The Galaxy S3 mini looks almost identical to its bigger brother, the Galaxy S3, apart from a few minor, almost unnoticeable, cosmetic changes and of course the fact it's smaller.

It has the same appearance with nice curved sides and rounded corners. It’s pebble-like at 10.2mm thick and is light at just 113g. The Galaxy S3 mini sits nicely in the hand thanks to its ergonomic size and shape.

Like its flagship counterpart, the Galaxy S3 mini feels well made. The front is one piece of glass with a silver metal surround giving it rigidity and strength. However, we're not fans of the flimsy plastic rear cover which hides the battery, SIM card slot and microSD card slot.

Samsung has fitted the Galaxy S3 mini with a 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. It's nothing to get excited about and neither are the benchmark results.

The Galaxy S3 mini managed an average score of 763 in GeekBench 2, 2,037ms in SunSpider and 12fps in GLBenchmark. These scores might not make for tantalising reading but performance from a user point of view is generally good but there are signs of lag every now and then.

A 4in screen matches the size of the iPhone 5 but the resolution is a disappointing 480x800. The resulting pixel density of 233ppi but the phone is at least bright and vibrant thanks to its Super AMOLED technology.

Storage is fairly limited with only 8GB and 16GB models but there is a microSD card slot, annoyingly located underneath the battery, for up to 32GB cards.

Another area of compromise on specifications to achieve the price of the Galaxy S3 mini is the cameras. It has a common 5Mp rear-facing camera and a low-quality VGA front-facing camera.

An advantage of the Galaxy S3 mini is that is comes with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box.

Samsung Galaxy S3 mini

It includes almost all the features which made the Galaxy S3 good such as various motion controls like Direct Call and Smart Alert, a customised notification bar, Popup Play and a power saving mode.

One of the main features of Jelly Bean is Google Now, a predictive search hub which Samsung has thankfully left in the OS.

The relatively small 5.6Wh battery inside the Galaxy S3 mini surprisingly lasted us 24 hours of use with nearly 40 percent remaining. This gives it the potential to be a two day phone, provided you don't use it too intensively.

Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Galaxy S3 mini comparison

The Galaxy S3 mini is a nice phone with good software and battery life. However, unless you particularly want a smaller smartphone, we can't see any major reason choose it over the cheaper but higher spec Google Nexus 4 on a SIM-free basis.

See also: Group test: what's the best Android phone?