|+ Compact form factor||- Mediocre camera|
|+ Has many features found on the S5||- Lacks full-HD on the display|
|+ microSD support||- At this price you might as well get a S5|
|+ Water resistant|
"An excellent handset for those looking for a compact smartphone, but Samsung could have priced it a little further from the Galaxy S5."
Compacting a top of the range phone into a handset a third smaller is something all manufacturers do these days. Sony did it with the Xperia Z1 Compact, LG has its G3 Beat, and there’s the HTC One Mini 2. Joining the bandwagon is Samsung with the Galaxy S5 Mini.
The S5 Mini is closer to the full sized, flagship Galaxy S5, more so than the other two variants in Samsung’s S range. It comes with an HD screen, and a quad-core processor. You still get the fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor. So what’s better – mini or full size? We took a look.
The S5 Mini really does look like a scaled down version of the S5. From the front it has the same glossy white and glass cover, there’s the chrome and plastic exterior, and a plastic rear textured rather like the sticking plasters mum put on our knee as kids. Rear camera, flash and heart rate monitor are all surrounded by the same chrome. Speaker is also on the rear, and the mini uses the same control buttons centered around the home button. Power button is on the right and volume on the left side.
All very familiar, but just in a smaller form factor. The S5 Mini measures 131 x 65mm, while the S5 is of 142 x 73mm. The Mini is 9.1mm thick and weighs 120g. By comparison the S5 is 8.1mm thick and weighs 145g.
So, smaller and lighter, but not thinner. At 1mm thicker, the S5 Mini does feel bulky in the hand. Probably not something most people would notice though, as usually you wouldn’t be standing with the S5 in one hand and the S5 Mini in the other.
The S5 Mini does feel robust, and we’d be confident that it would take a couple of falls. However, we have the same problem with all Samsung phones and tablets, and the S5 Mini is no exception. By using plastic all these devices just lack that premium look. Samsung are using metal in the Galaxy Alpha out in September. We hope that is the beginning of the end of the cheap, plasticky construction.
You can drop the S5 Mini into one meter of fresh water for half an hour without any worries. Which is good. This isn’t affected apparently by the lack of a flap on the microUSB port.
The smaller size affects the display directly. The S5 Mini has a smaller 4.5in display with a 720 x 1280 resolution – the S5 has a 5in screen and a 1080 x 1920 resolution. Rich and vivid colours are still produced by the same Super AMOLED technology.
Compared to other phones, the display is good but images do come out with a warmer colour. This results in slightly yellow tints on whites, and a little over saturation on darker colours. This is minor though, and only noticeable if you place the S5 Mini next to another phone. Most people won’t do that. Nor will they notice the lack of full HD resolution given the size of the handset. For use outside, the screen is as bright as any of its rivals.
As you have gathered by now, the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini is clearly a scaled down almost carbon-copy of its S5 stablemate. Like the S5 you get the same Android software along with the Samsung TouchWiz user interface. You can reliably unlock the phone with a swipe of your finger in our experience (others have reported issues). The Home screen, notifications, settings, bundled apps like S Health – in short if you’ve seen it in the S5 you’ll see it in the S5 mini.
The big difference is under the hood. The S5 Mini is powered by a quad-core, 1.4GHz processor supported by 1.5GB of RAM. Whereas in the S5 you get 2.5GHz and 2GB of memory. Comparing performance, there was a slight hesitation on the Mini when opening some apps.
However, the S5 Mini doesn’t feel sluggish. Just don’t expect the effortless ease with which the S5 moves between apps. There’s 16GB of storage, but this can be expanded. The microSD card slot is under the peelable plastic on the back of the handset. Using this slot you can get up to 64GB of storage.
Waterproof and dustproof (meeting the IP67 rating) is the same as the S5, but one improvement in design is that the microUSB port no longer needs a plastic cover.
You get a 2,100mAh battery in the S5 Mini. In physical terms this is smaller than the battery in the S5, but bigger than the battery found in the much slimmer Galaxy Alpha. So, you get less battery power, but a less powerful processor, and a smaller screen than the S5 means battery performance is good overall. The phone managed a day and a half of average use before requiring a recharge.
We tested the phone out on 4G in London using the Three service and were impressed at how well it handled web browsing.
Cutbacks have to come somwhere. As well as reduced features in the hardware, the rear camera is also down in megapixels. The S5 Mini has an 8-megapixel rear camera, instead of the 16-megapixels you get on the S5. Also, the software has been cut right down. You get a large array of photographing choices on the S5, even if some are a bit gimmicky. There’s just six shooting options offered on the S5 Mini. Beauty face, Shot & more, Panorama, Virtual tour, Continuous shot and HDR. That, along with some filters rather like those in Instagram, and Full-HD video, complete the visual feature set.
From this set up the phone produces reasonably good quality photos and video. Not on the same level as the S5 or other flagship phones. But more than adequate for sharing on social media. The camera has a little trouble in dim environments if the flash isn’t used resulting in grainy pictures. Outside or good light photos came out well. On the front you get a 2.1-megapixel camera.
The S5 Mini is a good choice if you want a smartphone that fits easily into a pocket. Until pricing is taken into consideration. The Galaxy S5 is available for no extra cost on a monthly contract of £28 per month. Obviously there are terms to the contract – a shorter contract will cost more etc. But, although it is smaller and has less in the way of specifications, the S5 Mini is available at no extra charge on contracts starting at £26 a month.
If you want the handset SIM free you pay around £420 for the S5 (when it launched in April the RRP was £600). The S5 Mini is priced at £390. In our opinion it is well worth paying the additional £30 for the S5.
We do love that the S5 Mini gives you nearly everything you get in the S5 in about 75% of the size.
However, we can’t recommend buying it unless size is the deal breaker for you, the most crucial feature. Unless the larger size of the S5 is something you just can’t live with, then there is no reason to buy the S5 Mini.
Dimensions: 131.1 x 64.8 x 9.1mm
Weight: 120 grams
Screen size: 4.5” Super AMOLED (720 x 1280)
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