Hands On with the Galaxy S 4 Mini
Samsung's much-hyped Galaxy S 4 now has a little sibling. The S4 is not only smaller, but more affordable. It looks and feels great, but what are the compromises? We go hands-on.
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The Galaxy S 4 is the star of Samsung's lineup this year. It's a great phone, but for some, it's simply to large. For those people, behold the Galaxy S4 Mini.
It's mostly just a smaller S 4, but it's not possible to stuff all of the same features into a smaller body, and the Mini is also designed to be a bit cheaper, so the feature list has been trimmed a bit. Key features like dual cameras, advanced camera software, and the infrared (IR) port have been kept. But the processor steps from quad-core to dual-core, the main camera from 13-megapixel to 8-megapixel, and the memory from 16 GB to 8 GB. The RAM steps down a tad, too, but just to 1.5 GB, which is still more than most Android phones.
The big change is the screen, which drops down to 4.3 inches. On a phone called the "Mini", the smaller screen is a plus. The resolution isn't quite cutting-edge, though. The best 4.3-inch screens are 720p HD (as on the HTC First.) The S4 Mini's screen is only qHD, though. I could see the difference, but only when looking closely and holding it side-by-side with an HTC First. The qHD screen on the Mini may not have eye-popping razor sharpness, but it holds its own. It looks plenty sharp in most situations. The fact that it's AMOLED (and not the PenTile variety) helps. I expect that only the most demanding pixel density enthusiasts will be disappointed by the display on the S4 Mini. 99% of people will find it to be a very good display.
The body of the S4 Mini is pretty much just an S 4 that's not as wide and tall. The build quality and design are similar. Taking that design and scaling it down makes the phone feel more rounded. The relatively curvy design helps it feel much smaller than other phones with 4.3-inch screens, like the HTC First. It's a thin, light phone that becomes one with your hand.
The buttons are decent, but not perfect. The side buttons are small and have little travel. They work, but they're far from satisfying to use. The home button is quite flush with the rest of the bezel, relying on a slightly rougher texture to help you find it. It's not ideal for gloves, and I worry that the texture may wear smooth over time.
Otherwise, there's not much to say about this one. The software brings nothing new to the table. It's much that on the S 4.
Of all of the 4.3-inch-screen Android phones to date, this one appears to have the most features and smallest-feeling design. That alone may make it a winner. No U.S. carriers have announced plans to offer it yet, but we hope they will.
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There is a small notch in the upper right that allows you to remove the back cover of the phone.
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