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Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini: Interface, Usability and Camera

Luke Johnson

By Luke Johnson



Our Score:


Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini Interface and Usability

Bringing much of the same from both Samsung and Android, the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini interface is largely uninspiring with the handset offering little difference from a number of its Galaxy branded siblings, be they targeting the entry-level, mid or high-end markets.

With Google’s Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS running the show alongside Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini interface is pleasant and easy to use and a system that, thanks to its basic touch-based controls and clearly labelled features will attune itself as much to smartphone newcomers as seasoned handset owners.

Pulling on the strength of the handset’s 1GHz dual-core Cortex A9 processor and the incorporated 1GB of RAM, the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini runs smoothly and with few glitches or stutters when working through the handset’s seven app and widget enhanced home screens, menu options and basic services. With a raft of widgets available, the up-front user experience is bolstered by instant access to the likes of email, music, video and news content all without having to delve deep with the device’s OS.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini

Although the device slows noticeable when opening high-demanding applications, with a defined pause before springing to life even with the likes of Rovio’s Bad Piggies, running more premium tasks the S3 Mini can show its reduced specs.

With the handset’s communication and contacts offerings once again proving to be standard Android, with contacts able to be imported from the likes of Gmail accounts and Facebook profiles, the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini calling capabilities are run of the mill but appealingly straightforward and simply to use.

With no dropped calls recorded during our time with the device, the S3 Mini tended to hold strong signal is areas of expected coverage, with communications clear with only minimal background noise and disruption. What’s more, in terms of text-based messaging, the handset is bolstered by Samsung’s much loved Swype input options, allowing users to drag their fingers between letters to spell out words in double quick fashion.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini Camera

Continuing the theme of acceptable but far from ground breaking internals, the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini camera is another at times troubling addition to the handset’s specs sheet, with a 5-megapixel rear-mounted camera paired with a second, disappointingly dated VGA offering up front.

Although far from impressive by high-end standards, for a mid-range handset the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini camera collection is, on paper, acceptable if a little run of the mill. In practise, the handset’s snappers fair little better, with the 5-megapixel rear-mounted camera producing at times grainy images with poor colour management and weak contrast ratios.

Producing a selection of less than impressive results, the S3 Mini camera features a contrast ratio that is lacking in depth, meaning colours can become quite blocky with images missing out on the finer details of the real-world situations being captured, an issue that is further compounded when shooting in less than ideal lighting conditions. When photographing in transitional phases of light, between strong natural light and situations where it is appropriate to use the handset’s integrated LED flash, results are frequently below expectation with the camera’s poor colour management often resulting in dull, bleak shots.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini Camera

Pleasingly, when it is appropriate to utilise the handset’s inbuilt flash, the results are surprisingly strong and an improvement on much of the smartphone competition. Although on occasion the handset whited out images of people with an overzealous flash, for the large part we found the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini was quite adept at correctly monitoring the severity of the flash, helping create a selection of satisfactory shots in otherwise impossible lighting situations.

Whilst the flash is an improvement on some competitors, like any smartphone snapper, the zoom capabilities on the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini camera are best avoided, with even slight use of the digital zoom transforming acceptable images into pixelated jumbles of indistinguishable shapes and colours.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini Camera

More than a basic point-and-shoot snapper, the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini camera comes paired with a selection of features and effects that offer a little something extra to the user experience and allow the likes of panoramic and black and white shots to be captured at will.

Although the photo effects included, such as cartoon or vintage looks, can help create interesting snaps, in long term use, they offer little to the handset’s overall appeal beyond first use. More interesting, however, is the handset’s panorama mode, a feature now available on many devices. Sadly, however, the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini panorama mode suffers from continued issues with stitching, frequently leaving noticeable joins in panoramic shots.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini Camera

Moving on to the handset’s VGA forward-facing camera, and the less said the better. Although the presence of a front-mounted camera, in theory, allows for the option of video calling, in practise the integrated snapper is of such low quality that it detracts from desired use, pushing use back to more location locked video calls such as from our PCs or even our tablet devices.

With the device capable of shooting 720p HD video content at 30 frames-per-second, the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini video recording capabilities suffer from the same issues as the handset’s stills options, namely poor colour management, issues with motion and disappointingly basic contrast ratios.

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March 22, 2013, 11:13 am

This review is terribly biased, and the writer clearly knows very little about the current smartphone market, and bashing the AMOLED screen is just rediculous, color accuracy is hardly of importance have you ever seen someone doing professional image editing on their phone? Exactly, you haven't. AMOLED is fantastic, has that WOW factor that few other type of display currently has.

Malcolm Charlaw

April 24, 2013, 2:08 pm

Is this the same phone, having received mine recently after changing from the BB Torch, I find this to be a far superior design and a pleasure to use. Like all phones, when you first get them, there can be a learning curve and I find that using the web is more of a joy to use than the BB. Most sites tend to have a 'mobile' version, so this really shouldn't be much of an issue anyway. This plays Youtube videos no problem with great colours, the sound is better than the BB and the customisation is brilliant. I used to be primarily Nokia until I changed to the BB, didn't like it at first, but got used to it. But, since getting the S3 mini, have got used to it quite quickly.


May 16, 2013, 11:53 am

Good example how reviews about cell phones shouldn't be written. Sigh where to start.

the Display? Fine, everyone has its own taste. Bashing the resolution
on the 4" screen? Did you perhaps expected it to be on par with retina
on a 250 eur. device? Most of the devices in this price range feature
WVGA resolution.

Where are the synthetic benchmarks? No its not enough to quote the specs.

Where are the full size photo samples? How can we see the "lack of detail"? Or should we take your word on it? Where is the camera sample?

Your review lacks any and I mean ANY kind of test or compassion between other offerings.


June 24, 2013, 4:49 pm

how can i resolve my s3 mini because too much laggy is it because of the RAM?

Wynand Dreyer

June 25, 2013, 6:23 pm

can anyone please tell me what the email settings is for a samsung galaxy mini, i can receive but cannot send any mails


August 26, 2013, 5:05 pm

review updated on wrongly best smart phone for SIII mini. have a facility for send mail and receive mail and camera 5mp clearity is nice. compact for our pockets donot hold on our hands...............


August 26, 2013, 5:07 pm

long press on center button and close ur opened application.. check with you tube its teaching all of things

Jack Willsdon

October 16, 2013, 5:23 pm

Cnt send large txt with out it converting it to mms. How do I get around this?


October 24, 2013, 3:47 pm

i want to move some movable apps from device to my sd card but it cannot be. what should i do.

Mahantesh Hosur

April 27, 2016, 1:22 pm

One of the worst handset GALAXY S3 MINI i had seen so far..Reasson cited for this is poor battery life , hanging like each minute many times unable to receive the call and,send a message. However after receiving the call it takes min 15 secs to connect to the call. Please try to avoid these kind of hand sets

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