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Hands-On with the Samsung Galaxy Mini for T-Mobile

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Feb 16, 2011, 5:54 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile is launching the Samsung Galaxy Mini worldwide, including the US. We spent time with this super-affordable smartphone. Find out how it measures up.

T-Mobile made a few interesting announcements at MWC this year. The big news was NFC yesterday, but they also announced new fruit of their efforts to harmonize their phone portfolio globally. Specifically, they announced that the Samsung Galaxy Mini will come to all markets they serve, including the good ol' US of A.

It'a important not to confuse the Galaxy Mini with the Galaxy S series. Not all Samsung "Galaxy" phones are created equal. Like the Galaxy Indulge, the Galaxy Mini is far from a top-end device. If there's no "S", it's no flagship device.

In fact, the Galaxy Mini is specifically designed to be Samsung's most affordable Android phone. Yes, it's smallish, but the thrust here is affordability, not "mini" in an ultra-chic way.

Hardware

The Mini, frankly, feels just like the cheap phone that it is. It doesn't feel low-quality, per se, but it's a lightweight, all-plastic phone, and you're not going to forget that when holding it. Since this isn't a phone for suits, it's a bit more colorful than most; the bright green trim adds a bit of style… perhaps, depending on your style.

 

Galaxy Mini Body

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

It has physical buttons, which is nice. The side keys work well, and the 3.5mm jack up top is well-placed.

The display is QVGA, which is as low-resolution as it gets with Android. Coming from any higher-end Android phone, it's quite bothersome. (Once you go high-res, you don't go back.) But this phone targets those upgrading from non-smartphones, and for that market, they might not care as much. At the very least, it is a TFT display, as opposed to the truly awful passive LCD display on the T-Mobile Move from Alcatel, which - thankfully - is not coming to the US (contrary to what you may have read elsewhere.)

The camera is 3-megapixel fixed-focus, which is practically a minimum for Android, but fine. You can record video.

The processor is 600 MHz, which is at the low end for today's Android phones, probably fine for a display this small and the kinds of apps you're likely to run on a phone like this. You will find 3G data, at least, at 3.6 Mbps. There's also Wi-Fi, of course, which is very nice for a cheaper phone, but again, required for Android.

Software

The Mini uses a simple version of the familiar Samsung interface treatment for Android. The OS version is Android 2.2. There are four icons that stay on the bottom across all home screens. The app menu is sorted into "pages" that you swipe through sideways, like the iPhone.

 

Galaxy Mini Interface

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The camera interface has the great Samsung controls right in the viewfinder, which is nice to find in an affordable phone like this.

The unit we tried had QuickOffice, Facebook and Twitter loaded. There's no guarantee that the final version for T-Mo USA will come with these out of the box, but it's encouraging to see that on the unit T-Mobile presented.

You'll also see FM radio here, a common feature on cheaper phones, but a nice addition always. Samsung has also thrown in their Social Hub app and a voice memo app, and T-Mobile had added a T-Mobile HotSpot Login app.

All in all, there's nothing amazing here; it's just what you'd expect from a cheap-as-possible Android phone. With that said, we didn't find any deal-breakers, either. We've seen much worse low-end Android phones on display here at MWC, so this is a solid entry for an entry-level phone.

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Samsung speaker phone Jade422 Feb 16, 2011, 9:55 PM
 
 
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