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Galaxy S3

The Samsung Galaxy S4 was officially unveiled this week, and Connor covered most of the nitty gritty details in today’s This Week In Android. As a Galaxy S3 owner, I was looking forward to the event, and rather intrigued to see what my reaction would be.

Prior to the announcement, I told myself that the only “valid” reason for me to sell my still mint S3 — that I bought for almost $600 last September — and buy an S4 is the presence of a dual-SIM slot. Any other reason, I argued with myself, would be weak succumbing to new gadget lust rather than genuine improvement to my usage.

While I was rather disappointed to see that the dual-SIM S4 version seems to be a China-only variant, I was almost as equally relieved to find that my S3 is still quite relevant. It will get some of the software updates that the S4 has, it’s still one of the most popular smartphones on the planet and will be even more now that its price will drop, and it looks almost the same as the S4, meaning that I won’t feel silly being a phone geek yet carrying outdated hardware.

However, that’s not to say that the S4 is any disappointment in its own. The amount of better hardware that Samsung has managed to cram into the same footprint is impressive, the camera is better, the battery is bigger, and the processor and RAM have been bumped. Samsung also managed to add an InfraRed blaster and temperature and humidity sensors.

On the software side, Samsung distanced themselves from Android once again, adding more proprietary features. And while we could argue about the downsides all day, it all comes crashing when you’re a geek and know how to install Custom ROMs. I currently run my S3 with AOKP — a stock Android ROM — but I can also switch to the default Samsung ROM, or to a Samsung ROM that’s debloated and made to look like stock — Foxhound for instance. I would venture out that you’d be able to do the same with the S4, which means that you could either dip yourself into the Samsung services, or ignore them and stick to what you already use.

And eventually, the fact of the matter remains that Samsung will sell millions of Galaxy S4s. Will you be one of the buyers? Vote in the poll, and let us know your thoughts about the new Galaxy S device in the comments.

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.