Samsung's Galaxy S III mini: Is a smaller phone really such a good idea?

The Week's Editorial Staff
The Week
People interact with the Samsung Galaxy S III on its launch day in June: The Korean manufacturer is offering a mini version, shrinking the phone's 4.8-inch display to 4-inches.

The Korean manufacturer is apparently reversing course, and will offer a smaller 4-inch version of its flagship handset

The story: After weeks of rumors, Samsung has confirmed that a miniature version of its massively popular Galaxy S III will be announced in Germany on Oct. 11 — bucking the trend toward giant Android phones (the original S III has a 4.8 inch display) with an eminently more pocketable 4-inch screen. Speaking to the Korean press on Wednesday, Samsung head of Mobile Communications JK Shin said the new device won't just be an entry-level product, but will boast a "full form factor" on par with high-end Androids. Some critics have pointed out that the new Galaxy S III mini's size puts it in direct contention with Apple's iPhone 5. But is a more petite phone something Galaxy fans want from a company that's made its name with a "bigger is better" ethos?

The reaction: It's definitely an unusual move, says Jamie Condliffe at Gizmodo. The rest of the high-end Android market is brimming with screens 4.5 inches or bigger. "So, if what puts you off Android is the fact that it means carrying a whopping phone around, you might just be in luck." Going with a smaller device is "apparently due to demand in the European market," says David Meyer at ZDNet, "where people may be less keen on enormous phones than in the U.S. and Asia." We're not even entirely sure yet if the S III mini will make it to U.S. shores. The timing of the event — just six days before Apple's rumored iPad mini announcement— is curious, and possibly telling, says Stan Schroeder at Mashable. If Apple indeed debuts the new tablet under the "mini" label, "Samsung's Galaxy S III mini will definitely steal some of its thunder."

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