on January 25, 2013
New colors are currently available! Titan Grey, red and black version of the Galaxy S III Mini i8190 is also available with some of the very same Amazon sellers!
BEWARE: Before buying this phone, CHECK YOUR MOBILE CARRIER'S NETWORK BROADCASTING FREQUENCY BEFORE BUYING THIS PHONE, THIS IS A POTENTIAL INCOMPATIBILITY IF YOU HAVEN'T CHECKED. THIS IS A GSM PHONE. GSM GSM GSM!
1. UPDATE Dec '13
If your screen/digitizer is slightly unresponsive in registering your finger movements or that it gets stuck i.e. with the lock screen at times, this is caused by:
1. Dated out-of-the-box firmware
2. A poor quality screen protector
3. All of the above
Updating to the latest firmware via (Settings->About Device-> Software Update) will address this issue. The latest December releases are bundled with the I8190XXAMJ1 or I8190XXAMJ3 base bands.
1. Latest Updates
2. Main Review
3. The power users & geeks - Rooting the i8190
2. Main Review
So I bought this phone to replace an iPhone 4. Been having it for 2 years and the antennagate issue's been getting worse especially this year... So I thought I'd make a small phone upgrade and I got the S3 Mini.
Personally, my unit was from Wireless Everything. The phone arrived promptly in its original packaging with an untampered security seal. As an icing on top of the cake, the seller included a free Europlug to US 2 Pin adapter so the S III Mini charger would fit into a US wall socket.
My thoughts on this phone after using it for 3 months,
-Very light for its size, isn't too big
-3.5G is pretty fast (Btw the power saver feature can throttle your bandwidth aka internet "speed" apart from the processor)
-Android 4.1 preloaded
-Very smooth UI
-Still has the good multitasking feature on GS3
-(Call Quality) So I tested its battery life with voice calls. On one occasion, I had a 1 hour long call and it battery was down from 100% to 90%. So that equates to probably a 10 hr continuous talktime with a full charge. Very clear speaker
-Touching/Pointing is accurate
-Battery Life (expected it to be better, still pretty decent though)
-Rendering lag on certain websites that contain a lot of images
-Screen resolution (Though the resolution isn't high, pixelation isn't obvious from viewing distance. Its not grainy and still very clear
-Direct Call isn't always responsive. I think the camera doesn't see your ear always while you're messaging or in the contact list. It might take 1-2 more tries.
-Screen contrast & brightness - Excellent indoors, good outdoors (without direct sun). Could have done better under direct sunlight ("By design" of AMOLED).
-"Actual" Free internal memory is about 4.5GB/8GB
-Contains some bloatware that autostarts and clogs the system by Samsung & Other parties I'll list them below.
-Minijack is a little soft with the volume.
-MAJOR CONS: You can't put your apps on the SD card without rooting it.. Firmware limitation on Samsung's side most probably :(
-There is no LED notification blinker light like on the big brother Galaxy S3 (on the left of the front speaker). You have to wake up the screen to check if you've received messages (Pointed out by Nelson Wong).
Bloatware in my opinion (These apps can autostart and they "revive" when you attempt to kill them) clog RAM, have a toll on the battery life as they attempt to communicate with the internet or use the processor mainly.
To disable these services/apps -> Application Manager -> All -> Locate them -> Uninstall updates/Disable -> Disable -> Restart your phone
1.SNS (Facebook integration stuff)
4.Samsung Chat On
5.S Voice (If you don't need a voice assistant)
7.GTalk (You gotta be in the right context menu to sign out of GTalk/Gmail Chat)
8.Google Search app (there's already a Chrome)
10.Flip Board (If you don't need this)
11. All Share
12.Polaris viewer 4.1 (It keeps popping up the dialogue asking you to purchase the pro version.. I disabled it and got adobe reader and a free office app)
13. Samsung's "Music Player" (Not a bloatware but its quite clunky). "Google Play Music", a media player from the play store's a lot more easier to use and integrates better to the notification screen. For the video player, MX Player is an good one that plays lots of media compression formats (MX player codec packs are also available on Google Play). With hardware acceleration enabled, this provides smooth video playback.
This phone's great for my use. As an ex-iOS user, I found the Android OS to be a lot less restrictive and apps were better integrated. Good call quality, good reception.
Out-of-the-box experience was 3/5 imo largely due to high amounts of bloatware that are turned on by default, if you tweaked these stuff by disabling them you should be able to optimise RAM usage and increase your battery life by a noticeable margin.
I bought a 16GB Micro SD for this phone because I thought apps would run on it but unfortunately, no. I do hope this feature will be enabled via a software update some time in the future.. because 4.5GB/8GB of unused NAND on the GS3 Mini's abit too low if you're a smartphone gamer (fortunately I'm not).
The biggest plus? Price. Absolutely great value and I am keeping this phone.
Overall, 4/5. :)
If this info's helpful, mark it as a helpful post to allow others to get the message. Honestly, I like Samsung hardware (look at my profile) but these are the pros & cons I've identified. I do like this phone but it isn't perfect, certain limitations listed above may be hated by some (SD card doesn't store apps using original Samsung firmware), a non-issue to others. If you could live with those limitations, I'm pretty sure you'll love this phone.
Just an additional note to anyone interested in this phone FOR the SERIOUS buyers...
The Galaxy S3 Mini is NOT an officially sold product in the US, Samsung's probably tired of the Apple litigation and they're not wanting to create any circumstance that would create more accusations against them. To me, this is a loss for fellow US consumers.
On the product itself... most likely the seller(s) would have acquired the phone directly from Europe (probably the UK or Germany). This is a parallel imported product.
- Don't expect your manual or GS3Mini's "setup language" to be english. You should've seen this coming.
- No US warranty.
- As I've said in the review, network compatibility - your carrier's frequency - don't complain if your phone does not call if you haven't made this check.
- IMPORTANT: Since the product is a parallel import, YOUR TRUST to YOUR SELLER is KEY in this types of purchase. Consider the seller's:
1.Reputation and seller review. Poor delivery, opened/used product etc in reviews
2.The reputation and track record is a good indicator if the seller's handled the GS3 and its packaging properly (Lower chances of DOA)
-Assuming these 2 "factors" are considered, find out if the seller's item is "FULFILLED BY AMAZON" or the seller. You know what I'm talking about :) Amazon's extremely efficient shipment ETA.
-If prices are *almost* the same between a "Fufilled by Amazon" vs a complete 3rd party, go for the Amazon. If the 3rd party's giving you a better deal in pricing, you probably should give the 3rd party a try. :) I bought mine from a third party seller on Amazon personally.
Just made this extra section dedicated to:
3.The power users & geeks - Rooting the i8190
WARNING: I do not recommend rooting your phone if you have a weak heart or you're unaware of what you're doing. It may/may not be risky depending on your level of proficiency; this is a $220 phone. If you're wanting to root your phone, keep backups of your files. Make sure you back up (your personal files) anything you don't want to lose.
Additionally, if you're on a custom ROM, make sure you back up your IMEI/EFS partition in case of a bad flash that bricks your device of it's cellular functionalities.
I decided to open up this section of the review since I've rooted my S3 mini after a couple of months from purchase in an attempt to unlock the capability of installing apps on my SD card. Thankfully, this capability does work on the rooted S3 mini!
To do this, you'll have to install an app like "Link2SD" on the Play Store which is capable of moving files to your SD card using the "link method".
What the link method does is actually similar to the "rmdir" command on Windows. It creates a "shortcut" which points to your SD card, where your app files will be stored at instead of the internal storage. This tricks the OS to think that apps on the SD card are actually stored on the internal memory.
If you want to conserve more battery life, consider using the "Greenify" app on the Play Store. Allow Greenify to hibernate all your apps EXCEPT messaging apps and essentials! (Note: Apps added to auto hibernate during idle will not be able to send you notifications). Your idle time battery life can be increased noticeably with this app!
That said, what rooted Android ROMs work well with the S3 mini (i8190)?
There are 2 on XDA developers I'd like to mention and I've used without stability issues
-There are lots of helpful tools from software-based bricks to other rooting utilities available on XDA's Galaxy S3 Mini Android Development section including the Samsung Odin utility.
-avicohh's I8190XXAMG1 [NOT FOR NFC N, T or L model]. This rooted firmware is based on the official Samsung firmware for the i8190 only WITH the addition of root capabilities. That's the only difference.
-New Maclaw's CyanogenMod 10.2 [JellyBean 4.3.1][Unofficial port]. This is a custom ROM based on AOSP and Cyanogenmod sources. The only differences are that Maclaw has incorporated various fixes for glitches that have arouse as a result of the port. The reference Android interface seen on Google Nexus phones are used here with small tweaks added through CM's Trebuchet 1.0.
-Various other flavors of 4.3.1 ROMs by Maclaw's also available on his site. i.e. Carbon, PAC-man, SlimROM.
(But CyanogenMod receives the most attention from the both the community and the developer as the most mainstream custom ROM)
Note: New Maclaw's CyanogenMod 11 [JB 4.4.2] is available BUT UNSUITABLE for daily use currently because it's a WIP. However, users who'd like to help/ the developer accelerate/contribute the development of CM11 by providing logs of their phones to the Maclaw's team for debugging purposes.
Rooting Tools Required (for custom i8190 ROMs)
Warning: This section is meant to be deliberately dense. Amazon isn't the appropriate place for beginners to learn rooting, XDA is. :)
-Look up "Samsung Mobile USB Driver XDA" (Windows USB drivers for your phone to communicate with your PC)
-Look up "Odin Version 3.04/3.07 xda" (Samsung's ROM Flashing Utility)
-avicohh's 4.1.2 rooted [odin] OR Maclaw's CyanogenMod 10.2 [odin or CWM/TWRP]
-Titanium Backup (Highly Recommended)
Note: Odin installation packages are recommended for beginners/initial flash especially (PC required). Subsequent flashes after obtaining root access may be done through CWM/TWRP (and its respective package),(PC not required).
They're very similar if you used a utility app like Titanium Backup Pro to freeze all Samsung bloatwares.
One word describes Samsung's touchwiz messaging app: laggy. The extent of the lag is amplified if you attempt to underclock your CPU to reduce power consumption. The reference Android messaging app on the other hand is fast and responsive. You're also able to make replies to newly received messages without closing the apps you were working on.
Favouring Maclaw's CM10.2
Favours avicohh's original Samsung firmware with root very noticeably if you used Titanium backup pro to freeze all unwanted auto-reviving bloatwares. Higher RAM usage levels are seen on CM10.2 and they could be caused by the CM team's customisation.
Both are very stable. On Maclaw's CM10.2, there are a couple of exceptions. CM10.2's built in DSP Manager (CyanogenMod Sound manager) may crash abruptly during music playback if you receive incoming messages and as such, you'll probably want to disable this until it's fixed.
Which ROM's my daily driver?
I've moved on to Maclaw's CM10.2 because of:
1. The excellent reference Android's messaging app, its very responsive.
2. The stock Android UI and its color schemes compared to Samsung Touchwiz.
3. Noticeable performance improvements over Samsung's 4.1.2 without compromising on battery life. (4.1.2 benchmarks at a score of 7000-8000+ on Samsung's 4.1.2, CM10.2 benchmarks at a straight 10000 here.
4. Enhanced privacy and security features of Android 4.3.1 that are present on CM10.2.
Other Optional Optimisations
1. Install "Mother of all ad blocking" to limit in-app advertisements from loading.
Hope this helps.
As you run apps with SU access, some of them may unintentionally mess with some key files while you're trying to learn more about your rooted phone. So do backups routinely!
Other good mentions are that you'll probably want to install a firewall for added privacy and security for your phone. Avast! has one for rooted Androids.
This superb phone with many features is just right to fit into my jean pocket or in a small purse with ease. Since this phone has EXCEEDED all of my expectations, here is my very detailed review of this very special and fun to use Mini S3 phone. My goal in this review is to help in your buying decision one way or the other regarding this phone.
Update 8/24/13 - Just received today, the newest firmware/OS for the 4.1.2 OTA (on my phone directly) as it was updated from Samsung and this is very new at this date of Monday, August 5, 2013 and arrived in my phone's Notification area today. After the upgrade completed, I noticed at once that this phone is lightning fast and the touchscreen is very, very fast and responsive! This is the THIRD update that I received since I purchased this phone in April 2013. Each update is not that large, however, it enhances the performance of this phone. Very encouraged as if the updates keep coming regularly, perhaps
4.2.2 will be coming to the S3 Mini. And from my research, it is possible that the S3 Mini may receive the 4.2 OS but it will be a while longer...Till then, I shall keep on trying to update and keep you informed...
- SIZE AND WEIGHT: Perfect size for me as it fits easily into my jeans pocket or smallest purse. And I purchased a leather vertical case that clips to my waistband so I take it with me to the gym to listen to my music or radio when I work out.
- STANDARD REGULAR SIZE SIM CARD: The S3 Mini has a regular/standard Sim card slot. (Note the S3 regular phone and S4 phones accept a micro Sim. Good to know as I did not have to cut my Sim card, I just placed it into the S3 Mini and I was good to go, and I did not have to set up the APN settings for Internet and MMS as the setup did this for me automatically). This is good to know if you want to use your regular Sim card and not have to deal with settings yourself. What a great feature.
- Phone call clarity etc. - No matter what my location using this phone for phone calls the clarity of calls is loud and clear whether on the phone's speaker, headset etc. I even had to turn down the volume quite a lot as the calls come in so well.
- WiFi/3G (Internet): Connects to any WiFi I have tried very quickly and easily. And when not near a WiFi, I use AT&T for data and easily get 3G and found the data to be very fast, almost as fast as my home WiFi is. (For browser, I installed Opera Mini free from Playstore and found it to be a very easy to use and fast browser).
- Overall speed, performance, smoothness, picture quality of the screen--very fast and peppy. And I found a way to SAVE on both memory and on battery. What I did was to go into Apps/ Manage Apps and DISABLED the apps I don't use. Without rooting the phone, you cannot uninstall pre-installed factory apps, but you can disable them. Disabling the ones you don't use makes the phone run faster and frees more memory! Since I am a techie, I know which ones to disable and which ones not to disable, so if in doubt, please ask me in the comments and I will be glad to assist you in this.
- BATTERY LIFE: This phone has given me the BEST battery life of ANY smartphone or that I ever owned. And I use 100% brightness. For me, even at 100 brightness, if I use WiFi or Data just when I need it and then turn it off, I get all day into the night on one single charge! (I charge nightly and the phone is at 100% ready to go the next morning).
- EXTERNAL SLOT FOR MICRO SD CARD - This helped to sell me on this phone as I can add my personal music, photos, videos and more to this phone!
And I placed a 32g in mine for music, files etc. *Keep in mind where External SD cards are concerned: They are JUST for your personal files: music, videos, photos, and other files. When you install apps from Playstore or other sources, they store either in INTERNAL Memory Card or sometimes in the phone area (most store in the INTERNAL SD AREA). This is the law of the land where Android is concerned and ALL newer Android devices (including Samsung) work this way when storing your downloaded apps are concerned.
- INTERNAL STORAGE SPACE:
This phone is advertised at 8GB of Internal space. The 8GB is the space BEFORE the drive was formatted, OS installed and then factory apps installed. So what I had on the phone BEFORE I installed any apps it had 4.75GB left. This is how it is on any flash drive, SD card, Hard Drive as formatting alone takes up space.
Also, since 3.0 Android and above, you cannot save any apps to your personal SD card. Instead the apps are installed one way or the other to the INTERNAL SPACE. However, the good thing is that your personal files as photos, music, videos, and more can be installed to your EXTERNAL SD Card so you do have that space for yourself.
**I have a few apps I downloaded from the Playstore, but no games so I still have about 4.08 GB left on my phone for more apps later should I wish to install them.
- CAMERA - The 5MP camera concerned me that is UNTIL I took both indoor and outdoor pictures and even video. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. When I printed out some close up and other shots, I was really happy with the detailing in the pictures. And it compared to the picture quality I had with my Samsung Galaxy Note with 8MP camera, so what a happy surprise! Turns out to be a pretty good camera.
- Bluetooth Speed and Performance - The Bluetooth paired quickly with several devices and copied files at a great rate of speed.
- Adobe Flash is not supported in this phone or ANY ANDROID DEVICE after 4.0 OS. The only way to get flash is to get a archived flash and use a high end browser such as Puffin or Maxthon Browser. So downloading the older archived flash gives the ability to view SOME internet videos, but this is better than no flash at all. Keep in mind this is a problem with ALL brands of Android devices with 4.0 OS and higher it is just after 4.0 Android came out, the NEW and best flash is NOT supported for Android devices. It is what it is...
- Very small instruction "manual" provided with the tablet, however, I went to the Samsung site and downloaded the full manual and saved it in PDF on my laptop for reading anytime I need it. If you want the link for the manual, let you know in the comments and I will give it to you.
- This phone will NOT accept an OTG (On the go) USB plug for flash drives, mice, etc. This was not a problem for me, I just plug in the USB Cable to copy files to the phone. So no big deal.
- International Phone so NO US WARRANTY. Not a problem for me because I have learned over time that if a device is going to fail, it usually does it within the first 30 days. This phone has been great--no problems at all!
- No NFC except on the model with the N on the model number. I do not use NFC so I have no problem with that.
Bottom line: Would I buy this phone all over again? Yes I certainly would. Will this phone be the best for you? Yes, if you do not expect every bell and whistle feature from the BIG S3, want just the most important features, want a smaller and more lightweight phone that will do all the basic things of a Smartphone, then I totally recommend this phone!
Hope this review has assisted you and thank you for reading it. Please feel free to ask me any questions in the comment area and I will answer all questions in a very timely manner.
on April 7, 2013
This phone is really unlocked, I received it on time and with its original box and all the accesories in. It works perfectly in Venezuela! Love it
on July 31, 2013
I felt that my Samsung phone was a defective one. I have three phones in the family and mine gets dropped calls/inability to text/missed texts etc. I attempted to return this defective phone only to receive an email saying I can't because it's pass the 14 day period. If you review the return policy, you will see it's EXTREMELY difficult (if not impossible) to make any kind of return even for a defective product. If you used the phone for more than 30min, you can't return it without a 50% restocking fee. Wow. Chances are, you will use it for more than 30min. Honestly, I wouldn't buy a phone after reviewing the policy. It is my fault for assuming amazon has a standard 30day return policy and for assuming amazon takes care of their customers. I would rather pay full price at a legitimate store for the warranty alone. Cell phones are never guaranteed to function properly. Do you want to take that $300 risk?
Here's the important stuff that I quote from the return policy:
"All International phones are not USA manufacture warranty, and no our store warranty neither, including the accessories
If there is returned and refund needed, has to be return item within 14 business days from the delivery, and with buyer own expense. After 14 days there is no returned and refund acceptable no matter what problem on the phone.
Our 14 days return period only effect for defective phone, or ShopEbest sends out wrong order. Any other reasons would cost buyer 20% to 25% of restocking fee.
50% restocking fee will be charger, if buyer returning phone not as brand new condition and not in resell able condition , such as missing plastic bag, phone's life time minute has been used more than 30 minutes, writing on the box, screen protector is missing on the screen, missing accessories, etc.
All unlocked phone's feature is not 100% guarantee suitable to all locked same network frequency carrier. Due to every carrier has their own network frequency and setting on their features. Please kindly check out if the phone's 2G, 3G or 4G suitable for your phone carrier, before place the order."
UPDATE: Don't get this if you plan to use T-mobile. T-mobile runs on a different frequency band that this phone doesn't support. Your phone will WORK but it won't be as good as a phone that also works with ALL of T-mobile's frequency bands.
on March 7, 2013
I LOVE MY NEW PHONE, IT IS GREAT AND BEUTIFULL. IT WAS SHIPPED ON TIME AND WORD VERY WELL IN VENEZUELA
on October 21, 2013
I've had this phone for about a week and I'm quite impressed with it.
This is not a full product review as many kind owners already have done so. I'll concentrate on provider/network compatibility, to include mobile data connectivity (speed/capability).
Before that, I'd like to touch on a few concerns I've come across:
1) 8GB storage - When you view the storage on this phone, the available space reported is about 4.5GB.
This is because a portion of the 8GB has been used by Android itself, leaving 4.5GB for users. This
is the same on any Android phone and computers. A phone advertised to have 16GB will leave about 12GB
or 13GB for user. Moreover, an 8GB phone actually has a little over 7GB to start with. OS will
always reserve a portion for superblock when setting up file system. And, there's always a rounding
preference (1000Kb vs 1024Kb). Plus, the presence of bloatware. My 16GB phone has about 13GB of
free space after getting a makeover using CyanogenMod (JB 4.2.2). Therefore, having 4.5GB on an 8GB
is about right. On the other hand, having 8GB of available space on a 16GB is a problem, as is on a
fresh S4 device.
2) Not a new product comment - The box should be sealed, if it is factory new. Some sellers may have
opened the boxes to perform some locale setup. Some phones are probably returned items due to buyer's
remorse that are almost factory new. This is an unlocked/unbranded phone besides the Samsung logo.
If the phone asks you to unlock, return it. If you see any carrier logo (I've read about Orange),
return it. If the language is not the language of the your resident country, return it. I do believe
the default language on an unopened phone is UK-English. Also, a brand new phone will ask you to
choose a language on initial boot up. This behavior is also the same on the phone after a factory
3) International phone? - Just about any quad-band GSM phone is an international phone. A quad-band GSM
phone guarantees to allow you to receive voice/slow data access. If the phone is from AT&T or T-Mobile, you
will not be able to use it while you travel outside of the U.S. unless your carrier unlocks it for you. I own a
Samsung designed specifically for AT&T and I've used it in different countries, also with different providers
in the same country, just fine - all because AT&T unlocked it for me. An AT&T phone became an international
phone after a few minutes of chat with AT&T service rep. There are certain rules AT&T may follow to decide
or determine whether your phone is eligible for unlock. Most phone manufactures that used the once
dominating Nokia Symbian OS have supported multi-language for years. Android is no different. Sellers love to
use the word international as their marketing technique.
4) Charger is not correct - Chargers will accept the range of A/C 110v~240v these days, no problem. If
the plug does not fit U.S. wall jack, you can get an adapter easily for $2. I've been using a
European USB charger on all my phones for the past 3 years. The S3 Mini is not designated for U.S.
market, therefore it is not unusual to get a charger with European style plug.
Now, onwards with my main objective.
The first note on provider/network compatibility is that if your current phones you consider replacing carry the name Verizon or Sprint, or Virgin Mobile, this phone is -not- for you, unless you are looking to switch mobile provider.
This phone does -not- work with Verizon and Sprint. Not because the unit is defective, it is simply not compatible with Verizon and Sprint networks. And, no expert at Verizon, Sprint or Best Buy can make it work for you, not even having Amy Poehler with you at Best Buy. And no, we certainly don't need to activate GSM phone, and contacts can be downloaded onto your S3 Mini from the cloud if you've used Google ecosystem. So, please, no negative review for this reason.
The above note essentially leaves the rest of us GSM users, or potential GSM users, in the U.S. and other countries, to further consider/evaluate whether this phone fits the bill.
This phone is -not- tied to any carrier, therefore is an unlocked phone that accepts mini SIM card from any GSM provider in the world. GSM providers in the U.S. are AT&T, T-Mobile and other mobile virtual network operators such as Straight Talk and Net10, who resell similar services on/through AT&T and T-Mobile network infrastructures.
The model I tested is I8190. I've read that there are 3 versions: i8190, i8190L and i8190N. The i8190L is desiginated for Latin America; the i8190N is supposedly the i8190 with NFC, then there is the vanilla i8190 - the original, I suppose. I haven't come across any document showing these 3 versions are different from network support perspective. My advise is to consult with the seller for accuracy. You should also check with your provider to find out what your provider network accepts.
The I8190 supports GSM quad-band 850/900/1800/1900MHz which cover just about the entire spectrum 2G/EDGE/GPRS services that include voice service and slow data access. If your primary concern is voice service availability, you are all set with this phone in the U.S., when you jet set around the world or if you live in other countries which is 80% GSM world. And, you can still receive slow data access through 2G/EDGE. You can also use WiFi as your alternative data access option.
If you are also interested in using your phone as an high speed data device, the evaluation has just become much more complicated. This is where I think the biggest part of the community is always asking when potential buyers want to know if this phone will work. The whether-it-works question should be divided into 2 parts: voice and high speed data access. The voice/slow data access part has been addressed, and we'll discuss the high speed data access.
In the U.S., to get 3G or HSPA-4G, aka WCDMA (not LTE-4G) service, the phone needs to support either 850Mhz or 1900MHz frequency bands. When the product description shows "3G: 900/2100MHz", you will -not- get high speed data service. This is because AT&T and T-Mobile do not operate 3G/HSPA+ on 900/2100MHz spectrum. Yet, sellers can advertise the product as 3G capable without falsely advertise their products. Please note this carefully.
About 18 months ago, T-Mobile launched its new business model of "Bring your own devices" to mostly lure AT&T iPhone users over. To achieve this, T-Mobile reconfigured most of its 3G/4G network onto 1900MHz, to stay compatible with AT&T signal frequency. This has made it easier for us to switch between AT&T and T-Mobile as long as the phone supports 1900MHz, and is unlocked.
Please note that T-Mobile may -not- have 3G/HSPA service on 1900MHz deployed everywhere in the U.S., though the coverage is/has been expanding.
In the Latin America, most mobile providers deploy their 3G/HSPA+ on 850/1900MHz, and that is why "L" version will most likely cover the entire the Americas. Some providers in the Americas do use 1700/2100MHz.
In Europe/Asia, most providers deploy 3G/HSPA+ on 900/2100MHz; the 2 continents S3 Mini seems to target. The best practice is to check with your mobile provider on the appropriate frequency bands before buying. And, contact Amazon/seller to check the bands supported on the devices.
How well does the I8190 play in the confusing 3G/HSPA+ world? Quite well, I think. I confirm through the service menu that, the version I tested is a tri-band 3G/HSPA+ phone, supporting 900/1900/2100MHz spectrum. This is consistent with information I dug up everywhere but it doesn't address what I8190L is. If we are willing to assume there is no difference on 3G/HSPA frequencies support, I believe the 1900/2100MHz range will cover most of the 3G access in the Americas
The lack of 3G-850MHz support on this phone may render it less attractive. Then again, this phone is intended more for Euro-Aisa market. Nonetheless, this phone will serve as a wonderful phone, no punt intended, maybe even a camera, not a full-fledged PDA. Please verify with your respective providers for network compatibility.
I've personally tested the I8190 on both AT&T and T-Mobile 1900MHz networks. The phone shows it can
connect to HSPA service, as denoted by the "H" symbol, on both networks. In theory, it's probably H+ (HSPA+) but hardware design may have omitted the "+" symbol.
I've also tested the phone's WiFi range capability and am impressed with it. The range is even better
than some of my other devices connecting to the same access point from the same spot.
I further compared its speed performance with my Verizon LTE MiFi, and felt that this phone was able to keep pace in terms of internet access. I tested apps download on the phone from Google Play, and I've also turn the phone into an access point for tethering from my tablet where I tested apps download and update, just to push the limit a bit.
I have no intention to compare 3G/HSPA+ speed with LTE speed, particularly when I'm using two different providers on two different types of services. I used this setup just to see how well the S3 Mini stacks up against a carrier-optimized device running on its native network. The user experience does not disappoint, I feel the S3 Mini can hold its own. It is swift on the 3G/HSPA+ network as a mobile device, and being an access point to my Android tablet.
To recap, here are the points to note:
- GSM phones will -not- work with Verizon, Sprint or any CDMA operators. Keywords in the product description to look for are "GSM", "unlocked","international phone." Such keywords imply you're looking at a GSM phone.
* Amazon does have a separate section for phones with service contract which includes Verizon and Sprint, along with AT&T, if you enjoy shopping on Amazon like I do.
- With GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz support, the phone will guarantee compatibility for voice/slow data (2G/EDGE) service anywhere in the GSM world.
- 3G/HSPA data access depends on HSPA bands supported on the phone. Frequency must match network operated by the specific provider. 3G bands are 850/900/1900/2100MHz. This phone supports all but 850MHz.
- Be sure to buy the phone that has the proper frequency support. HSPA quad-band is the safest choice if available.
- Must match at least 1 of the HSPA frequency to receive 3G/HSPA data service.
- In the U.S., a phone with support for HSPA 1900MHz band will get 3G/HSPA service on both AT&T and T-Mobile networks.
- Get detail info on supported bands from mobile provider and communicate with seller to ensure the phone has support for the particular frequency bands.
on February 6, 2013
So far all expectations are met or even exceeded. Budget wise, a really good choice. Big enough and small enough.Comes with a note that says it will NOT work on Verizon and Sprint but will work on AT&T and T-mobile.
on March 5, 2013
It is a great phone. Here are some highlights:
- It has a regular size SIM card, therefore no need to cut it. When you travel abroad usually you get a local regular size SIM and save on roaming.
- it has a beautiful screen, just the right size. I wish Galaxy S3 had this screen because the one it has is way too big and can't be operated with one hand.
- Battery life is impressive, with just the voice and WIFI turned on it managed to run close to 4 (four) days on one charge. You can see that complaining on short battery life is not productive at all since it is not just phone's fault. There are many factors that contribute to short battery life: wireless coverage in the area you live, whether you have all possible social gimmicks turned on that keep draining your battery, running apps in background that are poorly written and waste CPU cycles, amount of time the screen is on and so on.
- Jelly Bean is easy flowing
I am not a app junkie and mostly use the phone as a phone with occasional use of apps when I am in WiFi hotspot range.
By achieving 4 days on a charge with no wireless data on, tells me how power hungry 3G and wireless data can be, and multiplied by horrific cell coverage, where instead of 5 towers we have just one, blasting at full power, we get this sub par battery life on the smart-phones. I believe LTE should be worse and drain you battery even faster, just in stand-by. Therefore we should blame the carriers and not the phones in 98% of the cases.
Hope this review is helpful. I am happy with the phone and would recommend it to my friends.
on February 18, 2013
For those who don't need the latest and most expensive phone on the market. It's very fast and nice. Very good choice. No problems at all.
on October 1, 2013
I purchased a phone that was advertised as new from Pacific Cellular and received a used phone. The phone arrived without a seal on the box, battery was not in a sealed wrapper and took too long to charge and discharged early. You could see that the phone had been previously handled, with fingerprints all over the back and front cover. Thank goodness for amazon, as their staff were very helpful in getting a full refund. I recommend avoiding The seller and choosing one whose products are "fulfilled by amazon". I did wind up reordering the same phone from Top10cell, fulfilled by amazon and the phone arrived within 3 business days. The phone arrived with 2 seals on the box, which clearly states to not accept if broken or missing. Inside, the packing and contents were as they should be, battery in its sealed case and NO fingerprints all over the phone! The phone itself is very nice, thus far it has been working quite well and seems to have a boatload of features for the price. I will leave the technical review for the techies...and there is a great one by a "daisy s." I recommend getting a micro sd card to increase storage space...I got a 32 gb card. So, in summary, thumbs up for the phone, an excellent buy, thumbs way up for seller Top10cell and amazon...thumbs way down for Pacific Cellular distributor, out of Idaho.