I’ve had an affinity for big phones the last three years, which is the reason why I chose the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max as my main drivers for the majority of 2023. That’s also probably why I’m excited for what’s in store with the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which we're expecting to see in about a month.
But after a weekend in Philly without my sling bag on hand to hold all of my gear, I realized that we need more “mini” phones. And the S24 Ultra would be an ideal candidate for such a device.
As much as I’m sure the Galaxy S24 Ultra will be brimming with AI features that I'll incorporate into my daily routine, I would die for a mini version of the upcoming flagship instead. Don’t mistake it for the entry-level version we’ll probably hear about too, even if the Galaxy S24 will likely be a smaller phone than the S24 Ultra. What I want instead is something substantially tinier.
Samsung used to release “mini”-sized versions of its flagship phones, but I think the last one to be commercially released was the Galaxy S5 mini. That was back in 2014, so announcing one would make for a timely return after a decade-long sabbatical. There are pros and cons for such a move, so here’s what I think would make for a promising, but practical prospect with a Galaxy S24 Ultra mini.
Better ergonomics with a smaller design
This one’s obvious because having used the Galaxy S23 Ultra, I've found it simply unwieldy to use one-handed. More often than not, two-handed operation is necessary because it’s nearly impossible to comfortably reach the upper corners of the display while holding the Ultra with one hand.
I would love it if Samsung could swing a design that’s roughly the size of the iPhone SE (3rd Gen), which is one of the few handsets I can actually use with one hand. And of course, I could slip it into my pocket a lot easier.
A smaller phone typically means less room for a larger battery — which in turn means a shorter battery life. However, I’d be content if it could still support fast charging that could recharge most of its battery in about 30 minutes.
Keep the specs top-of-the-line
I get annoyed whenever phone makers end up chopping the specs for their “mini” phones. It’s been a practice for many, much like the case with the Galaxy S5 mini. Instead, a phone that retains that Ultra moniker should also retain the same top-of-the-line specs.
Even with a smaller sized display, perhaps around that 4.7-inch range, I would love for this so-called Galaxy S24 Ultra mini to have a 120Hz display refresh rate. Furthermore, it should also be powered by the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip that’s rumored to power the Galaxy S24 series.
Keep at least one telephoto camera
With significantly less room to work with, I don’t think it’s feasible for this mini phone to pack four cameras — much like the current Galaxy S23 Ultra does and the S24 Ultra is rumored to do. Instead, I think it would be more practical to stick with a normal triple camera arrangement: wide, ultrawide, and telephoto.
The latter would be the most challenging of the bunch because a longer-range telephoto camera would present engineering challenges with fitting all the components. Well, rumors hint that Samsung will actually be scaling back the 10x telephoto camera of the Galaxy S23 Ultra with a 5x zoom camera instead. But given all the advances we’ve seen with image processing from recent phone releases like the Pixel 8 Pro, the quality could be just as good with the help of AI tweaking and enhancing the images.
Desktop-like experience courtesy of Samsung DeX
I’ve explained how Samsung DeX could be in store for a much-needed upgrade with the Galaxy S24, so I would expect a Galaxy S24 Ultra mini to have it as well. Even now, Samsung DeX continues to be one of the most underrated features in the Galaxy line — but to know that I can achieve a desktop-like experience with my phone is useful.
There are times when I’ve accidentally left my laptop at home, so I’ve come to rely on Samsung DeX in my Galaxy devices to continue my daily work functions whenever I’m in the office at my desk — complete with a mouse, keyboard, and monitor setup. I’m already surprised that my Galaxy S23 Ultra does this, so for something half its size to do it as well would be even more impressive.
Telescoping S Pen design
Another challenge facing a Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra mini would be how it tackles the S Pen. Indeed, finding room would be an absolute challenge for a small phone, but I think Samsung could pull it off.
Rather than implementing the same S Pen design we’ve seen, I think a telescoping design for the stylus would be much more practical. It could occupy half the space as the current S Pen while still extending to its usual length when it needs to be used — providing the same comfort and utility I’ve come to enjoy.
Ultra specs, premium pricing
In the past, Samsung’s mini phones were justified with lower prices than their flagship counterparts. However, if this Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra mini adhered to everything I mentioned above, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were priced around $1,000. That pricing could be seen as over-bloated, but you have to remember that it would retain nearly all of the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s features — including a telephoto zoom camera, S Pen, and Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip. I don’t think it would be an unreasonable ask for a small phone with big features.
Now if only Samsung was on the same page...
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John’s a senior editor covering phones for Tom’s Guide. He’s no stranger in this area having covered mobile phones and gadgets since 2008 when he started his career. On top of his editor duties, he’s a seasoned videographer being in front and behind the camera producing YouTube videos. Previously, he held editor roles with PhoneArena, Android Authority, Digital Trends, and SPY. Outside of tech, he enjoys producing mini documentaries and fun social clips for small businesses, enjoying the beach life at the Jersey Shore, and recently becoming a first time homeowner.
100% agree. I have had various Samsung Ultra models and the Pixel Pros. This year I had enough of tablet in my pocket monstrosities and went with the regular S23 and absolutely loved having a pocketable reasonably sized device! Then summer/fall concert season was upon us... I was closer to the stage but getting far worse pictures with the regular S23 vs the Ultra in years prior. At that moment the call of the Ultra was upon me and I picked up the S23 Ultra to once again weild the power of camera phone supremacy. Then once again I am annoyed on a daily basis how ridiculous the size of this thing is. What jacket pocket does it go in? Can I sit down with it in my front pocket? Can I even reasonably attempt to use it one handed? I miss the days when Sony had their compact series that were fully powered, for the time, in a nice tiny package. I can live without the stylus.Reply