Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini review: Flagship Samsung style in a more comfy, but less powerful, form

You'll find a whole slew of bundled Samsung software on board, including Samsung's own app stores, email client and Web browser, the smart remote tool for using the infrared port to control your TV and S Health, which aims to let you track your fitness progress (logging both steps taken and your heart rate, using the heart rate sensor on the back of the phone).

Processor and battery performance

A 1.4GHz quad-core processor powers the phone, which delivered a reasonably swift experience, with little lag while navigating around the interface. My experience was the same with the S5 too, but I find Samsung phones to be among the worst offenders for slowing down over time.

It's common for phones to get a little fatigued once you've filled them up with apps, music and photos, but my S5 slowed to the point of taking up to 5 seconds to even open the gallery. I remember having similar issues with the Galaxy S4. The Mini seems fine in its factory state and may remain so, but it's worth bearing in mind that you may need to do a full reset from time to time to keep it working at its best.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Instagram, Twitter, Netflix and image editing in Snapseed were all easily handled by the S5 Mini, as were more demanding games like Asphalt 8 and Riptide GP 2.

A 2,100mAh battery provides the juice for the phone and Samsung reckons you can get around 10 hours of 3G talk time from a single charge, which I'd say is about right. After 2 hours of video looping over Wi-Fi, the battery had dropped to 80 percent, which isn't too bad. If you're fairly careful with your usage -- avoiding gaming and streaming or taking lots of photos -- you should be able to get a day out of it.


As with all the rest of the key specs, the Mini's camera is also a watered-down version from what you'll find on the S5, using an 8- rather than 16-megapixel image sensor. Megapixels aren't everything though, and indeed I still found the Mini to achieve good results in my tests.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini camera test (click to see full-size image) Andrew Hoyle/CNET

My first close-up shot of St Paul's Cathedral was well exposed -- both the bright brickwork and the shadowy trees below are kept under control -- with good contrast and a satisfyingly deep blue sky.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini camera test (click to see full-size image) Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Moving further away, St Paul's has lost some of its contrast, but the exposure is still even and there's plenty of detail, allowing you to crop it a little.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini camera test (click to see full-size image) Andrew Hoyle/CNET

This shot from the side of the bank is similarly well exposed, but the auto white balance hasn't done a great job, resulting in a slight greenish tint. The camera does allow you to take manual control of white balance, as well as other settings like exposure and ISO speeds along with providing the usual lineup of image filters.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini camera test (click to see full-size image) Andrew Hoyle/CNET

This rose hasn't been captured particularly well, as the bright sun shining on the petals has caused parts of the flower to be washed out.

There are other shooting modes on board, like panorama and burst, and you can go to Samsung's store to download more. There's an HDR mode, called Rich Tone, but it doesn't provide the live HDR view that you can find on the S5, nor will it allow for HDR video.

The camera is generally a decent performer. While it doesn't have the high resolution and always-on HDR of the S5, its decent exposure, contrast and colours makes it perfectly capable of snagging some snazzy snaps for your Twitter stream.


As it did with the S4 Mini and S3 Mini before it, Samsung has taken its flagship phone, watered down all of its specs, but kept the name of the top model. Those of you looking for elite specs in a more comfortable form will be disappointed. Instead, I suggest waiting a few weeks for more info on Sony's just announced Xperia Z3 Compact, which packs the same top kit as its brother, only in a smaller size. We'll be reviewing it soon.

That's not to say the S5 Mini is a bad phone, though. Its screen is bright and bold, it has enough power for most things you're likely to want to do with it, its camera is decent and the water resistance will keep it safe from spilled drinks. If you want the Samsung name on a phone that's easy to use in one hand, you are well catered for with the S5 Mini. Just don't expect the same all-round performance as the full-size model.

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