Adding even more size diversity to its array of Android devices, mobile
king Samsung Electronics on Thursday unveiled its Galaxy S III mini, a scaled-down version of its flagship phone, targeted at European markets.
Instead of 4.8 inches, its Super AMOLED touchscreen is just 4 inches, the same size as Apple's iPhone 5. The iPhone is the most popular single device in the world, while Samsung is the top device maker.
'New Concept,' More Compact
The Galaxy S III mini is scaled down not only in size, but in some specs. It has a dual-core 1-gigahertz processor rather than the 1.4-Ghz quad-core processor of its larger sibling, and a less-powerful main camera (5 megapixels rather than 8). It also does not support 4G long-term evolution high-speed data , but the device is aimed at European audiences, at least initially, where LTE is not yet widespread.
On the plus side, the mini will ship with the Android 4.1 operating system, also known as Jelly Bean, which has not yet been implemented on the larger model.
Samsung has still not announced a release date, carrier partners or price points, and it is unclear when or if the mini will reach the United States.
"The Galaxy S III introduced a new concept of smartphone that has proven hugely popular around the world," said JK Shin, president of the IT and Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics, in a statement.
Shin said the company hoped to build on that success in introducing the more-compact Galaxy S III mini.
The mini includes S Voice, which uses language recognition software to unlock the phone or carry out functions, and Smart Stay, which locks the camera on a user's eyes and will keep the screen lit as long as the user is looking at it.
The S Beam application lets users share music files by tapping on another S Beam-enabled device, a feature seen in Samsung's current U.S. commercials mocking the iPhone, which has no such capability.
Samsung is betting that a range of screen sizes will appeal to a range of different users with different priorities.
"It is not a one-size-fits-all market," said principal mobile-device analyst Hugues De La Vergne of Gartner.
Differentiation Is Key
"For higher-end devices, a display size of 4.5 to 4.9 inches seems to be the top end," De La Vergne told us. "When you get over 5 inches, that is a niche market as most people don't want to carry a device that large, and sales of those devices in the U.S. have been limited."
"Handset producers have to have a way to differentiate within their product line, and display size will be one of those criteria. Smaller-sized devices will target a lower price point than the larger displays of the flagship phones."