Android smartphones are certainly getting bigger overall. But there are more than a few smaller-screened Android devices available as well.
Samsung, of course, wants to play ball, too. The company first announced the Galaxy S4 Mini back in May. The S4 Mini has a 4.3-inch AMOLED screen that looks good, but has a lower resolution (960×540) than the competing Motorola and HTC alternatives.
A small Galaxy
On the outside, at least, the S4 Mini looks nearly identical to the larger Galaxy S4. It comes in white or black with chrome edges, accents, and buttons; and its slick plastic back will make you want to buy a case if you’re even remotely clumsy.
Even the button and port layout on the S4 Mini is the same as on the S4: Power is on the right side, near the top, the volume rocker is on the right, the Micro USB charging port is on the bottom, and the headphone jack and IR blaster are up top.
The only thing noticeably different between the S4 and S4 Mini when you set them side-by-side is that the Mini is slightly thicker, at 0.35 inches, versus the S4’s thinner 0.31-inch profile. But thanks to its smaller size and thicker, more rounded backside, it’s very comfortable to hold.
TouchWiz & a few annoying extras
The physical similarities between the S4 and the S4 Mini carry over to Android as well. The S4 Mini runs Android 4.2, skinned with Samsung’s colorful but cluttered TouchWiz interface.
If you set them side-by-side, the Mini is slightly thicker than the S4.
TouchWiz feels more like standard Android than, say HTC’s Sense interface, but the TouchWiz icons are cartoonish, and the Settings and some other menus can be confusing if you’re coming from a non-Samsung Android phone. Of course, if you don’t like the look of TouchWiz, you can install a different launcher.
Specs and Power
While the S4 Mini may look the part of a shrunk-down Galaxy S4, the similarities don’t run any deeper than the shell and skin. The S4 Mini’s components are decidedly weaker than what is in the original Galaxy S4. The S4 Mini has 16GB of on-board storage, plus a MicroSD slot under the battery, which lines up with the similarly sized HTC One Mini.
It also has 1.5GB of RAM, just like the larger Galaxy Mega. But its dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor, while clocked higher than the similar chip found in the HTC One Mini, is much less powerful than the quad-core chip in the original S4. In Geekbench 3, the S4 Mini delivered a single-core score of 630 and a multi-core score of 1126. By comparison, the larger, original Galaxy S4 709 and 2315 on the same tests, respectively.
While the benchmark numbers are helpful for comparison’s sake, the S4 Mini’s anecdotal performance wasn’t great, either. We noticed some stuttering when navigating the OS and launching apps on more than a couple occasions. And the S4 Mini seemed slower at converting our speech to text when dictating text messages than the S4. It also seemed to completely miss more words, even though we used the same wired headset with both phones.
An okay camera
The 8-megapixel camera in the S4 is about what we’d expect from a respectable mid-range shooter. Images in ideal conditions – sunlit rooms or under bright overhead lighting – look pretty good. But details get blown out easily by backlighting, and interior shots in most lighting conditions look fuzzy.
The good news is that the LED flash works pretty well, at least inside, delivering usable photos in settings that would otherwise be far too dark. We prefer the Ultrapixel camera in HTC’s One smartphones for their superior low-light performance. But as mid-range smartphone cameras go, the S4 Mini’s is pretty good, but not great.
Long-enough battery life for light users
If you’re looking for your smartphone to make it through your workday, the S4 Mini should suffice. But don’t expect to go out for dinner and drinks without a recharge.
Don’t expect to go out for dinner and drinks without a recharge.
Our unit endured for 13 hours 33 minutes of medium-to-heavy use, checking Facebook, writing emails, downloading and installing apps (mostly over WiFi), making a half-hour phone call, and about an hour of gaming, before hitting the 10 percent mark.
That’s a couple hours longer than what we got with the HTC One Mini, but still not exactly great.
As a compact mid-range smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is worth considering .
It stutters a bit straight out of the box with its ageing dual-core processor. Websites and apps are, after all, only going to get more demanding.
To put it simply, the Galaxy S4 Mini is a decent mid-range phone at a mid-range price. Its battery life and expandable storage make it slightly more appealing than the HTC One Mini. But the Moto G is a good mid-range phone at a budget-phone price. You can pick up the S4 Mini for less out of pocket than the Moto G.
Nice-looking AMOLED screen
Compact size is one-hand-friendly
Lower-res screen than competition
Some performance stuttering
Battery life could be better
Culled from Digital Trends