Samsung’s Galaxy S3 Mini is official, but is it worthy of the name?

Samsung Galaxy S3 MiniSamsung has announced the Galaxy S3 Mini, just as promised by the company’s mobile communications boss yesterday, but can it live up to our expectations, especially as it shares the same name as one of the very best Android smartphones on the market?

The answer to that question very much depends on your expectations, and if they’ve been kept in check. Let’s put it this way, it’s not a Galaxy S3 in a slightly smaller body, but a small phone aimed at a different buyer. Here’s what it’s all about.

Design-wise, it’s very close to its big brother, with the same “natural” flowing edges, rounded corners and smooth rear panel. No lawsuit over the design of this one, then. So how mini is the Mini? It measures 121 x 63 x 9.8mm and weighs 111 grams, so it’s a touch larger than an iPhone 4S, but noticeably smaller than the full-size S3’s 136 x 70 x 8.6mm dimensions and 133 gram weight.

Inside is a dual-core, 1Ghz ST-Ericsson NovaThor processor, with 1GB of RAM and either 8GB or 16GB of internal storage memory. As expected, the Super AMOLED screen measures 4-inches and has a 480 x 800 pixel resolution, while the camera has 5-megapixels, 720p video recording and an LED flash. There’s also a VGA video call camera above the screen.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini RearAndroid 4.1 onboard

The good news is the phone will come with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, so there won’t be any waiting around for Samsung to issue an update, plus there’s the TouchWiz user interface and some of the cool software features from more expensive Galaxy hardware, such as S Voice, Direct Call and Smart Stay. Other features include NFC, DLNA, GPS, a microSD card slot and a 1500mAh battery.

So, the Galaxy S3 Mini is a concoction of the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy S Advance. Many will bemoan the lack of 4G — although it does support HSDPA and HSUPA — and the processor missing two more cores, but those are features for upper range phones, not a solid mid-ranger like the S3 Mini.

Using the S3 title is certainly a win for the marketing team, but the S3 Mini is far from being an embarrassment to its good name; after all, the design was, and still is, a winner. Plus, Samsung isn’t wrong, in stature it is a miniature S3.

The more sensible spec also means a more sensible price tag. While Samsung hasn’t talked about the cost just yet, Clove Technology has put a SIM-free S3 Mini up for pre-order in the UK for £298, or $477, which is about £120/$192 less than the full-size S3.

Samsung has remained quiet on availability too, but Vodafone UK has tweeted that the device is coming soon to its network. There’s no word on a US release at this time.