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Shootout: 4G LTE Smartphones Below S$600

By Sidney Wong & Vijay Anand - 15 Jul 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4 mini - Design & Features

Samsung Galaxy S4 mini

 The Samsung Galaxy S4 mini costs $698 (inclusive of GST) without line contract.

As the name suggests, the Galaxy S4 mini follows in the footsteps of the bigger Galaxy S4. Just announced a few weeks ago at Samsung's big launch in London, we had a quick hands-on of the device and today, we're going to see how it decks up against other contenders in its class.

Like its larger sibling, the Galaxy S4 mini adopts a similar plastic chassis that makes the device the lightest among the comparisons in this article at just 107g. It is also the most compact phone in this comparison with the smallest footprint and thinnest side profile (8.94mm). Hence, the Galaxy S4 mini feels the most comfortable to use in one hand.

Above the 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display are the front speaker, a 1.9-megapixel front camera, and the ambient light and proximity sensor. Below the display is the physical home button flanked by the menu (left) and back (right) capacitive buttons.

While it is stated to come with 8GB onboard storage, there is approximately only 5GB of available storage space. Fortunately, a microSD card slot located beneath the 1,900mAh battery supports memory cards up to 64GB in capacity.

Samsung ships the Galaxy S4 mini with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and its customized user interface, TouchWiz. Many of the features that debut on the Galaxy S4 can be found on its mini variant, which include taking images with audio via Sound & Shot, multiplayer gaming and group music play via Group Play, and instant text or voice translation via S Translator. Other functions that are also brought over are Smart Scroll, Smart Pause, Air View, Air Gestures and more. We've included some videos below that demonstrate these functions as seen on the Galaxy S4:- 

Using the front-facing camera to monitor your eye activity, Smart Stay ensures the screen stays awake and does not dim or lock the screen as long as you are looking at it. This makes for an uninterrupted reading experience even when you have set your screen timeout to stinge on battery. We found it to be mostly accurate given that a reasonable distance is maintained from the device and as long as your line of vision is level with the camera. An quick way to find out if it's working is when you see an eye icon on the top of the notification bar appearing.

Smart Stay makes use of the front-facing camera to detect whether you are looking at the display.

Samsung has also kept the brand new camera user interface seen on the flagship Galaxy S4 on the mini and this greatly upgrades its camera taking experience from the previous Galaxy S III and S III mini devices. To bring more "life" to your still images, Samsung included the Sound & Shot feature that allows you to capture 9 seconds of audio in a photo. This results in an immersive visual and audio experience - or at least that's what they claim. Like the many features that Samsung had included in their devices, whether all of them are useful depends on each individual.

Sound & Shot enables you to record up to 9 seconds of audio with a photo.

Lastly going back to the core of things, take note that Android 4.2 introduces Quick Settings, which consists of shortcut to Settings, Wi-Fi, Cell Connection, Battery, Bluetooth and Wireless Display. For Samsung's mobile devices running on Android 4.2, it has changed the interface to include more toggles. The Galaxy S4 mini has a total of 16 toggles. You can rearrange which toggle to appear first or what toggle to include. This can be done via Settings > My device > Display > Notification panel. From there, you can customize the toggles according to how often you use them. Press and hold on each toggle to arrange it.

Samsung's version of Quick Settings