Android may have its failings, but there's no doubting that Google's mobile operating system has been one of the key drivers in reducing the price of smartphones, bringing them down to such low pricing levels that they are now within reach of the vast majority of mobile phone buyers. However, the plethora of budget Android phones around means that you have to offer something special to stand out from the crowd, so does Samsung's Galaxy Mini 2, which costs around £100 on Pay As you Go, have what it takes to beat the likes of the Huawei Ascend G300 and Orange San Francisco II?
Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 Design
While the Samsung Galaxy S3 is the reserve of those with pretty deep pockets, it's pretty clear from its attention grabbing yellow battery cover and modest price tag that the Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 is primarily aimed at the youth and entry-level market, or at least those with less cash to spend. The battery cover may be a change from Samsung's usual design philosophy, but the rest of the phone's styling is similar to the company's previous budget handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Europa.
There's a glossy black bezel around the screen on the front with the Samsung logo stamped at the top and a hardware home button beneath that's circled by chrome beading. Either side of this you'll find touch buttons for the back and menu functions. The power/lock button has been shifted to the right hand side, but the standard 3.5mm headphone jack remains at the top, while on the left you'll find the volume rocker switch and a flip out flap that covers the microSD memory card slot. At the bottom, as you'd expect is the microUSB port.
The phone is relatively small, mainly due to its modest screen size, so it fits snugly in the hand and the rounded back helps a bit to hide the fact that it's actually quite a thick phone measuring 12.3mm deep, considerable thicker than current high-end handsets such as the Apple iPhone 5 that lines up with a svelte 7.6mm form. It feel quite solid, but the silver paint job on the edging that surrounds the battery cover does look a tad plasticky and drags down what would otherwise have been quite a premium looking design, especially for a handset in this price bracket.
Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 Screen
The screen on the Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 isn't terrible, but it pales next to the display on rival budget handsets like Huawei Ascend G300 and Orange San Francisco II. It's not simply that the screen is quite small; it's also because the resolution is a bit limited at 320x480 pixels. Webpages and text still look relatively clear, but the fact remains that the same content looks considerably better on the G300. The screen's viewing angles are a bit tight too, so contrasts and colours shift a lot, especially if you're holding the handset vertically and twist it slightly to the left. In fact, colours tend to look a little bit muted anyway and black levels aren’t great, so darker areas of videos tend to have more of a greyish tinge to them.