Hands on review: Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini

The Samsung Galaxy S3 by all accounts is a run-away success and now Samsung has extended its range by offering the Galaxy S3 Mini
So is the Galaxy S3 Mini just a smaller version of the amazing S3 ? I set to find out:

Look and Feel

When you first open the box, the S3 Mini looks identical to its larger S3 brother. You almost do a double take to realise it is a smaller phone – it even has the same high end Marble White the S3 has.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini    Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini

When you pick it up you notice that it is indeed smaller as it measures in at 121.55 x 63 x 9.85 mm, and weighs 111.5 g. What you immediately notice is that it feels right in your hands. It is small enough that your fingers don’t have to do that hop-skip-and-jump to get to various sides of the screen that we have become accustomed to. I have the Galaxy NOTE so my fingers are all over the place to get across that large screen !

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini - back cover

The perimeter layout is as we have come to expect from Samsung phones. It has the MicroUSB slot at the bottom and the same Home button and the soft Back & Menu buttons. On the right is the power button, on the top is the headphone jack and on the left are the volume up/ volume down buttons. The microSD slot is under the battery (so no popping that SD card in and out without switching the phone off first).

Whilst powering on the Dual Core 1GHz, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it comes pre-installed with Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean operating system right out of the box. What a win !

Turn the phone over and behind the cover is the removable battery. This might seem trivial but its becoming more important as people have stated to carry two batteries if they know they will have a busy day on their phone (eg at conference or away for whole day meetings). Another thing to note is that the Galxy S3 Mini uses a standard SIM – not a microSIM.

Getting Around the Phone

If you are used to Jelly Bean or even Ice Scream Sandwich, then you feel right at home with the Galaxy S3 Mini’s interface.

What is impressive is the 4.0” WVGA Super AMOLED screen that even in bright daylight allows the screen to be easily viewable and clear.

Everything is where you expect it to be. Swipe down from the top and the Drawer opens with access to setting, network options, GPS, Bluetooth etc. etc.

One thing I did notice is that you can have up to seven screens so all your apps will easily fit & especially if you use Folders.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini - interface  Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini - interface  Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini - interface

Making a Phone Call

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini - phone dialerIt is a phone – so its needs to make and receive calls. Simple tap on the Phone Icon and the dialler opens up where you can access your contacts or simply start to dial.

What I find useful is that you can start to type the number you want to call and it instantly starts to make suggestions of all the contacts that have those numbers.  Sounds like something we always have ? well not on the iOS or Windows Phones…

Finally, Samsung has not forgotten to include the “turn the phone over to reject an incoming call” feature. Nice.

Using the Internet

Samsung Galaxy S3 MiniSamsung Galaxy S3 MiniSamsung Galaxy S3 Mini

These days, using the Internet is just as important (if not more) as making a call. The Galaxy S3 mini has all the connectivity you could want:HSPA 14.4/5.76 900/1900/2100 and EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900. It also connects to WiFi so no costs are incurred for those big downloads.

Because the Galaxy S3 Mini has Jelly Bean, it means that you can install Chrome which frankly I am not sure why Samsung phones don’t come with Chrome pre-installed ? Chrome logs into your Google account and instantly you have access to Bookmarks and even history and saved pages so you can browse them offline.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram are all operational so you aren’t compromising on anything.

The Camera

The Social Apps lead me nicely onto the camera. What self respecting Mobile Ninja doesn’t use their phone to share with the world everything they see ?

The Galaxy S3 Mini has two cameras. A 5MP AF with LED Flash at the back and a VGA camera in the front.

It comes with most of the settings that the S3 has including Buddy photos share and Smile shot.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini

The quality of the pics are not S3 8 Megapixel scale, but also not bad at all. I especially like the fact tat you can place the focus on a particular part of the screen and not just the middle and the flash really does its job well.

Samsung Galaxy S3 MiniSamsung Galaxy S3 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S3 MiniSamsung Galaxy S3 Mini

Yes there are contrast issues between light and dark and those purist will find irritations, but  for what I need  and for what most people need on a day to day basis this is perfect.

Hows dat Sound ?

Samsung Galaxy S3 MiniSamsung Galaxy S3 MiniSamsung Galaxy S3 Mini

I downloaded my music collection onto the S3 Mini which was transferred with Kies with no problem. As soon as I plugged my headphones in, I noticed that the notification bar pops open with all the pre-installed media related apps including Music Player, Video Player, Video Hub,  FM Radio, YouTube. This is pretty cool as you can instantly access these from one location. Again a nice touch

The Audio plays these formats without any additional downloads:MP3, AMR-NB,AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, WMA, OGG(Vorbis), FLAC

Video Playback

Samsung Galaxy S3 MiniSamsung Galaxy S3 Mini

The S3 Mini has the same features for video playback at the S3 which is just brilliant.

I always liked the pop-up player that you can view any video clip and overlay that on top of anything else tat you are working with without missing a single second.

It plays back these formats: H.264, MPEG-4, H.263, VC-1, SorensonSpark, WMV7, WMV8 without having to install anything extra.

The Battery Power

With all these cool features, I was surprised to see that I managed to last an entire day of heavy usage. The main drain of the battery is usually the display assuming that since the screen is smaller along with Samsung’s battery-saving techniques, these all helps to keep the phone going.

Even when playing high intensity graphic games, the Galaxy S3 Mini just kept on going.

Samsung Galaxy S3 MiniSamsung Galaxy S3 Mini

So in Summary

If you like the look and feel of the original Galaxy S3, then you will love the design and feel of the Galaxy S3 Mini.

If you want a phone that easily slips into your shirt pocket and you are are able to handle fully with one hand, the this is your phone.

So it looks solid, feels right, has those rounded edges-pebble look so I am not sure where the “compromise” is as the phone is supposedly aimed at the a level below the Galaxy S3….

I would definitely buy one – all the coolness of the S3 in a smaller package !

The Galaxy S III mini is available at recommended retail prices starting from:8GB – R3 999. I also found it on the Cell C website on contract at R279pm x 24

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