Once upon a time, when flagships were getting bigger but consumers weren’t quite sure bigger was necessarily better, somebody came up with the idea to release “mini” flagships alongside its larger, more powerful doppelgänger. A good idea in theory, minis never truly took off, mostly due to terrible specs and a high price tag. Most minis only had design and brand name in common with its flagship origins; only a few, like the Sony Xperia Compact series or the iPhone SE, were the exception.
However, some of the bigger brands that could have had a bigger following for the minis, like the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S Minis, hardly lived up to the hype. It took two or three generations for the companies to ultimately decide that the venture wasn’t worth it. Both HTC and Samsung have since given up creating minis, all the while making their flagship displays larger with each new generation. Although the mini fad hasn’t resurfaced by name (or principle), per se, it appears that Samsung developed a good formula for a compact device with the reveal of the Samsung Galaxy Feel, a smartphone with a 4.7-inch display and modest but respectable specifications.
It’s weird for me to consider a 4.7-inch display as “mini”, but with smartphone screens spanning up to (and in few cases beyond) 6 inches, a 4.7-inch display is small, relatively speaking, and rare for the Android space. Full specs for the device are:
The biggest compromise is the display. HD equals 720 x 1280 resolution, which isn’t going to give you super crisp images. There was also no word on which processor it uses, but one shouldn’t expect anything too powerful. If an energy efficient processor is used, between it, the HD display, and the large battery, this phone could (and probably will) have some impressive battery life.
Another missing aspect is the price. While the phone looks good on paper, price plays a big factor in whether people would consider it a good purchase or not. Even if Samsung managed to give the Galaxy Feel exceptional battery life and decent specs, it isn’t the first nor the only budget smartphone on the market to have such an appeal. It would still need to be priced competitively.
The final missing piece of information is whether the Galaxy Feel will end up in regions outside of Japan or not, whether under the same or another name. So far it is only confirmed for Japan with a mid-June release.
I would love to see this phone span out to other markets, but I also think it would struggle here in the states. At best, I would presume the price to be somewhere between $350-$400, which is fairly modest considering how much flagships go for. On the other hand, flagships are constantly on sale or part of a BOGO deal if purchased through a major carrier or retail store, with the only caveat being that one would need to sign up for an installment plan. Considering many Americans are still adjusting to life post 2-year contracts, signing up for an installment plan is similar and pretty common, and since these promotions happen frequently, a modestly priced mid-range device would prove to be a hard sell here when you could buy an LG G6 for less than $300, or two Samsung Galaxy S8s for around the same price.
Still, the one of the main appeals of the Galaxy Feel is its smaller screen size, which some people would rather have over a phone with a larger display and more power. I do wish the screen had been a little smaller; 4.7-inch displays might be the new small, but to me it still isn't actually small. I’ve given up hope that small displays will ever as popular as they once were, but it is nice to see a manufacturer with as much influence as Samsung putting some effort into a neglected category. I just wish the same effort had been put into the old minis. If it had, maybe minis would still be a thing.