Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini review: The Halfling

GSMArena team, 28 November 2012.

Stock gallery with a pinch of TouchWiz

The Samsung Galaxy S III mini comes with the default Jelly Bean Gallery, which as you'd imagine has been treated to some TouchWiz flavor. It opens up in Albums view, which is what we're used to seeing - it lists all folders with photos in the phone. Rather than the familiar stacks, the app uses a grid of photos, two on a line.

Besides, Album view, photos can also be sorted by Location, Time, Person (photos with tagged faces) and Group.

Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review
The Gallery app

Getting inside an album displays all the photos in a rectangular grid, which is horizontally scrollable. When you try to scroll past the end, the photo thumbnails will tilt to remind you you're at the bottom of the list.

When viewing a single photo, you'll find several sharing shortcuts and a delete button above the photo, while below is a line of small thumbnails of all other photos in the album. You can tap those small thumbnails to move to other images or you can just swipe to the side.

Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review
Viewing a single photo • Simple editing options

The Gallery also supports highly customizable slideshows with several effects to choose from, as well as customizable music and speed. You can also highlight specific images to be included in the slideshow.

When viewing a photo with people's faces in it, the Galaxy S III mini will try to detect them automatically (and you can manually highlight faces where it fails). Buddy photo share will use your contacts' profiles to try and recognize who is who automatically.

Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review
Putting a name to the face • Manually marking a face

Social tag makes sure that whenever a face is recognized in the photo, their status message appears and you can easily call or message that contact.

Music player with SoundAlive

The Galaxy S III mini utilizes the same TouchWiz-clad music player, as its bigger brother, the Galaxy S III. Samsung has enabled equalizer presets (including a custom one) along with the sound-enhancing SoundAlive technology, which features 7.1 channel virtualization. The company also uses SoundAlive in some of their MP3 and Android-powered media players.

Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review
SoundAlive offers an extensive list of presets • creating a custom preset

Music is sorted into various categories, but the most interesting one is called Music square - it's quite similar to the SensMe feature of Sony Ericsson phones. It automatically rates a song as exciting or calm, passionate or joyful and plots those songs on a square (hence the name).

Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review
Music square creates automatic playlists based on your mood •

From here, you can highlight an area of the square and the phone will automatically build a playlist of songs that matches your selection.

Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review
The music player has benefited greatly from the TouchWiz UI

You can swipe the album art left and right to move between songs. You can also put the phone face down to mute the sound or place your palm over the screen to pause playback.

The Galaxy S III mini player is DLNA-enabled, so you're not limited to tracks on your handset - songs on devices connected to your Wi-Fi network are as easy to get to as locally stored songs.

If you've enabled the Motion gestures, you can mute and pause a track by placing the phone face down.

Great video player gets slightly demoted

Samsung has put what is easily the best default video player on the Samsung Galaxy S III mini. It offers several view modes - grid, list, folders and nearby devices (which accesses DLNA devices).

The grid view shows static video thumbnails (unlike the mini's more powerful siblings, which animate the thumbnails).

The video player on the S III mini does feature Pop up play - it moves the video in a small floating window and you can use other apps on the phone while still watching the video. You can pinch-zoom the video to adjust its size.

Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review
Browsing the video gallery • The pop up play can be resized

The video player lets you choose between three view modes for how the video fits the screen (fit to screen, fill screen, 100% resolution). The SoundAlive audio-enhancing technology is available here too.

Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review
The video player has a simple interface but is quite capable

Samsung's video player typically has extensive codec support, though the lower-power chipset on the S III mini has led to some limitations. It can play AVI (XviD), MP4 and WMV files up to 720p resolution. DivX doesn't work though, MKV files are not recognized and DTS and AC3 audio won't play.

The video player lets you squeeze the best viewing experience out of the screen - you can adjust video brightness, Auto play next, play speed, SoundAlive and enable subtitles.

The Samsung Galaxy S III mini made a good impression when it offered us a list of subtitles and let us pick. It scans for all subtitles, so the file doesn't have to have the same name as the video file.

Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review
Tweaking the video playback

FM Radio with RDS, broadcast recording

The Galaxy S III mini is equipped with an FM radio with RDS too. The interface is simple - there's a tuning dial and you can save as many as 12 stations as favorites. You can also play on the loudspeaker, but the headset is still needed as it acts as the antenna. You can record radio broadcasts as well.

Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini Review
The FM radio app

Decent audio output

The Samsung Galaxy S III mini audio output isn't as good as that of its bigger brother. However, that doesn't mean that it's bad - in fact when connected to an active external amplifier the smartphone got excellent scores all over the field, with no weak points whatsoever. Volume levels were about as good as on the full-sized S III, too.

When headphones come into play the distortion levels rise a bit and the stereo crosstalk spikes, but the rest of the readings remain pretty good. The volume levels are just average, but the overall performance is pretty solid, particularly for a mid-range device.

Check out the numbers and see for yourselves.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Samsung Galaxy S III mini+0.03, -0.04-82.182.00.012 0.024-80.7
Samsung Galaxy S III mini (headphones attached)+0.19, -0.13-82.582.40.444 0.305-53.4
Samsung Galaxy Premier+0.12, -0.05-82.982.90.016 0.025-82.2
Samsung Galaxy Premier (headphones attached)+0.16, -0.07-82.582.50.242 0.174-58.6
Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III+0.03, -0.05-90.390.30.012 0.018-92.6
Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III (headphones attached)+0.11, -0.04-90.290.20.0092 0.090-53.1
Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100+0.03, -0.04-90.290.10.0098 0.016-90.7
Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100 (headphones attached)+0.11, -0.06-90.189.20.0067 0.034-55.3
Sony Xperia T+0.11, -0.10-86.187.80.0230.023-84.1
Sony Xperia T (headphones attached)+0.43, -0.11-86.187.50.1400.260-62.7
Apple iPhone 5+0.06, -0.51-91.391.30.00150.0093-76.5
Apple iPhone 5 (headphones attached)+0.00, -0.26-90.690.60.00350.111-56.2

Samsung Galaxy S III mini frequency response
Samsung Galaxy S III mini frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

Next Page »