Samsung Galaxy S5 mini review: Big enough

GSMArena team, 17 August 2014.
Pages: 12345678910

Tags: Samsung, Android

Introduction

With two Galaxy S minis under its belt, Samsung has set off on a quest for a third, hopefully more successful version of its current flagship. But the rules have changed and Samsung has finally stopped ignoring this fact. While Sony flipped the mini game into a compact battle with higher stakes Samsung continued pushing minis that only look like their bigger counterparts but don't offer nearly as much in terms of specs.

The Galaxy S4 mini was the last attempt and it wasn't up to the task. It offered lower than Retina-grade pixel density, an inferior chipset and overwhelming price to finalize a product that didn't stand too well next to the Galaxy S4.



Samsung Galaxy S5 mini

The Galaxy S5 upped the ante even further and now Samsung had to finally equip the mini accordingly so it's up to the challenge. This year's mini, the Galaxy S5 mini, has a bigger Super AMOLED and has finally passed the HD and 300ppi barrier. The camera is still 8 MP, which is half of what the Galaxy S5 offers but the water resistant body, the IR blaster, the gimmicky hear-rate monitor and the fingerprint scanner are all there. The design is the same as well and the S5 mini comes in all four color options.

As with all compact versions of their prime phones there are cutbacks here and there - manufacturers don't like it when their flagship has a contender, especially from within. See if you can spot those cutbacks in the list below.

Key features

  • Optional Dual SIM version available
  • LTE connectivity
  • 4.5" 1280 x 720 Super AMOLED display with 326 ppi
  • Android OS v4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz UI
  • Quad-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A7 processor, Exynos 3 Quad 3470 chipset, Mali-400MP4 GPU, 1.5GB of RAM
  • 16GB built-in storage, microSD card slot
  • 8MP camera with LED flash, 2.1MP front-facing camera, 1080p video recording
  • IP67 certification for dust and water resistance
  • Fingerprint scanner with PayPal payments support and private mode access
  • Heart-rate monitor
  • Motion and gesture features, Air view
  • 2,100mAh battery

Main disadvantages

  • Uncompetitive price at launch
  • No TV-Out option (MHL is not supported)
  • Only the LTE variant has NFC
  • Lacks in-call noise-cancellation

The screen resolution isn't as fabulous at 720p, the screen is obviously smaller at 4.5", the chipset is probably the biggest setback from the impressive Snapdragon 801, the camera is a lower resolution (twice as low) and the price (at the moment of writing) is uncompetitive placing the Galaxy S5 mini at a disadvantage against its main rivals.

But the characteristics that have shaped the Galaxy S5 as one of the hottest smartphones of the year are all there - the water resistance will be loved by many and it puts the Galaxy S5 mini at equal footing with the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and above the HTC One mini 2. The heart rate monitor won't be a deciding factor for most people but the IR blaster may just tip the scaled in its favor.

Specs aside, the S5 mini is identical to the Samsung Galaxy S5, only smaller. Samsung has nailed the look and feel of the device and matched it with the mini - that's the main thing the company had to do. Most people crave for the flagship but end up buying the more affordable mini version. Rest assured, the feeling is the same save for the lack of the market-leading specs.

Indeed, the Galaxy S5 mini does look the part but the price is higher than what seems reasonable. On one hand it has a lot of quality features on its side but on the other so do its rivals - some of them having even more.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini at HQ

The Galaxy S5 mini will target many people - those that still think a phone shouldn't be a burden on the pocket, those that want a water-resistant phone, those that want a water resistant compact-sized phone and those that want a Galaxy S5 but cheaper or smaller. It's a broad spectrum of users and each with their own criteria of what a good phone purchase should feel like.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini can prove as good as a mini Galaxy S5 and that's ok. Or it can prove to be more - let's check it out.

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