Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini review

14 Aug 2013

Samsung has taken the best bits of its flagship handset and squeezed them down to form the Galaxy S4 Mini

Price when reviewed: 
348inc VAT
Buy it now for 
5

Samsung pulled out all the stops for its flagship Galaxy S4, and now the company’s Galaxy S4 Mini aims to do the same for slightly smaller pockets. With the Galaxy S4’s 5in screen shrunk down to a more pocketable 4.3in, the Galaxy S4 Mini is set to go toe to toe with HTC’s own pocket-sized flagship, the HTC One mini.

First round, looks, goes to HTC. The One mini may not be quite such a thing of beauty as the full-sized One, thanks to its plastic chassis edges, but it still trumps the S4 Mini. Samsung’s phone looks like a smaller Galaxy S4, and is just as underwhelming visually. It is hewn from good-quality, silky-smooth plastics, at least, and it feels like it could survive everyday abuse – it just isn’t anything special.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

The S4 Mini has an AMOLED screen, rather than the One mini’s LCD. This offers some power-saving benefits: when playing back a video on loop the S4 Mini lasted more than 13 hours, compared to the 8hrs 30mins from the One mini. However, in our 24-hour mixed-use test, we saw similar results; after the 24 hours was up, both phones had 60% charge remaining.

The S4 Mini’s screen quality isn’t quite up there with the One mini’s, though. For a start, it only has 540 x 960 pixels, compared to the 720 x 1,280 of HTC’s handset. While on the One mini you can easily read web pages in desktop mode when fully zoomed out, it’s much more of a struggle on the S4 Mini.

We also weren’t quite as impressed with the S4 Mini screen’s image quality. It has wide viewing angles and punchy colours, but brightness reaches a middling 250cd/m2. When compared side by side with the HTC’s screen – with its snowy, pure whites – the S4 Mini’s whites had a blue tinge. There was also a slightly grainy texture to the image, and the screen coating wasn’t quite as smooth to the touch as the One mini’s.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

Fire up the S4 Mini, and Samsung’s usual tweaks to the Android operating system are evident. This divides opinion as to its attractiveness; we find it prettier than the rather dour stock Android 4.2, but you may find the eye-poppingly colourful icons off-putting. It isn’t as classy as Sony’s Android skin, for example, but you may find it preferable to HTC’s extensive OS modifications, where the home page is taken over by a giant newsfeed.

The S4 Mini has a 1.7GHz dual-core processor, which outshines the One mini’s 1.4GHz. It’s faster in our benchmarks, too, completing the Sunspider JavaScript benchmark in a quick 1,008ms, compared to 1,306ms for the One mini. However, subjectively we felt the One mini had the advantage. When using the default browser, the S4 Mini would occasionally show jerkiness when scrolling through complicated web pages. Things improved when we installed Chrome, but the One mini still had a slight smoothness advantage. The S4 Mini still copes well with web browsing, though, and we only really noticed the slight difference when we compared the phones side by side.

Details

Price ex VAT £290
Price inc VAT £348
Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £22.50
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider Three
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 5

Physical

Dimensions 61 x 9 x 125mm (WDH)
Weight 107g

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 1.50GB
Camera megapixel rating 8.0mp

Display

Screen size 4.3in
Resolution 540 x 960

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Android

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