Here in Norway- and in many other countries- phones are often sold unlocked, at the full retail price. This means that people often shop by price, and price differences can be quite substantial. Samsung is trying to tap this market with its Galaxy S III Mini, a phone that uses its bigger brother’s name to get attention for itself. Unfortunately, that tactic is working, and it’s not a good thing.

The problem with the S III Mini is that it’s roughly the same price as the older S II, which is still being sold all over the world. While the S III Mini is in many ways a budget device though, the S II was the flagship phone only a year ago, and the budget market hasn’t come far enough yet to beat older flagship devices. When you actually start comparing the two, this becomes very obvious. The two devices have the same resolution AMOLED screen, just on a different sized screen- 4 inches for the S III mini, 4.3 for the S II. Despite the screen size difference, the two phones are practically identical in size and weight, with the S II’s smaller thickness making up for the extra couple of millimeters of length.

The camera is where the difference really start showing. For some reason, Samsung only put a 5 megapixel camera with 720p recording in the S III Mini. Resolution isn’t everything, and there’s plenty of differences between devices sporting 8 megapixel cameras, but there’s an obvious difference here up to the 8 megapixel, 1080p-capable camera on the S II. I think the camera really shows how this is a full price budget model, rather than a discounted flagship model.

The S II pulls further ahead with benchmarks. The S III Mini’s dual core CPU is clocked at lower speeds, and it shows in benchmarks. Samsung has a tendency to put all sorts of chips inside its devices lately, instead of sticking with the same series as it did back in the S II days. Again it shows the S III Mini is a budget model, when it’s outperformed by a 1.5 year older phone.

To finish off the S II’s dominance, it comes with a larger battery, with a higher rated battery life. That’s without even upgrading the battery, which can be done for next to nothing, without really making the device any larger or moving away from official Samsung equipment.

The only area I’ve managed to find where the S III Mini wins is the Bluetooth version, which is 4.0 instead of 3.0. There are some accessories out there that are therefore compatible with the S III Mini but not the S II, however I don’t really see many people picking that feature over the areas where the S II wins.

When you put all of these things together, the S III Mini is a phone I can’t understand the point of. With the two being equally priced, even favoring the S II in some sales I’ve seen, the S III Mini seems like a waste of shelf space. I’m guessing production cost is lower, as it should be for an inferior phone, and I assume that there are more than a few customers out there who’d rather walk out the door with a mini version of something with a III on the end than something with a II on the end. What prompted me to write this post was seeing exactly such a case, where someone had bought an S III Mini without really doing any research. Pointing out this issue prompted a case of buyer’s remorse.

There have been rumors of a cheaper iPhone over the last few days, and those are rumors I believe are garbage, like most rumors. Apple is currently selling three generations of the iPhone, at different price levels, and that’s a system I’m very much a fan of. It prolongs the life of a phone model, makes sure that what’s being sold at a lower price is still a quality product, makes for less clutter on the market, and makes it easier to get accessories for a device. This is the system I think Samsung should have adopted as well, and it pains me to see products like the S III Mini hit the market.