Samsung Galaxy S5 mini review
An exceptional small smartphone miniaturised at the cost of the camera
In my Samsung Galaxy S5 mini review I take a look at a small smartphone that has exceptional qualities for the typical phone user. However if you are serious about smartphone photography then you must read the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini camera review section found below.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini sports a polycarbonate body with a metal band around the edges, yet this could change for the S6 version, that offers a hint of that premium look you desire. The front is dominated by the 4.5” HD Super AMOLED display that has a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels.
It was a rewarding to discover that the S5 mini had retained the dust and waterproof (IP67 certification) characteristics of the Galaxy S5. However, it was even more shocking to discover that this waterproofing had been achieved even with an open microUSB port. This gives it a distinct advantage over the original S5 which has a protective flap that needs inserting before it comes in contact with water.
The body is 9.1mm thick and at 120 grams this is one of the lightest smartphones available on the market today. Inside there is a 1.4GHz quad-core processor with 1.5GB RAM which delivers a good user experience and an internal memory of 16GB which can be expanded upon with a 64GB microSD card.
Phone Set Up
There are several areas that need attention when you set up the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini. The first is security and you will need to go to the settings to activate the fingerprint sensor which is embedded into the home key. Once activated you can use it to unlock the phone or to make purchases with PayPal.
There is a negative here though as the fingerprint sensor doesn’t seem to be as accurate a system as that seen on Apple smartphones. If five scans fail in a row then you get locked out for 30 seconds, which could result in many users ditching this security gimmick in favour of a more traditional option.
The TouchWiz interface has been redesigned with new app icons and a new order to the settings menu, but this doesn’t take long to get used to. I do love the fact that the new interface will allow you to hide apps from view that can’t be deleted allowing for a less cluttered look with apps you use close at hand.
Need more apps? Well the Galaxy S5 mini is powered by Android KitKat so you can visit both Google Play and the Samsung App Store.
I am very impressed with the features on the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini and these include Wi-Fi or 4G internet browsing, GPS, S-Voice, Bluetooth, an infrared sensor for use with the Smart Remote app and S Finder which lets you search for any content on the phone be it a document, music track, picture or film.
The feature that I think most will get excited about though is the S Health fitness app. The stand alone features include a pedometer for counting your steps, a handy lock-screen widget that allows you to easily see your progress and a built in heart rate sensor on the back. Simply hold your finger over the sensor for 30 seconds to get a reading.
The S Health app also estimates the calories you have burnt when switched into walking, running, hiking or cycling mode. You may track your food intake, keep a record of your weight loss and check your stress levels too.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini can also be connected to the Samsung Gear or Gear Fit wearables to increase the functionality of the health app further.
Camera & Video
When comparing the Galaxy S5 mini to other mini phones there is a sticking point that some will not be able to ignore. The 8MP camera falls well below the 20MP camera on the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact or the 13MP camera on the HTC One mini 2. Personally 8MP seems like all the quality I would want but others may not agree!
The plus points in the camera department though are plenty and include the option to drag and drop three camera settings onto the viewfinder for quick use. The volume keys can be set to either zoom in or activate the shutter and if that seems like too much hard work then you could always turn on the voice control feature.
Further features include the option to tap anywhere on the screen to take pictures, video recording at 1080p, metering modes, beauty face, HDR and Panorama shot.
More camera features can be downloaded from the Samsung app store such as Sound and Shot. If you wish to take a selfie or make a video call then you will find a forward facing 2.1MP camera.
The 2,100mAh battery delivers another plus point for the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini and delivers up to 11 hours of video playback, 47 hours of music, 11 hours of Wi-Fi internet browsing or 8 hours of 4G web browsing.
Ultra Power Saving Mode is also available for situations when you need to save every bit of power that you can. This mode changes the screen to black and white, shuts down unnecessary features running in the background and provides a simpler user interface with only essential apps visible. Additionally you can see the maximum estimated standby time.
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini verdict: The overall package is exceptional with only the camera lacking in resolution when compared to other mini phones. If you can get past this then you will be delighted with your purchase but if you are photo crazy then buy the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact instead.
Written by: Michael Brown