Weekly Poll: Would You Buy a “Mini” Smartphone?

Samsung has just announced its Galaxy S3 Mini device in an event in Germany. The new phone sports the same signature design as its bigger sibling, the Galaxy S3, but drops all the specs to fit in a significantly more compact device.

With a smaller 4″ screen at 800×400 pixels, a slower dual-core 1.2GHz processor, a less impressive 5MP camera, and a smaller 1700mAh battery, the S3 Mini seems to shed a lot of power and keep the only features that made the S3 so iconic: its design and its human and nature inspired themes.

This isn’t however the first time that a “Mini” equivalent of a popular smartphone is released. The Galaxy S2 Mini comes to mind, and the practice was even tried in 2009 when Nokia announced the N97 Mini, a smaller version of its flagship N97. Obviously, companies want to build on their success stories and milk the cash cow as much as they could. A “Mini” version appeals, as it sports the same name and hence the same halo effect as the original device, all while giving access to a smaller price category and providing a brand entry point to a new category of customers.

Personally, I believe that even though this will prove to be a popular choice for Samsung, it isn’t a smart decision for someone to buy this particular Mini iteration. It’s not the “Mini” naming that turns me down, but the fact that the specs fail to impress, even for a mid-level smartphone, and don’t offer any significant change or advantage over the sibling. By comparison, when I got the N97 Mini back in 2009, it had more internal storage and more RAM than the N97 and had fixed a few other problems, making it a worthy investment. With the S3 Mini, you don’t get the HD screen or the great camera that the S3 offer, so you’re eventually buying the same specs as any smartphone circa 2010-2011 and only paying for the brand instead of the device itself.

  • Graham

    The N97 mini wasn’t much of a compromise when compared to the N97. It literally was just a smaller version. Stuff like the Galaxy S III Mini is just a low end phone with the look and branding of the company’s flagship device. I would buy a 4″ phone but not any of the current ‘mini’ devices because the hardware isn’t very impressive.

    • http://www.ritaelkhoury.com/ Rita El Khoury

      Yup, that’s exactly my point. The N97 Mini was smaller, yet managed to remain in the same league as the N97, whereas the S3 Mini is just riding the bandwagon of the S3 design and brand with a totally different device. There are much better 4″ and 4.3″ offerings out there, that are way more interesting and worthy of the money.

  • Mark Herrick

    I have the original S3. Could never imagine a smaller phone now. It’s perfect. Not huge like a galaxy note and not tiny like apples 4S.

    • http://www.ritaelkhoury.com/ Rita El Khoury

      I agree. I also have the original S3, and every single other screen looks tiny by comparison, making me feel claustrophobic. 4.8″ is such a sweet spot in terms of screen estate / single-handed use / still can be held against the ear like a phone.

  • Craig

    Smaller being less powerful is likely due to trying to keep the power envelope down (battery life up) with the requirement of a smaller battery… but really, if the screen is the huge consumer of power, that’s the main spec they should be dropping (give us a third core that turns off most of the time, or is uber low power, so we still have performance available to us!)

    The one “smaller” phone I did like the idea of was the Xperia Active… I’d accept lower specs to have a compact yet robust (waterproof/dustproof/impact resistant) phone for when I’m more active [which is not what these phones mentioned above are delivering]

  • Nick

    What I don’t understand is why companies seem to equate bigger-screened phones with higher-end markets. While obviously a big screen is nicer to look at and would cost more, there’s nothing to suggest it should mean a specs compromise for smaller-screened devices.

    The problem with Samsung’s “Mini” approach is that they’ve confused catering for people who like smaller screen with catering for people on a budget. It’s not the same thing. Some people want a bigger screen phone on a budget, and some people want a high-end phone that fits their hand a little better.

    I’m one such person – I want a higher-end phone, but 4.7/4.8 screens just don’t fit my hand quite right. So I went hunting for a great 4.3-inch phone – but it seems that post-Galaxy S2, there’s no such thing as a flagship 4.3-incher anymore. So I settled for the One S, which has a 4.3-inch screen but with specs that aren’t quite budget-level (though not really flagship either).