I have had this phone for almost a year now yet I don’t know why I never bothered to review it when it was in its prime (yes it is completely out of place right now with new entrants that have stolen the show in the dynamic mobile device field). The “blackout” I have given this phone should just be there to mean that while I have been playing with much bigger, faster, glossier and better toys, there has always been that fallback device, the one that I’ve always had and in a way has come to define who I have been for the last few months or so. This is the Samsung Galaxy Mini (you can now go to sleep, I know that sounds boring).
The GT-S5570 as Big Sam has coded the device (it is referred to as Galaxy Pop in other markets reason being that the “Pop” tag is mainly used to describe the CDMA version whereas the “Mini” name is left for its GSM [??] counterpart) is no small device physically. It is big and when holding it you can actually feel that you are holding a phone. The big screen is just another plus factor in this device. It is a capacitive touch display with 3.14 inches (240 X 320 with a 127 ppi pixel density). The screen resolution just too low. Sigh. It is one of the major things that will put you off once you interact with the device. That resolution does a lot of injustice to an otherwise big and commendable size. Resolution matters aside, when doing anything on the phone, the big screen proves handy. There is just enough space for anything and you don’t have to press the back button every time in order to see what you want to tweet (My friend with the newly unveiled Huawei Ascend Y100 is always complaining of such issues).
The other specs and features are as follows:
- Internal memory of 178 MB. This is another low. Such low internal memory is very limiting if, like me, you do love installing very many applications that you constantly use. A new entrant, the Samsung Galaxy Pocket has better internal storage (a whopping 3 GB). Like Big Sam knew however, applications that are very big (like Angry Birds Space and Instagram, Flipboard) are automatically installed on the sd-card so as to preserve your meager internal resource. There’s a workaround though and using this workaround I have been able to increase my internal memory to 1 GB (details on that in a later article).
- 279 MB RAM with a Threshold RAM of 24MB. Not bad. Though low, it is okay for a low end device of the Samsung Galaxy Mini’s nature.
- 1200 mAh Li-ion battery. Well, my major problem with Android devices is the battery. The juice drains so fast that many of us resort to having secondary devices to act as backups. However, compared to many other low end Droids that were launched slightly before the Samsung Galaxy Mini (hello IDEO[t]S), it is commendable.
- 600 MHz ARM v6 processor. It is one of the specs I have no issues with. I know it is the era of the fast performing quadcores powered by Snapdragon and Exynos chips but the Qualcomm MSM7227 does what it is supposed to do. On normal usage you’ll hardly notice any lags. (Don’t install Temple Run though, this processor can’t handle the hardware acceleration such apps require). However as we will see later this can be overclocked to a maximum of 844 MHz; I’ve set mine to run at 710 MHz maximum.
- Adreno 200 GPU. Just bites what it can chew.
- 3.15 MP back camera. I don’t know why I insist on saying “back” since the Samsung Galaxy Mini does not have a secondary/front camera. The camera is just good. It may not match the 5 and 8 MPs on emerging and already launched devices but it surely can make you have something to write home about when your neighbor can’t stop taunting you with the 41 MP of the Nokia 808 PureView (I don’t have such neighbours, luckily!). Like you expected, the camera does not have any flash.
- 3G/2G and Wi-Fi. These are just excellent. I have used the 3G network of Safaricom in many Kenyan urban centres without any hitches. I won’t talk of the 2G since I just have personal issues with any type of slow internet. For those who fear the battery-draining 3G fear not, 2G is ok but if you mind speed, stick on the right lane. Wi-Fi is just it! It works fine and doing over 3 Mbps on my phone when on Wi-Fi is quite normal.
- Android. The device ships with the aged Android 2.2 (Froyo) though it can be easily upgraded to Android 2.3.x (Gingerbread) using official Samsung firmware. I use a custom ROM on my device and I have done almost anything possible as far as switching OSs is concerned. Yes I have even tested Jelly Bean. (Details on how to go about this coming soon).
- Flash support. The Samsung Galaxy Mini comes with a very capable HTML browser. I rarely talk well of the default Android browser but I am mentioning it here because once you install a custom ROM, just install Adobe flash and this browser becomes your home. It is much more complicated to make flash work when you are on the stock ROM since the Mini does not come with flash support out of the box, but it is still possible!.
- TouchWiz 3.0 UI. I am a great lover of Android Vanilla and unless it is the Samsung Galaxy S III (which has the excellent TouchWiz 5.0), I do away with TouchWiz and any other OEM bundled UI (Sense, Emotion, Timescape etc) as soon as I lay my hands on a device. Default Android Vanilla is just awesome. There’s a fix however, for those who are TW enthusiasts, there’s a custom ROM I have used multiple times and installed on several of my friends’ phones that comes with TouchWiz 4.0 tweaked to greater levels of awesomeness. (More on that in a later article).
There are also other features that you will normally expect in a phone (FM Radio, Music Player, Bluetooth, USB port, sd-card slot [expandable to 32 GB], GPS, sensors blah blah blah).
I don’t know why but I find so many inconsistencies and conflicting information between what I actually have on the device and what is listed on GSM Arena. Maybe it is because of the various models released to various markets. What I have been using is the model retailing in the EMEA region.
It is interesting to note that all the inadequacies of the Samsung Galaxy Mini are not anything to cry loud about or shout from the rooftop for since it is a lowly entry level Android device that is available cheaply (costs something below Ksh 13,000 or around $160). Besides, its successor (a real upgrade by the way), the Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 is already available and retails locally between Ksh 18,000-19000.
I would love to hear the experience of other users who have had the Samsung Galaxy Mini. For me, at its low price range, it has actually done everything I expected it to do. It has been reliable and has never disappointed me. Time is nigh for me to move on to better things though.