Impressive Android Jelly Bean OS; more solid build than the S III
Pricey; disappointing onscreen keyboard
The Samsung Galaxy S III Mini is touted as a cheaper version of the S III but you can find better, cheaper smartphones that do a better job
Samsung’s Galaxy S III is an impressive powerhouse, and now Samsung has brought out a smaller version – dubbed appropriately the Galaxy S III Mini, aimed firmly at the middle of the market.
The Mini’s big brother has a 4.8in screen and a quad-core processor, while the Mini has been scaled down to a 1GHz dual-core chip and a four-inch display. Not bad if you’re not really on the lookout for a superphone – but you’re probably also hoping that the price is suitably reduced. Well, with the Mini coming in at £300 SIM-free (rather than its older sibling’s £382) it’s not much of a saving.
On the plus side, the S III Mini offers one of the first and cheapest opportunities to use the Android Jelly Bean operating system. Finding your way around the phone is easy and quick, while it is quite capable of multitasking apps such as YouTube and Maps. The screen proves smooth and responsive, although we weren’t so enamoured with the onscreen keyboard. Because the screen is a little smaller at four inches, the keyboard feels squashed, and the autocorrect is rather disappointing too.
Notifications are well handled by Jelly Bean – app alerts appear in the toolbar at the top, which can be dragged down to show more details. You’ll see the first paragraph of emails, and texts are shown in their complete form. The calendar alert is neat too – it shows event information and if you’re going to be late, you can email anyone who’s going straight from the notifications bar, to let them know.
Apps such as Twitter and Facebook integrate smoothly into the operating system, and onboard you’ll find Flipboard, which brings all your favourite news and social feeds into one smooth magazine-like window that you can scroll through.
The build is similar to the S III – there’s a shiny, rounded chassis with rounded corners. It feels more solid, perhaps because it is more chunky, and the curved edges make it easy to hold. Like other Samsung handsets, the phone features one hard home key along with touch-sensitive areas for Menu and Back.
The five-megapixel snapper is positioned in the centre of the back plate, while the 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera is flanked by two little lenses that monitor your eye movement – they’re used by neat Samsung additions such as ‘Smart Stay’, which keeps the screen on if you’re still looking at it.
If you’ve used a Samsung handset before, you’ll find the Mini very familiar. It’s rather like the Galaxy S Advance, but featuring new software.
The five-megapixel camera, which features an LED flash, offers good images in daylight. Its shutter is quite quick and there are some nice preset modes such as Cartoon. While the images were decent, Samsung hasn’t included many of the post-production tweaks available on its other handsets.
If you’re looking at a photo, hit the menu button and you’ll be able to edit, using the onboard Photo Editor. It’s a tad finicky to set up, because you need to have a Samsung Apps account as well as a Google one – and you may find it easier simply to download the likes of instagram or Picsay.
The front-facing lens does a decent job, although a softening filter is added automatically.
Samsung has included lots of its own touches to the Mini. Use a double-tap in shortcuts for different tasks – such as going to the top of the inbox and contacts list if you’re using the Mail app. If you’re in a call log, flick right to make a call to a contact, or left to send them a text. If you’re typing a text, pick up the phone and you will automatically call them. It’s all very clever, but still useful stuff, which we have yet to see copied by other phone makers.
Setting up the handset for the first time is user friendly, especially for beginners, and plenty of pop-ups keep appearing to help you out.
The Galaxy S III Mini is a decent phone, with a good build, reasonable screen and workable snapper – but £300 is a lot for a phone that doesn’t have all those outstanding features such as a brilliant camera found on a Nokia or HTC phone. Its most outstanding feature is the Android Jelly Bean OS, along with the neat Samsung shortcuts and advanced notifications. However, there’s no wow factor with this phone, and there are plenty of better, cheaper smartphones on offer.
|Type of device||Smartphone|
|Operating System||Android 4.1 Jelly Bean|
|Processor speed||1GHz dual-core|
|Screen size||4 inches|
|Screen type||Super AMOLED|
|Internal storage||8GB or 16GB|
|Memory card slot|
|Special camera features|
|Music player||MP3, AMR-NB, AAC/AACï¼‹/eAACï¼‹, WMA, OGG(Vorbis), FLAC|
|FM Radio description||Stereo FM radio with RDS|
|Video player||H.264, MPEG-4, H.263, VC-1, SorensonSpark, WMV7, WMV8 Recording/ Playback : 720p|
|Games||Download via Google Play|
|Band||HSPA 14.4/5.76 900/1900/2100 EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900|
|Handsfree speaker phone|
|What's in the box||Charging adaptor, USB cable, Stereo headset with In-Line Mic and Call control, Quick Start Guide and reference material|
|Standby||Not yet released|
|Talktime||Not yet released|
|Battery life multimedia||Not yet released|
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