Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini review

A cheaper, more compact Galaxy S4 with amazing battery life, but the S4 Mini doesn’t stand out compared to the competition

Our Rating 
4/5
Price when reviewed 
363
inc VAT
Buy it now for 

Page 1 of 4Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini review

Specifications

Processor: Dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, Screen size: 4.3in, Screen resolution: 960x540, Rear camera: 8-megapixel , Storage: 8GB, Wireless data: 4G, 3G, Size: 125x61x8.9mm, Weight: 107g, Operating system: Android 4.2.2

We've got Samsung to thank for the miniaturisation craze. First it followed up the fantastic Galaxy S3 with the smaller, cut-down S3 Mini, and now, for those who have neither wide nor deep enough pockets for the Galaxy S4, here comes the S4 Mini. It's since been replaced by the Galaxy S5 Mini, but you can still pick one up for around £190 SIM-free, £130 on Vodafone's Pay As You Go or £15-per-month on contract from Carphone Warehouse.

These prices are much better value now than when the phone first launched, and it's much cheaper than the slightly underwhelming Galaxy S5 Mini as well. In fact, it still holds up well against its newer successor, as performance-wise they're almost identical, making the S4 Mini the better buy if you're looking for the best tiny Samsung phone. 

At the time it was released, the S4 Mini faced a lot of competition from the HTC One Mini, which impressed us and won a Best Buy award, but that too has since been replaced by the One Mini 2. Both HTC phones continue to demand higher prices than Samsung's miniature handset, though, making the S4 Mini much better value than its rivals.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

It's all about the plastic, but the S4 Mini feels well made

First impressions are reasonable. The Galaxy S4 Mini looks like a small Galaxy S4, with its squared-off top and rounder bottom edge. It's not a particularly exciting design, but it's certainly comfortable to hold for a long phone call. The phone is all plastic, but it's fairly soft-touch and feels tough. However, the HTC One Mini's silver and white chassis is certainly smarter and more interesting to look at, and we love the HTC's metal rear.

Like the One Mini, the Galaxy S4 Mini has a 4.3in display, but instead of 1,280x720 pixels, you only get 960x540. The difference is immediately obvious when you put the two phones side by side. While it's easy to read web pages when fully zoomed out on the HTC One Mini, the S4 Mini's lower resolution makes this much more of a struggle.

We can't argue with the S4 Mini's vibrant colours and wide viewing angles, which we've come to expect from AMOLED displays, but we're not convinced by its colour accuracy. Large areas of white on the HTC One Mini's screen were pure and white, but on the S4 Mini they have a blue tinge. The S4 Mini's screen also has a slight grainy texture, and feels rougher to the touch than the super-smooth HTC display.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

We're not particularly enamoured by the AMOLED screen, but it does give the S4 Mini fantastic battery life

The low-power AMOLED screen helps give the S4 Mini one big advantage, though; it has seriously impressive battery life. In our video playback test, which involves playing a video file on loop, the S4 Mini lasted an amazing 13h 3m. That's one of the best scores we have ever seen, and four and a half hours more than the LCD display-equipped HTC One Mini. This is definitely a phone with all-day life, even if you're a heavy user.

When it comes to performance, too, the Galaxy S4 Mini pulls ahead of HTC's handset. Its dual-core processor may have half the cores of the full-size Galaxy S4 and indeed most high-end smartphones, but those cores run at a very quick 1.7GHz. This showed in the Sunspider JavaScript benchmark, where the S4 Mini completed the test in just 1,008ms - even quicker than the Galaxy S4's 1,100ms. The S4 Mini couldn’t keep up with the full-size S4 in the 3DMark graphics benchmark, but a score of 5,549 is still up there with moderately powerful phones such as the HTC One X+ and Samsung Galaxy Mega, and is around 700 points more than the HTC One Mini managed in the same benchmark. We found 3D games such as Beach Buggy Blitz ran smoothly enough.

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