The Galaxy S5 mini doesn’t do its name justice
We here at Pocketnow, especially yours truly, have voiced our opinions on so-called “mini” smartphones several times now. For the last few years now, Android manufacturers have been creating and releasing smaller versions of their annual flagships. Last year, HTC introduced the HTC One mini following its game-changing One M7. This year, the Taiwanese manufacturer followed-up its One M8 with the One mini 2. LG released the G2 mini last year and is expected to announce the G3 mini later this year. And, of course, Samsung has produced miniature Galaxy S smartphones for the last few years – Galaxy S III mini and Galaxy S4 mini. Seemingly, these scaled-down versions of the cream of the crop serve a noble purpose – to deliver quality, high-end smartphones to people who don’t want to tote a giant smartphone everywhere they go. However, we explained more than a few times now that almost every mini smartphone comes with at least some compromise. For one, most of the “mini” phones aren’t exactly … mini. The Galaxy S III mini, for example, was somewhat deserving of the name. It was significantly smaller than its full-sized counterpart – 4.0-inches compared to 4.8-inches. On the other hand, the One mini from last year was 4.3-inches (compared to the 4.7-inches of the full-sized One M7). The G2 has a 4.7-inch display, which isn’t all that small compared to the 5.2-inch LG G2. And each year, the minis continue to grow. The One mini 2 display measures 4.5-inches – only 0.5-inches smaller than the full-sized One M8. Size isn’t our the issue, though. OEMs don’t only scale back the size, but also the internals. I said there was nothing “G2” about the G2 mini, and it’s true. When creating miniature versions of their flagships, OEMs always seem to cut just enough corners to lose the essence which makes the flagships so lustrous in the first place. Take the Galaxy S4 mini from last year, for example. It came with a 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED panel, 1.5GB RAM, 8GB storage, 8-megapixel camera, Snapdragon 400 SoC, and a 1,900mAh battery. Quite literally, this was a step down in every single way from the full Galaxy S4. The same could be said of the G2 mini and the G2, One mini 2 and One M8, and almost any other “mini” phone. To date, the only miniature version of a true flagship that doesn’t come with a laundry list of compromises is Sony’s Xperia Z1 Compact. Aside from the smaller battery and lower-res display, the Z1 Compact comes with virtually all the same specs as the Xperia Z1 – Snapdragon 800 SoC, 2GB RAM, 20.1-megapixel cameras, 16GB storage, etc. By upping the ante, I was hoping Sony’s bold miniature smartphone would kick-start a new trend in mini smartphones. I was wrong. Just earlier this week, Samsung drew the curtains on its latest small smartphone, the Galaxy S5 mini. It’s larger than last year’s S4 mini; it has a 4.5-inch display which thankfully bears a 720p resolution. It has an unnamed 1.4GHz quad-core CPU, 1.5GB RAM, 8-megapixel camera, and a 2,100mAh battery. It doesn’t come with Wi-Fi 802.11 ac like the actual Galaxy S5, but it does have NFC, an IR blaster, Bluetooth LE, a fingerprint scanner, and a heart rate sensor. And, thankfully, it comes with the same IP67 certification. But once again, Samsung has failed to capture the essence of the Galaxy S5 in the S5 mini. Sure, the two look almost identical (there is a visual difference in the shape of the S5 mini, at least from the renders), but appearance has never been the problem. Samsung, like most other OEMs, continues to use the globally renowned namesake and familiar appearance of its flagship brand to its advantage. It’s selling a similar-looking and similarly branded smartphone under the premise that it’s just a smaller version of the Galaxy S5 when, in fact, it’s anything but. This phone has mid-range specifications, at best – not the best of the best like the Galaxy S5 – yet it will still sell at a comparatively high price point. In other words, Samsung is using its globally known smartphone brand as a vehicle for not only a smaller, but an even cheaper, watered-down version of its flagship. The S5 mini is nothing more than a way for the company to boost profit margins by capitalizing on consumers who don’t know any better. For whatever reason, this is a trend that has caught on among all the major Android OEMs and no one but Sony seems to want to break the mold. Sadly, Samsung, the OEM in the best position to set the pace continues to take a back seat in the smartphone market and let its competitors do all the leg work. Here’s hoping other OEMs (ahem, LG) can pick up the slack with the G3 mini later this year.