Introduction

With two Galaxy S minis under its belt, Samsung has set off on a quest for a third, hopefully more successful version of its current flagship. But the rules have changed and Samsung has finally stopped ignoring this fact. While Sony flipped the mini game into a compact battle with higher stakes Samsung continued pushing minis that only look like their bigger counterparts but don't offer nearly as much in terms of specs.

The Galaxy S4 mini was the last attempt and it wasn't up to the task. It offered lower than Retina-grade pixel density, an inferior chipset and overwhelming price to finalize a product that didn't stand too well next to the Galaxy S4.



Samsung Galaxy S5 mini

The Galaxy S5 upped the ante even further and now Samsung had to finally equip the mini accordingly so it's up to the challenge. This year's mini, the Galaxy S5 mini, has a bigger Super AMOLED and has finally passed the HD and 300ppi barrier. The camera is still 8 MP, which is half of what the Galaxy S5 offers but the water resistant body, the IR blaster, the gimmicky hear-rate monitor and the fingerprint scanner are all there. The design is the same as well and the S5 mini comes in all four color options.

As with all compact versions of their prime phones there are cutbacks here and there - manufacturers don't like it when their flagship has a contender, especially from within. See if you can spot those cutbacks in the list below.

Key features

  • Optional Dual SIM version available
  • LTE connectivity
  • 4.5" 1280 x 720 Super AMOLED display with 326 ppi
  • Android OS v4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz UI
  • Quad-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A7 processor, Exynos 3 Quad 3470 chipset, Mali-400MP4 GPU, 1.5GB of RAM
  • 16GB built-in storage, microSD card slot
  • 8MP camera with LED flash, 2.1MP front-facing camera, 1080p video recording
  • IP67 certification for dust and water resistance
  • Fingerprint scanner with PayPal payments support and private mode access
  • Heart-rate monitor
  • Motion and gesture features, Air view
  • 2,100mAh battery

Main disadvantages

  • Uncompetitive price at launch
  • No TV-Out option (MHL is not supported)
  • Only the LTE variant has NFC
  • Lacks in-call noise-cancellation

The screen resolution isn't as fabulous at 720p, the screen is obviously smaller at 4.5", the chipset is probably the biggest setback from the impressive Snapdragon 801, the camera is a lower resolution (twice as low) and the price (at the moment of writing) is uncompetitive placing the Galaxy S5 mini at a disadvantage against its main rivals.

But the characteristics that have shaped the Galaxy S5 as one of the hottest smartphones of the year are all there - the water resistance will be loved by many and it puts the Galaxy S5 mini at equal footing with the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and above the HTC One mini 2. The heart rate monitor won't be a deciding factor for most people but the IR blaster may just tip the scaled in its favor.

Specs aside, the S5 mini is identical to the Samsung Galaxy S5, only smaller. Samsung has nailed the look and feel of the device and matched it with the mini - that's the main thing the company had to do. Most people crave for the flagship but end up buying the more affordable mini version. Rest assured, the feeling is the same save for the lack of the market-leading specs.

Indeed, the Galaxy S5 mini does look the part but the price is higher than what seems reasonable. On one hand it has a lot of quality features on its side but on the other so do its rivals - some of them having even more.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini at HQ

The Galaxy S5 mini will target many people - those that still think a _phone_ shouldn't be a burden on the pocket, those that want a water-resistant phone, those that want a water resistant compact-sized _phone_ and those that want a Galaxy S5 but cheaper or smaller. It's a broad spectrum of users and each with their own criteria of what a good phone purchase should feel like.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini can prove as good as a mini Galaxy S5 and that's ok. Or it can prove to be more - let's check it out.

Retail box

The retail box of the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini is about the size of the phone it has within. Underneath the Galaxy S5 mini lie headphones, a microUSB cable and an A/C adapter. Several leaflets complete the retail box.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Retail box and innards

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini 360-degree spin

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini is a very compact phone by today's standards. At 131.1 x 64.8 x 9.1 mm it's in between its competition. It's bigger than its predecessor - the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini - bigger than the Apple iPhone 5s, but smaller than the HTC One mini 2 and taller than the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. One thing's for sure though, the thickness is not that spectacular.

The weight is very good at 120g. Compared to the Samsung Galaxy S5 the mini is pretty petite.

Design and build quality

It seems that Samsung is very pleased with the design of its Galaxy S5 because it has been replicated in the mini version excellently. We like the approach more than what HTC and LG have done with their minis, which look similar to their bigger counterparts but still have a distinct lack of quality and refinement in comparison.

Side by side the two Galaxy S5s look exactly the same - from the button placements, to the proximity sensors, earpieces, camera lenses, hear rate sensors, IR blasters, 3.5 mm headphone jacks to the dimpled pattern on the back panel and the sides of both.

But there are subtle differences - for starters the size is an obvious one. Secondly, the microUSB port on the bottom of the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini is water resistant and doesn't require a water-repellant flap. The camera lens isn't protruding on the mini as well.

Compared to the HTC One mini 2 the Galaxy S5 is much shorter, mainly due to the lack of front-facing stereo speakers. The HTC One mini 2 feels colder and rounder in the hand and the added heft from its metal construction allows it to sit better in your hand.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini back panel has a matte finish and offers the same pattern of small dots that feel like dimples to the finger. The back panel has a nice little trick up its sleeve - it reflects light in a way that results in a little purple accent to the white color - a pearl-like effect.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini

We like the design of the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini and the fact that it hasn't moved away from the original. This is the first mini since the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact that does justice to its original. The Galaxy S5 mini and S5 look astonishingly alike and that has carried over to the feel of the device.

Controls

The front of the Galaxy S5 mini is where the majority of controls are. First on the list is the 4.5" display that gives most of the commands. Below it there are three buttons - a physical home button that doubles as a fingerprint scanner and two capacitive keys for recent apps and back.

Above the display lies the earpiece, the ambient light sensor, the proximity sensor and the 2.1MP front-facing camera. Also to the left of the earpiece lies the LED notification light, which is normally invisible - it blinks only for notifications.

There's no Air gesture sensor on the Galaxy S5 mini like there is on the Galaxy S5.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

The front of the phone

The power button sits on the right of the Galaxy S5 mini and the single-piece volume rocker is on the left side. The tiny slit that's used to undo the back panel is on the right.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Looking at the sides

The top is where the IR blaster is - provided with the right software, it will easily control your TV or set-top box (or both) and with some able apps you can even go further to cameras or AC units. Next to it is a second microphone that's oddly not used for background in-call noise-cancellation but will add stereo sound to your videos. We conclude the topside of the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini with a water-resistant 3.5mm headphone jack.

The bottom has an exposed microUSB port and the main microphone. It's nice to have the microUSB exposed instead of under a flap that you'd need to pry open every time you want to charge your phone but you should be wise to wait until the port is dry before plugging in a charger.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Top and bottom

The back panel plays host to the 8MP camera lens, a single LED flash that's used to aid the heart rate scanner (on the side of the LED). There's an etched-in Samsung logo and finally the loudspeaker grille on the bottom right.

Removing the back panel is easy enough and reveals a swappable 2,100mAh battery, a microSIM card slot and the microSD card slot. The back panel has a rubber inner-lining that fends off water in case of immersion.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

The back of the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini

Not only has Samsung translated the design of the Galaxy S5 into its mini variant but the company has also successfully made it feel the same. The materials feel equal in terms of quality and the phone feels equally-comfortable in the hand.

The smaller size will make a difference, especially if you get the mini right after the bigger Galaxy S5.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Handling the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini

Samsung has done a very good job on the Galaxy S5 mini - easily outdoing last year's model in both materials and features.

Super AMOLED splendor

One of the key differences between the Samsung Galaxy S5 and its mini is the display. The latter has a 4.5" Super AMOLED panel of 1280 x 720 resolution that's good for around 326 ppi - the same as an iPhone 4 and onward. The sharpness is different at 300 ppi and 400 ppi and you will see a difference, especially in smaller text on websites and such. Having said that, anything above 300ppi will easily pass as tack sharp, even though not class leading.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini display

Since this is a Super AMOLED unit you can expect superb colors, unmatched contrast and great viewing angles, even outdoors. As with the Samsung Galaxy S5 the mini also has a number of screen modes to choose from.

Looking at the matrix of the Galaxy S5 mini under a microscope we're greeted by the PenTile diamond-shaped matrix with subpixels of different sizes - the green sub-pixels are smaller and are twice as many as the blue and red sub-pixels. The pixel arrangement can lead to visible pixilation on some UI elements but at above-300ppi density the pixilation is almost impossible to spot with the naked eye.

We performed our display test on the Galaxy S5 mini and noticed that the screen is a little dim at below 500 nits of maximum brightness. The same can be said about the Galaxy Alpha display so perhaps the Super AMOLED panel is perhaps the same.

Otherwise contrast and blacks are incredible as par for the course with AMOLEDs.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini 226 432
LG G2 mini 0.12 91 752 0.52 398 748
Apple iPhone 5s 0.14 163 1145 0.49 596 1219
HTC One mini 2 0.19 220 1141 0.42 501 1196
Motorola Moto G 0.35 315 906 0.57 550 967
Sony Xperia SP - - - 0.7 568 816
Samsung Galaxy Alpha 228 456
Samsung Galaxy S5 274 529
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact - - - 0.34 626 1819


Another characteristic of the Super AMOLED displays is the excellent outdoor visibility since the panel lacks a glass layer between the topmost layer and the display panel itself. This allows for low reflectivity and thus great outdoor contrast.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Windows phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Battery life

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini holds a 2,100mAh battery that should power the device during your daily tasks. That's way more than what the Galaxy Alpha has on tap, but around the same as the battery capacity of the HTC One mini 2. It is smaller than the batteries inside the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and the LG G2 mini.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini battery

In our testing the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini offers great battery life - it managed an endurance rating of 72 hour - that's the interval between charges you should expect if you use the phone for watching an hour of video, and also web browsing and calling for an hour daily.

The commendable 72-hour score is headlined by equally-solid scores on all three individual tests - 12 hours of calling, 13 hours of browsing and 11 hours of video playback. The stand-by time was good as well - we measured it to be around 250 hours.



Connectivity

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini offers two versions - a non-LTE dual-SIM variant and two LTE ones - for Europe and the US. Both support quad-band GSM 850/900/1800/1900 and quad-band HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100. The LTE bands are six in total - 800/850/900/1800/2100/2600. There's NFC on board the LTE Galaxy S5 mini but none on the dual-SIM one.

Connectivity includes dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, low-energy Bluetooth 4.0, GPS with A-GPS and GLONASS, and an infrared port. There's a microSD card slot that supports up to 64GB of storage. The MicroUSB port is 2.0 and it supports on the go.

The fingerprint scanner can communicate with your finger via a swipe down and has been certified to work with PayPal.

There's no MHL support and no way to get wired TV-Out functionality. Wireless TV-Out is available via the Miracast protocol.

TouchWiz on KitKat

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini runs on the latest available Android 4.4.2 KitKat customized by the most recent incarnation of TouchWiz for smartphones, which we saw premiere on the Galaxy S5. Samsung has added multiple features that increase productivity and enhance security.

The lockscreen is a no-widget affair. More importantly, you can now fingerprint-secure it - the Galaxy S5 mini can be set to recognize up to three fingerprints. If those fail for some reason (e.g. wet fingers), the phone will ask for a password so you'll never get locked out.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Lockscreen

The homescreen features the My Magazine that displays both news articles and social networking updates. This is powered by Flipboard and you can enjoy your reads in a clean interface and send links to your friends or post social updates straight from the app.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

My Magazine

Categories (e.g. News, Business, Facebook) are displayed as tiles, each displaying its top article. You can reorder and hide the tiles. Once inside an article, you can browse more articles in that category with the familiar Flipboard effect.

There are regular homescreens too, with shortcuts, widgets and folders. If you want just those, My Magazine can be disabled completely.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Homescreen

The notification area is similar to what we've seen on Galaxy S5 with its flat design and circular icons. The toggles work as usual and below them are two buttons (S Finder and Quick connect) and below that is the brightness slider, which can be hidden to save space, but you're stuck with the two buttons.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Notification area

There's a new feature called Recommended apps, which adds relevant shortcuts when an accessory is plugged, like the headphones.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Recommended apps

In the app drawer, icons are presented as a customizable or alphabetized grid and you can also view only the ones you've downloaded yourself. You can also disable some of the pre-installed apps so they won't take any RAM or appear in the app drawer. You can also hide icons to keep the drawer from getting cluttered.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

App drawer

The Galaxy S5 mini has an App Switcher button that calls up a custom switcher UI. As usual, you can go into the task manager for more advanced controls.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

App switcher • Task manager

There are no floating apps here, but there's something called Toolbox - a floating icon that shows a list of shortcuts once tapped. This is a quick way to get to some of the most commonly used apps.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Toolbox

Since this is a smaller-screened Galaxy there's no Multi Window on board.

Aside from the standard TouchWiz home there is another homescreen mode - Easy mode. It shows only a handful of large shortcuts on the screen. The step counter is also visible on the homescreen, so this mode is meant for when you're out on a run and aiming for tiny icons is too hard.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Easy mode

Private mode secures photos and other files with your fingerprint (any of the three prints set up, with the password as a failsafe). Those files are only accessible when Private mode is enabled and completely hidden from apps otherwise.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Private mode

Samsung has enabled two power-saving modes as well. The first makes the screen black and white and limits the chipset speed. Optionally it can block background data too.

If you really need to make those last few percent battery charge last, you go to Ultra power saving mode. This one cuts off all advanced functions and even changes the homescreen to a simple one with big shortcuts (only 6 of them too).

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Power Saving mode • Ultra Power Saving mode

S Voice and Google Now

The Galaxy S5 mini features both Google Now and Samsung's S Voice. Google Now integrates with your Google account and can access your daily routine, internet searches, email, etc. and give you information relevant to your interests and daily needs.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Google Now

S Voice is meant for just voice commands. It can be used to dictate text, play music, open an app, change a setting, make a memo (including voice memo), add a reminder, schedule an event, set an alarm or timer, check the weather, do a search on the internet, look for local listings (e.g. nearby restaurants) and even get an answer to a question.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

S Voice

Synthetic benchmarks

Processing is one of the key areas where the Galaxy S5 mini differs from the S5. Instead of the potent Snapdragon 801 chip with 2GB of RAM the Galaxy S5 mini has to make due with the Exynos 3 Quad 3470 chipset with 1.5GB of RAM, a quad-core 1.4GHz Cortex-A7 processor and the Mali-400MP4 GPU.

The chipset doesn't sound bad on paper and should be on par with the Snapdragon 400 found in many of the Galaxy S5 mini's competitors. It will be interesting to see how the graphics performance is between the Mali and Adreno GPUs.

Before we dive in we want to disclose that we tested the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini with the anti-cheat version of Basemark X and we can safely confirm the device didn't attempt cheating in any of the tests.

First off we're looking at CPU-intensive benchmarks. The Basemark OS II test will shine a light on single and multi-core performance. The overall score puts the Exynos 3 Quad below the Snapdragon 400 of the HTC One mini 2. Interestingly the breakdown between single and quad-core performance shows a better score for the Snapdragon cores.

GeekBench 3 is an all-round test and is cross-platform which allows us to see how the Galaxy S5 mini fares against the Apple iPhone 5s. The Galaxy S5 mini didn't really get off to a good start and wound up in last place, behind the LG G2 mini, the HTC One mini 2 and the Moto G.

Basemark OS II

Higher is better is better

  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    1082
  • HTC One mini 2
    517
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    419

Basemark OS II (single-core)

Higher is better is better

  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    2415
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    1353
  • HTC One mini 2
    1304

Basemark OS II (multi-core)

Higher is better is better

  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    10063
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    5283
  • HTC One mini 2
    5182

GeekBench 3

Higher is better is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3214
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    3011
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2638
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    2561
  • Motorola Moto X
    2123
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
    1937
  • HTC One mini 2
    1526
  • LG G2 mini
    1123
  • Motorola Moto G
    1120
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    1123

Graphic tests show a good score for the Mali-400MP4 inside the Galaxy S5 mini. It scored well on both the offscreen and onscreen T-Rex tests - around the same as those from its direct rivals. Gaming graphics benchmark Basemark X showed a very good score, dumping the Adreno rivals in its dust.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    31.3
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    27.8
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    23
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    23
  • Motorola Moto X
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    6.7
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
    6.4
  • LG G2 mini
    5.8
  • HTC One mini 2
    5.8
  • Motorola Moto G
    5.6

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    48.4
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    28.1
  • LG G2 mini
    14.9
  • HTC One mini 2
    11
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    9.3

Basemark X

Higher is better is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    2665
  • HTC One mini 2
    1650
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    1066

The next tests show how the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini performs in JavaScript and HTML 5. In both tests the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini performs around the same level as its rivals.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    4911
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    6043
  • HTC One mini 2
    15684
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    15885

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better is better

  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    1398
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    1364
  • HTC One mini 2
    945
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    861

The scores above show that the Exynos 3 Quad inside the Galaxy S5 mini is around the same level of performance as the Snapdragon 400 and that the Galaxy S5 mini was on par with the LG G2 mini, HTC One mini 2 and Moto G.

In real world usage the Galaxy S5 mini is nice and responsive. There are hints here and there that the device isn't on par with the Galaxy S5 flagship, but things were snappy to launch and we can't complain about the overall performance of the Galaxy S5 mini.

Telephony and phonebook

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini held onto signal well and we liked its sound quality and volume during calls. There's no noise reduction during calls, though, and background noise was audible but not too bad. The dialer is the familiar TouchWiz app and features all the basics - smart dial, quick dial and even a video call button.

The list of contacts is displayed alphabetically and there's an alphabet scroll and a search field. Your contacts automatically get synced with your Google account and your social networks.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Contacts

The dialer is part of a tabbed app that also houses the Logs. Those are very detailed and show not only calls, but messages too and you can filter by various types of events (missed call, received message, etc.). There's even a search feature if you need to look up calls from just one number or contact.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Dialer

The Galaxy S5 mini features auto call rejection - it can reject all calls, or only calls from specific numbers, or all unknown numbers and so on.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Call rejection • Blocking mode

Blocking mode is even more restrictive - it blocks incoming calls and silences notifications and alarms. Only contacts on the priority list will be able to get a call or a message through. Blocking mode can be set to turn on and off automatically during a certain time period (e.g. at night).

We performed our loudspeaker test on the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini and found it to be very good. This is probably the loudest water resistant smartphone we've tested.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact 60.9 66.6 58.7 Below Average
Sony Xperia SP 66.6 61.9 68.2 Below Average
LG G2 mini 65.2 67.7 64.6 Below Average
Samsung I9195 Galaxy S4 mini 66.3 64.8 75.1 Average
Samsung Galaxy S5 66.9 66.6 75.7 Good
HTC One mini 2 69.3 66.6 75.9 Good
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini 73.5 67.7 78.7 Very Good
Motorola Moto G 81.6 75.7 82.7 Excellent


You can find out more about our loudspeaker test here.

Messaging, email and text input

The Messages app has a row of shortcuts for the contacts you message most often and below that is the list of all conversation threads. Threads feels like a standard IM app and you can customize font size, the shape of the bubbles and the background. This app handles both SMS and MMS and features a wide variety of smilies.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Messages

The Messages app has some cool features too - you can delay dispatch by 3 seconds (or up to 30), so you can cancel a message before it goes out. You can also schedule messages to be sent automatically (say, congratulations for a birthday).

ChatON doesn't come preinstalled on the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Messages customization

The app also features spam protection - messages from specific numbers or containing specific phrases can be blocked. Safe mode will disable the feature that automatically makes links clickable and will scan them for potential threats.

The Galaxy S5 mini comes with two familiar email applications out of the box - one for your Gmail and a generic app to use with any POP3/IMAP account.

The generic app handles multiple accounts from any email server and features a combined inbox. It has a spam filter and Delayed send options similar to those in the text message app. It has a Primary Senders inbox just like Gmail too.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Email

Gmail is smart about categorizing messages and grouping them - e.g. all promotions go in a folder, all social network messages in another and so on, keeping the Primary folder clean and containing only the important stuff. The Gmail app can handle multiple Gmail accounts, but doesn't offer a combined inbox.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Gmail

The Samsung keyboard comes a little shorter on the Galaxy S5 mini - it lacks the numeric buttons on top of the QWERTY. You can enter text by swipe-typing (like Swype and others), as well as move the cursor or view all alternative symbols for a key (which can be great if you use special symbols a lot).

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Samsung keyboard

Floating keyboard isn't available here but we don't blame Samsung as the smaller screen really doesn't warrant its presence.

TouchWiz gallery

The gallery on the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini can be viewed by time or by album and filtered by several categories. Event is the basic view, which groups photos based on time and location, but it's the other modes that caught our interest.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Gallery

You'll be pleased to hear the app handles Facebook, Dropbox and Picasa out of the box. Pinch zoom will change the size of the thumbnails and can also open and close individual photos. Batch operations are supported and that includes not just copy/delete but also image rotation.

The single photo view has several shortcuts for sharing (via an app or over DLNA). The Quick Connect button in the notification area will scan for all ways you can share something in the Gallery with nearby devices.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Editing

You can easily edit images right in the Gallery itself. The new Studio option is quite powerful and can do anything from basic editing and photo collages to creating and trimming videos. It also handles the post-processing of Shot & more photos.

Music player

The TouchWiz music player on the Galaxy S5 mini is jam-packed with features and supports a wide variety of file formats, including FLAC.

Music is sorted by several categories and you can hide some categories you don't need. Folder view is available and so is scanning for DLNA servers (Quick Connect helps with this).

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Music player

There's also the Music square - the phone scans your music library rating each track in terms of tempo (Exciting or Calm) and emotion (Passionate or Joyful). It can then load a playlist matching your chosen tempo and mood. The emotion axis in the graph can be switched to Age, which makes it easy to automatically create a playlist of classics or contemporary hits.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Sound options

The Now playing screen gives you the usual options: timescroll, playback controls, an AllShare shortcut. A coverflow-like list of album art lets you know what the next song will be and is an easy way to skip right to it. The music player will also try to find the lyrics for the song you're listening to.

Samsung has enabled several audio-enhancement features. The SoundAlive equalizer presets are cleverly organized into a square similar to the Music Square. The presets balance between Treble and Bass, Vocals and Instrumental. You can also just tap the Auto toggle or enable a Tube amp effect, 7.1 channel virtualization, along with Studio, Club and Concert Hall effects.

The advanced equalizer view gives you a proper seven band equalizer you can tune manually and enable additional effects like 3D, Bass and Clarity.

The list of audio features doesn't end there. Smart volume will keep the sound level consistent across tracks, while Adapt sound tests the performance of your headphones and tunes the equalizer based on that.

Video player

The video player on the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini handles files from the local storage and DLNA-compatible devices. Chapter preview lets you jump to a specific scene.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Video player

If subtitles are available, the video player will automatically find and load them. You can also manually load subtitles if the video and subtitle file names don't match.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Chapter view

You can change the zoom mode (100%, fit to screen width and without affecting the videos aspect ratio) and there's a pinch zoom too, in case you want to get close to a specific part of the action. Instead of zooming in, you can zoom out and turn the video into a floating window with the familiar Pop Up Play feature.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Pop up play

The same SoundAlive audio-enhancing technology from the music player is available here too. There are additional settings for the brightness, playback speed and playing the audio over Bluetooth (if you have wireless speakers).

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini managed to play most of the files we threw at it. It didn't have issues with playback of 1080p videos including MKV, FLV and MOV files. It had issues with the AC-3 audio codec and didn't manage to reproduce sound with it on many video codecs we tested. Some videos with AAC audio didn't produce sound either but others did.

Very nice audio output

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini did very well in the first part of our audio quality test, where we see how it performs with an active external amplifier. Each of its scores was excellent and the volume level was good, adding up to an excellent score.

Plug in a pair of headphones though and the scores worsen slightly - they are still very good, but our lab equipment still detected some intermodulation distortion and the stereo crosstalk spiked notably. The volume levels also worsened a bit, preventing the Galaxy S5 mini from matching its full size sibling the way it did in the first test.

Overall we'd say the performance is very good, but the bad news is one of the Galaxy S5 mini's key rivals is the HTC One mini 2. And that one is among the best performers of all time.

And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini +0.03, -0.04 -92.6 90.7 0.016 0.018 -94.0
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini (headphones attached) +0.23, -0.05 -86.7 86.2 0.052 0.167 -55.7
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini +0.06, -0.05 -93.5 92.7 0.0090 0.056 -86.2
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini (headphones attached) +0.08, -0.04 -93.2 91.8 0.029 0.089 -53.3
HTC One mini 2 +0.02, -0.09 -94.8 93.8 0.010 0.011 -93.5
HTC One mini 2 (headphones attached) +0.08, -0.03 -94.9 93.8 0.028 0.022 -90.1
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact +0.08, -0.02 -92.6 92.3 0.0052 0.012 -89.0
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact (headphones attached) +0.15, -0.05 -91.7 91.3 0.054 0.090 -43.7
Apple iPhone 5s +0.02, -0.05 -93.6 93.7 0.0013 0.0068 -90.3
Apple iPhone 5s (headphones attached) +0.12, -0.00 -93.4 93.3 0.0016 0.060 -76.1

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini frequency response

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

8MP snapper is capable

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini comes with an 8MP shooter that can snap at 3265 x 2448 resolution in 4:3 aspect. That's twice as less compared to the Samsung Galaxy S5's mighty 16MP snapper. The photos are in 4:3 ratio as opposed to the 16:9 stills from the big Galaxy S5. You can opt for 16:9 stills on the S5 mini as well, but that would cost you some of the resolution, as the images only come up as 6MP.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Camera interface

Otherwise the camera acts and looks the same. There's a column of shortcuts on the left, the middle two of which are customizable. All settings are collected into a grid of shortcuts so you can access everything easier.

The Mode selection gives you several options have been combined into Shot & more - Best photo, Best face, Drama shot, Eraser and Panning shot. You can download new ones if you like.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Shooting modes

A new mode is Virtual tour shot, which is similar to panoramas except you can move forward, turn left or right, move some more. The result is an animation of your camera movement, the phone will even draw a map with your path. More modes can be downloaded too.

Moving on to quality of the stills. The Galaxy S5 mini produces excellent results with plenty of detail, good saturated colors, good white balance and spot on exposure. The detail is plenty even in the smaller, more refined areas of photos (look at the wall texture in the yellow building). Things came out sharp from edge to center and back again and we got consistent results each and every time.

We also noticed that Samsung has toned down its oversharpening ways - the images don't look as processed as what we've become used to seeing from Samsung.

The camera is also fast to snap photos and was able to lock onto focus quick (not phase-detect Galaxy S5 or LG G3 quick but still).

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini camera samples

Macro samples came out nice and sharp as well. The Galaxy S5 mini was able to get really close to the subject and captured detailed images.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Macro samples

Samsung easily claims it has one of the best HDR modes on the market at the moment and the effect is up to the task on the Galaxy S5 mini. Below you can see the off and on samples to compare. HDR does a good job of exposing the shadows in the images and still take care of blown-out highlights in the images. The effect also offers a balanced look and doesn't appear exaggerated.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

HDR Off • HDR On

Panoramas were quick to capture and process and the stitching was excellent without uneven areas. The software will guide you through shooting and you can see on the screen's viewfinder if you're going out of border. You can snap in either portrait or landscape mode.

One issue is that when you begin shooting a panorama the phone will lock exposure to the initial point of focus. So the panoramas came out with slightly blown-out parts and there's no way to lock the exposure to another spot or have active exposure compensation while shooting. We had the same issue with the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini panorama samples

It's hard to frown at the images that came out of the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini. We would've liked a slightly higher resolution (say 13MP to match the HTC One mini 2) but otherwise we think the Galaxy S5 mini is a perfectly-acceptable substitute to your point and shoot.

The images are detailed and sharp, the camera is fast to focus and save and the photos look great on the phone's HD display or on a PC.

Here's our photo quality comparison tool. We've enrolled the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini and faced it with the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact (in 8MP Superior Auto mode) and the Apple iPhone 5s.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini in our photo compare tool

1080p video recording

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini takes smooth, detailed videos. The bitrate sits at around 17Mbps with a constant 30 frames per second ensuring fluid playback. Audio is a little muffled and carries a lowly 122Kbps of bitrate. The second microphone is used to ensure stereo sound, though.

Videos come out with plenty of sharp detail and we like the exposure we got right out of the box with the Galaxy S5 mini. You can tap anywhere on-screen to lock focus during video and the phone will give you a virtual button to return you to autofocus more. Take a look at the video below - note the extra-saturated colors.

And here's an untouched 1080p@30fps (32.4MB) video sample taken straight off the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini to avoid YouTube's compression.

Below you can find our pixel-peeping video quality comparison tool where the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini will face the likes of the HTC One mini 2 and the Apple iPhone 5s.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini in our video compare tool

Two browsers coexisting

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini comes with both the stock Android browser (customized by Samsung) and Google's Chrome. Only the stock browser supports Air View.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Android browser

Anyway, the interfaces of both browsers are virtually identical. Both show favorite web sites on their new tab page and can sync bookmarks and open tabs across devices. The browsers handle multiple tabs (with Incognito mode), but in Chrome you can switch between tabs by horizontal swipes from the side, which is pretty handy.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Google Chrome

Air view works in the browser, the first of which lets you simply hover your finger over a web element and it will act like mouse-hover, which is great for websites not optimized for mobile devices.

Note that Chrome has an option to reduce traffic by compressing web pages on Google's servers before they are sent to the device, similar to how Opera's Turbo mode (and Opera Mini) work.

Other apps

The My Files app organizes your files into categories - Images, Videos, Music, Documents, Downloaded apps, Recent files and even Dropbox files. The My Files app can move, copy, lock and rename files in bulk, even send multiple files to another phone. You can ZIP multiple files to be sent easier.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

File manager

S Health has a step counter, which is always working in the background, keeping track of how many calories you've burned. For more accurate measurements, the Galaxy S5 mini also features a heart rate monitor.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

S Health

You just press the tip of your finger against the sensor (below the camera, next to the flash) and in a few seconds you see the reading. For continuous readings, you can pair the phone with a Gear smartwatch or a compatible dedicated sensor made by Samsung, Timex or Garmin (but that beats the point of having it onboard the phone). So essentially, it's more of a gimmicky feature than anything else.

Besides the basic pedometer, S Health can also track running, cycling and hiking. Goals can be set based on distance, time or calories. During an exercise the app can play music and report your progress out load.

A calculator, voice recorder and a memo app are available out of the box.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Calculator • Memo

The Android calendar has been replaced by S Planner (although you can always download Google's stock Calendar). It features six different views: daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, list and tasks. For the month view, events on the selected day are listed in a panel on the right.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

S Planner

The Alarm app is quite advanced too. Each alarm has its own tone, snooze and repeat settings. It also features Smart alarm, which rings quietly, slowly turning the volume up for a less stressful wakeup. The app also features a world clock, stopwatch and a timer. The rudimentary stopwatch and timer are preloaded as well.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Clock

Samsung's Apps is now GALAXY apps and has a new design. The layout appears the same and you can find various paid and free apps in the store. The Galaxy Essentials is the best category to look for - it features premium apps that have been designed for or optimized to work with Galaxy smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Galaxy Apps

Naturally Google's own Play store has its foot in the Galaxy S5 mini door offering the biggest selection of apps available.

Final words

On its own, the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini is a merely a good midrange smartphone. Next to it's bigger sibling - it's probably Samsung's best mini to date. It retains what makes the bigger flagship desirable and cleverly mimics its superb performance so that it's easy to think the raw hardware power is equal.

Samsung has made this smartphone snappy thanks to good software optimizations. The proprietary feature list is also pretty long as is usual for Samsung smartphones. The motion gestures are here, even if the air ones aren't available, the IR blaster is here as well - we only wish HTC had provided one for their mini smartphone.



The camera does a good job, even if it can't compete with the excellent 16 MP snaps from the Galaxy S5, the display is also up to snuff despite the lower resolution. At 4.5" we can't really say the display is small.

Key test findings

  • Display is good but the maximum brightness is unimpressive
  • Great sunlight legibility due to low screen reflectivity
  • Loudspeaker is stellar, especially for an IP-certified phone
  • Camera produces great stills and 1080p videos
  • Battery life is commendable with a combined rating of 72h
  • Benchmark performance is acceptable though not stellar (equal to Snapdragon 400)

Samsung has executed the hardware and software of this Galaxy remarkably well. The price isn't as competitive as one might expect, though. Samsung asks around €370 for the Galaxy S5 mini, which in comparison with the €500 asking price of HTC for their One mini 2 at the time of launch, looks sane but still puts the Galaxy S5 mini at a disadvantage. Perhaps Samsung is hoping the Galaxy S5 mini will ride the sales wave of the Galaxy S5 and still come out on top.

Still let's take a look at the competition. Sony is probably the strongest of adversaries for Samsung in the mini sphere, although Sony makes its phone under the Compact moniker. The Xperia Z1 Compact has a slightly smaller display at 4.3" but it is of the same resolution and offers great quality. The water resistance is better with immersion possibilities beyond 1m, the camera is smarter and the Snapdragon 800 chip inside the Z1 Compact wipes the floor with the Exynos chipset used in the Galaxy S5 mini. The Z1 Compact is also currently cheaper.

You're probably wondering what an old Xperia SP is doing in this conversation but it boasts a still-capable chip, a bigger 4.6" display, a bigger battery and a much lower price tag.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Sony Xperia SP

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact • Sony Xperia SP

Now that it has received a well-needed 30% price cut off the launch price, the HTC One mini 2 is on equal footing with the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini, price-wise. The display is the same size and resolution, the battery is of the same capacity and the chipset is equal in terms of processing performance. The HTC One mini 2 has a bit less RAM but compensates with a higher resolution camera. Its speakers are superior to those of the Galaxy S5 mini on placement and quality, if not on loudness. The One mini 2 looks better and has higher quality materials but it is noticeably taller - in fact, it's as tall as last year's HTC One.

HTC One mini 2

HTC One mini 2

Motorola is en route to bringing us the Moto X+1 and G2 but for the time being here are two droids with the latest Android software that can easily compete with the Galaxy S5 mini - both have 720p panels with the Moto X display being larger and also AMOLED. The most important criteria here is price - both a much cheaper at the moment.

Motorola Moto X
Motorola Moto G

Motorola Moto X • Motorola Moto G

The LG G2 mini can't compete on display quality or water resistance but it has a bigger screen panel, a much larger battery and it is around the same size as the Galaxy S5 mini. Currently the G2 mini is dirt cheap in comparison as well.

LG G2 mini

LG G2 mini

The Samsung Galaxy S3 Neo is a new variant of the popular, now-aged Samsung Galaxy S III, and has the same 4.8" 720p Super AMOLED, 8MP snapper, expandable storage but is currently dirt-cheap as well and can be had for 100 Euro less than the Galaxy S5 mini.

Samsung I9301I Galaxy S3 Neo

Samsung I9301I Galaxy S3 Neo

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini is better than its predecessor on almost all fronts. It's 50% more expensive so if you fancy a small Galaxy with a Super AMOLED screen at a reasonable price the Galaxy S4 mini might be it, even if it is pricier than the Moto G, G2 mini and Xperia SP.

Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini

Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini

When the competition is this good, the user is the one that benefits the most. And it's not all about the price or features - many people go for the mini because it looks like the phone it takes after - in this respect the Galaxy S5 mini is a copy-pasted lookalike of the Galaxy S5, so that's one job done.

The LG G3 mini is still nowhere to be seen and so is the latest Xperia Compact phone. And the HTC One (M8) isn't doing as well as, which leaves the Galaxy S5 mini at a very advantageous positon.

Samsung had to bring a decent port of its flagship phone to a smaller size and throw in one or two key features to make it work. It's what the company did a year ago and what we expected this year. But it did way better than that - the Galaxy S5 mini is as close to the Galaxy S5 as a mini Galaxy has ever been so far.

Retail box

The retail box of the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini is about the size of the phone it has within. Underneath the Galaxy S5 mini lie headphones, a microUSB cable and an A/C adapter. Several leaflets complete the retail box.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Retail box and innards

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini 360-degree spin

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini is a very compact phone by today's standards. At 131.1 x 64.8 x 9.1 mm it's in between its competition. It's bigger than its predecessor - the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini - bigger than the Apple iPhone 5s, but smaller than the HTC One mini 2 and taller than the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. One thing's for sure though, the thickness is not that spectacular.

The weight is very good at 120g. Compared to the Samsung Galaxy S5 the mini is pretty petite.

Design and build quality

It seems that Samsung is very pleased with the design of its Galaxy S5 because it has been replicated in the mini version excellently. We like the approach more than what HTC and LG have done with their minis, which look similar to their bigger counterparts but still have a distinct lack of quality and refinement in comparison.

Side by side the two Galaxy S5s look exactly the same - from the button placements, to the proximity sensors, earpieces, camera lenses, hear rate sensors, IR blasters, 3.5 mm headphone jacks to the dimpled pattern on the back panel and the sides of both.

But there are subtle differences - for starters the size is an obvious one. Secondly, the microUSB port on the bottom of the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini is water resistant and doesn't require a water-repellant flap. The camera lens isn't protruding on the mini as well.

Compared to the HTC One mini 2 the Galaxy S5 is much shorter, mainly due to the lack of front-facing stereo speakers. The HTC One mini 2 feels colder and rounder in the hand and the added heft from its metal construction allows it to sit better in your hand.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini back panel has a matte finish and offers the same pattern of small dots that feel like dimples to the finger. The back panel has a nice little trick up its sleeve - it reflects light in a way that results in a little purple accent to the white color - a pearl-like effect.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini

We like the design of the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini and the fact that it hasn't moved away from the original. This is the first mini since the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact that does justice to its original. The Galaxy S5 mini and S5 look astonishingly alike and that has carried over to the feel of the device.

Controls

The front of the Galaxy S5 mini is where the majority of controls are. First on the list is the 4.5" display that gives most of the commands. Below it there are three buttons - a physical home button that doubles as a fingerprint scanner and two capacitive keys for recent apps and back.

Above the display lies the earpiece, the ambient light sensor, the proximity sensor and the 2.1MP front-facing camera. Also to the left of the earpiece lies the LED notification light, which is normally invisible - it blinks only for notifications.

There's no Air gesture sensor on the Galaxy S5 mini like there is on the Galaxy S5.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

The front of the phone

The power button sits on the right of the Galaxy S5 mini and the single-piece volume rocker is on the left side. The tiny slit that's used to undo the back panel is on the right.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Looking at the sides

The top is where the IR blaster is - provided with the right software, it will easily control your TV or set-top box (or both) and with some able apps you can even go further to cameras or AC units. Next to it is a second microphone that's oddly not used for background in-call noise-cancellation but will add stereo sound to your videos. We conclude the topside of the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini with a water-resistant 3.5mm headphone jack.

The bottom has an exposed microUSB port and the main microphone. It's nice to have the microUSB exposed instead of under a flap that you'd need to pry open every time you want to charge your phone but you should be wise to wait until the port is dry before plugging in a charger.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Top and bottom

The back panel plays host to the 8MP camera lens, a single LED flash that's used to aid the heart rate scanner (on the side of the LED). There's an etched-in Samsung logo and finally the loudspeaker grille on the bottom right.

Removing the back panel is easy enough and reveals a swappable 2,100mAh battery, a microSIM card slot and the microSD card slot. The back panel has a rubber inner-lining that fends off water in case of immersion.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

The back of the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini

Not only has Samsung translated the design of the Galaxy S5 into its mini variant but the company has also successfully made it feel the same. The materials feel equal in terms of quality and the phone feels equally-comfortable in the hand.

The smaller size will make a difference, especially if you get the mini right after the bigger Galaxy S5.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Handling the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini

Samsung has done a very good job on the Galaxy S5 mini - easily outdoing last year's model in both materials and features.