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Galaxy S3 Mini vs. iPhone 5

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October 12, 2012

It's no contest, but the iPhone 5 can help put the Galaxy S3 Mini in perspective

It's no contest, but the iPhone 5 can help put the Galaxy S3 Mini in perspective

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When Samsung announces a new Galaxy S phone, the world pays attention. The Korean manufacturer has emerged victorious from the Android battlefield. With few serious challengers left, the heads of various EVOs, Droids, and Optimus handsets now decorate Samsung's battlements. The Galaxy S line represents the cream of Samsung's crop, and every new product is meant to turn heads.

That's why the tech world is instead scratching its collective head after Samsung's latest entry, the Galaxy S III Mini. We were hoping for a handset that would offer the raw power and slick design of the Galaxy S3, only in a smaller body. We got no such thing. Instead, we get a shrunken-down S3 with the guts of a mid-range smartphone.

Samsung was aiming for budget smartphone shoppers with the Galaxy S3 Mini. Though we don't yet know its price, the company is looking to use its familiar Galaxy S branding to further saturate the low end of the market.

Though we aren't looking at two evenly-matched phones, let's put the Galaxy S3 Mini in perspective by comparing it to Apple's latest, the iPhone 5.

Dimensions

The Galaxy S3 Mini is a relatively thick smartphone, by 2012 standards
The Galaxy S3 Mini is a relatively thick smartphone, by 2012 standards

Maybe Samsung should have called it the Galaxy S III: Stubby Edition. Though the Mini isn't as long or wide as the standard S3, it's much thicker, with and extra 2.25 mm of depth compared to the iPhone 5.

In fairness, though, the S3 Mini is more of a competitor to the iPhone 4 or 4S, and it's only about half a millimeter thicker than Apple's older models.

Weight

Lightness is one thing the S3 Mini has going for it
Lightness is one thing the S3 Mini has going for it

Despite its tubbiness, the Galaxy S III Mini is shockingly light. Its plastic build helps it to come in a hair lighter than the aluminum unibody iPhone 5.

Display

The display alone defines the S3 Mini as a mid-range smartphone
The display alone defines the S3 Mini as a mid-range smartphone

The display in the Galaxy S3 Mini would have been solid two years ago. Today it's – at best – in the lower-mid-range. This is the category that most blatantly illustrates Samsung's direction with the S3 Mini. It's is a penny-pinched, budget smartphone.

The display in the iPhone 5, meanwhile, is among the best. For a more fair fight, refer to the iPhone 5 vs. the (full-sized) Galaxy S3.

Processor

Though the S3 Mini's processor should be solid, it won't likely benchmark anywhere near th...
Though the S3 Mini's processor should be solid, it won't likely benchmark anywhere near the iPhone 5

On paper, this looks closer than it likely is. Apple's A6 (manufactured, ironically, by Samsung) screams. It typically benchmarks higher than devices with quad-core chips, and makes the iPhone 5 one of the zippiest handsets on the market.

Samsung hasn't specified the exact CPU inside of the Galaxy S3 Mini, but we'd be shocked to find something that offers anything approaching breakthrough performance.

RAM

Even RAM
Even RAM

Though it won't break records, the S3 Mini should perform reasonably well. Along with its dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM should help keep it running smoothly.

Storage

Samsung appears to be aiming for bargain basement prices with the S3 Mini
Samsung appears to be aiming for bargain basement prices with the S3 Mini

Here's another red flag that says "Budget Phone." Any modern mobile device that comes in an 8GB model is reaching for economy shoppers. We don't know yet about pricing for the Mini, but the 8GB and 16GB models will probably be separated by US$50.

Wireless

What, no LTE?
What, no LTE?

With Apple aboard the LTE bandwagon, there are no remaining high-end smartphones that aren't compatible with the ultra-fast wireless network. This is yet another sign that the S3 Mini is mid-range: it's still living la vida 3G.

Battery

This category doesn't tell us much, but with mid-range hardware, the S3 Mini should get go...
This category doesn't tell us much, but with mid-range hardware, the S3 Mini should get good battery life

Until the Galaxy S3 Mini releases, there's no fair way to compare its battery life to that of the iPhone 5. With a lower resolution display and no LTE, though, it's hard to imagine it struggling.

Cameras

The camera in the S3 isn't high-end either
The camera in the S3 isn't high-end either

Nothing special here for the Mini. The 5MP rear camera and VGA front shooter are – again – mid-range specs for a 2012 smartphone.

Intangibles

One area where the Mini may outshine the full-sized S3: it ships with Jellybean (jellybean...
One area where the Mini may outshine the full-sized S3: it ships with Jellybean (jellybeans: Shutterstock)

We could make a long list of the intangibles of the iPhone 5 (especially compared to the S3 Mini), so we'll highlight the App Store. Its selection of quality, well-designed apps its legendary. Is it an advantage over Android's Google Play Store? That's for you to decide.

Despite its middling specs, the Galaxy S3 Mini is shipping with the latest major update for Android, 4.1 Jellybean. Depending when the Mini releases (and when the full-sized S3 gets updated), it may run Jellybean before its flagship big brother does.

Summing Up

This wasn't a fair fight. We could have just as easily compared the full-sized Galaxy S III to the three-year-old iPhone 3GS. Though it disappoints geeks and can't be considered a high-end offering, Samsung will find an audience for the Galaxy S3 Mini. Customers respond to familiar branding, and most shoppers don't care about specs. Those looking for a familiar look and feel – for a (likely) rock-bottom price – may be delighted to own the S3 Mini.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
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9 Comments

I don't really understand the point of the comparison? Why not just compare the s3 to the s3 mini.

Michael Mantion
12th October, 2012 @ 09:39 pm PDT

Appleheads are amazing to what lengths they will go to justify their aging product. I agree with Michael you should have compared the two 3's and by the way while you are at it could you compare the pricing between the Apple and Mini 3? Or perhaps the maps function...wifi and well you know the routine....having to compare the apple 5 to low and mid field product lines doesn't bode well for the Apple.

equator180
16th October, 2012 @ 02:09 am PDT

This was a worthless review. Why don't you compare the Galaxy s3? Not the mini?

You just compared a Lexus to a Kia.

Schrodinger
16th October, 2012 @ 05:03 am PDT

Yeah, completely agreed with all of the comments above. You should have compared S3 rather than mini. It's totally worthless comparing Galaxy S III Mini with iPhone 5.

iPhone 4s case

neil007
17th October, 2012 @ 02:37 am PDT

I've never seem so much in the way of nervous Fandroids. Why would you compare the S3 to the S3 Mini? They are the same product line but the Mini is now iPhone 5 sized. So a more fairer comparison right? The same size etc.

For all the fanboy trumpeting of the S3 to be supposedly being better than the iPhone 5 their fans were hoping for a true iPhone killer. As good the S3 but at the same size as the iPhone? Oh yes!!! That would surely give Fandoids true bragging rights once and for all right? But no, Samsung realized it was harder to pack all that power in a small space after all. So in fact it damages the S3 legacy... in order to buy something the same power of an iPhone 5 you have to buy the larger version.

As for the fandroids still mentioning maps there's 3 things to think about:

1) Apple moved away from Google Maps as the default app on IOS 6 because Apple wanted turn by turn navigation and Siri control. Google said "Yes", but only if Apple gave them access to user data. Apple said no because, girls and boys, let's not forget that Google make 2.5 times more revenue from selling mobile user tracking data (all of that comes from Android handsets/tablets at the moment) than they do from Google Play.

2) Google Maps will be on iTunes soon. It's currently in Alpha stage of development.

3) Both apps are average at best. Navigon or Garmin are much better if you want a GPS app in your car.

pazoozoo
27th October, 2012 @ 05:26 pm PDT

This is a very good comparison because you can see how a mid-range phone like S3 mini with an attractive design can fulfill a user's needs without paying something like 5 times more, just to have a little stronger hardware. For me iphone 5 just doesn't make any sense. If it does for some, I hope they have fun with it without trying to justify it for themselves.

If you compared iphone 5 with S3 it was not also a fair comparison because iphone 5 just can't beat S3 in specifications, it is something between S3 and S3 mini but more expensive for a neutral user. But for a fan of apple it of course is the greatest.

Sepehr
29th October, 2012 @ 02:17 am PDT

Alright to those guys who posted negative commends against the Author , you need to shut up and keep those negative commends for yourself , he gave you good info and educated you , otherwise you would not know it was a bad or good comparison .comparison is information and information is power and power makes you smarter .Got it ?

Sonny Wu
6th November, 2012 @ 10:32 am PST

Why is it wrong to compare the iphone 5 to the s3 mini?

There brand new devices that are the same size. Why else are android phones so big so they can fit everything inside. It's tough. Maybe one day if apple makes a screen the size of the S3 then well compare. Until then the iphone 5 of its size compared to an s3 mini of its size is no comparison. It kills it. Period

Daniel DelVisco
11th December, 2012 @ 06:46 pm PST

S3 mini is amazing....small but terrible ..fast and reliable among the the galaxy models ..one of a kind smartphone and it is really cool to have one of this phone.

Molan James
26th April, 2013 @ 08:01 am PDT
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