Four inches of fail: Why the Galaxy S III Mini is such a total dissapointment

by: ŠtefanOctober 11, 2012

Samsung is going to unveil the Galaxy S III Mini in a little less than 10 hours at one of their flagship stores in Frankfurt, Germany. We severely doubt that the company is going to tell us something we don’t already know, so in case you haven’t been keeping up with the leaks, here’s what to expect: the Galaxy S III Mini will have a 4 inch 800 x 480 pixel display, a dual core 1 GHz processor from ST-Ericsson, 1 GB of RAM, and a 5 megapixel camera. Design wise, it’s a perfectly scaled down version of the original Galaxy S III that was launched during the first half of the year.

When we first heard about this phone, we were hoping it would have the exact same specs as its bigger brother, but obviously with a smaller display. Despite the Galaxy S III selling over 20 million units in 100 days, we have an inkling it could have done far better if it was just a tad bit easier to hold in one hand. Think back to the Galaxy S II for a second. When it launched back in 2011, it came with a 4.3 inch screen, and even then people were freaking out about how big it was. With the third generation Galaxy S, Samsung just made the thing even bigger!

The unfortunate reality of today’s smartphone market is that you can’t buy a flagship device without first admitting to yourself that you’ll have to compromise on size. The HTC One X has a 4.7 inch display. The Samsung Galaxy S III has a 4.8 inch display. Apple’s iPhone 5 is significantly smaller at just 4 inches, but that doesn’t mean they made the right decision.

Who should the industry take inspiration from? One of the companies you least expect, Motorola. Their recently launched RAZR M (or the Intel variant, the RAZR i) has a 4.3 inch screen, yet it’s just 122.5 mm tall and 60.9 mm wide. For the sake of comparison, the iPhone 5 is 123.8 mm tall and 58.6 mm wide. Those two devices are pretty much the exact same size, but Motorola managed to pack in a screen that has the exact same dimensions as the screen in the Galaxy S II. How? By listening to Google and making the front of the phone completely touch, meaning no physical or capacitive buttons.

Yes, the RAZR M’s display only does 960 x 540, but we know 4.3 inch 720p displays exist. Sony will use them when they launch the Xperia V in the coming weeks, and the same goes for HTC when they launch the Windows Phone 8X in November. Does Samsung make a 4.3 inch 720p panel? No, and that can potentially become a serious problem for them. Earlier this year the company announced that they figured out how to make OLED panels that can do 350 pixels per inch. When will that technology enter mass production? Sadly, they didn’t give any specific dates.

Now don’t get confused, we’re not trying to imply that the Galaxy S III is too big. The whole point of Android is to let companies try whatever they want to when it comes to form factors. Several of us in the office have already ordered the Galaxy Note II! We just hope that one day Samsung starts figuring out that not all of us want a smartphone that’s the size of our face, yet at the same time we also don’t want to compromise when it comes to specifications. It’s a downright shame that the mobile industry has picked up the brain dead American SUV mentality, that bigger is guaranteed to be somehow better.

It makes people think “small” phones are toys, when they’re anything but.

  • Xeltos

    What is the difference between this and Galaxy S advance apart from size?

    • Stefan Constantinescu


      • You forgot the bigger RAM of 1GB over 768MB.

        • Xeltos

          Thats it? all the hoopla over 256 mb of ram? Nothing else? Thats Bullcrap. Better spend the millions you spend in advertising and designing a newphone that is just marginally better in R&D and give us the fucking Exynos 5 already. Damn..

          • The bump in RAM is a big deal, Ive had a device with around 700mb of RAM & a device with 1gb of RAM & the lower RAM ran terrible if you were running a few apps & you had to keep closing apps & clearing cache & web pages when using the browser.There is a reason that they are making devices now with 2gb of RAM. This will also be running a newer version of Android & Touchwiz & the look is much much better.

      • Xeltos

        Then why bother with a all new phone?

        • Because of the hype the S3 generated. By calling a “low budget” device S3 Mini you benefit from the positive reception of his big brother. It’s some kind of an effect “persuasive communication” causes.

  • Well said, Stefan, I could not agree with you more!

  • I dont think this will do well at a, most ppl love Android because they do have larger screens then the competiton. Many iPhone faithful that have left to come to Android comment on the loving the large screen of the Galaxy S3 & even the Galaxy Note. I have the Galaxy Note & hope to get the Galaxy Note 2 so Im always reading articles about the G-Note 2 & there are many many ppl who have an iPhone right now said their friends have the first G-Note & they are just waiting for the G-Note 2 because they absolutely love the form factor of the series. Ppl who have stayed with iPhone do so because they love iPhone not because of the size. They arnt going to switch nomatter how good of a 4″ phone Android makes.-KID ANDROID

  • MasterMuffin

    I remember another also 4″ phone came out this year and was a total failure…

  • hoggleboggle

    chill people, lets give them the benefit of the doubt until the official reveal today. If the specs are truly that crap, then they truly deserve this roasting.

  • Jose Marie Maquinay

    I dont about the US launch, but in some countries (like the PH), overall size and brand recognition affects the user’s decision when buying phone.

    Samsung brand – Check
    Galaxy S3 type – Check
    Smaller size (especially for smaller people) – check
    Cheaper – double check

    I dont see why it wont sell well in my country. We will see in a few months…

  • aholsteinson

    This “mini” will be a huge fail. Imo Samsung shouldn’t have done it, it is basically a compromise, they should have stuck to their vision of the size and form factor they were pushing for with S3 and Note II. The big screen of the S3 is by far it’s best selling point as far as I’ve seen, the specs are also another huge plus of the S3 but this “mini” has neither, so why bother?

  • Chris Lucier

    While I very much agree that Samsung hasn’t made a wise choice with this model and would be better of going back to the drawing board with this particular device, I must admit that I’m becoming more and more disappointed with the writings of Android Authority lately.
    I would expect that a site that calls itself “Android Authority” would consider themselves the authority in all things Android. That being said, this is the second opinion based article I have read in two weeks that has done 2 things: cast doubt on an Android phone/manufacturer and used more speculation and opinion than fact. True, this article supplied arguments as to Stefan thinks the S3 Mini will fail, but he fails to look at global supply and demand.
    There has been, and always will be, a market for smaller phones. Most Android users that I have met (and in no way am I talking about power users) who don’t even know some of the basic features of their phone. They bought it because the guy in the store said it was great. They like it because it does what they want it to and they generally don’t go looking for ways to make it better. These users rarely know a thing about the hardware in their phone.
    I think Stefan thinks it will fail because he’d never buy it. Unfortunately Stefan is not the only guy in the market. I say it’s unfortunate because if everyone using Android (and even those who are not) were more educated about their devices, then manufacturers would be forced to create increasingly better products with each release.
    While I’m with Stefan on the fact that I would never buy it and would likely never recommend an S3 Mini, I won’t be doubting the sales numbers worldwide until I see them.

    • Kassim

      I agree with you on the main issue of different strokes for different folks but…di-did you just suggest that an android authority shouldn’t feature an opinion piece ‘casting doubts on manufacturers’ and their decisions? Or did I misread that?

      Wouldn’t a pure “Android = love and ‘problems’ don’t exist” mentality 100% of the time be considered indoctrination, à la dictatorships or…Apple (flame-war mongering)?

      If it’s just 2 articles out of probably 25+ in that period of time, it can’t exactly be a thermonucear war…

      • Chris Lucier

        No you read that absolutely right, however you seem to be misinterpreting what I’m saying. I’m simply stating that there is a very large difference between opinion and fact. I consider Android Authority to be a great source of news and information on Android. I feel it’s alright to make an opinion and voice it, but not in the same way you would report news on the subject.
        When the entire headline states that a product is a “fail” and a “disappointment” I tend to wonder exactly why – especially for an unreleased product designed to be targeted at a particular section of the market.
        In no way am I saying that all articles should be praising Android and to downplay all issues. There is nothing wrong with calling out a manufacturer for failing to deliver on a promise or using parts made in factories that are known to treat employees unfairly. Problems will always exist and should be made known so that they can be addressed appropriately.
        There is no reason to say that a product will without a doubt fail, simply because it uses less capable hardware specifications than what is available. Remember, there are millions of consumers who don’t fully use their hardware to it’s potential. For those users, having a phone with similar features and a lower price is worth more than having a top-end device for checking their Facebook.

        • Kassim

          Gotya – stating such a strong opinion in a headline may not be the ‘best practice’ and could lead to someone thinking it’s something else other than what it’s meant to be.

          Maybe AA should start differentiating their articles under different sections by adding e.g. review, news, update, opinion, buying guide ‘tags’ within the headline area/article excerpt on the home page.

          TechRadar and ITProPortal does this and I would guess some other tech sites do too.

          At least that way, you know what’s cooking before you open the pot…

          • Chris Lucier

            That is more or less what I’m thinking too. I might not go as far as tagging every single headline, but when opinion comes into play it’s often open to interpretation so some clarity would be nice for some readers. News is fact (or at least it should be).

  • true

    just get iPhone, no problems at all !