Overnight, Samsung confirmed the existence of the Galaxy S4 Mini. It’s what it says on the tin; a smaller version of the Galaxy S4… sort of. What it once again highlights for me is the curious fact that there’s a big gap in the otherwise overstocked Android arsenal.
The Mini is smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S4, but then you’d expect that from the name; it’s packing a 4.3″ 960×540 pixel display screen, compared to the full-fat version’s 1,920×1,080 5″ display. On the processor front, it’ll sport a 1.7Ghz Dual-core processor, which is a fair step down from the quad-core processor on the full S4, as is the inclusion of 8GB of storage, of which around 5GB will be accessible. No word as yet on Australian availability, but it’s possible we’ll know more after Samsung’s June 20th London launch event, where it’s expected a raft of devices will be unveiled.
Samsung’s done a lot with the Galaxy brand to spread the ‘premium’ vibe from its hero phone, and it’s in no way alone in this. Apple calls its devices ‘i-devicename‘ for a reason, if you buy a Sony Android product it’s an Xperia, Nokia sells Lumias and so on. The slight difference here is that Samsung’s Galaxy ranges have previously tended towards unique suffixes rather than direct hero brand comparison; in fact the very first 30 Seconds Of Tech I did covered off a whole bunch of them.
But marketing isn’t what the S4 Mini reminds me of in the Android sphere in any case. What it does remind me of is the fact that, despite there being seemingly endless variety in the Android space, the one thing it’s lacking in is a genuinely powerful small handset. Want a high-end, high powered Android device? You’ve got to have a high-end pocket bulge, no matter the manufacturer.
The closest you can get to a “premium” Android phone in the smaller screen space without stepping down in power markedly would be the Motorola RAZR M. It’s a fine phone — I reviewed it here for APC — but there’s really not much competition for it in the more pocketable space.
Why? I mean, it’s not as though mobile processors are huge slabs of things, and one of Android’s key strengths is meant to be variety. Admittedly, a smaller frame gives you less space to pack batteries in, but that can somewhat be mitigated by the fact that you’ve got fewer pixels to push. I’ve nothing against larger phones per se, but it’d be nice to have some choice in this regard rather than just “it’s smaller, so it must be significantly less powerful”.