Next month, the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini is set to arrive in the U.S., Samsung announced Wednesday. Yes, this is the same Galaxy S4 mini that was let out of the bag in Europe earlier this year. Americans will get a taste of the device in November.
According to the South Korean phone maker, "Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung Mobile) announced today that the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini, a compact smartphone featuring some of the most popular Galaxy S4 experiences, will be available in the U.S. beginning in November."
No specific day was offered but that is a sign that the details are left up to the carriers handing out the devices. “Wireless carriers will announce their specific availability, colors and timing,” said Samsung.
U.S. carriers named in the release include AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and U.S. Cellular.
The mini smartphone comes preinstalled with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. What users will see is a miniature of the Galaxy S4 in a compact form factor, with a smaller size display. But, to dismiss it as nothing more than that would be unfair. The mini, with its 8-megapixel rear camera, and 1.9-megapixel front camera, offers the ability to enhance photos and it can also be used as a TV remote control device.
According to Samsung, users can share content from the mini "to a TV effortlessly, as well as look for something to watch in a new way that lets you browse by genre, search by title or receive recommendations based on your interests."
The mini touts "simple file sharing" where the user gets to transfer large files, including videos and documents, to other Galaxy phones with S Beam without the need for a Wi-Fi connection or cell signal.
Topping the chatter about the S4 mini, though, is news about its compatibility with the Galaxy Gear. Another Samsung press announcement on Wednesday said that Samsung will extend Galaxy Gear compatibility to Galaxy S III, S4, Note II, and more.
Wearing the Experience
Soon after the Galaxy S4 mini launches, users will have the opportunity to make it compatible with the smartphone watch. This will happen via a software update, said Samsung, that will be released soon after the mini launch.
But wait, did we say smartwatch? Samsung did not, instead referring to the Gear as "Samsung’s first wearable smartphone experience." The Gear device is positioned as a companion to the phone.
According to the announcement regarding Galaxy Gear, it will be "available for use with Galaxy S4, S III, and Note II through the Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) update." Samsung will also extend Gear compatibility to the S4 mini, and other devices "through a separate software update beginning at the end of October," said Samsung, with those update schedules to vary by country and carrier.
For consumers who can put up with a smaller display, the mini will carry a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED (Active Matrix OLED) display.
Mini to the Max
Consumers, especially on the brink of a wearying shopping season, may find so many brand-name options and model variants overwhelming and the mini will just add to the confusion, Phone vendors, however, respond to that view with some observations they have made: One phone size does not fit all.
Phone companies have been making their flagship devices in multiple sizes to appeal to a broad range of consumers. Some consumers balk at carrying around a toy-size device to make calls and prefer something that fits neatly into one hand; others prefer a large-size screen on a smartphone above all.
"Samsung continues to provide a wide range of products to fit consumers’ needs,” said Gregory Lee, president of Samsung Mobile. “The Galaxy S4 mini continues that commitment by bringing the paramount features of our flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone to a smaller, more compact form factor.”