Hot on the footsteps of the latest leading device from Samsung, the Galaxy S4, comes the Galaxy S4 Mini. Samsung are trying to take on the mid-range with a device that borrows lots from their flagship smart device the S4. Steven Ambrose has a look to see if Samsung has succeeded.

Aesthetics and Build Quality

The Galaxy S4 Mini is recognisably a clone of the Galaxy S4 in both look feel and build quality. This is a very good thing. Many will find that the S4 with its 5” screen is just a little too big and cumbersome for everyday use. The S4 Mini is smaller, with a 4.3” screen, a little thinner and lighter.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is very much a clone of the bigger S4, it is made from the same materials, and features a removable back and upgradable memory option, via micro SD card. The galaxy S4 Mini sits nicely in the hand and its more compact size will make it easy on the pocket and the bag. The main issue I have is that the plastic used for the casing of both the Mini and the big S4 is smooth and slippery and picks up fingerprints like the FBI.

In this range the Galaxy S4 Mini still manages to compete, feeling reasonably good if not class leading, with the Nokia 625 taking that particular crown, although the HTC One Mini, coming soon, promises to lead the pack. Overall The Samsung galaxy S4 Mini feels solid and fits together well.

The insides

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini in White

The main difference to the flagship Samsung devices is felt on the insides. Like other midrange devices the galaxy S4 Mini is not a powerhouse. It has a dual core QUALCOMM Snapdragon 400 processor running at 1.7GHz, with a 540x 960 Pixel AMOLED screen all powered by 1.5 Gig main memory, which is class leading, and a 1900 mAh battery.

The Galaxy S4 Mini has a far lower resolution screen that the full HD flagships, however in actual use it was very sharp, very bright and nice to use. Like all current Samsung AMOLED screens colours are vivid, perhaps a little too much so, but viewing angles are good and video looks really nice.

Coupled with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean this combination of technical bits offers a really good experience. Android is not as fluid as Windows phone on the Nokia 625 but never lags on the S4 Mini. Samsung have pared down the various sensors and features, and in fact the S4 Mini benefits from this, by offering good battery life and simplicity in actual use.

The camera is a solid 8 MP with autofocus and takes good pictures really quickly, which is a key criteria in normal use. The lowlight performance is adequate and the flash works well in close ups.

Overall the experience using the Galaxy S 4 Mini is fast and  fluid with minimal lag, and all the features work well. I still feel that TouchWiz lacks app integration and sometimes creates a less than optimal user experience as the various Hubs tend to work in different ways.

Conclusion

I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I liked using the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. Samsung have carefully left out some of the features of the more fully specked flagship the Galaxy S4, and chosen those features that you would actually use and enjoy. The Galaxy S 4 Mini is fast, fluid, relatively intuitive, and reasonably well built. It is perhaps not class leading in the midrange in every way, but does combine good performance with a great screen in a compact and easy to use package.

If Android is what you are looking for, and size or price of the current crop of 5” and above devices are just too much, then take a careful look and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, it may just be all the phone you will need.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini retails for around ZAR 4 500.00 cash, and is available on good packages from all the networks, Shop around and see who has the best deal.

For more info and all the technical specification have a look on www.samsung.com/za

Steven Ambrose CA (SA) – Executive Editor, and CEO of the technology and strategy consulting firm Strategy Worx, and a major gadget geek. A chartered accountant by training, Steven sports a history spanning from heading start-ups to running divisions of major multinational corporations, he ran and wrote for Gadget.co.za from 2006 to 2010, and now consults on technology and its impact on business as the brainchild and CEO of Strategy Worx. Follow him on Twitter
Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

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