Galaxy S3 Mini

The Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini looks almost identical to its larger cousin, save for the smaller screen.
(Credit: Samsung)
Today Samsung globally launched the rumored Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini, a smaller version of the Samsung Galaxy S3 that hit shelves globally in May, and arrived in the U.S. this summer on five separate carriers.
In addition to having a more petite 4-inch screen and build than the Samsung Galaxy S3, the S3 Mini also scales back the specs to make the Mini a more middle-of-the road option. Samsung's original Galaxy S3 serves as its flagship premium model; in the S3 Mini, Samsung has the opportunity to flush its design and brand into the midtier markets and emerging markets.
Although Samsung didn't announce pricing or availability with this worldwide announcement, the asking price is sure to come in lower than its larger, more powerful cousin.
More detail after the break

Design and hardware
You know times have changed when a relatively high-powered smartphone with a 4-inch screen is known as "mini." The S3 Mini comes with a 4-inch Super AMOLED WVGA resolution display (800x480 pixels,) and Samsung says the screen has a curved design.
While less pixel-dense than the 4.8-inch Galaxy S3 -- the Mini has 233 pixels per inch where the full-size S3 has 305.96 ppi -- the Mini's screen resolution is still well within range for a 4-inch screen.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini
The GS3 Mini's 4-inch AMOLED screen has an 800 by 480-pixel resolution.
(Credit: Samsung)
The phone stands 4.8 inches by 2.5 inches by 0.39 inch and weighs 3.9 ounces, an equivalent to 121.55mm by 63mm by 9.85 mm, and 111.5 grams.
Beyond the screen size, though, the handset looks almost identical to the original Galaxy S3, a smart choice to advance the brand. I personally enjoy the look and feel of the original, which is glossy, but sleek. Although Samsung hasn't shared its color variations, we know it'll at least come in white, and we can probably expect a pebble blue variation as well.
Under the hood, it's clear that the S3 Mini is a different phone. It deliberately sports a smaller 1GHz dual-core processor rather than the quad-core processor of the global S3 variety and the 1.5GHz dual-core LTE model in the U.S. The phone should still perform well for most users; it just won't clock the tip-top speeds.
The same goes for the cameras. Samsung has replaced the 8-megapixel rear-facing shooter of the original Galaxy S3 with a 5-megapixel camera in the Mini. It'll still come with an LED flash and a VGA front-facing camera (down from the 1.9megapixel camera in the S3 original.) Samsung has used some excellent 5-megapixel camera modules before, while others have been less than ideal. Let's hope they chose the former on this one.
Connectivity is one clue that the Galaxy S3 Mini won't head straight for the U.S. It's specced for HSPA bands 14.4/5.76 900/1900/2100 and EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900 bands. In other words, there's no LTE support -- that fits into a strategy for tapping into various 3G networks worldwide.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini
The Mini keeps the phone's slim shape, but there's also less room inside for the battery.
(Credit: Samsung)
Other features include Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and 8GB or 16GB versions with expandable memory up to 32GB. The 1,500mAh battery is on the smaller side, so expect needing to recharge the phone daily. The original S3 has a 2,100mAh battery.
OS and software
The S3 Mini's hardware won't push the envelope in any sense, but kudos to Samsung for giving it the most recent Android 4.1 Jelly Bean version available.
Samsung's TouchWiz interface will ride on top, the phone-maker's typical mark on its handsets. With Samsung's custom layer comes a plethora of software extras, including photo-sharing features among networked phones, and the excellent S Beam, a slight variation from the Android Beam file-sharing system using NFC to bump two phones together.
There's also S Voice, Samsung's brand of Google Voice Actions, and Samsung's answer to Apple's Siri. Unfortunately, S Voice has never performed well in our tests compared to Siri, and it'd be a shame if Google's standard Voice Actions weren't accessible, especially in its new format for Jelly Bean.
There are plenty of other features in the Galaxy S3 Mini, including one that keeps the screen lit when you glance at the camera, and DLNA sharing that helps you transfer content like photos and video between compatible devices, like to your TV. However, some extra features are also battery-consuming, which doesn't portend well for the smaller battery.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini
The Mini's 5-megapixel camera could be excellent, or it could stumble. We just won't know until we try it out.
(Credit: Samsung)

The Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini is a smart move for Samsung to spread its Galaxy S3 line and message along the various market levels and countries. By beginning with its highest-end phone first, Samsung has been able to establish its brand; sending out spokes will suddenly make the Galaxy S3's subbrand attainable at a lower price point.
While we're unlikely to see a 4-inch Galaxy S3 Mini imminently come to the U.S., I'm excited to play around with the device and see just how well the mid-tier processor and camera perform with the high-powered software extras.

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