to Unlocked-Mobiles for providing our Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini review sample.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported64 GB
Built-in Memory8 GB
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA+, UMTS
SAR Value0.33 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyGalaxy S4 Mini
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE 800, LTE 850, LTE 900, LTE 1800, LTE 2100, LTE 2600
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourWhite Frost
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSamsung
Battery Talk Time12 Hour
Product ModelGT-I9195
Screen Size10.9 cm (4.3")
Screen Resolution540 x 960
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)107 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), Email, MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density256 ppi
Front Camera Resolution1.9 Megapixel
Height124.6 mm
Width61.3 mm
Depth8.9 mm
Radio TunerYes
Battery Standby Time300 Hour
ManufacturerSamsung
Product NameGalaxy S4 Mini GT-I9195 Smartphone
Processor Speed1.70 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon 400
Product LineGalaxy S4 Mini
Screen TypeOLED
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass, Ambient Light Sensor, Magnetometer, Health Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberGT-I9195ZWABTU
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.samsung.com/uk/
Marketing InformationThe Galaxy S4 Mini is a powerful, compact version of its bestselling smartphone, the Galaxy S4. The Galaxy S4 Mini delivers the superior performance, intuitive ease-of-use and sleek design of the Galaxy S4 in a portable chic and compact design.

With a 4.3" qHD Super AMOLED display, the Galaxy S4 Mini offers stunning images and content. At just 107g, the lightweight and compact design enables you to carry and use the device easily with one hand. The Galaxy S4 Mini also boasts powerful performance, equipped with a 1.7GHz dual core processor and supports many of the same intuitive features as the Galaxy S4, designed to enhance different aspects of life.

Capturing Memories
The Galaxy S4 Mini allows you to capture important moments in life with an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera as well as a 1.9-megapixel HD front-facing camera. Special features include Sound&Shot, which stores sounds and images together, Panorama Shot which allows you to take a full view of what you are seeing, and Story Album, which automatically arranges photos in a smart format - photos taken by Galaxy S4 Mini are automatically gathered and saved according to your timeline, geo-tagging information or specific event, to create a photo album. You can also receive travel assistance and information services through the S Travel preloaded app which can even recommend a new trip and provide destination guides.

Sharing and Connecting
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini means you can share content with others around you easily. Simultaneously listen to the same music and play the same games as your friends with Group Play, and chat with multiple friends with animations, video and voice recording added to messages using ChatON.

Environment Features
The Galaxy S4 Mini features S Translator, for instant translation using text or voice on applications including email, text message and ChatON. You can also control your environment through WatchON's IR remote which transforms the device into a remote to control your home entertainment systems including TV, set-top box and DVD player. Content available includes live TV, cable TV and VOD based on the information provided EPG (Electronic Program Guide). In addition, Samsung Link* will help you share content across multiple Samsung digital devices. *Available in select countries. Previously called AllShare Play.

Wellbeing Features
The Galaxy S4 Mini keeps you up to date with health and wellbeing information. Downloadable from Samsung Apps, S Health enables you to monitor your calorie balance. It can calculate each step taken daily, monitor sleeping patterns, calculate weight and share real time heart rate information**. Adapt Display provides an optimal viewing experience, customised for each type of application, and Adapt Sound offers an optimal level and type of sound, personalised for each user. ** Functionality such as monitoring weight, heart rate and sleeping patterns is possible through the use of fitness accessories which are sold separately.
Limited Warranty2 Year