Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini hands on review

As it did last year, Samsung has revealed a miniature version of its latest flagship Android smartphone, hoping to cater for those who want the latest version of Google’s OS and the new design but on a smaller scale.

This year the S4 Mini hopes to mimic the success of the S3 Mini, sporting the very same design as its bigger brother and a range of software and specs to match, too. Set to land in stores in the coming weeks, the Galaxy S4 Mini arrived today at Gadget Helpline HQ in black and we have to say it looks rather smart.

Sat next to the Galaxy S4, the Mini is almost identical in shape and design. You’ve got the same silver bezel running around the edge of the phone and the same textured micro pattern running all over the front and back panels. Details are followed even down to the shape of the home button and the finish on the earpiece grille above the display and it really feels like the S4 Mini is a proper ‘mini me’ of the Galaxy S4 – more so than with last year’s S3 Mini.

Many were disappointed with the specifications of the S4 Mini when Samsung revealed it earlier this month, with the vitals offering a minor upgrade over last year’s Galaxy S3 Mini and being far from those of the S4 itself. However, from our hands on we were very impressed with the phone and felt it was very capable. Although the display is only a Super AMOLED panel with a 960 x 540 resolution, it’s very bright and colourful and seems to mimic the very sharp Full HD display of the S4 quite well. We have to say we weren’t expecting this, and felt suitably impressed.

The upgraded dual-core processor and bump in the RAM department provide an oomph that’s noticeable when compared to the S3 Mini and helps the phone to perform admirably up against the S4 and S3. That’s not to say the Mini will continue at this level of performance in the long run however, but from the off it’s more than capable. Games were almost lag-free – with the exception of a slight pause when loading levels on Wind-up Knight from time to time – and multitasking between a number of apps proved no trouble.

In the S4 Mini the other main upgrade is to the camera, with an 8 megapixel shooter replacing the paltry 5 megapixel sensor on the S3 Mini. Whilst you don’t get the full suite of nifty features and shooting modes as on the S4, the Mini shoots decent stills and videos and does offer some of Samsung’s new stuff in the camera department. We found the Mini a little slow to refocus and shoot multiple images quickly, but if you’ve got time to focus and hold still it’ll take good quality shots.

Finally you have the combination of Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 as the operating system and Samsung’s new TouchWiz user interface. Together they make the phone pretty nippy and smooth, with menus flowing nicely and switching through apps being no problem at all for the dual-core processor. As a result of the new TouchWiz UI being on the phone you’ve also got a selection of Samsung’s newest apps and features, our favourite being S Translator.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini hits shops from July 5th and will be available SIM-Free for around £390 and on contract with most major UK networks.