Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini

Samsung is aiming at the smartphone lovers who'd prefer not to own a huge phone, but watering down the specs of the Mini may have these customers turning to bigger phones, or other platforms.

Joseph Hanlon

Joseph Hanlon

Special to CNET News

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies.

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First impressions

As they say, great minds think alike. We praised Motorola a month ago when we first saw the new Razr M, the smaller 4-inch version of the Razr HD. So many people that we speak to say that they want the best new smartphone, but they wish it wasn't the size of a sandwich, and the Razr M fits the bill nicely. It turns out that Samsung had the same brainwave, and has given its flagship the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids treatment.

Or has it? One of the things we love about the Razr M (in theory, we're yet to review it properly) is that Motorola hasn't pack its smaller phone with cheaper components. The Razr HD has a dual-core Snapdragon processor, and so does the Razr M, as well. The Razr HD has 4G radios, and so does the Razr M, as well.

Samsung doesn't follow suit in this respect, and in many ways, the Galaxy S3 Mini is a watered down version of the original GS3. Gone is the quad-core Samsung Exynos processor, and in its place, we find a dual-core 1GHz Ericsson NovaThor chipset. There is still 1GB RAM, though, and Samsung will launch 8GB and 16GB storage variants.

There are other obvious downgrades, too. The camera on the Mini is 5-megapixels, not 8MP, and data traffic could be slower without the dual-carrier HSPA or dual-channel Wi-Fi. There is a definite thread of "if you want better, buy the bigger one".

There is a smaller battery in the Mini, too, though this is to be expected, given its smaller frame and the lower power demands of its 4-inch WVGA (480x800 pixel) resolution screen. Speaking of the screen, we were pretty happy to see that the Mini features a Super AMOLED panel, which should be a nice boost for a phone that we're guessing will be at the lower end of the pricing spectrum.

There's no official word from Samsung Australia yet regarding pricing or availability, but we'll be sure to keep you in the loop if we hear more.