Skip Navigation

Digital Life

Review: Samsung Galaxy SIII Mini smartphone

Review: Samsung Galaxy SIII Mini smartphone

Review: Samsung Galaxy SIII Mini smartphone

When mobile phones first became popular a decade ago there was a race on to see who could produce the smallest phones. Now everyone is trying to produce the phones with the biggest displays and there’s a crossover between phone and tablet occurring. The Samsung SIII Mini is purely a smartphone, and possibly the best Samsung has made so far.

When mobile phones first became popular a decade ago there was a race on to see who could produce the smallest phones. Now everyone is trying to produce the phones with the biggest displays and there’s a crossover between phone and tablet occurring. The Samsung SIII Mini is purely a smartphone, and possibly the best Samsung has made so far.

When Samsung first released the Samsung Galaxy S III earlier this year with its 4.8-inch screen I admired the device for its elegance, speed and power (okay it’s not a race horse) but felt that it was crossing very close to the tablet arena if you consider that Google’s Nexus 7 device is 7-inches.

Samsung’s other smartphone de jour, the Samsung Galaxy Note II, is definitely veering into the tablet space with its 5.5-inch screen. So much so that we call this monster a ‘phablet’ – half phone, half tablet.

I couldn’t help but feel suspicious when the Samsung Galaxy S III Mini was announced in October that it wasn’t just a cynical attempt by Samsung to throw some new fodder into the market and put a spanner in the works of Apple’s iPhone 5 launch.

It didn't, Apple is sailing ahead at its own steam and is making marked progress in Europe, the US and China with the iPhone 5.

But putting the 4-inch iPhone 5 and the 4-inch Galaxy SIII Mini side by side and the competitive play on Samsung’s part seems a little too obvious.

You have to forgive my cynicism; as a jaded watcher of the patent wars between Apple and Samsung, nothing would surprise me.

However, there is genius in Samsung’s approach. Think about it. They have managed to condense much of the power and technology contained in the Samsung SIII into a smaller 4-inch form factor. And it feels right.

Okay, there are trade-offs – the Mini comes with a 5-inch camera unlike its bigger brother that comes with an 8-inch camera and in terms of talk time the Mini has 14 hours and 10 minutes worth of talktime compared with the original SIII which has 22 hours.

But these are semantics. What you can’t deny about Samsung’s technology is its quality and the depth of innovation in devices like the SIII Mini is apparent.

It’s operating system is Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and it is capable of doing clever things like using face detection to unlock the device. It even comes with NFC (Near Field Communications), which will mean a lot more as peripherals like NFC speakers come on market as well as the ability to use your phone as a wallet slowly becomes mainstream, and that could take a while.

Power and display

The SIII Mini is powered by a 1GHz dual-core Cortex A9 process, slightly less powerful than the 1.2GHz dual-core processor in the original SIII. Again semantics, because the device is sufficiently zippy that in fact you wouldn’t notice the difference for most things.

It’s when you combine the speedy processor with the Super AMOLED display (16m colours) that you realise just how potent a mobile computing device the SIII Mini actually is. Apps like Angry Birds are rendered beautifully, high definition videos look fantastic and simply moving through the device’s menu is pretty swish.

With this smartphone, Samsung should be swaggering

What appealed to me most about the SIII Mini was the responsiveness of the touch screen and this really came to life when using popular magazine-reading apps like Flipboard. Again, really fast and accurate and it felt really solid.

I suppose that’s my way of summing up the SIII Mini, it feels solid and safe. The bigger form factor smartphones are very difficult to grip and for that reason they often feel fragile.

In fact, I think I’d prefer if Samsung had brought out the Mini first because while it is a brilliant phone, it is always going to stand in the shadow of its earlier but bigger sibling. The very word ‘Mini’ makes it sound diminutive when in fact it is anything but.

Verdict

I would defend the SIII Mini as a damn fine smartphone and I get the sense that it should have been given its own branding and timing rather than be made seem like an opportunist move to poke a competitor in the eye. That’s how it looks from where I’m sitting.

Again it's a testament to Samsung’s technological strengths rather than its own belief or confidence in its own products that it brought out this device when it did.

Good products need conviction and passion behind them. The SIII Mini is good enough to stand on its own merits as smartphone, rather than a smaller version of another outstanding product.

Samsung has the market share to do this, the engineering capability and the distribution channel. It just needs the heart.

The Samsung Galaxy S III Mini is available in two colours – blue and white – and is available in Ireland from eMobile free on the Select Unlimited plan and at €89 on the Select Unlimited Talk & Text plan.



Follow Us on LinkedIn Follow Us on Pinterest Follow Us on YouTube Follow Us on Flipboard Follow Us on Flickr Get the Siliconrepublic Chrome extension
  • Career Zoo
    Career Zoo Ireland’s keynote career event for professionals and graduates.