Samsung's Galaxy mini offers an affordable entry point to Google Android. Running version 2.2 'Froyo' of the open-source mobile platform, this handset is available SIM-free for just £101. See also Samsung Galaxy Nexus review
At less than a quarter of the asking price of the best Android smartphones on the market, it would be ridiculous of us to criticise the Samsung for its relative shortcomings. That the screen is noticeably smaller at 3.14in, and infuriatingly low-res in comparison at just 240x320 pixels, is perhaps not something we should be surprised by. What's more interesting is what you do get for such a small amount of money.
Unique among Samsung smartphones is the TouchWiz interface. This includes Swype technology, which allows for fast text entry with no need for your finger to leave the screen. You also get a Social Hub, which conveniently puts data from your Facebook, Twitter, email and instant messaging accounts in one place.
The software is otherwise standard Android fare, with three home screens to which you can add the usual widgets and application shortcuts, and Google's useful Maps, Latitude, Navigation, Places, YouTube and Android Market apps are preinstalled. A bottom row offers fixed shortcuts to the dialer, contacts, messaging and more options.
The Galaxy mini's small build means it's easier to pocket than large screen-dominated models. But while this smartphone is shorter, it's just as chunky, and arguably not particularly deserving of the term 'mini'. This has a less pleasing effect on the eye, but the Samsung feels sturdy and one-handed operation assured.
The design is rather basic, with the Galaxy mini offered in 'Chic white' or 'Steel grey' plastic housings. A microSD slot for expanding the device's 164MB internal memory to 32GB is hidden behind a flap on the right edge, while a microUSB charging port sits below a similarly hinged piece of plastic on top. Samsung provides both a microUSB cable and mains adaptor in the box.
Also on the phone's right side is the power switch, on the left is a volume rocker, and at the top is a 3.5mm jack to plug in a pair of headphones. Below the screen is a large home button, along with back and more keys, but no search; none lies flush with the screen.
There's no HDMI port for hooking the mini up to an HDTV, not that you'd want to. But the latest wireless 802.11n standard is supported, along with legacy b and g. You also get Bluetooth 2.1 and GPS connectivity.
Despite being fitted with only a 600MHz processor, our subjective tests revealed this handset to be adequately snappy in both navigation and web browsing. Although text-heavy pages suffer from the screen's low resolution, the mini is at least as fast as HTC's similarly priced (and sized) Wildfire, which uses a 528MHz CPU. However, it has less onboard memory than that device, and its camera is inferior too.
Compared to the 8Mp snappers we now see on many Android smartphones - and the Wildfire's 5Mp model - the Samsung's 3Mp camera is seriously lacking. There's no flash, no autofocus, no front-facing cam for video chat, and no HD recording mode (video stretches only to 320x240 pixels). A 3x digital zoom, several photo modes, effects and white-balance settings make it usable for those times you don't have a dedicated camera to hand, however.
The battery is rated at just 1,200mAh, whereas many of its rivals specify 1,500mAh power packs. Samsung claims a talk time of 570 minutes, or 570 hours in standby mode. Find the best deals on the Samsung Galaxy Mini GT-S5570