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Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini review

Michael Sawh

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Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score

8/10

User Score

Pros

  • Bright, vibrant screen
  • Decent main camera
  • Smooth dual-core processor performance

Cons

  • Some lag for gaming
  • Pricey, considering the specs
  • Disappointing onboard storage

Review Price £350.00

Key Features: 4.3-inch qHD AMOLED display; 1.7GHz dual-core processor; 8-megapixel rear-facing camera; NFC; Android 4.2.2; 8GB storage; microSD card slot

Manufacturer: Samsung

What is the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini?

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is what the HTC One Mini is to the HTC One – a smaller version of the Samsung Galaxy S4. Dropping to a 4.3-inch display, the S4 Mini loses the quad-core power and Full 1080p HD display. It does retain many of the key S4 features including NFC, Android 4.2.2 and a removable battery. The basic design is much the same, it just fits more comfortably in your hand and pocket.

Priced from £350 at launch, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is significantly more expensive than the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini (£269) when it first arrived and £229 cheaper than the Galaxy S4. After a significant price drop you can now get your hands on a SIM-free Galaxy S4 Mini from as little as £160. It goes up against the likes of the Sony Xperia SP and the Nokia Lumia 820, Samsung is pitching the S4 Mini as the ultimate mid-range smartphone and a more pocketable rival to the iPhone 5. Read on to find out if it can hack it with the best mobile phones around.

Watch our Samsung Galaxy S4 mini video review

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini - Design

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is essentially a mini replica of the Galaxy S4. From the glossy, plastic body, thin bezel and metal band separating the screen from the battery cover. This is the flagship Samsung smartphone, only smaller and lighter - read more about how they compare in our S4 vs S4 Mini comparison.

This is a handset we are familiar with as well. The screen size and basic specs are identical to the smartphone half of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom.

All buttons and ports remain in the same place as they do on the S4. The Home key flanked by capacitive buttons remain below the screen. The volume rocker is on the left side, on/off button on the right and headphone jack up top. The LED flash and 8-megapixel camera sensor line up above each other just as they do on the S4. The eagle-eyed of you will notice that the Air gesture sensor is missing, which means there’s no hover-your-finger-over-the-screen features to play with.

Weighing in at 107g, the S4 Mini is lighter than the S4 (130g) and the HTC One Mini (122g). At 8.94mm thick, it's also slimmer than the One Mini, but it is around a millimetre chunkier than the S4. It’s available in White Frost and Black Mist colours, and having played with the black version it's a shade that helps hide some of the cheapness in the build.

The plastic battery cover clips away from the body via a small gap above the on/off button that you can wedge your fingernail under. It comes away easily from the body, but the cover itself feels very flimsy. Underneath you’ll find the 1,900 mAh battery, micro-SIM card slot and MicroSD card slot.

Unsurprisingly, the S4 Mini fits a little more nicely in the palm of the hand than its bigger brother. Despite the slippery nature of the back, the S4 Mini stays put and is comfortable to use with one hand. It's got a durable feel that should make it withstand everyday knocks.

Samsung’s persistence to use plastic over the more premium materials found on the iPhone 5, the HTC One and the Nokia Lumia 925 continues to divide opinion. It's more acceptable for a mid-range device, but at £350 we still expect a smidgen more quality.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini - Screen Quality

The biggest physical difference between the S4 Mini and the S4, of course, is screen size. The S4 Mini has a 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED display minus the Gorilla Glass protection. It also drops to a 960 x 540 screen resolution and the PPI goes from 441 to a not so impressive sounding 255.

Everything suggests the screen should be much worse than the S4, but it’s not as dramatic as that. Yes, you lose the clarity of a Full HD display, but the qHD screen is still bright and colourful and remains a vibrant place to watch movies and play games on.

It responds well to touch and provides an accurate surface for typing on the virtual keyboard. Despite the drop in overall quality, the S4 Mini screen is still perfectly acceptable for everyday tasks.

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Brian O'Neill

July 24, 2013, 11:14 am

The Sony Xperia looks like a better buy.

Shital Savekar

July 26, 2013, 5:16 am

The problem with S4 mini is it's price!
Nexus 4 has got much better specs and also cheaper..

I waited for this phone to launch... because I wanted to buy it.. and I thought it would be cheaper than Nexus 4 as the specs suggests. But, Samsung has gone crazy.

They just lost a customer ;-P

Chandrika

July 26, 2013, 12:19 pm

Waited long to launch S4 Mini; Now decided not buy....

Highly priced & too expensive!!! Similar featured phones are available for approximate INR 20,000/- in the market. Even Samsung's one of the premium smartphone Galaxy SIII has better features (5 in screen, 16GB internal memory, 2100mAh long battery & many more) which is also available for 27 to 28('000).

Product wise S4 Mini sounds good; But there is not point buying @ +27K...
For the more or less similar price go for Galaxy SIII or Xperia's ZR & SP and some HTCs models.... BUT DEFINATELY NOT FOR "S4 Mini"....

Mikael Chuaungo

July 27, 2013, 3:05 pm

The Galaxy S3 mini was overpriced, yet sold well.. I wasnt surprised to see the same overpricing treatment for the S4 mini. Without doubt it will sell well too, just that i wont be among the buyers,it charges too much bucks for so less.. The Nexus 4 seems more and more lucrative (with its JB 4.3 update)

Joweena Domingo

August 17, 2013, 11:45 am

I've been using s4mini for a month now, It's a great phone to use in everything (net, chat, call, games, camera, listen to music, watch video, reminder/alarms, doodle etc). It can handle all the shit I've been giving (because I'm a phone wrecker LOL) and in all seriousness It's the PERFECT PHONE for me. I used to have iphone but my life is better now without it. LOL definitely love my phone s4mini

JN

September 9, 2013, 9:30 pm

it doesnt lag on games because you must have put a lot of apps on the phone thats why it happend.But you can also store apps and games on a SD card,and there is also apps available to make the SD card perform faster so then there would be no lag or storage problems if you do that = Problems solved :)

noushad

September 15, 2013, 1:28 pm

I purchased one last week but complaint with network need to change full board
What a Customer care !!!!!
A manufacturing diffect form day one costing phone @27000.

prabhat

November 7, 2013, 7:57 pm

samsung had upgraded it with a new firmware since oct 2013 . if you have a problem just upgrade your phone.

Pavan Kumar

December 30, 2013, 1:43 pm

It has a 960x540 display

santosh

May 29, 2014, 1:52 pm

its really great phone smaller and smarter

Darren munroe

September 4, 2014, 8:42 pm

I LOVE THE S4 MINI.SUCH A NEAT PHONE VERY GREAT FROM SAMSUNG.DEFO

MAUROY

November 23, 2014, 6:03 pm

I Am Having trouble with my Battery losing it s charge just purchased a new battery and the same thing is happing any suggestions

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