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Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini review

 Review: July 2013  

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is a smaller version of the top-selling Galaxy S4. Superslim and ultra lightweight, we'd rate it as the best Android phone you can get of its size.

Today's best buy: Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini from Laptops Direct (£160.00)



If you're looking for a higher-end Android phone, then Samsung is spoiling you for choice in 2013. Not only do you have the amazing Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4 phones available to choose from, but you can also choose a more compact Galaxy S3 Mini and now the Galaxy S4 Mini too.

A compact S4

The S4 Mini looks almost exactly like the full-size S4, but in a reduced size. Thanks to clever styling, it's almost the same size as the S3 Mini, despite having a larger screen size. With a thickness of just under 9mm, it's extremely thin and the modest overall size makes it much more pocketable than the original Galaxy S4. At a mere 107g it's one of the lightest smartphones currently available.

It's a Samsung, so don't expect to discover exotic materials here - it's all plastic - but that doesn't mean the build quality is in any way sub-standard. The phone feels tough and strong, with no bend, and the ultrathin, lightweight construction has a lot to recommend it. It's available in a choice of Black or White.

The 4.3 inch screen fills nearly the entire front face of the phone, with just enough room for a Samsung logo above and navigation buttons below. Sadly it's not a HD screen, but with a resolution of 540 x 960 pixels, it's still pretty sharp, with a pixel density midway between that of the S3 and the S3 Mini. Super AMOLED technology ensures that colours are bright and saturated, with good viewing angles and that the display is visible outdoors.

Scaled-down hardware

Don't expect to find the same hardware inside the S4 Mini that you get with the S4. This is not a superphone. The Snapdragon S4 processor is fast - running at 1.7GHz - but it's dual-core rather than the quadcore of the S4. Don't be too disappointed, as it's still a fast processor, but it isn't quite the fastest in this price bracket.

The 1.5GB RAM is generous, and is capable of handling the most demanding apps.

The phone comes with either 8GB or 16GB of built-in memory, which is rather tight since much of the 8GB version is filled with system files. However, you can add an additional 64GB of storage with a microSD memory card.

Android Jelly Bean 4.2

So often Android phones launch without the latest version of Android, keeping their users waiting for updates, so it's good to find that Samsung have sent the Galaxy S4 Mini out into the world with Jelly Bean 4.2.2 already installed.

The S4 Mini also comes with some of the features first shown on the Galaxy S4, including the S Health fitness app, S Translator, S Voice and the S Travel app. The Air Gesture and Smart Scroll features are missing, although judging from user feedback, these won't be too greatly missed.

Camera performance

The rear camera has been upgraded from the Galaxy S3 Mini, and has an 8 megapixel CMOS sensor with autofocus and a power LED flash. It can record video at full HD 1080p resolution. The S4's Best Photo and Panorama photo features have been included in the S4 Mini, although the Dual Camera feature is missing.

The front-facing camera has also been given an upgrade and can record video at full HD 1080p resolution, which is a welcome improvement.

LTE connectivity

When it comes to connectivity, the S4 Mini leaves no box unticked. It's a 4G phone, and also runs on 2G/3G networks with support for HSPA.

The phone supports Wi-Fi with Wi-Fi Direct available as well as Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC wireless connectivity. There's also a microUSB 2.0 connector and a 3.5mm headphone socket. DLNA is supported too.

Battery life

We're pleased to find that the S4 Mini comes with a fairly heavy duty 1900mAh battery. Admittedly there are plenty of phones with even bigger batteries than this, but for a dual-core processor and a modest screen size, this feels about right. Heavy users will probably need to charge overnight, but less active users may get a couple of days between charges.

Conclusion - best mid-sized handset

If you fancy a top Android phone but find the big flagship models just too big to handle, then the S4 Mini has your name written all over it. This is almost certainly the best Android smartphone with a 4.3 inch screen size. It's one of the best in its price range too (around £25/month on contract at the time of launch, but hopefully falling to £20/month soon.)

The S4 Mini is certainly a substantial step up from the S3 Mini, with every feature upgraded. Yet it's also quite a step down from the full-size S4. It's a less powerful handset even than the Galaxy S3, which sells for about the same price as the S4 Mini. But if you want a phone that's not too big, then the S3 is ruled out.

If the price meets your budget and the compact size and ultra light weight and slimness do it for you, then we'd certainly recommend the S4 Mini.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini user reviews

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Average rating from 16 reviews:

Reviewed by karol from london on 16th Jul 2015
May I ask someone what they know about the Samsung galaxy s4 mini pls. I mean faults. A few of my friend's have the galaxy s5 and said it's a good phone. with my contract I was only able to have the s4 mini only had it since November last yr. Now having problems during calls I'm getting echoing feedback hearing my self talking sounds like I'm in a cave and when you talk you hear yourself like a parrot talking back at you and sometimes callers say I'm breaking up and they only get bits of what I'm saying is so annoying. So much for the Samsung little mobile. .well it's naughty for me.

Reviewed by Charu from India on 16th Jul 2015
S4 mini has brilliant features, which include 4.3 inch AMOLED display and ability to deliver crystal clear resolution and crisp images to the eyes of viewers. Despite of not being fully HD screen, the device has amazing display. It has 1.5 GB RAM, offering the users to explore the enough potential of the device and use their creativity in most effective manner. For more details you can visit Samsung India site.

Reviewed by steve from essex, uk on 30th Mar 2015
got one of these a couple of weeks ago on 3 PAYG. only cost 125! had to buy it by mail order, as none of 3's high street stores i tried had it in stock- they'd all sold out because everyone had rushed in & bought them due to the price. so far, i'm impressed. lighter in weight than the s3 mini it's replaced, & not much bigger, but with a much bigger screen. calls are loud & clear. battery life pretty good, but i recommend downloading the juice defender app to prolong it further. screen bright, clear & sharp- almost HD! mine is black, but the back is gunmetal with a silver network pattern. i was impressed with the s3 mini, but this phone is even better- more features, a better camera & everything works faster. all in all, an ace phone.

Reviewed by Chris from UK on 5th Sep 2014
What a fantastic phone for the price! It's fast, has great features, a very good camera and is a perfect size. A very slim phone with a great 4.3" screen, not too big like the new 5"+ phones, yet slightly bigger than the iPhone 5. Battery life could be better (like all smart phones) but I still get about 1.5 days out of it with average use.

Reviewed by Chris from UK on 5th Sep 2014
What a fantastic phone for the price! It's fast, has great features, a very good camera and is a perfect size. A very slim phone with a great 4.3" screen, not too big like the new 5"+ phones, yet slightly bigger than the iPhone 5. Battery life could be better (like all smart phones) but I still get about 1.5 days out of it with average use.

Reviewed by Ross from England on 24th Nov 2013
A good phone overall but very annoying dictionary (or lack of). Swear words won't save, same for slang words. Imagine not being able to add the word 'ok' for example! Just allow me a normal dictionary. Very annoying

Reviewed by Bill from UK on 12th Oct 2013
Excellent phone, just does so much. I find it very easy to use, internet fast enough for anyone. Brilliant camera. Emails easy to send and receive.

Reviewed by Mel from Wales on 20th Sep 2013
Lightweight, fast, excellent battery life, great camera quality, lots of features, easy to navigate, lovely bright screen, good size. Very happy with mine. Use the application monitor widget to ensure apps not running and turn off wifi etc etc at night and I get 30 hours battery life. Better in every way than the iPhone 4s I had and a bit cheaper. Far more customisable.

Reviewed by Nik from London on 18th Sep 2013
Good phone but wifi keeps dropping off;
Battery life about a day;
Great size and good looks;
Great in call sound quality.
8/10 for size, power and design. 2pts lost for know unresolved issues with wifi and 256dpi screen resolution. Should have been at least 341dpi like the HTC windows 8x!

Reviewed by steve from uk on 17th Sep 2013
good battery life, i get 2days from mine, dont know what others are on about, if you leave all the features running you would never get 2 days from any smart phone, better size for me than the s4, which i sold, because of its size, dont miss the s4 one bit, you get used to the screen, and most of the gimics on the s4 i switched off any way, as they were just annoying, overall good choice for me better than an apple, which i think are overated, and overpriced

Reviewed by mel from uk on 17th Sep 2013
Rubbish battery life and no notifications work in bar :( very disappointed as took on 2 yr contract

Reviewed by niranjan from india on 31st Jul 2013
Mobile is good but I could not found any difference with other dual sim mobilesbut very easy to handle

Reviewed by Soham maynale from India on 20th Jul 2013
S4 mini is verry slim and compact ...to esasy carry to evety person

Reviewed by sam. from tel.aviv on 12th Jul 2013

Reviewed by Diana from United States on 10th Jul 2013
Did an awesome comparison with the s3 mini and the s4 mini. It was no contest - I went with the s4 mini. Even with the 50% discounts on the s3 mini, the s4 mini was my choice after seeing the reviews.

Reviewed by Kevin from UK on 8th Jul 2013
It's just a Galaxy S2 with a faster processor and .5gb more ram yet costs twice as much. Total rip off! Samsung are just as bad as Apple now!

Reply by lee from n england on 16th Jul 2013
Exactly, if anything - Samsung need to get specific to needs and exactments rather than specs and stats...hTC seem to be trying on them, yet even thats negotiable ! Its a nice size for a phone rather than TOO BIG imo for the S3/4 + hTC (which) ONE... The mobile industry is not working on the details rather than the specifics.

Reply by Matt from UK on 22nd Jul 2013
If you want a smaller sized phone that's not Apple or Samsung take a look at the Motorola RAZR i. The spec is a bit below the S4 but not by much and it's less than half the price.

Reply by Bob from Uk on 29th Nov 2013
or you could go for the Sony Xperia SP, slightly bigger screen but is probably a better and easier phone to use.

Reply by Gary from UK on 22nd Apr 2014
Exactly, I agree just a slightly upgraded S2 but for way more money. Same screen size, same camera, same OS. Slightly bigger battery, ram, processor speed. If it comes down in price when the S5 mini comes out it may be worth it, but for now, forget it, buy an S2

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