Product Type: Samsung Smartphone
Newest Review: ... battery life was so poor. The SIII must last me about twice as long, I don't seem to need to charge it up so much. The speed at which yo... more
Meet my Snazzy Suzie Samsung....
Samsung Galaxy S III Mini
Member Name: tinkerbell18
Samsung Galaxy S III Mini
Advantages: Speedy, Smooth, Simple
Disadvantages: None (so far)
As I had a SIM only contract with O2, and because I had had it for more than 6 months, it was possible for me to upgrade to a contract with a phone. This was quite handy considering that I still wanted smartphone abilities (and you can't really get a cheap smartphone) and I didn't really have a lot of money. I ended up carrying out the whole process online - and I'll review the ease of this next review!
The phone I chose was a Samsung S3 mini, which is a relatively small, touchscreen smartphone. The screen is about 4 inches wide, which, considering the size Samsung smartphones are becoming, is absolutely tiny! I didn't want to go for a bigger phone because I would find it awkward to use with one hand. I had been into the store to have a look at the S3 and S3 mini, and just found the larger phone awkward to use easily with having to hold with one hand and use the other (I tend to like to multitask). I also have a tablet so didn't really feel that I would need a large screen as I didn't intend to watch any videos on my phone (unlike my other half, who uses his S3 big to watch a lot of videos!). As I ordered it online, I couldn't quite remember the size, so I was a little worried it may be smaller than I remembered, but fortunately it was the opposite; it was slightly larger than I remembered. But it is easy to hold, and lovely and light.
I really wanted the blue version of the phone, but it wasn't available at the time, and I'm not very patient. I went for the white version, and was slightly dreading it as me and white things tend to magnetise dirt to them! The phone is white on the front and back, with silver around the edge. There is a thin silver speaker (for phone calls) at the top of the phone (a thin tablet shape), above the word Samsung (also in silver). To the left of this are two small circles (which don't seem to do anything, so I imagine these are sensors), and a slightly larger circle, which contains the forward camera. There is another raised button beneath the screen - this is the home button. When the phone is unlocked, there is a menu button to the left of the home button (this is a light on the phone, and not an actual button that you click), and there is a back button to the left. These are only accessible when the phone is unlocked, and only light up when you touch them - they work a little like the touch screen! The lock button is on the right edge of the phone towards the top, and the volume button is on the opposite side. Both are silver and part of the edging. Overall, there are three actual 'clicky' buttons, and 5 buttons altogether including the touch ones - so quite a simple system. There is a rounded square on the back of the phone containing the second camera, with a smaller square beneath containing the very bright flash (very!), and two slits in the cover next to these where the speaker is found.
I think the layout is very simple - there isn't anything there that you won't need, and nothing added to make the phone look 'fancy'. The white and silver make the phone look very classy, and so far I haven't got it dirty - it's got a slight shine to it which seems to stop dirt sticking to the white. The simplicity of the design is carried through to the phone and how it works. As I've said before, it is touchscreen and is actually quite sensitive - it responds to your touch without you having to continuously jab the screen, but not to the point that all you need to do is look at it and it works! You swipe across the phone to change the screen (I have about 5 screens with different options and apps on it) and the movement is very fluid - to the point that I did just sit there 'swishing' the pages for a while when I first got the phone! There is also an option to swipe downwards and see all your notifications and select the ones you wish to view, the battery power, turn on wi-fi, Bluetooth, data, and change the backlight on the phone (although this is done automatically as well).
So. So far we now know that the phone looks good, and is fun to swish the pages. The important thing: does it work as a phone? The clarity on a phone call is very clear, and you can just swipe across a name to call them (this is sometimes a lot of effort, as the phone does not track your full swipe all the time, and it'd be quicker just to select the name and phone it). You can pull the phone away from your ear and there are on-screen options, such as mute, and a keypad can be brought up if you need to input any numbers - which is especially useful as you have no actual keypad! It's simple to use (especially when you avoid swiping to call!). There is an option for the phone to hang up when you turn it over (either end or reject a call) but I turned this off as I found that that was a bit of a pointless option for me, and I was worried about whether it would always do as it promised! There is a nice option to reject a call and send a quick message at the same time; you swipe upwards and pick a text to send (the top text is I'm driving) - it's swipe and click, so quick and easy to do when you're busy. It only really works if someone is calling off a mobile, but you can reject any call with that one swipe. You can even programme in your own rejection text to send, but I find the options that are there are quite sufficient.
Texting is simple. It is a Qwerty keypad (so laid out like a computer keyboard) and you can hold the phone portrait or landscape. Landscape allows the keys to be slightly more spread out, and slightly larger, but does reduce how much of your text you can see - you can see what you are currently writing but the rest disappears, as does the text you are responding to. This is the only time my phone irritates me, because scrolling up to see the text is fiddly: the phone really doesn't like to do this if you are composing a text. It's much easier when you are just going through a series of messages however. The landscape option for texting is useful - I don't really use it, but I have noticed the older members of my family revert to this whenever they use my phone (my dad does have larger fingers than me!).
So in terms of what you would expect from a mobile - it calls, it texts, and without too much frustration. Yay! In terms of a smartphone - I absolutely love it. For the internet, there is already a shortcut for Google Chrome, which is my preferred internet browser. You can sync the phone to your Gmail account (just press the Gmail shortcut, a little red and white envelope) and follow the instructions. This can sync to your calendar, if you use a Gmail calendar, and ensure everything is connected together. At the moment, my calendar is linked to Facebook, but it only notifies me about the events I want to know (usually the events I've put in there myself).
I tend not to use the Samsung App store as it seems to have a limited amount of apps available (more games, less Facebook and BBC News), so I just the Google Play store, which is indicated by a shopping bag shortcut! You put your card details into here, but don't fear, you can't accidentally make a purchase - I have to put a password in every time I want to make a purchase, so when I have once or twice accidentally pressed the wrong thing, it's easy to escape! I must admit I do have Angry Birds of the Star Wars variety on my phone (I was so pleased to see it isn't just Apple!), as well as Facebook, Twitter, BBC News and Weather (which both come in larger 'widgets' so you can actually see the weather and news headlines on your phone screen, without having to open anything or press anything), and Amazon Kindle (just in case my Kindle does run out of battery! Considering the amount of things I have on my phone, each runs smoothly, and my phone is just as quick as it was in January when it was empty!
You can access a full menu of all the apps and 'widgets' (never quite sure what these are, but my BBC News updates on my screen are one) that are on your phone - both ones that you have downloaded and ones that were already on your phone. A really handy widget I have found is the torch widget - with the touch of a button, I can turn on the incredibly bright light on the back of the phone - it's very, very bright! To put an app or anything on your main screen, hold it down until you feel a little buzz, and drag it to the page you want (I currently have about 4 or 5 home pages at last count, with a variety of things). You can shift apps around and delete them as and when you need - just when in doubt, press and hold them down and you usually get some options! I think the same can be said for a lot of features; just press and hold buttons down and you seem to access some new shortcuts and features.
The battery does hold out quite well on the phone. I let the phone die completely before I charge it fully again - which I do every two days. Considering how much I use it (phoning family, playing games, texting), I think that the battery life is quite reasonable. If I am on the phone for more than an hour and use my phone like normal the battery doesn't last as well as it could (usually about a day rather than two days). The charger that came with my phone has quite a long cable, and will go in other phones, not just Samsungs. This appears to be a common thing with smartphones now - they all seem to have the same type of charger, which is such an advantage when I go and see my big sister, who has a Nokia, as I don't need to remember to pack my charger anymore!
I did pay £50 for the phone, but I went for the cheapest contract (which was about £17.50 but that was raised with a VAT rise, or something like that). If I had been willing to pay over £25 a month, I would have got the phone for free. I think now, even my contract would result in a free S3 mini, as there are several newer phones out now!
Overall, I love my phone. I have invested in a cover for it to protect the screen - this replaces the back of the phone, and has a flap that can be opened to reveal the phone screen. It didn't stop me making the edges look nibbled when I dropped it three times in one day, but considering that was the only damage, I'm quite chuffed. The S3 mini is a simple, robust little phone which does the job I want; it allows me to access my emails, text my friends, and fiddle on lots of apps when I should be working (or writing 'short' reviews). I will keep you posted with how it lasts, but with 10 months in, the only issue is that the edges look a little chewed - not bad considering my usual track record with technology!
Summary: A handy little smartphone from Samsung