Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini: Are smaller screen smartphones in demand?

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini: Are smaller screen smartphones in demand?

Summary: Samsung announced the Galaxy S4 Mini with a 4.3-inch display. Its big brother — the S4 — sports a 5-inch display, but many people still find such devices too big for daily use.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini: Are smaller screen smartphones in demand?
(Image: Samsung)

The current trend in smartphones is to go big, with many new high-end models sporting 4.7-inch to 5.5-inch displays. That's fine if you are data-centric and have big hands and pockets. However, there are still many people who want a smaller phone.

Samsung officially announced the Galaxy S4 Mini and it will be interesting to see if this smaller brother enjoys the S4's level of success.

I can understand the desire for a smaller display device. I remember a time when people thought the limit for smartphones was going to be 4.3 inches. I am satisfied with my 4.7-inch HTC One and 4.5-inch Lumia 920, but the 5.5-inch Note II is definitely not that convenient to carry around for communications and doesn't go with me everywhere as the smaller devices do.

With the popularity and rise in 7- to 8-inch tablets, we may soon see a trend of people going back to these smaller display devices paired with small tablets. There are rumors of an HTC One Mini and a device with the HTC One build quality — and a 4-inch display could be a very attractive offering.

The Galaxy S4 Mini is not an S4 and has many reduced specifications, including the display quality, camera resolution, battery size, internal storage, and processor speed.

The Galaxy S4 Mini has very limited internal storage (5GB available); since Android doesn't let you install applications to the microSD card, you will be limited by how many applications you can have on the device. The S4 Mini also has a dual-core processor and — given that Android performance is related to processor speed — it is unlikely that you will see the kind of responsiveness you can find on optimized Windows Phone devices.

People may be willing to accept some reduction in performance with their desired smaller display, but I wonder where that lower limit is. I wrote about low-cost Lumia smartphones a couple days ago and how they offer more to the consumer than older generation iPhones and low-cost Android devices. The display of the Lumia 521 is 4 inches and the 82x series on carriers is 4.3 inches. If you want a smaller display device, I recommend you look at one of these Lumia devices.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Samsung, Smartphones

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  • How do you have a job?

    While I agree that I would not want a subpar phone. i.e. a reduced spec phone. How do you still have a job with statements like "since Android doesn't let you install applications to the microSD card, you will be limited by how many applications you can have on the device." Are you still using a G1? I run applications off my SD Card all the time.
    • Root or special tricks required, not supported in current Android

      By default, you cannot install apps to the external storage on Android. There was a time when that was possible, but now you have to root or use advanced techniques to make that happen and performance is questionable. Regular users won't attempt these methods and thus they are limited by how many apps they can install. As games reach sizes of 1.5 GB, this does start to become an issue.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • Isn't it hilarious...

        when super nerds assume average folks use tech the same way they do.
        • I never assumed

          I was just unaware. For all you know I am not a super nerd, and only have and ICS or older Android. What I found out was a feature that I found to be very useful, was taken away with the latest OS. So, I guess the real question is, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING GOOGLE?
      • I stand corrected!

        They have removed the feature in Jelly Bean! I apologize!
        • oops...

          yeah my POS is gingerbread
      • can't install them there... but they can be moved and run from sdcard

        or you goto applications, click the app, click move to sdcard and for many
        TA-DA- its on the sdcard and it runs just fine!
  • Recommendation???

    So, if someone is looking for a smaller Android phone you reccomend a Wndows phone?
  • Absolutely they are in exceedingly high demand.

    The most popular Android phones on the planet have screen resolutions of 320X240 pixels with over 1/2 of all Android phones having 4" screens and UNDER (as in not OVER).

    NOTE: This does not mean the bulk of revenue generation in Android handsets is coming from mid to small screen devices just that the bulk of people are choosing them over the gigantinortisours like the S3, S4, HTC 1 and Galaxy Note I/II but Android users think market share alone is important and not revenue. Likewise, many of these smaller screen devices NEVER access the Play store but they are counted as part of the 900+ million Android phones activated/sold.

    NOTE: " since Android doesn't let you install applications to the microSD card" is not correct. Android has allowed storage of applications on the external storage since Froyo.
    • Note: You can't install apps to the SD card

      Yes, Froyo let you do that with apps. However, that is no longer supported on Android. I believe this change came in Ice Cream Sandwich, but maybe it was Jelly Bean. Anyway, this presents an issue for modern Android smartphones with only 5 to 9 GB available. All high end devices should come with at least 32GB or else Google should go back to supporting installation to the SD card.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • Thanks for the update.

        I still use GingerBread (predominately) and don't have an external SD device in my one JB test device. Likewise, I don't use Android much out of a preference against it (clumsy IMO). Had not realized they took that option away because it was much loved in 2.2.
      • WTF?

        Why? I mean why has Google done that?
        Yes you can do it with Froyo and Gingeqbread, and for some phones, for example the HTC Desire and Huawei U8180 (aka Orange Stockholm, T-Mobile Rapport, Huawei Gaga & Ideos) it's absolutely necessary as they have mere MBs of internal memory, not GBs!
        Lord Minty
        • they've done alot of stupid things

          you need root to have an app turn on airplane mode now too.

          Tasker turns it on for me (and my GB phone) when I goto class so I can never get tossed out for my phone ringing... but if I had JB i'd need to root the phone to do that.
    • Please elaborate

      "Android users think market share alone is important and not revenue."

      As opposed to apple consumers who think revenue alone is important. Meanwhile, crazy WP8 users think that functionality alone is important.

      It actually makes FAR more sense to base your purchase on marketshare and is the height of stupidity for a user to base their purchase on the revenue of the company who makes the product. In fact, anyone who does this is a fanboy. Oh, hi Bruiser.
      • agreed

        buy a phone everyone else has and issues are better known and more likely fixed. Experts in the phone abound, There's a million roms for a Galaxy phone ( ANY OF THEM!)

        People who have phones that nobody else bough have no roms, and little to know tech support (don't tell me i'm wrong, I have such a phone and getting any help is like pulling teeth.)

        My wife has a toyota corolla and any time i need parts I know I can goto the junk yard and they got it for me on the cheap... someone with a different vehicle, one with many fewer on the market finds a junkyard useless.
    • yeah

      yup, mine is like that. 3.5 inches.

      If i could get a 4 inch GS4 i'd be so happy! the stripped down features'll pass..
  • 4" screens...

    are my limit. I already own a desktop, laptop, tablet... I really don't need a large phone. Hopefully some high-end phones come out with reasonable screen sizes.
    • Everyone is missing it

      why are we buying phones at all?

      sell me a phone(better yet a let me keep my 920) with a just a data plan, I'll just use a Skype number or others may use google talk

      I spend $60/month to att just to get 450 minutes and unlimited text, this would cost $5/month with a Skype number, my current 3 GB/month would probably be enough data
      • but that would save you money

        why would they want to do that? they want to take your money silly!
  • This is a very valid argument

    No it all comes down to the real crux - no one size fits all.

    I like that Samsung off a smaller screen premium device- not everyone wants budget.

    Personally I'm between phones - I have just bought a lumina 620 to give windows phone a go while I try and decide which smartphone will become my exit purchase. I'm very drawn in by the cameras on the Nokia 925 and rumoured EOS, hense trying out the 620 software for a few months. Of course this time of year I'm not pulling the trigger until apple announce their next offering, although I expect just an i5s.

    The size of those premium Nokias is a deterant to me, so I will definitely be checking out the s4 mini camera in shops when it comes out.

    Reality is I do all my largerscreen stuff on my ipad mini, so I don't want a large screen mobile - the 620 is pretty perfect for a lot of my needs, low light camera is pathetic however.

    Why've never had more choice... But I think a little more is always a good thing!