Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini review

The S4 gets shrunk and we put it through its paces

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
Good things sometimes do come in small packages

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So there we have it, our Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini review. The question is, where does this leave us? Samsung has created a mid-range handset, putting itself right against the 4G-toting Sony Xperia SP and Nokia Lumia 820 - but most importantly now in a war with the HTC One Mini too.

We were a little worried that the Korean's new device would suffer from a bit of an identity crisis, given that the Samsung Galaxy S3 is still selling very well. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini still manages to stand out on its own, albeit in a market now crowded with Samsung Galaxy S4 variants.

We liked

The design of the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini was a scaled down version of the Samsung Galaxy S3, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is a scaled down version of the Samsung Galaxy S4. We were impressed with the design of the Samsung Galaxy S4, our only real criticism being that it seemed similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Naturally then, we are impressed with the design of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, with the thin bezel and its light weight being very impressive.

The screen was also very exciting, if only because it was so bright and vibrant. We also think that the 4.3-inch diagonal also makes it the perfect size for those who find the 5-inch screens on modern flagship smartphones too imposing. At 0.3 inches larger than the iPhone 5, there is a little more screen real estate, in a device that measures only fractionally larger.

We were also big fans of the camera. We know that sensor size isn't something that can truly be relied upon as a measurement of a camera's image quality, but the 8MP sensor on the back of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is more than up to the task, and doesn't leave you wishing that you had a compact camera in your pocket as well.

We disliked

It seems harsh to comment upon the fact that the insides of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini are only dual-core (as opposed to the Galaxy S3's quad-core), given that it managed to cope with just about everything that we threw at it. It must be a testament to the phone that this is one of the few things we could say was wrong with it.

Another minor gripe that we found with the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini was the lack of a notification light. If you have the notification sound/vibrate turned off, there is no way of knowing if you have a missed call or email.

We also have to mention the microSD slot sat behind the battery. We're not overly fussed by the fact that it is not hot-swappable, although this is something that we really wish would be made available on more phones.

What really got us was the positioning, having to lay the card flat against the phone and try to push it in with your nails. Once the microSD card is in, though, we don't see it needing to be popped out too often.


If you read this entire review, then you'll know exactly what we thought of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. If you've just jumped to reading this page then you should know that the things we put into the 'disliked' section are really only minor details.

We could mention the lack of a Full HD screen, the lack of quad-core power and, in reality, the lack of gubbins that make the Samsung Galaxy S4 the flagship handset of the Samsung Galaxy S range.

If we did that, we would be being very critical, given that the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is a lot cheaper, and was never intended to be a flagship smartphone.

What you get with the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a far better trade off of price and features than you got with the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini, and a phone that sits very comfortably within the S4 range.

As for those wondering whether they should buy the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini instead of the Samsung Galaxy S3, truly that is something that you will have to decide for yourself. But the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini more than makes a case for itself, with the upgraded software, decent battery life and 4G tech more than giving the Samsung Galaxy S3 a run for its money.

However, we will say this: the HTC One Mini is a better phone that's available for a very similar price at the moment. Its metal unibody, Ultrapixel camera and Boomsound speakers do exactly what its bigger brother does to the S4: prove that getting the basics right is what matters.

Both of these phones are very similar in spec and layout, but try them side by side and we think you'll probably just prefer the One Mini... especially as the microSD card slot on the S4 mini is a little harder to access.

First reviewed: July 2013

Thanks to Unlocked-Mobiles for providing our Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini review sample.