The Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini Looks Like a Wasted Opportunity

Samsung's Galaxy S5 mini cuts one too many corners.

Jun 18, 2014 at 4:33PM

You've got to hand it to Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF), the famed developer of the ever-popular Galaxy S and Note lineup of smartphones. No matter what price point or screen size a customer is interested in, Samsung usually has a device to suit that need. Interestingly enough, the first leaks of the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini -- the smaller-screened cousin of the recently launched Galaxy S5 -- suggest a bit of a wasted opportunity for the South Korean smartphone giant.

What do you mean?
The Galaxy S5 Mini is more or less a smaller Galaxy S5. It features the fingerprint sensor, IP67 certified dust and water resistance, and the same general design but with a smaller screen. For many users, particularly those not interested in a larger 5.1-inch smartphone, this 4.5-inch variant of the S5 seems like a pretty great alternative.

Unfortunately, the leaked specifications point to some pretty significant corner-cutting relative to the "full" Galaxy S5 that make it less of a "smaller" option and more of a "smaller and de-featured" variant.

Comparing the specs
Here's an abridged look at the alleged specifications of the Galaxy S5 Mini and the full-fledged Galaxy S5 sold in North America:


Galaxy S5 (North America)

Galaxy S5 Mini (?)


Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (4 x 2.45 GHz Krait 400)

Samsung Exynos 3 Quad (4 x 1.4 GHz ARM Holdings Cortex A7)



1.5 GB LPDDR3(?)


5.1-inch 1080P AMOLED

4.5-inch 720P AMOLED


MDM9x25 LTE cat 4; 802.11ac

??; 802.11n


16MP rear, 2MP front

8MP rear, 2.1MP front

Sources: GSM Arena, AnandTech.

Typically speaking, the "Mini" flavor of the Galaxy S lineup sells for about $100 less than the larger flagship. In exchange for that savings, Samsung is giving the user a much slower processor, less memory, a smaller and lower-resolution screen, and an inferior camera setup. Now, I get that Samsung isn't going to offer a similar-quality phone for $100 less, but Samsung cut corners in one area in particular that just didn't make a whole lot of sense.

Why go with the much worse CPU?
Cutting the display resolution and the screen size totally makes sense. The inferior camera? Sure, I'll buy that, too. Heck, the shift down from 802.11ac to 802.11n even makes sense. However, there is no reason in this day and age to cripple a phone that is still getting "flagship" branding by putting in a significantly slower system on a chip.

The difference in manufacturing cost of, say, a quad-core Cortex A7-based processor and a quad-core Cortex A15 with a faster graphics processor can't be more than maybe $3 to $5. However, the difference in user experience between them is huge in everything from Web browsing to gaming.

Foolish bottom line
If the leaked specs are true, then Samsung is really missing an opportunity to sell a very fast and fluid smartphone with a 4.5-inch display in addition to the 5.1 inches offered by the Galaxy S5 and the 5.0 inches in the prior-generation Galaxy S4. While there are good business reasons to want to keep costs low on a cheaper, lower-end phone, it wouldn't have taken much to give the S5 mini that much extra oomph while adding minimally to production cost.

Can Apple succeed where Samsung has failed?
recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee that its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are even claiming that its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts that 485 million of these devices will be sold per year. But one small company makes this gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and to see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Ashraf Eassa owns shares of ARM Holdings. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and owns shares of Apple and Qualcomm. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

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Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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