Using a budget smartphone can be like playing a rather miserable one-man game of pass the parcel. There are goodies inside, but to get to them you have to patiently tear through layers of compromise. However, with Android phones in particular, those layers have been cut down hugely recently. Let's don the party hats and see how many layers of disappointment the Samsung Galaxy Mini has to offer.
The Samsung Galaxy Mini takes over from the Galaxy Europa as the manufacturer's key budget Android phone. It's plastic, it's fairly small and it isn't going to make your iPhone 4-owning friends feel jealous. It does, however, do an awful lot for not much money.
It runs the Android 2.2 FroYo operating system, giving it access to the full roster of Android apps, now numbering in the hundreds of thousands, and the fully customisable interface of the more expensive Androids. It comes in three different finishes, two black ones with either a green or black trim, and a white model with a silver trim. We looked at this white edition.
It's 12.1mm thick and weighs 105g - very similar dimensions to Samsung's previous Europa Android and HTC's Wildfire. The hardware design is familiar and unremarkable, but this is a phone that defines itself by price rather than bold feature or style claims. On its back is a full-length battery cover, which is covered in dimples. This texture increases grip a bit, and is one of the precious few design choices that save this phone from becoming entirely generic.
On its edges are the standard volume and power buttons, 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB slot with plastic cover and a similarly-covered microSD slot. There's no video output and no camera shutter button, both a rarity on budget phones like the Galaxy Mini.
What's under the surface is similarly perfunctory. There's a 600MHz processor, 3.14in screen with capacitive touch layer, a 3.2-megapixel camera and Samsung's TouchWiz UI. The Galaxy Mini has a slightly larger screen and better camera than last year's Galaxy Europa, but they are essentially devices of the same budget class. The tech trimmings are largely missing here, but crucially everything needed to cultivate the smartphone experience is present - Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS. There's an FM radio too - missing from some smartphones. BBC radio fans rejoice.