Samsung Galaxy S5 mini review: Big enough

GSMArena team, 17 August 2014.

TouchWiz gallery

The gallery on the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini can be viewed by time or by album and filtered by several categories. Event is the basic view, which groups photos based on time and location, but it's the other modes that caught our interest.

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Gallery

You'll be pleased to hear the app handles Facebook, Dropbox and Picasa out of the box. Pinch zoom will change the size of the thumbnails and can also open and close individual photos. Batch operations are supported and that includes not just copy/delete but also image rotation.

The single photo view has several shortcuts for sharing (via an app or over DLNA). The Quick Connect button in the notification area will scan for all ways you can share something in the Gallery with nearby devices.

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Editing

You can easily edit images right in the Gallery itself. The new Studio option is quite powerful and can do anything from basic editing and photo collages to creating and trimming videos. It also handles the post-processing of Shot & more photos.

Music player

The TouchWiz music player on the Galaxy S5 mini is jam-packed with features and supports a wide variety of file formats, including FLAC.

Music is sorted by several categories and you can hide some categories you don't need. Folder view is available and so is scanning for DLNA servers (Quick Connect helps with this).

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Music player

There's also the Music square - the phone scans your music library rating each track in terms of tempo (Exciting or Calm) and emotion (Passionate or Joyful). It can then load a playlist matching your chosen tempo and mood. The emotion axis in the graph can be switched to Age, which makes it easy to automatically create a playlist of classics or contemporary hits.

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Sound options

The Now playing screen gives you the usual options: timescroll, playback controls, an AllShare shortcut. A coverflow-like list of album art lets you know what the next song will be and is an easy way to skip right to it. The music player will also try to find the lyrics for the song you're listening to.

Samsung has enabled several audio-enhancement features. The SoundAlive equalizer presets are cleverly organized into a square similar to the Music Square. The presets balance between Treble and Bass, Vocals and Instrumental. You can also just tap the Auto toggle or enable a Tube amp effect, 7.1 channel virtualization, along with Studio, Club and Concert Hall effects.

The advanced equalizer view gives you a proper seven band equalizer you can tune manually and enable additional effects like 3D, Bass and Clarity.

The list of audio features doesn't end there. Smart volume will keep the sound level consistent across tracks, while Adapt sound tests the performance of your headphones and tunes the equalizer based on that.

Video player

The video player on the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini handles files from the local storage and DLNA-compatible devices. Chapter preview lets you jump to a specific scene.

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Video player

If subtitles are available, the video player will automatically find and load them. You can also manually load subtitles if the video and subtitle file names don't match.

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Chapter view

You can change the zoom mode (100%, fit to screen width and without affecting the videos aspect ratio) and there's a pinch zoom too, in case you want to get close to a specific part of the action. Instead of zooming in, you can zoom out and turn the video into a floating window with the familiar Pop Up Play feature.

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Pop up play

The same SoundAlive audio-enhancing technology from the music player is available here too. There are additional settings for the brightness, playback speed and playing the audio over Bluetooth (if you have wireless speakers).

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini managed to play most of the files we threw at it. It didn't have issues with playback of 1080p videos including MKV, FLV and MOV files. It had issues with the AC-3 audio codec and didn't manage to reproduce sound with it on many video codecs we tested. Some videos with AAC audio didn't produce sound either but others did.

Very nice audio output

The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini did very well in the first part of our audio quality test, where we see how it performs with an active external amplifier. Each of its scores was excellent and the volume level was good, adding up to an excellent score.

Plug in a pair of headphones though and the scores worsen slightly - they are still very good, but our lab equipment still detected some intermodulation distortion and the stereo crosstalk spiked notably. The volume levels also worsened a bit, preventing the Galaxy S5 mini from matching its full size sibling the way it did in the first test.

Overall we'd say the performance is very good, but the bad news is one of the Galaxy S5 mini's key rivals is the HTC One mini 2. And that one is among the best performers of all time.

And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini+0.03, -0.04-92.690.70.016 0.018-94.0
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini (headphones attached)+0.23, -0.05-86.786.20.052 0.167-55.7
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini+0.06, -0.05-93.592.70.0090 0.056-86.2
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini (headphones attached)+0.08, -0.04-93.291.80.029 0.089-53.3
HTC One mini 2+0.02, -0.09-94.893.80.010 0.011-93.5
HTC One mini 2 (headphones attached)+0.08, -0.03-94.993.80.028 0.022-90.1
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact+0.08, -0.02-92.692.30.00520.012-89.0
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact (headphones attached)+0.15, -0.05-91.791.30.0540.090-43.7
Apple iPhone 5s+0.02, -0.05-93.693.70.00130.0068-90.3
Apple iPhone 5s (headphones attached)+0.12, -0.00-93.493.30.00160.060-76.1

Samsung Galaxy S5 mini frequency response
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.