Top positive review
917 people found this helpful
Affordable GS3 in a smaller form factor!
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.