Samsung Galaxy S4 mini

Those looking for a cheaper Galaxy S4 will find it in the S4 Mini, which features the same design and some of its software tweaks. But a higher-than-expected price means this may not be such a bargain.

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The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini isn't new. Just like the S3 Mini, the S4 Mini follows in the company's flagship Galaxy S4's footsteps with a smaller version that's almost as powerful. Unlike the S3 Mini, though, the S4 Mini is part of Samsung's new S4 family, and appears alongside other handsets such as the S4 Active, the S4 Zoom, and the S4 Google Edition.


Sporting a plastic body, the Mini resembles its larger cousin in shape and form, but is obviously smaller. Like the S4's, the plastic build doesn't feel flimsy. I do, however, have an issue with the glossy rear cover, which ends up being fingerprint-smudged and oily after use.

The Galaxy S4 Mini looks like a Galaxy S4, only smaller.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

One thing I liked about the phone's smaller size is that it's much easier to hold. You won't have to worry about the phone slipping out of your hand. The S4 Mini sports a 4.3-inch qHD (960x540 pixels) Super AMOLED display, which delivers quite a sharp resolution. However, I found the fonts a little too small in some apps and had to increase the size manually for readability.

The button layout is the same as on the S4. The S4 Mini comes loaded with an impressive array of connectivity options, including LTE, Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth. There's also a microSD card slot that's located underneath the removable battery.


While the S4 Mini does pack impressive specs, it also has to compromise on some parts. The handset comes with only 8GB of onboard storage, as well as just 1.5GB of RAM. It's likely you will have to use a microSD card if you need more space.

The handset features a removable 1,900mAh battery, for those who prefer swapping out instead of carrying a charger around.

The S4 Mini has an 8-megapixel main camera.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

The S4 Mini runs Android 4.2 with Samsung's TouchWiz UI, and you will be pleased to note that a few of the S4 software-based features have trickled down. The handset will come with Smart Stay (which keeps the display on if you're looking at it), Palm motion control (which lets you pause your video or audio), Group Play (which lets you share music to play on other Samsung handsets, as well as host multiplayer games), as well as the S Memo and S Translator apps. Read our Galaxy S4 review for more on these features.

As there's an IR blaster in the phone, the S4 Mini also comes packing the Samsung WatchOn app. It shows programming information for your TV channels and lets you control your TV as well.

The S4 Mini's 8-megapixel camera performance is pretty good. It's on par with the S4's, with plenty of details and a lack of noise in the outdoor test shots. The only weakness is the S4 Mini's inability to take good low-light shots, which looked even worse than the S4's.

Outdoor test shot.
(Credit: Aloysius Low/CNET)

Macro mode.
(Credit: Aloysius Low/CNET)

Indoor test shot.
(Credit: Aloysius Low/CNET)

Low-light test shot.
(Credit: Aloysius Low/CNET)

Test shot with flash.
(Credit: Aloysius Low/CNET)


Packing a 1.7GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, the S4 Mini performed smoothly. A test run with 3DMark's benchmark app revealed scores of 5,664 and 2,914 for the Ice Storm and Ice Storm Extreme tests.

Battery performance was decent, lasting a full day of moderate to heavy use before the phone died. This included surfing the Web and social-media platforms as well as having two e-mail accounts, Facebook, and Twitter set to give push notifications.

The S4 Mini's audio is pretty loud, so you'll be able to hear notifications while it is in your pocket. Voice clarity on calls was pretty good with no distortions heard from the other party.


The S4 Mini isn't really super-cheap. You do get a few of the S4's features, as well as the design, but it's not the "chock-full of features" that made the S4 so overwhelming for some. The S4 Mini's decent hardware and good performance make this a great mid-range device for folks who don't want the large handsets of today.


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