When the Samsung Galaxy S III hit the market a few months ago, the smartphone world was buzzing, with many rushing out to get their hands on one of the most feature-packed mobile devices to date. Then, not long ago, rumours began to emerge about a smaller, mini version of the S III, the Samsung Galaxy S III Mini. It was finally made official and, yeah, it’s smaller, but still packs many of the features that made its bigger brother the must-have phone of the summer.
Smart stay was a feature that many were intrigued with; stare at the screen, and the S III Mini will recognise your face, keeping the screen bright until you look away. The trick is pulled off thanks to some clever software that’s coupled with the front facing camera. It actually recognises your eyes and tracks them, enabling it to determine when you’re reading, and when you’re done. It should help you save more battery life, and get rid of some frustration from early-dimming displays.
There’s also the now famous Popup play feature, a perfect example of the easy and efficient multitasking abilities of modern smartphones. This feature lets you open a stored video into a popup window. This video is always on top, appearing above everything else on the screen. You can move it around so it’s not in the way, and it’s really cool for searching the web or messaging without having to miss your favourite show. The 4″ screen of the Samsung Galaxy S III Mini, while smaller than the larger S III, still offers plenty of room. We’ll get onto the advantages of the smaller screen a little later.
The Samsung Galaxy S III Mini also has built-in voice control, which Samsung calls S Voice. This lets you launch apps, make calendar reminders, search the internet, turn on and off features and more, all with just your voice.
Of course, the S III Mini isn’t just a downsized S III – it actually offers a few things the larger phone doesn’t. For one, there’s that smaller screen. While the current trend in smartphones has been to increase the size, an extreme example being the mammoth Samsung Galaxy Note II with its 5.5″ display, smaller displays are easier to use, especially with one hand, and mean the phone can be built to a smaller size, meaning it’s easier to carry around. It also helps with battery life – the main draw on a smartphone’s battery is still the screen, so a smaller touchscreen means less power needs to be used to light it up.
There’s also the small matter of the S III Mini’s software. It comes in the box with a newer operating system, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. This is smoother, faster and includes new features like offline voice typing and an improved Google Search feature. There’s also blocking mode, a feature that lets you limit what your phone notifies you about. This can be texts, phone calls or reminders. You’re free to turn it on and off manually, via a timer, and set up exceptions, so for example your best friend can ring you while you’re out, but no sales calls will get through.
Finally, there’s the price. High street and online retailer Carphone Warehouse is offering the Samsung Galaxy S III Mini for as little as £25 a month, with the handset yours for free. Upgrades are given at the same rate, and SIM free you can pick the S III Mini up for under £300, making it a more economical option than the full sized S III.