The Hills Are Greener: These Are Not The Smaller Phones You’re Looking For

The Hills Are Greener: These Are Not The Smaller Phones You’re Looking For

Oct 15, 2012

Well, speak of the devil. I post something about smaller devices a week ago, and what does Samsung go and do? They announce the Galaxy S III Mini. It’s a smaller variant of the flagship Galaxy S III that was announced last week for release in Europe.

The problem is that this is really not much new for the Android market: like other smaller Android devices, it’s quite underpowered compared to its bigger brother. The processor is lacking, the screen is a pedestrian 800×480, and the RAM matches the international version but not the US version. It’s not the kind of flagship multiple-size device that I clamored for. It’s designed for a market that wants a smaller phone, but it’s also meant to be cheaper, a phone for a particular market and it may not ever come to the US.

What it isn’t is an iPhone 5 competitor; considering that the final design wasn’t revealed until very recently, it seems unlikely. Could it have been expected that Apple would release a 4″ 16:9 phone? Definitely. But the reaction time, a month after the iPhone 5 announcement and the target market of Europe don’t really lend credence to the “Apple reaction” hypothesis. Also, if Samsung really wanted to make a phone that would really compete with the iPhone 5 at a near-identical size, it would make more sense to make it full-powered, wouldn’t it? I’m not buying that it’s a serious iPhone 5 competitor.

What it is, is that it’s an expansion of Samsung’s brand and creation of their own identity. Look at the way that it’s using that design that the Galaxy S III is recognized for, and one that the Galaxy Note II is also using. It’s there to provide not just a more budget-friendly option for a certain user that may need a more one-hand-friendly phone, but to also keep that S3 branding and design consistent, even with their smaller, budget phones. Apple releases one phone a year. Samsung releases probably a new one every month.

Now, the S III Mini is not necessarily a weakling, but considering the way that even top-flight phones wind up sluggish at the end of the traditional two-year contract cycle, seeing a case like this where a good idea – a smaller phone using a flagship phone design – being another mid-range phone is a shame. It’s a good step, but not the one that could have been pioneering for the Android market.