Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini review: The Halfling

GSMArena team, 28 November 2012.
Pages: 123456789101112

S Voice and Google Now

Samsung released S Voice as an answer to Siri before Google came out with its own solution in Google Now. S Voice is the culmination of Samsung's ongoing effort at integrating voice commands into the Android experience, an effort which goes back to the days of Vlingo. You may remember the voice activation (saying "Hi Galaxy" to trigger S Voice).

S Voice can do the usual - search the web, make calls, send texts (which Android natively supports and so does Vlingo), but you can also use it instead of the notification area toggles, answer or reject incoming calls, start the camera and take a photo, control the music player and FM radio and stop or snooze alarms all with voice commands.

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S Voice has plenty of options

It's also a tool for quickly looking up facts - it's powered by Wolfram Alpha (which handles some of Siri's answers too). It has an enormous database covering topics ranging from Culture and Media to Physics. S Voice can also be used as a calculator.

Samsung has decided to keep S Voice alongside Google's solution as the two do differ in functionality. Jelly Bean has the unspoken Google Now info cards, but it also brought Google's Knowledge Graph, which can answer factual questions.

Google Voice Actions can handle stuff like sending messages (SMS or email), initiating a voice call, asking for directions, taking a note or opening a site. Since the latest update came, Google Now can also launch apps, check and manage your calendar and look for nearby places of interest and stuff like movie openings in theaters.

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Asking Google's Knowledge Graph a question

One big advantage of Google's Jelly Bean is that the voice typing functionality doesn't require an internet connection to work. You can enter text by speaking anywhere you can use the on-screen keyboard - be it the Messaging app or a note taking app - without the need for a data connection as long as you have pre-downloaded the needed language packs (and those only take about 20-25MB of your storage per pack).

Making voice typing available offline also made it faster as it's not dependent on your connection. What's even more impressive is that the transition hasn't cost it anything in terms of accuracy.

Synthetic benchmarks

The Samsung Galaxy S III mini doesn't use an Exynos chipset or a Snapdragon S4 like the big S III. Instead it has a NovaThor U8500 chipset with two Cortex-A9 cores at 1GHz, 1GB of RAM and a Mali-400 GPU.

The older CPU design and relatively low clock speed keep the S III mini from advancing too much when it comes to single-threaded performance (indicated by Benchmark Pi).

Quadrant scales better and while the Galaxy S III mini is no match for the quad-core flagships, it does well for itself.

Benchmark Pi

Lower is better

  • HTC One S
    306
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    372
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
    447
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
    452
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    499
  • Samsung Galaxy S Advance
    530
  • HTC Sensation XE
    536
  • Sony Xperia S
    536
  • Sony Xperia sola
    551
  • HTC Desire X
    639

Quadrant

Higher is better

  • HTC One X+
    7632
  • LG Optimus G
    7439
  • HTC One X
    5952
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    5916
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    5450
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    5170
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    4814
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2644

The NovaThor uses a lower-end configuration of Mali-400 compared to Exynos, so the S III mini lags behind the S II in NenaMark 2 even though they are competing at equal resolution.

It doesn't really have the oomph to render 720p either. Not that it has the display for it, but high-end 3D games might not run all that smoothly.

NenaMark 2

Higher is better

  • HTC One S
    60.5
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    55.3
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
    51.6
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
    43.6
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    38.9
  • Sony Xperia S
    37.5
  • HTC Desire X
    35.4
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
    28.7
  • Sony Xperia sola
    27.7

GLBenchmark 2.1 Egypt (720p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • LG Optimus G
    113
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    105
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    99
  • HTC One X
    64
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    16

When it comes to JavaScript performance, Jelly Bean has plenty of optimizations and the Galaxy S III mini keeps up with higher-end dual-cores in SunSpider. The mini isn't too far behind the quad-core Galaxy S III in BrowserMark 2, which scored pretty low on this test. Some optimizations to the software might improve things.

SunSpider

Lower is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    1171
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
    1626
  • HTC One S
    1708
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
    1849
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    1888
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2217
  • HTC Desire X
    2259
  • Sony Xperia S
    2587
  • Samsung Galaxy S Advance
    2663
  • Sony Xperia sola
    2837

BrowserMark 2

Higher is better

  • LG Optimus G
    2555
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1877
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    1760
  • Samsung Omnia W
    1632
  • Samsung Galaxy S III (JB)
    1247
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    714
  • Sony Xperia J
    587
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