Billed as a smaller version of its powerful flagship smartphone, Samsung's Galaxy S4 Mini is nothing short of a land grab.
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Samsung announced a new Galaxy-branded smartphone Thursday, cheerfully called the Galaxy S4 Mini. Samsung is marketing the Mini as a "compact" and "powerful" smartphone that delivers all the performance of the GS4 in a smaller, more portable form factor. Please. The Galaxy S4 Mini is a midrange handset on which Samsung has slapped its premier name in an attempt to help boost potential sales.
Until now, Samsung's Galaxy S devices have always been about pushing the envelope, about cutting-edge features, about the top-shelf smartphone experience. Samsung already has shipped 10 million units of the GS4, which it announced earlier this year. The GS4 is the fourth-generation Galaxy S smartphone and it leads the market in features. It has a five-inch, full-HD display, a 13-megapixel camera, and a quad-core processor (eight cores in some markets). Samsung crammed so much technology into the GS4, it's hard to believe it all fit into a device that measures only 7.9 mm thick.
The Galaxy S4 Mini violates that principle by dialing back all the key features.
First, the screen. The Mini's display measures 4.3 inches across the diagonal. The screen size has to be smaller in order to reduce the footprint of the device enough for it to earn the Mini moniker, but Samsung also dropped the resolution from 1080p HD to qHD (960 x 540 pixels). That's a huge drop in the number of pixels. Surely Samsung has some decent 720p displays it could have used instead.
Next up, the camera. The GS4's camera is among the best available on a modern smartphone. The Mini scales back the GS4's 13-megapixel sensor to 8 megapixels, which is the same camera resolution Samsung offered on last year's flagship device. It wouldn't be surprising to learn that it is the same sensor. Megapixels aren't everything, but Samsung is still diluting the GS4 experience.
The processor is another major letdown. The U.S. version of the GS4 boasts a blazing fast 1.9-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor. The international version uses Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa eight-core processor. The Snapdragon 600 chip, in particular, is impressive in its speed and power. The Mini loses two cores and some clock speed. Its processor rates 1.7 GHz and includes only two cores. The amount of RAM has also been dropped from 2 GB in the GS4 to 1.5 GB in the Mini, as has the amount of internal storage from a minimum of 16 GB to 8 GB.
Though Samsung cut back on the raw specs of the Mini, it managed to keep many of the same applications and software features that give the GS4 its personality. Some of those include ChatOn, Samsung's video discovery service; S Health, for monitoring diet and activity; S translator, for translating spoken and written languages; and Samsung Hub, for purchasing media content.
The Mini will come in several different wireless configurations depending on the market in which it is sold. There will be a 3G variant for Asian markets that has two SIM card slots, as well as a version for European and presumably North American markets that supports LTE 4G. Samsung did not announce pricing and availability.
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