In Samsung's playbook, a mini version of the top smartphone is typically the first new addition to a flagship's fleet. Sticking close to a proven formula, the Galaxy S4 mini is a downsized and down-priced edition, but one that certainly wants to live its own life instead of just being the poor man's S4.
The other flavors of the flagship - the Galaxy S4 Active and the Galaxy S4 Zoom - are more or less niche versions, while the S4 mini should probably have broader appeal. Some of the top end features are obviously missing, both hardware and software wise, but it's a package that has plenty to offer to users who don't necessarily have to have the latest technology.
Samsung decided to stick to Super AMOLED for the new 4.3-inch display, but lowered the resolution to qHD (540 x 960 px). The chipset that powers the Galaxy S4 mini is Qualcomm's latest midrange offering - the Snapdragon 400 - with a dual-core 1.7GHz Krait processor and Adreno 305, which is the low-end member of the latest generation of graphic chips integrated into Snapdragon SoCs.
The still camera has also been downgraded - but 8MP of resolution is actually nothing to frown at. Some of the premium shot modes are missing, but it's still a very capable shooter, with HDR, panoramas, photos with audio, etc. And it does 1080p videos of course.
Finally, the Galaxy S4 mini is powered by the same software combo as the flagship: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and the latest TouchWiz UI.
As the Galaxy S4 mini lacks some of the sensors, the cool Air Gestures are not enabled. The Air View is not an option either, along with the Multi-View split screen feature. What the Galaxy S4 mini offers over the flagship S4 is an FM radio, a feature that the intended market is likely to appreciate.
Overall, the Galaxy S4 mini copies the original design to a T, but has to do without some of the premium features and last-gen hardware of its greater sibling. It's a compact and more affordable alternative - and aiming to be one that many people end up buying. Let's see what its chances are.
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