In this article I will compare the newly announced Samsung Galaxy S4 mini versus the iPhone 5. The S4 mini size and features put it well against the gracefully aging iPhone 5. This is why I think that the S4 mini is definitely a viable alternative to the iPhone 5 for a cheaper price. In this comparison you’ll learn the differences between the two phones and get to decide whether or not the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini is the right phone for you, or you better off with the iPhone 5 instead.
I will start with a short introduction to each phone and then continue to the side by side comparison section.
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
Announced on May 30th 2013 in Seoul, Korea, as for the time of writing, the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini is Samsung’s latest smartphone, and the latest in the ‘Galaxy’ lineup. Samsung has a tradition of releasing a ‘mini’ model that follows the release of its flagship model, and the S4 mini is the little cousin of the GALAXY S4, Samsung’s latest flagship model that replaces the S3.
The S4 mini like other models that carry the ‘mini‘ title are smaller in size compare to the flagship model, less powerful, cheaper but carries many of the software features and some of the hardware features of the more expensive flagship model. This is why those Galaxy mini phones are so popular, they carry a low price tag and carry modern design and features that appeal to a wide audience. For general knowledge, the Samsung GALAXY S4 (not the mini) was announced on March 14 2013.
The GALAXY S4 mini carry a similar phone design as the Samsung Galaxy S4 that looks slick and modern. Many consumers will love its chic and compact design, at least those who aren’t excited of carrying a large phone in their pocket. Samsung tried to mimic the look and feel of the Galaxy S4 to give people the same great ergonomics design of the S4, but at the same time let them feel that they are using a phone that is tight to the overall experience of the S4, which might attract more customers who cannot afford to buy the S4, to get the S4 mini instead.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 mini is equipped with a 4.3″ qHD (540×960 pixels) Super AMOLED display. The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a a larger 5-inch display with a higher 1920×1080 pixel resolution and much higher pixel density (441 ppi vs 256 ppi). Still, it’s nice to see that Samsung didn’t go cheap on the display and went with a Super AMOLED panel, which provides beautiful highly saturated colors that I think most people will greatly appreciate. The qHD is a good resolution for this display size, but the S4 is obviously superior to that.
In order to reduce the phone’s price and prevent the S4 mini to be a competitive model against the S4, Samsung used a 1.7GHz dual core processor. I’m not surprised here, Samsung has done that with all its ‘mini’ phone, using a less powerful processor with less cores. This doesn’t make the S4 mini a slow device, not at all, but it’s performance will be similar to many of the mid-range phones on the market. Per single-core the S4 mini performance is great, and you can expect zero-lag performance when running most apps, but high-end gamers playing latest HD games will certainly enjoy higher frame-rates with latest games and apps that are optimizes for multi-core CPUs.
The S4 mini have two cameras, a 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.9-megapixel HD front-facing camera. This is a drop from the S4 which has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, but 8MP is more than enough for most of us. The S4 mini also inherits many of the camera’s software features from the S4, including: HDR, Sound & Shot, Best Photo, Best Face, Beauty Face, Panorama (up to 360-degrees), Sports and continuous shot. Having sad that, the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini lacks the ‘Dual Camera’ mode that the S4 has which allows the photographers to use both cameras at the same time and record a video capture while embedding an overlay video stream from the front-facing camera. The S4 mini can record Full HD 1080p videos at 30 frames-per-second using the rear camera and HD videos using the secondary front camera.
S4 mini comes with only 8GB of built-in storage for storing your apps and multimedia files, but only 5GB of those are available for the user. I think that its misleading the customer when phone manufacturers are including the non-usable space. If the user can only use 5GB, just write 5GB as the storage capacity, not the full quota. The 3GB ouf of the 8GB are used for the system files and therefore cannot be erased or overridden by the user. The same goes to the S4 which has 16GB of internal storage space, but 6.85GB is occupied by the system files and therefore approx. 8GB is available for the user.
The good news is that the S4 mini comes with a microSD slot, so you can expand your internal storage quota by using a micro SD memory card up to 64 GB of storage space. This is a highly demanded feature that many people are looking for in their next phone. The S4 mini has 1536MB of LPDDR2 RAM (also available with 2048 MB RAM on the GT-I9195 model) but those memory models are less powerful than the LPDDR3 ones found on the S4.
The S4 mini inherits many of the S4 built-in features, that most of them will also be available for the S3, those include Samsung’s S Health (downloadable), S Translator, S Voice, Samsung Adapt Sound, S Drive (downlodable), Samsung Link, Screen Mirroring, Safety assistance, Group Play, KONX, ChatON and WatchON. The S4 mini lacks the “Smart Scroll” and “Smart Pause” features but does have support for Air View and Air Gestures.
Samsung will also be releasing a GT-I9192 model that will come with dual-SIM slot. The S4 mini has WiFi 5.GHz a/b/g/n/ GPS+GLONASS, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC (LTE version only) and a 1900mAh high-capacity battery.
The S4 mini is a very attractive device. It costs less than the S4, around $600. Handtec sells the 8GB version for £389.99 (about €456, or $598) and in the Ukraine this smartphone is sold for a suggest retail price of 5000 UAH, which is approximately $612 or €460. Many people were a bit disappointed, hoping for a much lower price, considering the phones like the Google Nexus 4 8GB sells for approx $390 / €299 and the S4 mini just can’t match that low price tag. That being said, the official US price hasn’t been released to the press as for the time of writing, but some suggests that the street price won’t be higher than $500.
Read my Samsung Galaxy S4 mini vs S4 to find out more about the differences between the two devices.
Apple iPhone 5
The Apple iPhone 5 was announced and released on September 2012. The iPhone 5 replaces the iPhone 4S and carry many new enhancements and features, including a new phone design. The iPhone 5 is made of Anodized 6000 series aluminum unibody design and it comes with either Slate colored or Silver (for the white version) aluminum back. The iPhone 5 has a flat back with rounded corners and curved edges. The iPhone 5 was criticized for being a scratch magnet, the aluminum can be easily scratched with a few phone’s coming from the factory with minor scratches out-of-the-box. Apple did counter that by making improvement into latest models to prevent this from happening in the future. I personally recommend using a case for your phone in order to protect the paint that covers the aluminum chassis.
Apple has designed the phone to taller (123.8 vs 115.2 mm) and slimmer (7.6 vs 9.3 mm) but have the same width (58.6 mm) as its predecessor, the 4S. The iPhone 5 is also 28 grams (1 oz) lighter than the 4S model. The big difference is obviously the new 4-inch 640×1136 pixel (326 ppi) IPS LCD Retina display compare to the 3.5-inch 640×960 pixels of the S4. Some people love the taller display, considering that it doesn’t consume more horizontal space, others think that it’s too tight and prefer having more horizontal space, especially when browsing the web using vertical orientation or reading documents. Apple also boosted the screen saturation by 44% compare to the 4S, making photo and videos pop and this adds to the user experience as a whole.
The iPhone 5 comes with two cameras, a 8MP f/2.4 rear-facing camera with LED flash and 1080p30 video recording capability, and a 1.2MP front-facing camera, capable of 720p30 HD video recording. iPhone 5 produces sharp and vivid images and it’s f/2.4 fast aperture lens with Back-illuminated sensor helps capturing beautiful moments, even in low-light situations with relatively low noise. The rear camera lens is covered with a sapphire crystal glass to protect the lens. This is a scratch-resistant glass that also have a negligible impact on image quality as well. The iPhone 5 has support for simultaneous HD video and image recording and comes with built-in HDR and Panorama functions.
The iPhone 5 is a LTE device, featuring next-generation cellular and wireless connectivity, including HSPA, HSPA+ and DC-SDPA. The Dual-bad 802.11 n wireless connectivity allows you to take full advantage of high-bandwidth networks.
The iPhone 5 like older iPhone models and unlike many Android phone, doesn’t comes with a microSD slot, but does comes in 16, 32 or 64GB built-in storage capacity. The lacks of a micro SD slot is understandable, because Apple is earning money by selling different models with different storage capacities, including a microSD slot will make people by the least expensive model and expand the internal storage quota by buying a cheap SD memory card instead.
The iPhone 5 is an impressive device but its iOS 6 operating system lags behind the competition.. yes, I am talking about Android OS. iOS 7 is about to change all that, and as for the time of writing iOS 7 hasn’t been released yet, early speculations predict that the iOS 7 will outperform Android latest OS by quite a large margin (that of course yet to be seen). iOS6 does feature FaceTime for making video calls, gets a new smaller thinner connector which replaces the 30-pin connector, improved Maps app designed by Apple, improved Siri voice recognition assistant app, AirPlay, AirPrint, many built-in apps and easy connection a seamless integration with your iCloud account to backup, store and share your content online with other users and among other devices that you own.
The iPhone 5 is a relatively an expensive device. The 16GB version is being sold on Verizon Wireless for $199.99 with 2-year contract, same as the Samsung Galaxy S4 16GB model, with the S4 being a much more advanced phone overall. For a month-to-month service you’ll say goodbye to $649.99, same price as the SGS4 16GB. There are some rumors talking about a 8GB iPhone 5, but as for the time of writing and after doing some searching, there isn’t any 8 GB iPhone 5, yet.
* price as for June 5, 2013.
iPhone 5 vs Galaxy S4 mini
With Apple products the timing is very important. As we get close to a launch of a new iPhone smartphone, less people will buy the iPhone 5 and wait for the new iPhone 5S / iPhone 6 to emerge. Many of them do so due to price reduction that usually takes place at the specific moment a new phone is unveiled, other need to decide whether to get the iPhone 5 or wait for the newer model to appear.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 mini is a new phone (as for the time of writing), so many buyers don’t need to wait any longer, when they are buying the device now they know that they are getting the best and latest from Samsung. The S4 is a very popular device, and I am sure that the S4 mini will be as well. The S4 mini doesn’t come cheap and although the official retail price for the US hasn’t released yet as for the time of writing, some websites posts price of $330 in Pakistan and some estimate a price not higher than $500.
Leaving the price aside, let’s take a look how the two phones compare in terms of features. In the next side by side specs comparison table you’ll get to see and learn about the differences between the iPhone 5 and GALAXY S4 mini smartphones.
GALAXY S4 Mini
|Announced||12 September, 2012||30 May, 2013|
|Build Quality||Anodized 6000 series aluminum unibody design. Sapphire crystal glass for the rear lens||Plastic construction with removable cover|
|Apple iPhone 5 has a superior built quality with its aluminum unibody chassis. That being said, the color can be easily scratched, leaving scratch marks that are move visible on the black model than on the white. This doesn't make the S4 mini a cheapo model, the plastic feel sturdy as well. When you hold the iPhone 5 in your hands you can feel its robustness and durable construction.|
|Dimensions & Weight||123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm (4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 in)|
112 g (3.95 oz)
|124.6 x 61.3 x 8.9 mm (4.91 x 2.41 x 0.35 in)
107 grams (3.77 oz)
In terms of size, the GALAXY S4 mini is a tide higher and wider than the iphone and approx 1.4mm thicker. Both phones are about the same weight, with the iPhone 5 being 5 g lighter.
The two phones are quite different in terms of their external design, with the GALAXY S4 mini having a curved back side vs flat on the iPhone 5, S4 mini having higher radius rounded corners, the iPhone 5 have '+' and '-' for the volume controls with the mini having a single button.
In my opinion, the S4 mini curved back side make it more comfortable to hold in your hand, better fit for the ergonomic shape of my hand.
The iPhone 5 rear-facing camera is positioned higher at the top compare to the S4 mini, which I think it's a better position, preventing your finger to come across the lens when shooting.
|Display||4-inch IPS LCD Retina|
640 x 1136 pixels
~326 ppi pixel density
Corning Gorilla Glass, Oleophobic coating (anti-fingerprints)
|4.3-inch Super AMOLED
540 x 960 pixels
~256 ppi pixel density
The S4 mini has a larger screen, but not by much. The iPhone 5 does have a higher resolution screen, and considering its smaller display dimensions, that leads to higher pixel density as well, so pixels are less visible when looking at a very close range.
Another important difference is the display's technology used on both devices. the iPhone uses its gorgeous IPS LCD Retina display that result in very sharp image, vivid colors and high contrast. Super AMOLED is well known for its over-saturated colors which some people like, others prefer the more subtle colors of the IPS LCD technology. Super AMOLED result in much deeper black allowing the panel to switch off single pixels in order to present true black, instead of mixing RGB colors to achieve this on IPS panels.
IPS LCD is well known for its very sharp text, some people see this technology as the preferred one for reading text, but of course a larger screens are better for reading text.
I thought that I wouldn't like the over saturated colors of the Super AMOLED, but after viewing some colorful images on the GALAXY S4, I actually loved it. It just brings every photo to life, even those dull photos that you won't find impressive at first, but after viewing them on the S4/S4 mini they suddenly come to life. Of course this is just my personal preference.
I am quite disappointed that Samsung didn't opt for a 720p screen and went for a lower resolution. I don't see this as a deal breaker though.
My opinion about the iPhone 5 screen that it's just too small and crowded, hoping for a larger screen on the new iPhone.
|Camera||Primary: 8MP + LEF Flash (1080p30) F2.4 lens|
Secondary: 1.2MP (720p30)
|Primary: 8MP (1080p30)
Secondary: 1.9MP (720p30)
|I didn't find any information about the aperture size and focal length of he S4 min. I guess that if it was a fast lens Samsung would have said something about it at the press release.
Both phones offer the same resolution for the rear-facing camera with the S4 mini having a slightly higher resolution for the front camera. Both can record Full HD videos at 30 fps.
Both phones use BSI (Back-illuminated) sensor technology to improve image quality in low light, making the sensor two times more sensitive than conventional sensors. Both phones have in-camera HDR, Panorama but the S4 does offers some neat features like Sound & Shot, Best Photo, Best Face and Beauty face and the Air View is really cool feature when browsing images in the image gallery. There are many apps for the camera for both Android and iOS, so I personally wouldn't based my decision on the built-in apps alone. We still need to wait for some sample image comparison to really understand the difference in image quality and draw a conclusion.
|Infrared Port (Remote control)||No||Yes|
|With IR remote feature and WatchON software, the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini gives you the option to turn your phone into a customizable remote control to control your TV, DVD and other IR-base appliances in your house. The main use will definitely be your TV. With WatchON you can follow your favorite channels and switching to the appropriate channel with one click.
WatchON app also allow you to discover new shows and movies across multiple video-on-demand providers. This app can be used regardless of an IR port, but the most enjoyable way it to use the built-iin IR blaster with the WatchOn software altogether that turns turns your GALAXY S4 mini into a smart TV remote.
|NFC is not available on the iPhone 5 neither on any other iPhone. Some expect the iPhone 6 to have it. NFC (Near-field Communication) allows NFC-enabled devices to share data without the complexity of setting up a secure connection. By just putting the two devices together and approving the connection on the target device, you can start transferring file between the two devices. This is by far the easiest way to exchange photos, videos and apps between two devices that are physically close together.|
|WLAN||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, Wi-Fi hotspot||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot|
|The iPhone 5 doesn't have DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) support. DLNA allows you to wirelessly display your phone's content on your large-screen HDTV. This includes displaying high quality videos on your display with a touch of a button, you can choose to log on to a tube website and play the video on a large screen instead of watching it on your small phone screen. This is a feature that many people want to have on their phone and it's petty that the iPhone 5 doesn't support it.|
|iPhone 5 doesn't have a micro USB connector nor HDMI port. micro USB is the standard connector used by many devices for exchanging data and for charging the device's battery. The iPhone 5 uses Apple's propriety Lighting Connector instead. This is a big advantage for the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini.
There is an Apple Lightning to USB cable but this costs approx. $17 on Amazon the last time I checked. Older Apple accessories use a 30-pin connector, and in order to connect your brand new iPhone 5 to those accessories you will need to purchase a 30-pin to Lighting adapter which costs around $30.
|CPU||Apple A6 Dual-core 1.2 GHz||Qualcomm MSM8930 Snapdragon 400 Dual-core 1.7GHz Krait|
|GPU||PowerVR GSX 543MP3 (triple-core)||Adreno 305|
|GPS||A-GPS support and GLONASS||A-GPS support and GLONASS|
|Active noise cancellation||Yes (with dedicated mic)||No|
|Battery||1440 mAh (non-removable)||1900 mAh (removable)|
|GALAXY S4 mini features a stronger battery and a removable one too. To find out more about the cons and pros of a removable battery read my Non removable battery cons and pros guide.|
|RAM||1GB RAM||1.5 GB RAM (3G model)
2GB (LTE model)
|1GB is more than enough for all apps and games, more RAM will give you more room for running apps in the background and make the phone more future proof for upcoming title.s|
|Internal Storage||16/32/64 GB||8GB (5 GB user available)|
|It might looks like a big advantage for the S4 mini, but lets not forget that you can expend the storage by inserting a microSD card to the micro SD card slot - a big advantage for the S4 mini in my opinion.|
|Data Connectivity||DC-HSDPA, 42 Mbps; HSDPA, 21 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps, LTE, 100 Mbps; EV-DO Rev. A, up to 3.1 Mbps||HSDPA, 42 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps; LTE, Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL|
The Samsung GALAXY S4 mini is a modern mid-range cell phone. It makes the iPhone 5 looks old with its updated user interface and latest Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean). The Apple iPhone 5 iOS 6 needs a refreshment and fast, many people a fed up with the open/close UI and searching for a new evolutionary operating system that can compete well against Android. The iPhone 5 itself looks great, it’s compact and lightweight, but its screen is very small and many of you might find it quite limiting. Nevertheless, the display quality is second to none, and that’s where the iPhone 5 really shines, offering higher pixel density and images as well as text looks amazingly sharp.
The iPhone 5 is missing some features that I personally want to see in a modern smartphone, especially in this price range, this includes NFC, standard micro USB port and maybe an infrared port would be nice. All of those are available on the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini. The S4 mini also has a removable battery, so you can carry a second battery as a backup in case you need one, which is sells for a cheap price on Amazon. The S4 mini inherits many of the software features from the S4, except Smart Scroll and Smart Pause which are only available on the S4.
It’s hard to recommend the iPhone 5 considering its high price. Nevertheless, the iPhone 5 is a blazing fast phone, offering zero-lag experience, making every app and latest game titles run smoothly without hiccups. Some of you might find its slim design and compact size appealing, and it certainly a phone that can easily slip into a tight jeans’ pocket.
Conclusion (Which one is better?)
If you want my opinion, I would probably went with the Samsung S4 mini, due to its larger display, replaceable battery (removable cover), microSD card slot, IR port, all that groovy S4 software features (inc. Air View and Air Gestures which I really like), curved back (more comfortable to hold for a longer period of time) and the microUSB port. I found those very important for what I am searching in my next phone, and although the official price hasn’t been announced yet (as for the time of writing), its expect to be more affordable than the iPhone 5.
What I like about the iPhone 5 is the build quality, loved that aluminum chassis physical build quality, the display is just second to none (although too small for my needs), feels durable and sturdy, ultra fast performance even when playing the latest 3D games, great battery life and OS works flawlessly and fast and seems like better optimizes for performance. I also like the fact that with iPhone smartphones you get less annoyed when new phones are released to the market, you know that a year will pass until a new iPhone is announced and the iPhone has a higher resale value. I also like the email client better on the iPhone.
We need to remember that the iPhone 5 is Apple’s flagship model. So even by thinking of comparing the S4 mini against the iPhone 5 seems like a bit humiliating the iPhone 5. The S4 mini is a mid-range phone after all, but that just shows how urgently we need a new replacement for the iPhone 5. If I had to buy the iPhone 5, I would probably wait until the iPhone 6 (or whatever Apple decide to call it) release and get it for a reduced price. For now, it seems like the iPhone 5 is just too expensive for a dual-core cell phone that can hardly compete against the latest Android flagship models out there.
Just one last thing. From what I’ve read on various places, the S4 mini doesn’t have native support for Qi wireless charging, probably due to its small size, but the iPhone 5 doesn’t have this feature either, at least not built-in, so you’ll have to use a case and a compatible charging pad to wirelessly charge your phone.
What is your opinion, which one you prefer? – Share you opinion by commenting below. Thanks for reading and please don’t forget to share.