Samsung Galaxy S III mini Review

Although the overall tendency for screen sizes of Android handsets is to go up, it seems phone makers aren't willing to forget about the not so tech-savvy users who would actually prefer having a more compact device. The Samsung Galaxy S III mini is a perfect example. It's designed to bring most of the goodies of the Galaxy S III in a significantly smaller form-factor. However, the S III mini is more intriguing than your typical mid-range model, as it has the privilege of being named after one of the best and most popular Android phones around.

When we first caught wind of the S III mini, many thought that it'll still be a very high-end model, only with a smaller screen size. Now that all about the device is known, some seem to be disappointed by the phone's mid-range specs. To tell you the truth, we don't know why that is. We feel that the Galaxy S III mini is an awesome 4” smartphone with a lot of potential and very few flaws. Let's examine it closely and see where it excels and where it falls short!


Isn't it obvious? The Samsung Galaxy S III mini's appearance is super-inspired by its bigger sibling, the Galaxy S III. If you don't look closely, you might even think that the S III mini is simply a shrunken version of the GS III, but that would be wrong. Thanks to some minor changes like moving the Home button a bit higher on the S III mini, Samsung has managed to achieve a more pleasing look. Overall, the handset is pretty good-looking, with its white version being perfect for women.

You can compare the Samsung Galaxy S III mini with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Thanks to the compact size and rounded edges, the Galaxy S III mini is extremely easy to hold and operate. Using it with one hand only is a joy and doesn't give you any sense of discomfort.

We guess we won't surprise anyone if we say that the phone's casing is entirely made of plastic. While can't find too many advantages to that, we kind of like the fact that Samsung has used a nice, glossy plastic, as opposed to a soft-touch matte finish that can often give you the feeling of dirty hands.

The physical buttons of the S III mini, which includes the Home, Volume and Lock keys, all function fairly well, although not perfectly. We would have liked them more if they were a bit “clickier,” especially the Lock key. The metallic border that is around the Home key also makes pressing it a bit uncomfortable, but this is being close to nitpicking now.

By the way, we aren't fans of how the capacitive Menu and Back buttons completely disappear when they aren't lit up. This is also present in the Galaxy S III, and, well, we guess that you get used to it at some point, but it simply doesn't feel very “natural,” or... normal.


So, the most interesting thing here should be the 4” screen size of the Galaxy S III mini. We have to say that we quite like it. In fact, it seems perfect for most basic stuff that one can do on a smartphone, like using the organizer features, browser, camera, etc. Well, if you are a heavy user, who plays a lot of games, or watches a lot of video, or simply uses their smartphone as their main computer, then we'd recommend getting something with a bigger screen, like the GS III or One X or Note II, but in most other scenarios, where you're using your phone as a phone, organizer, social networking device, some web browsing and the occasional game, we think the 4” display of the S III mini is big enough to provide a comfortable experience.

One of the things that people didn't like about the S III mini is the WVGA (480 x 800) resolution. Sure, it won't blow you away, especially when 'HD' screen have almost made their way to mid-range devices nowadays, but one thing we have to note here is that what's important is pixel density, not the resolution itself. In the case of the GS III mini, the pixel density is 233 ppi which means that almost everything on the screen is fine-looking. It's certainly not a Retina Display, but it's still good enough to provide a comfortable experience. So, it's not right to simply compare resolutions; you have to factor in the eventual difference in screen sizes as well.

One thing that certainly isn't helping this display is its PenTile pixel arrangement. Because of that, one can notice individual pixels easily if they look closely at the screen. Some colors are particularly prone to appearing dotted due to the PenTile matrix. All in all, though, as we said above, the experience is still pleasant.

The S III mini's display uses the Super AMOLED tech, which means that its colors are very saturated, while the contrast levels are really high. It's one vivid, yet somewhat unnatural screen. Outdoor visibility isn't very good, just like on most other AMOLED screens. If you shield the display with your hand, though, you'll be able to make out the stuff on screen.



80. Reese22

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 26, 2014

"Thanks to some minor changes like moving the Home button a bit higher on the S III mini, Samsung has managed to achieve a more pleasing look. Overall, the handset is pretty good-looking, with its white version being perfect for women." Just posing a question, why is the white version better for women?

78. Charlie_boy

Posts: 71; Member since: Jan 04, 2013

The phones with specs that come close to this would be HTC's One VX and One SV.. The mid-range Samsung S III gets an 8.9 while the (supposedly) entry-level HTC One VX gets only 7.5 Why is that?

79. Charlie_boy

Posts: 71; Member since: Jan 04, 2013

Edit: The mid-range Samsung S III "Mini" gets an 8.9

75. heliorodrigues

Posts: 3; Member since: Dec 08, 2012

well i need to say the xperia T and P are better then this phone... and believe me i am not sony fan. I found quiet strange how the only disadvantage's from this phone are the Video recording is so-so and the physical buttons could be better, because i found more... this phone is away worst them the original SIII

72. Varyar

Posts: 5; Member since: Oct 22, 2012

Usually PA points at top of the screen and says what are the sensors available, what not... Whather it has scratch resistant/gorilla glass or not... etc etc... Why was it ignored? Why did PA not mention that it does not have ambient light sensor? PA, this is not good. You are skipping many bad things and just boosting the positives.

69. HarryWild

Posts: 60; Member since: Oct 18, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S III mini should of keep the high end specs of the bigger model instead of dumbing it down to crap! Just reminds me of the Apple debacle of the iPad mini! Shame on you Samsung!


Posts: 100; Member since: Nov 30, 2011

Please tell me how this phone got a 8.9 out of 10 and the RAZR HD got a 8.5? Ive played with every one of these phones and I garuntee the HD is the best out ATM

63. spiderpig2894

Posts: 597; Member since: Jan 10, 2012

The rating burned my eyes and gave me cancer. *sigh*

59. shac78

Posts: 7; Member since: Jun 18, 2012

cmon! better than xperia p!? i dont think so! why are you seem to hate sony so much!?

55. iDroid8

Posts: 155; Member since: Oct 16, 2012

all people ranting here about how this phone got an 8.9 seem to be pissed off by d fact dat xperia T got a lower score d thing is dat dis is a better mid range device offering more value fr money compare dis a INR 20k device wid jellybean on launch vs a 30K+device with ics

56. iDroid8

Posts: 155; Member since: Oct 16, 2012

Also it wud be nice if sum1 helped me in choosing b/w this n d s adv. S3M ovr SGSA: -jelly bean out of box -btr design(especially d audio jack) -more s/w features like smart stay n all -nfc in all models(I9070P is hard to come by where i live) SGSA ovr S3M: -ambient light sensor -adobe flash -cheaper(n most probably price will drop aftr this is launched here) Anyone?

57. No_Nonsense unregistered

Adobe flash is being slowly phased out. JB is coming to SGSA this year. NFC is optional in SGSA, smart stay and few others are just gimmicks, not much of practical usage. Better design is subjective. SGS3M is nothing but SGSA, the name makes it a lion but in reality it's nothing but a lamb. On the other hand, SGSA is terrible. Too many problems, one of my friends has it and every week he comes with a new problem.

70. iDroid8

Posts: 155; Member since: Oct 16, 2012

why do i get a thumbs down(actually 2) on a simple ques.?

71. nyuvo

Posts: 72; Member since: May 10, 2012

Because of your bad/unreadable spelling I'm guessing. English is my first language and I can barely comprehend what "b/w this n d s adv" means. On another note - I would suggest you get this phone because it has the Galaxy s3 branding on it you are likely to get updates in the future. Also have you considered Motorola RAZR M? It has much better hardware and has been promised Jelly bean by the end of the year. Also it should get good support in the future as Google now owns Motorola.

73. iDroid8

Posts: 155; Member since: Oct 16, 2012

okay-thats a single instance only, forced by lack of time-even my other comments on this post are in a better english and razr m is out of contention due to the high price btw(hope you understand this atleast) i am most probably getting an s advance as soon as i get hold of the nfc version P.S.- an american thing called facebook is the sole source of my 'bad/unreadable english' :p

62. jellmoo

Posts: 2701; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Dear lord... I'm sorry but this is driving me crazy. If anyone else is having trouble reading this, I put together a rough translation. I am assuming the following: d = the dat = that dis = this fr = for wid = with Most of that time I don't stress about spelling and grammar mistakes on the internet, but to actually put forth an effort to intentionally misspell words? Why???

66. iDroid8

Posts: 155; Member since: Oct 16, 2012

i found d and dat, which were used to save time. where exactly did u find 'dis',' fr', and 'wid'? btw other translations specially for u wud-would sum1-someone ovr-over btr-better s/w-software all these were also put for the same reason And thank u for provided help, No_Nonsense i also had the same opinion about "S-features" specially as v4.1 brings better Google Voice Flash i prefer-even if it's being phased out and what about nfc, if i buy s adv here i dont get that but since its present in all sg3m's shouldn't that be better?


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

I think this was a very fair review. 4 inches is a nice sweet spot and it doesn't come with a crappy low quality display like so many have before. Its performance is excellent thanks to its out of the box JB project butter experience. Decent phone quality, decent battery life, decent ppi, overall its a great phone you wouldn't expect from a mid ranged device.

51. xtremesv

Posts: 299; Member since: Oct 21, 2011

I reached the conclusion that Phonearena should descontinue the use of grades on their reviews. People don't comment about the review itself anymore but decimals in the grade.

49. Marcus_h

Posts: 44; Member since: Apr 21, 2012

I don't get it - this has a lower grade screen and camera than the HTC One S and the Xperia P, and apart from Jelly Bean, why does it get a better score than those other two? As the other two are a little older, they are cheap - Xperia P can be had for £10 p/m in the UK

39. Izzy_V

Posts: 216; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

I bet as soon as PA found out it had "Samsung Galaxy S3" in the name it was an automatic +8 for this phone. After all they ruined a lot of reviews during the time the S3 was being released. Anything non-Samsung couldn't even get close to an 8, aside from the N7.

30. loli5

Posts: 76; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

4" screen?! apple will not stand for it, that is EXACTLY like the iphone! ......... ...... ....DERP!

25. verty

Posts: 132; Member since: May 07, 2012

I think I will not read any article by Ray S again. He is so biased. Sammy reigns supreme!!!

20. RaKithAPeiRiZ

Posts: 1488; Member since: Dec 29, 2011

8.9 is kind of high but its reasonable since this has jellybean and a removable battery over the new Xperia lineup

24. vignesh_viggs

Posts: 34; Member since: Jun 15, 2012

Ho..i Heard iphone has new feature of non-removable battery...& get 9 star in P.A

19. Dro

Posts: 27; Member since: Dec 23, 2009

If this gets an 8.9 then the Razr m & i should both get 10. Seriously!

54. nyuvo

Posts: 72; Member since: May 10, 2012

My thoughts exactly. Razr m has so many important things going for it: -its smaller in every dimension and has a larger screen with many more pixels -Has an s4 processor which is only beaten by a few devices -Crazy battery life (see gsmarena battery tests) -Higher quality build with aluminium, glass and kevlar. Only negative to this phone is that: -Android 4.0 (update will come to the phone before the end of 2013) -No s-voice/google now feature until 4.1 update -non removable battery So how does razr m get a 8.5 and get beaten by this poor performing gs3 mini. I really think that the razr m should have beaten this - perhaps when its gets the 4.1 update phonearena will do another review

18. PhansMuneeb

Posts: 371; Member since: Jan 28, 2012

Woo woo woo...see what i got on gsmarena. SGS Advance has STE U8500 Chipset While SGSIII Mini has NovaThor U8420 Chipset.

16. rickywinataa

Posts: 262; Member since: Apr 05, 2012

This is totally biased. Xperia T is a great phone overall & it got 8 out of 10. This is almost the same as S advance and it got 8.9 Htc one S was launched at the beginning of the year & yet for a mid end phone it is still a much better phone than s3 mini

15. slaggyb

Posts: 218; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

I have read the whole review and still wondering why 8.9 is awarded to this phone? Mediocre processor. The galaxy s ii is still 10times better with or without jelly bean. who's still making phones with wvga resolution when 1280x720 is becoming standard. Just cos is branded as galaxy s iii mini doesn't make it special in anyway.. This site is gradually transforming from iphonearena to samsungarena smh!.
Galaxy S III mini
  • Display 4.0 inches
    800 x 480 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP (Single camera)
    0.3 MP VGA front
  • Hardware STE U8420, 1GB RAM
  • Storage 16GB, microSDHC
  • Battery 1500 mAh
  • OS Android 4.1.2
    Samsung TouchWiz UI

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