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
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.
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.