Samsung announces Galaxy S3 Mini smartphone

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini The smartphone can track a user's eyes to remain illuminated when being looked at

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Samsung has unveiled a smaller version of its Galaxy S3 smartphone, reducing the screen size by 0.8 of an inch to 4 inches, bringing it in line with Apple's iPhone 5.

The handset runs on Jelly Bean, the latest version of Google's Android operating system.

Samsung has not yet shared details of when the device will go on sale.

The announcement comes at a time Apple are expected to launch a 7-inch iPad, although that has yet to be confirmed.

The Galaxy S3 Mini, details of which had been widely leaked prior to Thursday's announcement, comes just six months after the launch of the well-received larger model.

The Mini has a five megapixel camera on its rear, with a lower quality VGA camera on its front.

It retains some key features of the larger model, such as an Near Field Communication (NFC) chip, which enables contactless payments.

Sacrificed in the downsize is some processing power - the model drops from the big S3's quad-core chip to a dual-core - and some screen clarity.

The S3 Mini's display offers fewer pixels - 800x480 - compared to the higher definition 720p display of the original.

While obviously smaller in size, the S3 Mini is a millimetre thicker.

'Just too big'

Stuart Miles, editor of UK gadget website Pocket-lint, told the BBC he thinks Samsung are playing a shrewd move to react to the demands of the market.

"I think from Samsung's point of view its about offering breadth and depth of choice.

"There's lots of people out there who think the Galaxy S3 is an amazing phone, but there's a lot who think it's just too big."

He said the impressive early sales of the iPhone 5 will have spurred the need for a smaller competing device.

"If you see that there's a massive demand for a 4-inch screen device, and you have the capability to make it, then you're going to make it, aren't you? I think it will do really well."

Simon Stanford, vice president of Samsung UK's telecommunications and networks division, said in a statement: "We will continue to develop smartphones to cater for a variety of customer needs and this latest release demonstrates our ongoing commitment to offering our customers more choice at every price point."

Flagship handsets compared

Device Vital information What the experts say

Apple iPhone 5

iPhone 5

• Released: September 2012 • Screen size: 4" • Operating system: iOS 6 • Camera: 8MP • Cost: £529 for pay-as-you-go 16GB model from Apple •Full specification

"If you have an iPhone 4S the only real feature is the new screen, as most of iOS 6 will be available to you, and having to purchase new cables to go with the smaller dock will be a pain. If you have an iPhone 4 or older, however, then the new iPhone 5 offers a number of new features that you'll love. It's an incremental update, but looks like a great one nonetheless." Macworld

Samsung Galaxy S3

Samsung Galaxy S3

• Released: May 2012 • Screen size: 4.8" • Operating system: Android • Camera: 8MP • Cost: £450 for 16GB edition on pay-and-go via O2 •Full specification

"While neither the display nor the construction materials on the Galaxy S3 are the best possible, both represent acceptable compromises that help Samsung balance out the rest of its class-leading spec sheet." The Verge

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini

• Released: TBC

• Screen size: 4"

• Operating system: Android

• Camera: 5MP

• Cost: TBC

"Those hoping for a more compact but equally powerful version of the almighty Galaxy S3 will need to keep looking, but if the price is right, the Mini could prove an impressive mid-range mobile."

CNet

HTC One X

HTC One X

• Released: April 2012 • Screen size: 4.7" • Camera: 8MP • Operating system: Android • Cost: £420 for 32GB edition on pay-as-you-go via Vodafone •Full specification

"This handset looks and feels stunning...[but] battery life is by far our biggest concern... Buying a One X is a lot like getting a unicorn - it's wild, fast, white, beautiful, expensive and fickle." Engadget

Motorola DroidRazrMaxx HD (not available in UK)

Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD

• Release: "Before the [winter] holidays" • Screen size: 4.7" • Camera: 8MP • Operating system: Android • Cost: To be confirmed • Full specification

"Talk time is outlandishly long at 32 hours... If you want a phone that's deadly serious about staying charged all day, this is a great contender." Mobiledia

Nokia Lumia 920

Nokia Lumia 920

• Release: To be confirmed • Screen size: 4.5" • Camera: 8.7MP • Operating system: Windows Phone 8 • Cost: To be confirmed •Full specification

"The Nokia Lumia 920 is a good phone from the outset, although it didn't really give us much to feel wowed by... we can't help but feel that this may not be enough of an evolution to really take Windows Phone to the next level." Techradar

LG Optimus G

LG Optimus G

• Release: September 2012 in S Korea • Screen size: 4.7" • Camera: 13MP • Operating system: Android • Cost: To be confirmed •Full specification

"Judging by its specs and LG's recent devices, it has plenty of superphone potential... [but] it won't be able to fit in front or back jean pockets, nor will it be easy to use with one hand." Cnet

Sony Xperia T

Sony Xperia T

• Release: "Coming soon" • Screen size: 4.6" • Camera: 13MP • Operating system: Android • Cost: To be confirmed •Full specification

"The 13-megapixel camera... is as close to a compact as a smartphone has come. Couple this with a responsive enough performance and you have a phone that can take on the likes of the One X and the Samsung Galaxy S3." Pocket-lint

Blackberry Bold 9900

Blackberry Bold 9900

• Release: August 2011 • Screen size: 2.8" • Camera: 5MP • Operating system: Blackberry 7 • Cost: £380 pay-as-you-go on Orange •Full specification

"The Bold 9900 is a great phone IF your live gravitates around communication, but there's better choices out there for gaming and entertainment." Ubergizmo

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