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Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini to make AT&T debut, with S6 close behind

The Galaxy S6 is coming out in a few weeks. Even so, the carrier will sell the smaller version of Samsung's 2014 flagship phone for $100 on contract starting this week.

Would you want a Galaxy S5 Mini with the S6 around the corner? Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Samsung is offering the Mini edition of its Galaxy S5 through AT&T just ahead of its launch of the Galaxy S6.

Available through AT&T online and in stores starting Friday, the Galaxy S5 Mini will sell for $100 via the standard two-year agreement. Buyers who want to avoid the annual contract can buy the phone outright for $429, or put zero down through one of AT&T's Next plans and then pay monthly depending on the Next option chosen.

Samsung announced the S5 Mini in July. The question is: Why would AT&T release the Galaxy S5 Mini now when the new Galaxy S6 phones are due to launch globally next month? Well, not every mobile phone buyer wants or needs a big-screen phone with the latest and greatest features. Though an underperformer compared with its bigger brother, the S5 may appeal to consumers who want a smaller phone with decent features and a somewhat lower price tag.

Why opt for the S5 Mini over the standard Galaxy S5 , or even the upcoming Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S6 Edge ? Price and size are two possible reasons. AT&T sells the full Galaxy S5 for $130 via the two-year contract and for $550 with no contract. The Galaxy S6 is likely to cost around the same, while the S6 Edge will probably cost more. Outfitted with a 4.5-inch screen, the S5 Mini is smaller than the S5, which sports a 5.1-inch display.

But the S5 Mini also skimps on features compared with the rest of the lineup. Powered by a 1.4GHz quad-core processor, the Mini has a 720-pixel display with an 8-megapixel camera, while the S5 is powered by a 2.5GHz quad-core processor and comes with a 1,080p HD AMOLED display and a 16-megapixel camera.

The S5 Mini is also available through US Cellular.