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Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini review

 Review: November 2012  

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: The Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini is a smaller version of the top-selling Galaxy S3. The 4 inch screen, dual-core processor, Android Jelly Bean and S Voice speech recognition system make it a good performer, but you'll need to shop around for a good price.

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The Galaxy S3 is Samsung's top-selling phone of 2012, but for some people it's just too big or too expensive. If you're one of those people, the Galaxy S3 Mini could be the answer.

A compact design

The S3 Mini looks similar to the original S3, but is a lot smaller. It isn't as slim, but it does have a more rounded shape which makes it easy to handle. It's recognisably a Samsung product and has the same plastic finish as the original. A minimalist design with a single button located beneath the screen completes the look. It's available in the same Blue and White choice of colours too.

As you'd expect, the screen is smaller than the enormous 4.8 inches of the S3, but at 4 inches it's still a generous size. We're pleased to see that it's still a Super AMOLED display, so you'll find no problems with brightness and contrast. Sadly this is no HD screen though, with a more pedestrian 480 x 800 pixel resolution, which is typical for a mid-range phone.

Mini hardware

As well as a smaller screen, the S3 Mini also misses out on the quad-core power of the original S3. Instead the processor is a much more modest 1GHz dual-core. That's fast enough for a mid-range device, but if you've seen the power of the original S3, you need to understand that the S3 Mini isn't that kind of phone. Still, the 1GB of RAM is welcome, and there are no performance issues with the phone.

The phone is available with either 8GB or 16GB of built-in memory and a microSD memory card slot lets you expand the storage by up to 32GB.

Android Jelly Bean

We're pleased to see that the phone runs Android Jelly Bean straight out of the box, so you have access to the latest software with no messing about waiting for an update. Jelly Bean is a mature operating system with a wealth of apps available, both pre-installed and available from the Google Play Store. Features like Google Maps and the Swype-enabled keyboard make it a fun and powerful platform.

As a bonus, the S3 Mini also features S Voice - Samsung's voice recognition software that lets you use natural language to give simple commands to the phone.

Camera performance

The camera is an area where cost savings have clearly been made. The main rear-facing camera has 5 megapixels, autofocus and an LED flash, so it's by no means the worst that we've seen in this price range, but it's nothing special either.

The front-facing camera can record video at VGA resolution, which is disappointing, as many competitors now offer HD video recording from both cameras.

3G connectivity

It's a 3G phone, with HSPA enabling download speeds of 14.4 Mbps. Wi-Fi gives you access to faster data if you're connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The phone also has a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB 2.0 socket.

Battery life

The S3 Mini is equipped with a 1500mAh battery. That's about average for a device of this type, and we don't think that it's going to excel at battery life. But most mid-range Android phones are the same. You'll probably need to charge every day if you're a heavy user; light users may get 2-3 days between charges.

Conclusion - an excellent mid-ranger

If you were expecting the S3 Mini to offer the delights of the S3 in a more compact design, think again. It isn't just the size that's been reduced. This is a phone that costs a lot less than the original S3, and the hardware spec has been cut significantly as a result.

Naming the phone the S3 Mini might have seemed a smart idea to Samsung's marketing department, but it's a decision that leads inevitably to disappointment, for this is no Mini version of the flagship phone, but just another Samsung mid-ranger. If you peer carefully through the hype, you'll realise that it's almost identical to the Samsung Galaxy S Advance released back in May 2012. Still, Samsung are very good at producing cut-price Android phones that don't skimp on the essentials, and the S3 Mini is certainly a good step up from the Galaxy Ace 2.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the phone, although it seems over-priced at launch. It's a well-equipped Android handset, and in fact it's one of the best mid-rangers currently available. If you can find it for £15 per month then it's a great buy. Much more than this and it starts to feel like you're paying for the name. You should also check out the Motorola Moto G, which offers a better screen and a faster processor at a lower price.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini features include:

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Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini user reviews

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Average rating from 31 reviews:

Reviewed by H from England on 20th Aug 2016
A loathsome pile of poop.

Reviewed by S3 mini user from London on 2nd Jan 2016
This is probably the worst phone I have ever owned... Previously had a samsung galaxy mini (original) and honestly, it was a million times better than this and that is not even an exaggeration. Firstly, the internal phone storage is disgustingly small just because of the fact that a SD card is useless on this phone. You cannot save apps to your SD card, and your images are saved in the internal memory by default. It makes one question the point of the point of the SD card slot.
Secondly, the front camera is so slow takes about 3 seconds for the camera to focus to take the picture, I understand if it takes this long and the quality of the picture is good, but no. The camera quality is disgusting and the front camera is even worst. I have to use snapchat in order to take instant pictures. Useless.

Here's a quick list of why I will not recommend this phone to anyone:
- Slow phone, constantly freezes.
- Randomly vibrates when in your hand.
- Alarm clock sometimes turns itself off.
- Wifi never stable.
- Useless SD card slot and very little internal memory.
- Slow camera and bad camera quality.
- Apps randomly stops.
- Home screen takes forever to load.
- Phone may randomly turn itself off.
- Unlocking the phone sometimes takes a while because of freezing.

Okay, rant over. The only decent thing about this phone is that it looks decent.

Reviewed by amanda from US on 13th Sep 2015
BY FAR worst phone ive ever had. Even my old old flip phone was better than this junk. I have had this phone for two years now, and where do I start. Ill make a list.
1) constantly drops calls, ill be on the phone and suddenly the person on the other end cant hear a thing im saying. I almost botched a damn phone interview because of this.
2) hard to text on. Constantly having typos and the auto text is annoying as hell because it constantly recommends words you dont ever use.
3) battery sucks. Cant go a day withy charging it.
4)internet browser always glitcing, constantly havinf to reload webpages because the buttons wont respond.
5)camera doesnt work anymore. Theres a 50/50 chance itll actually work, it always says "camera failed"for some stupid reason?
6)sometimes the phone just turns black and shuts off when the battery is perfectly full and I didnt press any buttons?
7)so many useless apps on it I dont want. I have no room for apps anymore becaus I have so many photos
8)slow responding to home button, and all other buttons.
i could go on forever. DONT BUY THIS PHONE.

Reviewed by Joanne from USA on 20th Aug 2015
The Galaxy S3 Mini is by far the worst phone I have ever had. Despite all the bells and whistles the basic function of this phone has much to be desired. I was recently sent my 3rd replacement phone and the same issue keeps occurring. I have numerous dropped calls, the phone will mute without being directed and the screen will periodically shut off, and I have to re-boot the phone. I am tempted to go back to my flip phone. That is how bad I hate it.

Reviewed by Bob from Uk on 14th Apr 2015
I absolutely hate this phone. It's so bad that I would rather have no phone at all than this thing.

Reviewed by Boitumelo from Lesotho on 15th Nov 2014
Useless phone, l struggle to do everything e.g typing internet and other useful things.

Reviewed by binoy from india on 29th Oct 2014
I love my s3 mini. ..
it is awesome. .

Reviewed by Tyrone from south Africa on 17th Sep 2014
Good phone. Have it for a few days and very impressed with it

Reviewed by Stevie from England on 10th Aug 2014
Got this phone 5 months ago to replace my iphone 4s which I had for 2 years and I must say this phone beats the iphone and when my contract is up I'll be getting another android phone never going back to an iphone again android is way better

Reviewed by Jessie from Uk on 8th Jul 2014
Very disappointed as phone just over a year and so say has corrosion. I have not dropped it in water or done anything like that -it has been in kitchen but not bathroom -just get fobbed off will have to re-think my provider been with them 10years - very upset as until now it's been fine for my needs

Reviewed by sabzz from Bangladesh on 22nd Jun 2014
on the first side of reviews I have seen people disappointed by this phone. Do you know why?! cuz you didn't learn to love your phone. start loving your phone it would back you the same result. I just love my phone. I bought it since 6 months but still no queries. it has been working swiftly. Just lovin it!

Reviewed by Andrea from UK on 28th May 2014
Great phone for the price but phone 'accidentally' connected to Internet and racked up huge bill! Can this happen?

Reply by steve from england on 18th Jul 2014
yes, it can - happened to me too. you have to check that your mobile internet is switched off.

Reviewed by Karen Harris from England on 7th May 2014
I have just bought this phone the Samsung Galaxy mini 3, I love it good Battery life, it looks good it sounds good and I really love the s voice which works really well,the screen and the bright colours are really good, and it was easy to set up really pleased and Happy with my phone, Samsung make great phones.

Reviewed by Ian Davidson from Scotland on 12th Mar 2014
Battery Life is the main problem, it can lose half of its charge in a day doing nothing!

Reply by steve from essex, england on 28th Mar 2014
mine lasts more than a week on standby, & nearly a week with light usage.

Reply by Carolyn from Essex on 28th Dec 2014
I also have a problem with the battery not lasting longer than a day, it eats it up doing nothing. WOW Steve of Essex how do you get a week out of yours!!! I am also having problems with sd card unexpectedly unmounting. I'm on my 3rd phone!!! Just love the size but going to have to choose another model.

Reviewed by Rose Crider from US on 1st Mar 2014
Having a real struggle using galaxy 3 mini. Accidently touching it sends it to all sort of places I don't want.
My real problem is the dropped calls. Often I have to call 4 or 5 times to the same person as our call is interrupted.
I was told I would have to hold the phone a certain way on my face or ear or it would cut off. This is not acceptable to me and am thinking of going back to the phone I had. I don't need the stress.

Reviewed by McKenzie from USA on 15th Jan 2014
First, this phone from the beginning was trouble. The rear camera seemed to have pretty good quality. The front facing camera, aka "selfie" camera, was almost a complete blur. When I first got it, I tried to see if it had any sort of scratch or print on it but it was brand new. That was one thing I was looking forward to was to finally having a front facing camera, comes in brand new and doesn't work. Disappointing,

Secondly, the text/typing on it sucks. You can't type on it unless you have fingers of a small child. Almost every text I sent out had a typo or error on it, even when I'd press an "E" button for example, it would put "W". Hardest phone to text on for sure.

Also, it wants to freeze up every time you turn around. You can't navigate, type, anything until you hold down the off button and re-boot it all over again.


Plus, it has made me late for work in the mornings on several occasions because some days the alarm decides not to go off. I cannot rely on it to work so I had to buy myself a real alarm clock.

Overall, this phone gets 1 star, because it deserves one star. It should not be worth the $260-280 I paid for it. Not at all, don't waste your money on this piece of junk!
Bought myself an iphone 4s, should have done that when I was trying to decide on a galaxy mini or an iphone!!

Reviewed by Andre from South Africa on 9th Nov 2013
My previous phone was a Nokia E72, loved it, barring a few funnies. I now have a Galaxy S3 mini on contract, and in my opinion it is the worst phone I have ever had. I HATE the touch screen, I don't think Android is the bees knees either. And although it can do many things, it's actually pretty awful as a phone which afterall is it's primary function.

I use my phone in the car a lot with bluetooth earpiece so need easy, reliable, connect, disconnect. Hope it supports auto answer, handles ringing properly etc. The S3 mini does not ring in the blue tooth ear piece and neither are the keypad feedback tones audible. And the screen goes blank (which means your keypad is awol) I mean really !!! These were all seamless functions on the E72 when switching between blue tooth and normal operation.

Reply by steve from essex, england on 10th Nov 2013
you must have a faulty one then- mine is perfect.

Reviewed by Mike M from UK on 4th Nov 2013
My wife bought 2 of these about 2 months ago (against my advice), one for herself and one for my son. Both have had problems from new. One constantly disconnects from the network and will only reconnect by going into settings and selecting the network associated with the simcard, this leads to many missed calls which go unlogged. The other one randomly switches itself off whilst on charge, apparently a common complaint, which if your using the phone as an alarm as my son does means the alarm fails to go off when it should - this has led to my son being late for work several times. He now has to set a back up alarm on another device because his S3 cant be trusted. These are faults which Samsung are not prepared to acknowledge nor deal with and they have very poor customer service, which I have experienced before with other Samsung products. Be warned.

Reply by steve from essex, england on 10th Nov 2013
both of yours must be dud ones then- mine works fine.

Reply by Andy from UK on 19th Mar 2014
I have exactly the same problems as you Mike as does a colleague who also bought this phone.

Reviewed by Karen from UK on 19th Sep 2013
I got mine nearly a year ago and I cant stand it.
Its so fiddly to use. Battery life is poor and what is with the number of stupid pointless apps pre-loaded on it?
I cant wait to get back to an Iphone. They might look like bricks, but they do everything easily and quickly.
Good points; size and shape. Bad points; EVERYTHING else.
I will never stray from the iphone again.

Reply by doug from uk on 5th Oct 2013
you can actually uninstall the pointless apps back to factory settings so they dont run on the phone ive cleared up alot of them from mine, ive had this for a few months it runs great

Reply by steve from essex, england on 10th Nov 2013
to get the best from the battery, you need to download an app like juice defender, & turn off mobile internet etc until you need to use them. this phone should give you at least 7 days on standby, & a good couple of days with moderate use.

Reviewed by Hale from England on 5th Sep 2013
I've had this Phone for 3 days and I absolutely LOVE IT making the swap from a 2 year old galaxy mini to this was an easy decision in my opinion its an all round better phone I felt the s3 screen was too large and also too expensive to buy on PAYG but the s3 mini was in my price range so I opted for that 5/5 all round even the battery life is rather good got 1 day and half from first charge and so far nearly 2 days from this and even though it hasn't got a HD screen you wouldn't know really good quality screen and photos absolutely recommend this phone all my phones have been Samsung's and I wouldn't change to any other

Reviewed by Margaret from N. Ireland on 14th Aug 2013
Do not buy this phone - Had S3 mini 8 weeks and stopped working, sent back to Samsung and returned repaired after another 8 weeks I was charging phone and black smoke bellowed from back of phone ready to go on fire, returned to samsung again and they now want 187 to fix phone claiming liquid damage which is untrue - will never buy samsung product again

Reply by steve from essex, england on 19th Aug 2013
sorry to hear of your disappointment with this phone, but it would appear that you just got unlucky with a duff one- all the other reviews say it's an excellent phone, including mine.

Reviewed by Neil from UK on 21st Jun 2013
I love this phone, loads of useful functions and a good battery life.
The only downside is the need to log on with a Google account to use a lot of the online content (like YouTube).

Reviewed by Geoff from UK on 19th Jun 2013
Sean, you don't need to sound clever, you are clever for choosing this phone. And your comments sum up the phone for real owners who have to wait a long time to get a new handset.
I got one 3 weeks ago after 2 years with a Wildfire and I love it. S21 was correct to say the only negative with it was the price. I got mine for 199 by looking at offers on this page.
I don't care how wonderful the latest phones are compared to the s3 mini. This phone has everything I need and more. And if I use it for long enough my next phone will be another massive step up at a sensible price that will keep me just as happy.
Enjoy your new phone. .. I am!

Reviewed by Sean from UK on 19th Jun 2013
Not wishing to sound clever but I got this phone on the understanding that it was a good mid-range phone at a mid-range contract price and not a high-end phone in a small form factor. My previous phone was the HTC Wildfire S and this is a big step up, performance wise, from my point of view.
If you come to this phone as a genuine upgrade like I did, this cannot disappoint.

Reply by steve from essex, england on 22nd Jun 2013
sean, you're dead right! tbh, i couldn't understand the negative reviews about the screen, saying it's low resolution- how can it be, when it's no different from the screens on my previous 2 phones, a sony xperia neo, & a samsung wave 2- & they were HD!

Reply by S21 from UK on 22nd Jun 2013
steve, none of these phones have HD screens. The HD format requires a minimum of 1280720 pixels. They do all have HD video cameras though. By the way, the Galaxy S3 Mini has a great screen for a mid-range phone, and now that the price has fallen, it seems like a better choice than when we first reviewed it.

Reply by Goran from Macedonia on 13th Jul 2014
I moved from WIldfire S to S3 Mini, too almost a year ago, but just found this post :) No complains, S3 Mini works flawless, love it. And if OS deteriorates over time, you can always put custom ROM and give new life to the phone.

Reviewed by Steve from England on 14th Jun 2013
Got mine today, cant fault it really.
200 from three net!!! Ok...

Reviewed by Melanie from Wales on 4th Jun 2013
This was the only phone to woo me away from blackberries. Love the size and apps all work etc and camera resolution is good for 5mp. Love it :-)

Reviewed by Ella from England on 6th May 2013
Brill phone ad the 4s before this and love this more bigger screen fast camera gud app world as gud battery last day same as 4s added bonus memory card slot download free music n ring tones will be stayin with samsung x

Reviewed by Ryan from UK on 30th Apr 2013
Got the phone yesterday on contract. Lovely phone, perfect size, very fast, screen is nice and bright, great battery life, generous inbuilt memory plus SD card slot, good camera. Can't fault it at all.

Reviewed by maria from USA on 26th Apr 2013
S3 mini is amazing....small but terrible ..fast and reliable among the the galaxy models ..one of a kind smartphone and it is really cool to have one of this phone.

Reviewed by Andy from uk on 23rd Mar 2013
Had the phone a couple of days now, an upgrade from a galaxy ace, which I had no problems with except the internal storage, what a difference this phone is, I didn't want a large phone and was impressed with the size of 4" screen in relation to size of phone.Galaxy S3 mini is a mid range phone with great performance, 8GB internal storage,1GB ram, good camera although only 5MP, and great operating system Jellybean 4.1.2, very smooth and powerful with some very clever features, and battery is outstanding. Best thing was the price, 12.75 pm with 300 mins, unlimited texts and 500mb data on O2 through E2 save. Very happy.

Reviewed by steve from essex, england on 3rd Mar 2013
just got this phone today. so far, excellent! i've got the blue one. although plastic, it looks metal, as it has a high quality brushed metal finish. how the screen can possibly not be HD (according to all other reviews) is beyond me- having owned a samsung wave 2 which was HD, & still currently owning a sony ericcson xperia neo (soon to be sold), also HD, i can honestly say there is no visible difference between the screen resolutions of them & this one. the amount of onboard apps is amazing too- even before adding any. the camera is ace- 5mp is all you need for a phone camera, & samsung's phone cameras are better than most anyway. love the 'smart stay' retinal display mode- it's like something out of star trek or blade runner! all in all, this is a brill phone, & well worth the money (again, contrary to other reviews)- got mine for 229 PAYG on orange from phones 4 u, as opposed to 299 for the wave 2, 2 years ago, & 299 for the xperia neo, 1 year ago- & the galaxy s3 mini is more advanced than either of them, & no bigger, but with a bigger screen!

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