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Review: Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini for Sprint

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Nov 27, 2013, 2:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung aimed a shrink ray at the venerable Galaxy S4 to create the GS4 Mini. This smaller smartphone doesn't offer quite the full GS4 experience, but it comes close enough.

Is It Your Type?

The Mini is a smaller take on Samsung's Galaxy S4 flagship device. It doesn't pack quite the same punch as its larger brother, but it still offers plenty of bite in an easier-to-handle handset. If you like 'em small, the S4 Mini is an attractive alternative to today's behemoths.


Samsung makes such a wide array of smartphones, it would be easy to mistake the Galaxy S4 Mini for any of the company's myriad smaller, less-expensive devices. It does bear some of the hallmark features of the larger GS4, however, that give it a bit more of a premium look.

For example, the GS4 Mini carries over my favorite design detail from the GS4: the metal-like band that encircles the edge. It's not actually made of metal, mind you (Samsung says it's polycarbonate,) but it passes for metal. This polycarbonate band is also incredibly strong, and lends the Mini a much-needed solid feel. There are other chrome elements, such as the grill covering the earpiece, and the rims that circle both the home button and the camera lens on the back, too.

The Mini has a textured look to the plastic that catches light and reveals a faux dimpled pattern when held at the certain angles. This design element is visible on the front and back, though more so on the back. The aren't actual dimples, it just looks like it. The whole device is wrapped in what looks like lacquer; it's glossy, smooth, reflective, and prone to collecting grossly apparent fingerprints.


The size is quite good. It's almost identical in dimensions to the Apple iPhone 5. That means holding it is comfortable and it fits snugly in the palm. It's lightweight and solid. It'll fit into just about any pocket with no problem. There's nothing cheap-feeling about it.

The Mini's face is clean and fits right in with the Samsung family of devices. The shape, the chrome, the accents, the physical home button, etc., are all clearly cut from the Samsung cloth. The screen itself is 4.3 inches and there are capacitive buttons on either side of the physical home key below the display. All of the buttons work well. The capacitive keys have good feedback and they light up for a short bit.

The volume toggle is a thin strip on the left edge of the phone. It has a good profile and is quite easy to find. Travel and feedback are excellent. The same is true of the screen lock button on the right edge of the phone. The headphone jack is on top and the microUSB port is on the bottom.

The battery cover makes up the entire rear panel of the phone. As with all Samsung devices, there's a notch that makes removing the cover a cinch. The Mini has a slot for both the memory card and the SIM card, but you have to remove the battery to access them. On the bright side, you can swap batteries if you need to.

It's a good little piece of hardware.

About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.

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Dec 3, 2013, 3:14 PM

What about the notification light?

I heard this phone doesn't have one. Is that true?

If so, that detail should definitely be stated in the review.

Nov 27, 2013, 5:35 PM

"On the bright side, you can swap batteries if you need to"

This is definitely a bright side.

While my friend's HTC One is still under defect warranty, he could've easily spent up to $175 deductable if the battery had died outside the warranty. He asked me who's bright idea it was to seal the battery? He has been playing tether with an electrical outlet for the last two months.

I really hope this trend is just a pie throwing contest with manufacturers. People are slowly seeing my point that when you pay good money for a device, it shouldn't have the potential to be rendered useless due to a failed battery.

I'm on a quest to litter the web with this argument. So, excuse my continued rant.

John B.
Keep at it. Don't excuse yourself.

I too aim to make people understand that a sealed battery is not a good idea. Even less for a "premium" device.
Though it will be extremely difficult to make manufacturers/carriers change this due to the profit t...
I've seen you make this argument many many times before, and it always rings true. If one manufacturer can make a super high end device with a removable battery, any manufacturer can. This is a situation where I personally would not even consider bu...
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