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Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE vs Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini: spec comparison

MobileFeatures
by James Laird
, 19 Dec 2012Features
Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE vs Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini: spec comparison

For many tech pundits, 2012 will be remembered partly for heralding the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy S3. As such, it's hardly surprising that all eyes are back on the Korean electronics giant and its one-time flagship handset as Christmas rolls around and consumers dig into their pockets for a final splurge. With this eventuality no doubt in mind, Samsung expanded its Galaxy arsenal ahead of the festive season, introducing the more affordable Galaxy S3 Mini back in November in a bid to encourage more frugal buyers to part with their hard-earned dosh as well. The hope was that the S3 Mini would be a scaled down version of the wildly popular S3, but how do the two closely related devices match up in reality?

Size and weight

As you would expect given its moniker, the Galaxy S3 Mini is the more diminutive of the two phones, measuring 121.55 x 63 x 9.9mm and featuring a 4in display. The Galaxy S3, on the other hand, is one of the larger smartphones on the market, sporting an expansive 4.8in screen and sizing up at 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6mm. It's an interesting discrepancy: despite being the smaller device, the S3 Mini actually has more girth than its larger sibling. It is the lighter device, however, weighing 120g compared to the S3's 131g. Neither is exactly chunky, though, so it's largely a matter of screen-size preference.

Display

Both devices feature Super AMOLED screens, but the cheaper S3 Mini is fairly lacklustre with regards to display quality, featuring an uninspiring resolution of 800 x 480 pixels at 233ppi. By way of contrast, the full-scale Galaxy S3 features one of the more impressive screens on the market, with an HD resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels at 306ppi – admittedly inferior to some of its newer rivals, but still considerably better than its pint-sized sibling.

Storage and memory

The latest UK version of the Galaxy S3 (below) packs an impressive 2GB of RAM and comes in one standard model featuring 16GB of on-board storage. For content hoarders, there's a microSD card slot on hand enabling capacity to be increased up to 64GB. The S3 Mini also features expandable storage, though its card slot can only handle up to 32GB, with the reduced form factor handset coming in 8GB and 16GB iterations, depending on region. The 8GB version dominates the British market and offers 1GB of RAM.

Processor

Performance can't be judged by specifications alone, of course, but Samsung's quad-core Exynos 4412 SoC is one of the more impressive sounding configurations out there. Clocked at 1.4GHz and featuring a Cortex A9 CPU and Mali 400-MP graphics, it's likely to be a fair bit quicker than the S3 Mini's dual-core NovaThor set-up, which is clocked at only 1GHz.

Software

There's little to distinguish the two handset brethren with regards to software, as both devices currently come pre-loaded with, or are immediately upgradeable to, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. It's worth nothing, however, that the higher-end Galaxy S3 should get an incremental update to Jelly Bean 4.2 in early-2013, while owners of the mid-range S3 Mini are likely to be further down the OS update list. 

Camera

When it comes to photographic capabilities, the gap between high-end and mid-range is again pronounced. The S3 features an 8-megapixel camera, full HD (1080p) video, and a 1.9-megapixel auxiliary front-snapper, while the Mini (below) sports a decent 5-megapixel shooter, 720p video, and a VGA front-facing lens. Truly keen photographers are no doubt pondering our "Best cameras for Christmas 2012" feature rather than debating megapixels on a smartphone, but for the intrepid on-the-go amateur, the dearer Galaxy S3 may well be worth the extra moola. 

Battery

Part of the lore surrounding Samsung's Galaxy S3 is down to the reputation of its powerhouse 2,100 mAh battery, which can keep you chatting for up to 11 hours if the manufacturer is to be believed. There's no way its reduced-specification relative is going to best it in terms of longevity, though the S3 Mini obviously demands less power consumption. Its 1,500 mAh motor should be enough for most day-to-day usage, with Samsung proffering a best case scenario of 7 hours talk-time on 3G.  

Connectivity and wireless

The newest iteration of the Galaxy S3 comes readied for the UK's new superfast 4G LTE spectrum, currently furnished exclusively by EE but due to be rolled out to other carriers in early-2013. The S3 Mini unfortunately looks confined to now old-gen 3G networks for its shelf-life, though it does - like its more exclusive sibling - feature NFC technology and Bluetooth v4.0. There's no room for built-in wireless charging on either device as of yet, but that's a feature that's still something of a luxury and a novelty rather than a necessity.

Price, availability, and opinion

With its quad-core processor set-up, 4G LTE compatibility, full HD display, 8-megapixel camera and expandable storage up to 64GB, the full Samsung Galaxy S3 (below) remains one of the most impressive handsets currently available and is widely available on contract, and SIM-free for £500. While it's a considerable outlay, you'll get streamlined access to the latest Android updates as well as top-notch specifications. If you're considering a high-end smartphone, you're probably comparing the Galaxy S3 vs the iPhone 5, or even having a gander at the Windows Phone 8-running Nokia Lumia 920. The simple fact is, the full Galaxy S3 is a much better handset, and its price tag reflects its superiority.

The £300 S3 Mini, on the other hand, comes across as a bit of a disappointment in today's smartphone landscape. That's not to say it's entirely without merit: its camera is serviceable if hardly spectacular, its a sturdily built device, and the microSD card slot means that on-board storage capacity can be cheaply boosted. But compared to, say, the Google Nexus 4, it comes across as fool's gold at best - the aforementioned £239 LG-manufactured handset offers a quad-core chipset clocked at 1.5GHz, full HD display, Android 4.2, 4G in the form of HSPA+ and an 8-megapixel snapper for £60 less, putting its mid-range Samsung rival to shame in the process.

If you're an Android fan in search of the best value handset, the Galaxy S3 Mini is not an optimal proposition. In fact, it's not even close - it's a scaled down version of its full form factor forebearer in name only. Specification compromises were always likely as Samsung attempt to breach a new price sector, but while the S3 still deserves to be classed a 'Top Five' high-end handset, its mid-range relative isn't so much a doppelgänger as a borderline disaster.

For more, check out our list of the best smartphones for Christmas 2012.

 

Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini

Display

   

Screen size

4.8in

4in

Resolution

1,280 x 720 pixels

800 x 480 pixels

Pixel density

306ppi

233ppi

Type

Super AMOLED

Super AMOLED

Processor and battery

   

Family

Samsung Exynos 4412

NovaThor U8420

CPU

Cortex A9

Cortex A9

Cores

Quad-core

Dual-core

Clock speed

1.4GHz

1GHz

GPU

Mali-400MP

Mali-400

Battery

2,100 mAh

1,500 mAh

Claimed 3G talk time

Up to 11h

Up to 7h

Storage and memory

   

RAM

2GB

1GB

Internal storage

16GB

8 / 16GB (market dependant)

microSD

Yes (up to 64GB)

Yes (up to 32GB)

Camera

   

Megapixels

8MP

5MP

Resolution

3,264 x 2,448 pixels

2,592 x 1,944 pixels

Video

1080p

720p

Front-facing camera

1.9MP

VGA

Wireless

   

UK Network

4G (LTE)

3G

Wi-Fi

802.11 a / b / g / n

802.11 a / b / g / n

NFC

Yes

Yes

Bluetooth

v4.0 +HS (A2DP/AVRCP)

v4.0 (A2DP, LE, EDR)

Built-in charging

No

No

Dimensions

   

Size

136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6mm

121.55 x 63 x 9.9mm

Weight

131g

120g

Operating System

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Price (SIM-free)

£499.95 RRP

£299.95 RRP

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