The Samsung Galaxy Mini runs Android 2.2 FroYo. It’s not the latest smartphone version of Google’s OS, but it’s the most recent significant edition for budget phones like this, offering a big speed boost over Android 2.1. 600MHz phones using older versions of Android tend to lag a little in general use and within apps, but there’s hardly any slow down here. It’s obviously not going to be as quick as a dual-core 1GHz phone, but speed is simply not an issue in day-to-day use.
Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface changes the face of Android, but only slightly. It introduces a shortcut dock that sticks to the bottom of the screen while you’re browsing your home screens or the apps menu. Its icons take you the Phone function, contacts book, SMS messages and the apps menu. You can replace all but the last with any other app you like though. You can even pack it with Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio if you’re so inclined.
TouchWiz’s homescreens work just as they do in vanilla Android, acting as blank canvases for you to fill with shortcuts and widgets. The default number of home screens is three, but you can choose any number between one and seven, with a few crafty screen taps.
This edition of TouchWiz doesn’t offer the raft of custom widgets included with higher-end phones like the Samsung Galaxy S 2, but it’s no massive loss when you can make up for this with the Android Market. A few apps aren’t compatible with phones with such low-res screens as the Galaxy Mini’s 240×320-pixel number, but the majority are. And while the Android Market app store may still be a pain to navigate through, it sure does have a lot of apps.
Samsung has also supplied the Galaxy Mini with a secondary app store, the Samsung Apps portal. It’s fairly pointless at present though – at the time of writing just 16 apps are available for this phone, and even once its shelves are filled we’d continue to make the Android Market our first (and probably only) port of call.
Social Hub is a similarly pointless addition. It’s a centralised place to plug-in your social networking logins and check out your latest messages. However, it really just acts as a list of services – clicking on the Facebook entry, for example, takes you to the social network’s web page in the browser. There’s no deeper aggregation of content, so we’d much rather use the official Twitter and Facebook apps, or just head to the browser from the start.
These are only minor criticisms, because the open-ness of Android means you can do precisely that. You can even wipe out TouchWiz altogether by using a desktop replacement app if the mood takes you.
There’s only around 150MB of internal memory available to you, but Android 2.2 lets you install apps to an SD card too (as long as this has been enabled by the developer). A 2GB card is included, room for plenty of apps, if not that many videos and music tracks.