Neat, compact design; Good camera; Impressive battery life; really bright display.
Not full HD; Dual-core processor; Speakers don't impress.
If the size of the Samsung Galaxy S4 was the only thing that put you off it, the compact S4 Mini should be the answer you're looking for.
Samsung has taken the design style of its Galaxy S4 and placed it in a smaller shell to come up with the Galaxy S4 Mini. It's a good move for anyone who doesn't want a vastly-sized phone and has a smaller budget too. Although actually, take a look at the S4 mini and you'll see it's not actually very 'mini' at all. It's around the size of the iPhone 5 - but then it's a dwarf when compared with the likes of the HTC One, Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z.
But don't be fooled into thinking this is everything the S4 is, but in a smaller body, because the specs have been downgraded somewhat - there's a smaller display, naturally, but also less in the way of storage and less power.
First off – that screen. The variety on offer here is a 4.3-inch AMOLED display (the S4 has a 5in screen). However, it is sharp, bright and vivid - incredibly bright, in fact, when compared with the display on the iPhone 5. While its 540x960 resolution only offers 256ppi, it's of no consequence because the display is so utterly stunning with incredibly sharp detail levels. When we played HD video, running at 1080p it was really impressive – and shows that Samsung ensures its handsets have quality screens whatever their size.
We found the camera really simple to use - it's an eight-megapixel model, which produces good shots with nice colours and details. Sharing to social media such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and so on is simple, or there is an option to share via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or WhatsApp.
For video calls and 'selfies', there's a very decent 1.9 megapixel HD snapper on the front of the device.
TouchWiz is the Android overlay of choice for Samsung handsets, and it looks good and is simple to use, even if it may not be to everyone's taste.
There are also Samsung apps to use, including S Translator, S Voice and S Memo. Translator is especially impressive - just speak into the phone and will transcribe what you say into Japanese, Korean, German, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
One thing that is a little weird is that you can get Samsung's own version of apps on Google. The Samsung apps store is when you get Samsung apps, but you also have the Samsung Hub, where you access films, games, books and music. This is like the Google Play store and you'll find you have to create two accounts if you want to use both, which is rather tiresome - not a dealbreaker, but fiddly nonetheless.
One of Samsung's favourite features is its Group Play App, which lets you and your chums pair up your Samsung devices and let them play music together - great if everyone has the latest software running on the very latest device, but otherwise very unlikely to happen. We tried Group Play with the S4 Mini and the S4, but it just wasn't quite right - the music ended up slightly out of sync didn't sound right at all.
One thing that is impressive though is the S4 Mini's battery life - we used the device a lot, watching videos, downloading apps, playing games and made about an hour's worth of calls. Yet even after 24 hours we still had about 60% of the battery life left - not something many phones could manage. The S4 Mini also impresses as a phone - call quality was excellent, with a good loud volume; something bigger handsets like the Galaxy Note and Sony Xperia Z could learn from.
Samsung has downgraded the processor in the S4 mini - bringing in a 1.7GHz dual-core model, compared with the 1.9GHz quad-core chip in the S4. However, it still manages to run apps and video without lag - and games ran well too. It does mean it's less futur proof than its bigger brother though.
Storage wise, cuts have been made - there's just 8MB of onboard storage (and only 5GB of that is usable). The S4 has a massive 16GB. However, it is possible to expand this with a microSD card. Accessing the card is easy - unclip the back cover, take out the battery and the slot is there, beside the micro SIM card slot. Be aware that you will not be able to transfer apps to your SD card though, which might be a problem if you happen to download a lot of software
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini has a lot crammed into its smaller chassis, and its display will really impress. If you rejected the original Galaxy S4 because of its size, this should be a more compact, more portable alternative.
Dimensions: 124.6 x 61.3 x 8.94mm
Display : 4.3 inch Retina display
Display Resolution: 960 * 540 pixel resolution
Processor: A7 chip with 64-bit architecture
Fingerprint identity sensor built into the Home button
Onboard Memory : 8 or 16GB (microSD support)
Camera : 8 mega-pixel camera, 1.9 mega-pixel (front-facing)
Operating System : Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
Connectivity : 3G , 4G LTE , WiFi, Bluetooth & NFC
Colours: Black Mist and White Frost
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