Samsung's new mini smartphone offers most of the GS5's defining features, but power users will be disappointed.
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Samsung announced the Galaxy S5 Mini Tuesday. As its name implies, the Mini is a smaller version of the company's flagship smartphone Galaxy S5. Samsung may have ported most of the GS5's defining features over to the Mini, but it ramped down the specs significantly in order to trim the price tag. As is often the case with "mini" versions of flagships, this smaller GS5 loses a lot of luster in the process.
The Mini does boast the GS5's key features: It includes a fingerprint sensor, heart rate monitor, water/dust resistance, and even the Private Mode for protecting folders and files with a thumbprint. You could say the Mini has the GS5's pulse beating within. The heart rate monitor and resistance to water make the Mini a compelling workout partner, while the fingerprint sensor and Private Mode make for a more secure business device. If these features appeal to you, then the Mini could be a worthwhile option. If you want the best of the best, however, prepare for some disappointment.
The Mini trades the GS5's 5.1-inch 1080 HD display for a 4.5-inch 720p HD display. It also loses the GS5's 2.5-GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, trading it for a 1.4-GHz quad-core processor of unknown make (likely a Snapdragon 400).The Mini's 8-megapixel camera can't record 4K video like the GS5's 16-megapixel shooter can, although the Mini can still capture 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second.
Other specs include a 2-megapixel user-facing camera; 1.5 GB of RAM with 16 GB of internal storage and support for microSD cards up to 64 GB; Bluetooth, GPS, LTE, NFC, and Wi-Fi radio; accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscopic, proximity, and light sensors; and a 2,100mAh battery. The Mini features the usual collection of Samsung-specific apps and services, such as S Health, Ultra Power Savings Mode, Kids Mode, and of course Samsung's TouchWiz user interface. The Galaxy S5 Mini runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat.
Curious to know what qualifies for being a "mini" these days? The Galaxy S5 measures 5.59 by 2.85 by 0.32 inches and weighs 5.11 ounces. In comparison, the Mini measures 5.16 by 2.55 by 0.36 inches and weighs 4.23 ounces. The Mini relies on the same design language as its larger sibling.
"We always strive to develop devices that appeal to a range of consumer tastes and styles," said Samsung's mobile chief JK Shin. "The Galaxy S5 Mini allows consumers to enjoy the iconic design and essential and useful features of the Galaxy S5 through a maximized minimalism approach."
If you're wondering what a "maximized minimalism approach" is, you're not alone.
According to Samsung, the Galaxy S5 Mini will launch in Russia first, followed by other markets. Samsung didn't say if or when the Galaxy S5 Mini might reach the US, and none of the US network operators said they'll sell it. Historically, AT&T has been the only carrier to offer the "mini" variants of Samsung's flagship smartphones.
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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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