Samsung unveils 4 inch 'mini' version of Galaxy S III; Is it worth a buy?

12 Oct, 2012

Within six months of the official launch of Galaxy S III, Samsung has unveiled a compact version of the smartphone called Galaxy S III mini. This one features a 4 inch screen (compared to the 4.8 inch screen sported by S III) and according to the company, it is an optimal choice for users looking for 'more practical' smartphones (does it imply that S III is an 'impractical' device or a 'fancy' one, to be precise). But instead of getting into a debate, let us have a close look at the specs of the new version.

Galaxy S III mini comes with a 4 inch WVGA Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display (480x800 pixel resolution) and runs on the latest Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) operating system (with TouchWiz user interface). It is powered by a 1 GHz dual-core processor and has 1 GB of RAM. Users have the option to choose between 8 and 16 GB of internal storage, which can be expanded by 32 GB with a microSD card.

This version of the smartphone has a 5 MP autofocus rear camera with LED flash that can also record high definition (HD) videos (720p) at 30 frames per second (fps) and a VGA front-facing camera for video calling. On the other hand, the original S III has an 8 MP rear camera that can record full HD videos (1080p) at 30 fps and a 1.9 MP front-facing camera for video calls that can also record HD videos (720p) at 30 fps.

On the connectivity front, the device has Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi (with Wi-Fi hotspot) and 3G. It comes with a microSD card slot and stereo FM radio with RDS, GPS (with A-GPS support) and a suite of Google apps.

The 'mini' measures 121.5mm x 63mm x 9.8mm and weighs 111.5 gm, making it lighter than the S III by 21.5 gm. However, S III is still slightly thinner (by 1.25 mm) than its mini version. The new smartphone has a 1500 mAh battery (compared to a 2100 mAh battery in S III) and it should be available in the same colours as the S III (marble white and pebble blue). The company has also decided to keep Near Field Communication (NFC) in this device.

Also, the S III and the S III mini have a few common features. These include:

S Voice: Samsung's answer to Apple's Siri, a natural language UI that listens and responds to voice command. In addition to information search and basic device-user communication, S Voice allows users to 'snooze' alarms, play songs, turn the device volume up or down, send text and e-mail messages and automatically launches the camera, among others.

Smart stay: The front-facing camera identifies eye movement and maintains a bright display if a user is reading an e-book or browsing the web.

Direct Call: Enables you to dial automatically by simply lifting the phone to your ear while reading a text message from that number.

Smart Alert: Alerts you to missed calls or messages as soon as you pick up your phone.

S Beam: Lets you share a 10 MB music file in seconds by simply tapping on another S Beam-enabled device (including Galaxy S III or Note II), even without a Wi-Fi or cellular signal.

Additionally, the 'Buddy photo share' function allows photos to be simultaneously shared with all your friends directly from the camera or the photo gallery.

Since the new device runs on Jelly Bean, it will come with Google Now. This feature allows users to ask questions and get voice feedback on the same (similar to Apple's Siri) with additional information displayed in the form of cards. Moreover, it gets you just the right information at the right time (at least, that is what the company claims), which essentially means that it tells you all about today's weather before you start your day, the kind of traffic you can expect on your way to office or your favourite team's score when they are playing. If you are sitting in a new restaurant, it also suggests the dishes you might like, among other things.

One look at the specs and you realise that this is not a breath-taking device. However, it is not supposed to be one. The company has introduced S III mini for those who are not yet comfortable with large-screen devices and are looking for a smartphone that can be operated with just one hand (it's not possible if one is using S III or Note II). Also, considering that the big brother Galaxy S III is available in the market for Rs 34,900, this new smartphone should be in the price range of Rs 20,000-25,000.

But what can really make things interesting and give the competitors a run for their money is low pricing – especially if it is priced under Rs 18,000. Those who are looking for other Samsung products, let us tell you that late last month, the company launched Galaxy Note II in the Indian market for Rs 39,990 (now available for Rs 38,900). You can also expect to see the Galaxy Camera in the market by the end of this month.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)