Samsung Targets Europe With Smaller Flagship Phone: Galaxy S III Mini To Pack iPhone 5-Sized Screen

Samsung will unveil a smaller version of its flagship Galaxy SIII handset in Europe tomorrow — shrinking the screen from the 4.8 inches of its current flagship to an iPhone 5-sized 4 inches. Reuters is reporting the handset will be launched in Europe. There’s no word yet on whether Samsung plans to bring the device to the U.S.

The only other confirmed detail at this point is the name of the phone: the Galaxy S III mini. Samsung provided TechCrunch with the following statement confirming the planned launched

GALAXY S III mini will come with 4″ display and we are going to unveil the product tomorrow (Oct 11th). – JK Shin, head of Samsung Mobile Communications

We’ve asked Samsung for more details about the phone and will update with any response.

Engadget has some leaked info on the device (via a German site called MobileGeeks) which suggests the S III mini may be rather more mid-range than flagship — with an expected price of 399 euros ($510). While it will apparently have a 4 inch Super AMOLED display, the resolution will only be 800 x 480 (which would give a lowly pixel per inch rate of 233). The site also reckons Samsung is replacing the S III’s quad-core Exynos processor with an STE U8420 chip clocked at 1GHz. RAM is 1GHz, while the rear camera is reportedly 5 megapixels.

Reuters’ story quotes a Samsung spokeswoman citing Shin saying: “We think there’s strong demand for 4-inch screen models in Europe.” The company also told the news agency that the Galaxy S III mini would not be an entry-level model — contrary to the leaked info from MobileGeeks.

Early last month Saumsung released sales figures for the Galaxy S III — saying it had sold over 20 million units in the first 100 days of launch: 6 million in Europe, 4.5 million in Asia (ex. Korea), 4 million in North America and 2.5  million in Korea. The company is clearly hoping to maximise the reach of the device by adding a smaller version to appeal to people with smaller hands (and pockets).

Samsung is also not the only mobile maker to be thinking (a little bit) smaller when it comes to smartphone screen sizes. Motorola’s recent Droid Razr M packs a 4.3 inch screen — putting in the same ballpark as the iPhone, albeit still a smidge bigger. Perhaps the rampant screen inflation we’ve seen in the smartphone market in recent years has just about run its course (let’s hope so).

The Galaxy S III is just one of scores of phones in Samsung’s portfolio — which run the gamut from kid-friendly devices with very small and cramped screens all the way up to ‘phablet’ devices, its Galaxy Note range, with can pack screens in excess of 5 inches.

Offering an extensive range of different screen sizes (and price points) has been one of the ways Samsung has differentiated its Android-powered smartphones from other Android-based devices, such as HTC’s. It’s also a counterpoint to Apple’s strategy of offering just a handful of iPhone models with only very limited choice in screen size (and price).