The Samsung Galaxy S4 mini offers top notch in-call audio and managed to hold onto reception with ease. Earpiece volume is great and Samsung has even gone as far as adding an in-call equalizer, which does wonders if you want an even louder experience.
Native video calls are available as well, right in the phone app.
The Galaxy S4 mini has Smart Dial, which searches names and numbers simultaneously. Only one contact is shown (with contact photo) and you can tap the down arrow to view the rest of the matches (the number above the arrow indicates how many contacts have matched your query).
Direct Call is available too and lets you dial a number by lifting the phone up to your ear while browsing contacts or reading/composing a message.
Voice dialing is at hand and taken care of by the S Voice service, which activates on a double tap of the home button. All you need to say is "Hi Galaxy" and speak your command (e.g. "call Dexter"). It takes a while to process voice commands but it has more uses than other voice-recognition apps for Android.
The call log is the tab next to the dial pad. It displays all the dialed, received and missed calls in one list sorting your call history by contacts.
Thanks to the proximity sensor, your screen will automatically turn off when you hold it next to your ear during a call. The available options during a call include taking a note, using the keypad, muting, holding the call or adding another person to the conversation.
The dialer also offers quick shortcuts for making a video call or sending a message instead.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 mini's loudspeaker scored an Average mark, so it might be a good idea to check periodically your phone for missed events. You can find more about the testing process here.
|Apple iPhone 5
|Nokia Lumia 920
|Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
The messaging department is quite straightforward: a list of all your messages organized into threads with a Compose message button in the top right.
There's application-specific search that lets you quickly find a given message among all your stored SMS and MMS.
Swiping on a message header will do exactly the same as in the phonebook - a right swipe starts a call, while a left swipe starts a new message.
To add message recipients, just start typing the corresponding name or number and choose from the contacts offered.
The keyboard of the Galaxy S4 mini doesn't have an additional numeric row above the letter keys because of the small screen and lower resolution. The layout is pretty much the same as what we used to see in the third generation of Galaxies.
There's also a Swype-like mode which tracks your finger and guesses the word you're trying to type. This feature works great but has limited language support.
Additional input methods include a regular numpad and Voice, which can work even offline if you've downloaded the required language files.
Adding any multimedia content to the message automatically turns into an MMS. You can either quickly add a photo or an audio file to go with the text or compose an MMS using all the available features (like multiple slides, slide timing, layout, etc.). The multiple slides are all shown inside the compose box.
Samsung has left a lot of room for customizing your messaging experience. You can choose from different speech bubble patterns and background, and can use the volume keys to increase or decrease the font in conversations.
When you're composing a new message you can use the Translate option to translate it into another language. The same goes for messages you've received. This feature probably won't see much use but it's there you ever need it.
What will come in good use, however, is the Direct call (again) feature. When you are reading a message from someone, their number will be automatically dialed by just lifting the handset up to your face.
Just like the dialer, the Messaging app has built-in spam filter. You can block some numbers (or all unknown numbers) and even add specific phrases to be blocked.
The new Gmail app now displays contact images in mails. If an email has multiple recipients, they're shown in a grid similar to the Hangouts app. If there is no contact image, it just shows the first letter of the sender against a color background. You can disable sender images in the email app if you wish.
Gmail v4.5 also includes the four new inbox options. You can have your mail sorted by Primary, Social, Promotions and Updates as you can on Gmail web, which makes it easy to keep track of your mail.
The Samsung Email app can handle multiple POP or IMAP inboxes. You have access to the messages in the original folders that are created online, side by side with the standard local ones such as inbox, drafts and sent items.
Hangouts, the ex-GTalk client, handles the Instant Messaging department. The new app offers group video chats, emojis, photo exchange, history sync across multiple devices, and a completely new UI design. It's available on iOS as well.