Miniature versions of leading handsets are an unusual idea that appears to be gaining in popularity amongst the public. A Dialaphone poll has found that a large majority of our readers think that smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini are a great idea, sounding an encouraging note to manufacturers.
But why is it that handsets such as these are becoming so popular and what exactly is the secret of their appeal? So far, only one has actually gone on sale, Samsung’s Galaxy S III Mini, and one other has been announced, the Galaxy S4 Mini.
This doesn’t make for an exhaustive line-up, but rumours have begun to emerge about HTC having plans to launch a similarly-positioned version of the outstanding HTC One in the next few months. The Taiwanese firm has already followed Samsung’s lead by unveiling a stock Android version of its flagship and it isn’t too much of a stretch of the imagination to think that HTC may introduce a miniature smartphone in the near future.
Nevertheless, Samsung’s Mini devices are now widely known and have proved popular. Each of them offers a trimmed-down version of its high-end cousin, bringing leading features to the mid-range market.
However, many of the features on which the respective flagships are sold have not made it to the more affordable handsets. This is particularly noticeable with the Galaxy S4 Mini, which does not include the gesture-based controls that made headlines for the Galaxy S4 just a few months ago.
The likes of Air View, Air Gesture and Smart Scroll were big selling points for Samsung when it launched its flagship, but the mid-range version of the S4 misses out on them. It does include many of the versatile camera functions seen on the high-end handset but not the Dual Camera feature that raised many eyebrows when it was unveiled.
When this lack of features is placed alongside the lower specs seen on the S4 Mini, including the 1.7GHz dual-core processor and 8 megapixel camera, the handset is definitely not as appealing as the Galaxy S4 itself.
But Samsung’s trimmed-down device is likely to at least match the success of the S III Mini, and this probably isn’t due to the specs that it has to offer. People who aren’t looking to spend a lot of money on a smartphone could well make their purchasing decision based on other factors.
This is where the Mini handsets come into their own. What they offer is an affordable smartphone that bears the name of a brand and manufacturer that they can trust. Samsung’s Galaxy range has become so well known that it is now a mark of quality, one that people buying a handset feel they can rely on.
Any device bearing the Galaxy mark, especially when directly associated with that range’s flagship by name, will have an air of quality and dependability that other devices may not. When looking at the mid-range of the market, a Samsung Galaxy device could well stand out far more than lesser know models manufactured by the likes of LG, Nokia and BlackBerry.
Interestingly, our poll didn’t get a similar result when we asked our Facebook audience the same question. In that survey, few people thought favourably of the miniature handsets and they did not get a positive response at all.
So opinion may be divided, but Samsung appears to be storming ahead with its plan to bring its leading handsets to the mid-range market in name if nothing else. HTC could well be following suit, opening up a new channel for manufacturers that could see flagship smartphones spawning a range of versions that cater for particular needs. Samsung’s Galaxy line-up certainly seems to have something for everybody, and this trend look set to catch on.