From the outside, the S3 Mini looks much look its larger sibling, but that's largely where the similarities end. It's not just that it has a more petite 4-inch screen and build, the S3 Mini also scales back the specs -- most notably, it packs a slower CPU and it lacks 4G LTE capability. And that makes its connection to Samsung's flagship model tenuous at best.
If you're looking for a smaller Galaxy S3, but with all the features intact, this is not the phone for you. Rather it's another midrange Android option in a crowded field. S Voice and DLNA sharing keep it from being totally common (event if we don't love S Voice completely), but we've seen some of this from Samsung before.
Samsung didn't announce pricing or availability with this worldwide announcement, but the S3 Mini is undoubtedly part of an effort to bring Samsung's design aesthetics and brand to emerging markets. At present, there are no plans to bring it to the United States, but if does, the asking price is sure to come in lower than its larger, more powerful predecessor.
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.
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 at 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 1.9-megapixel 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.