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Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini review

Verdict

Not a bad budget phone, but performance is mediocre and the screen isn't brilliant either

Review Date: 16 May 2013

Price when reviewed: Free, on a £15.00 per month, 24 months contract.

Buy it now for: £120
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
3 stars out of 6

UPDATE: We’ve re-run our benchmarks after the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini received an over-the-air update. Scroll to the end of the review to read more.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini is the Korean manufacturer's attempt to cash in on the popularity of its flagship handset. It inherits the looks and features of the Galaxy S3, but shrinks down the screen size to 4in.

Samsung Galaxy S4 launch

Samsung is about to launch its latest flagship phone - click the link to read about the likely Samsung Galaxy S4 specs.

The Galaxy S3 Mini shares the off-white colour, chrome border and gently curved shape of its big brother, and there are familiar touches elsewhere: the home button below the screen, the Samsung logo above the panel, and the power button on the right-hand edge all look the same. The removable rear cover is still a flimsy piece of plastic, but there’s little give in the Mini’s 9.9mm-thick chassis.

The screen’s 480 x 800 resolution can’t match the glorious 720 x 1,280 of the full-fat Galaxy S3, however. Indeed, it shares its resolution with the mid-range Nokia Lumia 620, and we didn’t have to look too closely to see individual pixels, with text and images lacking the sharpness of high-end handsets.

Samsung Galaxy S III Mini

The technology behind the S3 Mini’s display is AMOLED, the same as the Galaxy S3, but it can’t match its sibling for quality. When we measured its brightness, it returned a result of 182cd/m2 – the Galaxy S3’s display hits 240cd/m2 – and we didn’t like the blue cast it gives to light colours, either. Neither can it match the Lumia 620, which has a superb top brightness of 543cd/m2 and more natural-looking colours.

Samsung Galaxy S III Mini

Inside, the Mini is powered by a NovaThor U8420 processor, which we haven’t seen in a smartphone before. It’s a dual-core, 1GHz part, just like the Lumia’s Snapdragon S4, but the S3 Mini’s SunSpider score of 1,888ms lags behind the Lumia 620’s 1,449ms result, and its Quadrant score of 3,245 isn’t anything to write home about, either.

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User comments

Why not the nexus 4 instead?

If this is £259 sim free I'd certainly pay the extra £20 for a nexus 4...

By stevecusack on 8 Mar 2013

Why not the nexus 4 instead?

If this is £259 sim free I'd certainly pay the extra £20 for a nexus 4...

By stevecusack on 8 Mar 2013

Shouldn't be allowed....

So it is clearly not an S3 and whilst being smaller than an S3 it is hardly Mini either.

By davidk1962 on 8 Mar 2013

- why not nexus 4?

I've just bought the s3 mini; I was a little tempted by the Nexus 4, but no FM radio and no SD slot would have been a nuisance - the FM radio is good on the S3 - I use it most days.

By AndrewInEssex on 9 Mar 2013

Small but....

..stripped-down to gutless performance and rubbish screen. Worse, its loaded up with tons of 'extras' which might be fine on a powerful phone, but here will simply serve to drain the performance even further. Does anyone make a small but powerful smartphone? It took me 4 seconds to realise this was not one. After my Wildfire-S died ("it could'a been a contender" but wasn't) recently, I gave up looking and bought a Nexus-4. Cheap, fast, powerful, sim-free, and uncluttered by stupid Manufacturer/Provider guff. No SD card slot - in my view - makes the phone less 'breakable'. The only problem? It's the size of a tennis court!

By Wilbert3 on 14 Mar 2013

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