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Review: Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini for Sprint

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The GS4's display is one of its best assets. The same can't quite be said for the GS4 Mini. It dials down the size from 5 inches to 4.3, and the resolution from 1080p HD to qHD (960 x 540). I was hoping Samsung would have at least given the Mini a 720p HD display, but that's not the case. It's not a bad screen - not at all - but it's not the best, either. You can see pixels here and there and on-screen elements aren't as sharp as I'd like them to be, but the display is plenty bright and colorful. Viewing angles are excellent.


The Mini performed on par with other Sprint devices when it came to the network. It connected easily and held onto whatever signal was available. The Mini was able to connect calls under the worst network conditions, but managed to drop at least a few. When a strong signal was available, the Mini was a champ in terms of connecting calls and sending/receiving data. Speeds were never all that impressive, despite the fact that we tested the Mini on LTE. The Mini is one of the first tri-band LTE devices compatible with Sprint Spark, Sprint's jazzed-up 4G service. We tested the device in Manhattan, which is supposed to offer Spark access. As far as we can tell, however, the device didn't access Spark during our review period.


I was mostly pleased with the call quality when using the Mini. The earpiece produces rather sharp voices, but they are clear and audible under most circumstances thanks to the loud earpiece. I didn't have any trouble hearing callers in my home or when out and about, but the hissing of an espresso machine did its best to drown out one of my conversations. (The Mini supports HD Voice, but only when calling another HD Voice compatible phone. Both phones also must have access to LTE.) The speakerphone sounded a bit scratchy to me, and the volume wasn't as strong as it should be. People with whom I spoke said I sounded OK, but not great. Ringers and alerts are all fine in terms of volume, and the vibrate was plenty strong enough to get my attention.


The Mini has a 1,900 mAh battery inside, which is a bit smaller than the one in the full-sized GS4. The smaller screen doesn't need as much juice to keep it flowing, though, and the Mini is able to just get through a full day on a single charge. We tested it on LTE and that didn't seem to put much of a dent in the battery life. Most users should be able to get an entire waking day out of the Mini, but not much more than that. I'd charge it each night.

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