Design & Handling
This is light years away from the currently snowballing trend towards ever-more gargantuan smartphone displays. If you miss the old days, when your phone could actually fit in your front pocket along with your keys and change, then you'll be happy to know that there are still a few reasonably sized smartphones out there. The Galaxy Mini 2 was designed with more care than we're used to on a budget phone. The finishing is perfectly good (although the body, of course, is all in plastic), and provides for comfortable handling. One original touch is that it comes with three removable casings: black, orange and yellow. Neat!
With its TN panel, the display is nothing to write home about. The contrast is barely passable and the colours are anything but accurate, with a Delta E of 11.7 (where under 3 is preferable). The brightness is a little better, but outside in the sunlight the screen can still be difficult to read properly, and the viewing angles are extremely narrow. The touchscreen, however, is fairly precise and reponsive. At the end of the day, this display will get the job done and even please some consumers, but only ones who've never owned a high-end smartphone before. That said, we wouldn't want to discourage brands from putting higher-quality screens on their phones, even if it means adding a few quid to the price tag. From photos and videos to web browsing and gaming, high-quality displays have become an integral part of the user experience.
Interface & Navigation
Lay users will have no trouble figuring this phone out. Like the other products in the Galaxy line, Samsung has included its TouchWiz overlay. TouchWiz is an intuitive interface that offers seven homescreens (where the basic Android 2.3.6 has only five) and a number of widgets for customising your phone. The Social Hub takes feeds from all the social networks you're a member of and displays them on one screen so you can see all of your "friends'" activities at a glance. It also includes online stores such as Music Hub and Game Hub, where you can preview music and games and, of course, buy them.
The Galaxy Mini 2 has an 800 MHz Qualcomm processor and 512 MB of RAM. These give it decent, though not exceptional, responsiveness. Whether you're downloading apps from Google Play (this does take longer than on more powerful smartphones) or running several apps at a time, the Mini 2 proves to be a fairly lively and alert device. It does, however, slow down at times when running certain games (don't even bother with the biggest, most recent ones) and it gets choppy here and there when scrolling through long web pages. In fact, you're better off disabling Adobe Flash altogether; it'll only slow down the browser.
The Mini 2 has a 3-Megapixel camera but no flash. I won't beat around the bush about the image quality: it's mediocre, period. The pictures it takes are cruelly lacking in sharpness (we hadn't seen images like that in a while). If only they were cruelly lacking in noise, too... Basically, even just for taking shots of your friends at a party and posting them on Facebook the next day—even then—it's borderline. The Galaxy Mini 2 won't pull any consumers looking to take on-the-fly masterpieces with their smartphone. And the video function isn't any different. Even as the modestly priced smartphone that it is, we were expecting a bit more from the camera. In fact, it's pretty much the same story as the screen. This is 2012. And in 2012 we've come to expect at least a modicum of quality, even at an entry-level price. (Last year's Galaxy Ace had a better photo function than this does.)
Now we can breathe a sigh of relief: we're at the audio part. The Galaxy Mini 2 has a good headphone output; the sound is well-reproduced and there's no distortion. It gives decent enough dynamics and the volume is just about average, comparable to the Galaxy S3. As for the built-in speaker, there are no surprises here. It's like every other smartphone speaker in existence: at best, it's a back-up for when you have absolutely nothing else to listen through. And the hands-free kit that comes in the box is as basic as they come; we advise against subjecting your music to it.
The Galaxy Mini 2 is cooperative when it comes to web browsing. It displays pages fairly quickly (though not big ones chock-full of Flash modules) and navigating runs smoothly enough. However, to read small text clearly you'll have to make friends with the not-always-responsive zoom function.
With a little over a day of life in it before it demands its next refill, the Galaxy Mini 2 is lucky to find itself in the category of smartphones that have a reasonable battery life. Compared to bigger phones optimised for games, web browsing and movies, you may tend to use the Mini 2 less than you would a Galaxy S3—and all the better for the battery life!
- Nice finishing
- Sound quality
- Intuitive interface
It would be cruel and unusual to compare this phone to the Galaxy S3, HTC One X or iPhone. The Galaxy Mini 2 is an inexpensive, good-looking device that will be a good buy for anyone who wants a smartphone that's easy-to-use and that lasts past lunchtime. The trade-off, however, is a mediocre screen and a camera that makes you wonder what decade it is.