I have used the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini as my daily driver for about four months and this is my review of the phone.
I will not go over all the features of the phone, but merely highlight what is important to me.
It is a bit weird that a phone with a 4.3 inch screen is called a “mini”. I have no need nor desire to carry a 5 + inch phone in my pocket. So I opted for the smaller version of the Samsung flagship phone.
The phone is made of plastic, however, it is well made and does not feel cheap. I like plastic, a phone made of plastic tends to handle being dropped a lot better than phones made of metal, and this phone will be dropped and has been dropped many times.
Another reason why I chose the Samsung Galaxy s4 mini over other Android phones like the HTC One Mini is that the back cover comes off. This is important because it enables me to charge the battery. I am missing the dedicated camera button I had on the HTC 8X Windows Phone. I really liked that feature. And while we are on the subject, the camera is not much to speak off, it is of midrange quality and is neither particularly bad or good.
Unfortunately, the 1.7GHz Dual Core CPU and 1.5 GB ram, can have problems keeping up and the UI quickly starts lagging and at times becomes unusable. This is especially the case if Android is updating one or more applications. At that point you might as well put the phone down and let it do its thing, because it is completely unusable while updating.
Samsung has skinned Android with its TouchWiz skin. The workflow is actually quite good and it is very intuitive to use and I like it quite a bit.
I do not like all the bloatware Samsung has put on this phone. There are about 15 sponsored apps preinstalled. There are about 8 Samsung apps and the rest are apps like Flipboard and eReadz. These apps cannot be uninstalled (unless the phone is rooted) and is just taking up space. This also means that I am constantly installing updates to applications that I do not use. I could, of course, choose not to install the updates but then they would become a potential security risk.
Just about every Google app is replaced with a Samsung made app. Samsung even have their own app store on the phone, however the google play store is there as well. Why anyone would use the Samsung store over the Google one I do not know.
I have had the phone crash and randomly reboot a number of times. And here I thought that was a feature of Windows Phone 8. I guess they are really stealing features from each other.
The lock screen widget from apps like Audible and BeyondPod, which allows some simple controls without unlocking the phone, stop showing up on the lock screen after a short amount of time and will only return if the phone is rebooted. Whether this is a Samsung skin problem or a general Android problem I do not know, but as these to apps represent 85 % of what I use my phone for, it is a very annoying bug.
I do not regret getting this phone, even though my review got a bit ranty. It is not perfect and has some problems but all in all it is a good phone and it covers my needs quite well.