The Samsung Galaxy Mini’s low-res screen makes sure that reading text on the phone’s screen isn’t a joy, but it’s not a bad little web browser. The capacitive touchscreen is multi-touch capable, letting you use the pinch gesture on the screen to zoom in and out of pages. Android 2.2 is super-quick to re-render text too, even with the relatively weak 600MHz processor doing the legwork.
You’ll be using this manoeuvre often as fully zoomed-out websites look terrible – there just aren’t enough pixels to go around. For more pixels at a similar price, look toward the Orange San Francisco, LG Optimus GT540 or INQ Cloud Touch. Text entry is remarkably easy though, given the small size of the screen. The non-widescreen aspect ratio of the 240×320 display means the screen is slightly wider than a 3.2in 320×480-pixel phone. At these dimensions, every millimetre helps.
Like every common Android phone, both Wi-Fi and high-speed 3G connectivity are available, letting you browse at a decent speed. Android apps can be used to mitigate for the screen deficiencies too, with plenty of email, social networking and RSS reader programs on-hand to lessen the load. Unfortunately, Flash 10.1 isn’t supported. It’s a feature of Android 2.2, but is left out here because of the low-end CPU.
The battery life of the Samsung Galaxy Mini is typical of an Android smartphone running FroYo. Switch on 3G, surf the web for a while and indulge in the odd bout of Angry Birds Rio and the battery will run down in a day.
Turn 3G off and use it primarily as a “dumb” phone, without playing video, games or using apps, and it’ll last the best part of a week. This won’t change too much until power management in Android improves, and even then game-playing and 3G will remain significant drains on a battery.
Call quality is reasonable. It’s the budget smartphone standard – not hugely loud and lacking any noise cancelling fancy add-ons, but the loudspeaker is decent and less tinny than many rivals. Perfect for annoying fellow passengers on the bus with the latest N-Dubz jam.
The Samsung Galaxy Mini is mostly a pleasure to use, but its main successes belong to Google, not Samsung. Android 2.2 is so efficient that it doesn’t need a super-powered CPU to run like a dream. For very little extra money though, you could snag yourself an INQ Cloud Touch or Orange San Francisco, both of which have superior screens. The Galaxy Mini is a little smaller, but not enough to make this phone seem truly teeny. If that’s what you’re after, check out the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini, available for around £100 on a pre-pay deal.
Fast, affordable and packed with plenty of app potential, the Samsung Galaxy Mini is another budget Android phone that does Google’s OS proud. However, it’s joining an already-established and highly competitive crowd – and there are better options available for the same money.
Reasonably attractive in a conventional way, the Samsung Galaxy MIni’s downfall is its 240×320 pixel display. It looks blocky spread across 3.14 inches, and the Orange San Francisco, Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 and LG Optimus One offer higher pixel density at the same price.