Galaxy S4 Mini Review – A Great Phone For On The Water

A while back, I wrote a post about using a tablet as a phone. Well, after a few drops, mostly thanks to other boaters passing by and hitting me with three huge wake, I’ve killed yet another phone.

Why The Change

When it came time to replace it, I decided to go completely the opposite direction and go with a much smaller smartphone. I still think using a tablet as your phone is a great option if you’re cruising or working on a larger boat, and I still miss not having a tablet.

But for my jetski tours it was very difficult to fit the tablet And to the dry compartment on the jetski. Also the tablet was a little too big for taking on long paddles on a kayak or stand up paddleboard.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

My Choice

The phone I decided to go with is the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. It’s slightly smaller than the Galaxy S3 with similar specs, making it much smaller than the giant oversized smartphones that seem to be so common these days.

Features And Performance

The Galaxy S4 Mini measures only 4.91” x 2.41” x 0.35” (124.6 mm x 61.3 mm x 8.9 mm) with a 4.3″ Super AMOLED touchscreen. The small size makes it very easy to fit in a pocket, even inside of a case. It comes with Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) installed and is up-gradable to 4.4.2 (KitKat). This phone features an 8 MP camera, just like the Galaxy S3.

The overall image quality isn’t quite well as it is on the S3, especially in lower light situations. But it is good enough that a lot of the photos and videos on this website and my Facebook page were shot with this phone. All of my other apps work perfectly exactly as they did on all my previous Androids.

An added benefit of this phone for cruisers is it’s a dual SIM card phone, so when I am ready to start cruising I should be able to keep my US SIM card in the phone and just add a second SIM card to the other slot for whichever countries I’m traveling to.

Great Accessories

Otterbox Commuter Series Case

There isn’t a waterproof case that’s designed specifically for the S4 mini. I went with an Aryca Aricase Wave III that is designed for the iPhone 5 and other Larger smartphones. With a few modifications to the plastic holder that goes inside the case, the S4 Mini fits perfectly.

I only use Aricase when I’m doing jetski tours or running the boat at work. For everyday use I went with the OtterBox Commuter Series, which has dust covers on all the ports which will help to keep water out to some degree, but it’s not really waterproof.

For added protection I went with the PThink Tempered Glass Screen Protector which protects the screen from scratches and cracks without affecting the screen visibility like the plastic screen protectors do.

My Conclusion

I love having a phone that comfortably fits in my pocket, unlike all the other gigantic sized phones you see these days. This phone also fits inside of a very small dry bag that I use as my wallet when it’s not inside of the Aricase.

The Galaxy S4 Mini, the OtterBox Commuter Series, and the PThink Screen Protector can all be purchased at Amazon at great prices with free shipping.

8 Responses to Galaxy S4 Mini Review – A Great Phone For On The Water

  1. Thank you for this review. I am thinking of buying a new phone and still can’t make up my mind which one.
    I like Samsung phones very much because they usually have durable batteries and well organized menues. I also preffer smaller phones as they are easier to cerry around. So reading this review makes me think of buying a mini version.

    • Daniela, this just may be my favorite Samsung that I’ve owned yet. It’s pretty much performed flawlessly. I even accidentally exposed it to a little salt water a few weeks ago. For a few days it wouldn’t connect to my computer, but after it dried out it started working perfectly again.

  2. Hi there!
    It souds like you lead a pretty exciting life.
    I really like the idea of the smaller phone that fits in your pocket, especially if you are dressed for the water.
    The price works for me also.
    How long have you had this phone and has it hit any water yet? 🙂
    That and dropping and breaking the screens seems to be the biggest enemy of these phones.
    Thanks for the review!


    • Thanks Shawn!

      The size was a big selling point for me. I haven’t had a good track record with phones lately. I lost my original Galaxy S3 out of my back pocket during a night paddleboard tour.

      I’ve had it for about 6 months now. Being around the water all day my hands are usually a little wet, so it definitely gets a few drops on it here and there. A few weeks back I had it in a small dry bag in my kayak in pretty chappy water, and it was exposed to even more salt water.

      It stopped connecting to my laptop and I was convinced the phone was done. After about a week, though I guess it dried out, because it was back to working normal.

      I’ve also dropped it more than a few times at this point. There is a small crack in the screen protector, but the screen is fine. One of those drops it even landed in Sparky’s water bowl. Pulled it out immediately, pulled the battery, and dried as best as I could. A few hours later it was working fine!


  3. Hi Chris,

    Great website, so glad I found your site on the different reviews for mobile phones, I have a Samsung at the moment and due for a change and I think I will be going for the Galaxy S4 Mini so I am ready for the warmer months after the festive period. I looked for a newsletter sign up so I could subscribe, do you have one? Keep up the good reviews. Cheers, Michael

    • Thanks Mike!

      I’m sure you’ll like it. It’s a great little phone. I’ve owned nothing buy Samsung since making the switch to Android. I actually have a Note 3 on the way now.

      There’s a sign up right in the sidebar, or you can got to this page.

  4. Hi, Capitan Crise
    Nice preview, good organized website, and a lot of information.
    I myself have S4 Mini, you are all right, it is an amazing phone, I like having dual SIM cards cause I’m traveling a lot. The only thing I don’t like in this phone, its display is not clear enough in outdoor light, I found that it is hard for me to use outside, beside, its sound looks not loud enough.
    I appreciate your sharing, good luck

    • That is true. Although I can’t remember if the screen on my Galaxy S3 was much easier to see in sunlight. I recently switched to the Note 3, because I missed having a tablet, and really don’t want to have both a tablet and a phone. The sound on it is much better, I guess because huge phone means bigger speakers. It’s great for reading Kindle books too. The weather has been pretty bad lately, so I’m not really sure how view-able it will be outdoors yet.

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