The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini runs on the latest available Android 4.4.2 KitKat customized by the most recent incarnation of TouchWiz for smartphones, which we saw premiere on the Galaxy S5. Samsung has added multiple features that increase productivity and enhance security.
The lockscreen is a no-widget affair. More importantly, you can now fingerprint-secure it - the Galaxy S5 mini can be set to recognize up to three fingerprints. If those fail for some reason (e.g. wet fingers), the phone will ask for a password so you'll never get locked out.
The homescreen features the My Magazine that displays both news articles and social networking updates. This is powered by Flipboard and you can enjoy your reads in a clean interface and send links to your friends or post social updates straight from the app.
Categories (e.g. News, Business, Facebook) are displayed as tiles, each displaying its top article. You can reorder and hide the tiles. Once inside an article, you can browse more articles in that category with the familiar Flipboard effect.
There are regular homescreens too, with shortcuts, widgets and folders. If you want just those, My Magazine can be disabled completely.
The notification area is similar to what we've seen on Galaxy S5 with its flat design and circular icons. The toggles work as usual and below them are two buttons (S Finder and Quick connect) and below that is the brightness slider, which can be hidden to save space, but you're stuck with the two buttons.
There's a new feature called Recommended apps, which adds relevant shortcuts when an accessory is plugged, like the headphones.
In the app drawer, icons are presented as a customizable or alphabetized grid and you can also view only the ones you've downloaded yourself. You can also disable some of the pre-installed apps so they won't take any RAM or appear in the app drawer. You can also hide icons to keep the drawer from getting cluttered.
The Galaxy S5 mini has an App Switcher button that calls up a custom switcher UI. As usual, you can go into the task manager for more advanced controls.
There are no floating apps here, but there's something called Toolbox - a floating icon that shows a list of shortcuts once tapped. This is a quick way to get to some of the most commonly used apps.
Since this is a smaller-screened Galaxy there's no Multi Window on board.
Aside from the standard TouchWiz home there is another homescreen mode - Easy mode. It shows only a handful of large shortcuts on the screen. The step counter is also visible on the homescreen, so this mode is meant for when you're out on a run and aiming for tiny icons is too hard.
Private mode secures photos and other files with your fingerprint (any of the three prints set up, with the password as a failsafe). Those files are only accessible when Private mode is enabled and completely hidden from apps otherwise.
Samsung has enabled two power-saving modes as well. The first makes the screen black and white and limits the chipset speed. Optionally it can block background data too.
If you really need to make those last few percent battery charge last, you go to Ultra power saving mode. This one cuts off all advanced functions and even changes the homescreen to a simple one with big shortcuts (only 6 of them too).
The Galaxy S5 mini features both Google Now and Samsung's S Voice. Google Now integrates with your Google account and can access your daily routine, internet searches, email, etc. and give you information relevant to your interests and daily needs.
S Voice is meant for just voice commands. It can be used to dictate text, play music, open an app, change a setting, make a memo (including voice memo), add a reminder, schedule an event, set an alarm or timer, check the weather, do a search on the internet, look for local listings (e.g. nearby restaurants) and even get an answer to a question.