Samsung exec: Galaxy S III "mini" on the way

Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung has confirmed that it will unveil a smaller version of the popular Galaxy S III smartphone tomorrow.

Speaking to Korean media this morning, Samsung mobile chief JK Shin said that Samsung will lift the lid on a 4-inch version of the Android-powered smartphone on Thursday, a week after the smartphone maker sent out invitations to a launch event.

Hinting at the device's name, Shin said: "There's a lot of demand for a 4-inch screen device in Europe. Some may call it an entry-level device, but we call it 'mini'."

Shin did not reveal any additional details of the device -- such as pricing and availability -- ahead of tomorrow's launch, however. According to The Verge, the downsized Galaxy S III will not be an entry-level device, suggesting that it will pack the very same features as its larger, 4.8-inch sibling.

According to German technology site MobileGeeks, meanwhile, the mini smartphone will have a screen resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, along with a rear 5-megapixel camera. It is believed that a 1GHz dual-core STE U8420 chip will power the Galaxy S III mini and feature 16GB of flash memory with an expandable MicroSD card.

The battery is understood to be a lower specification than that of the larger model at 1,500 mAh, but is offset by the smaller processor and less battery-intensive display. The German technology site also claimed that the smaller Samsung smartphone will include the latest version (4.1) of Android, nicknamed Jelly Bean.

AppleInsider argues that the new Galaxy S III mini "falls well short" of the iPhone 5, based on the specifications. The iPhone 5 boasts a resolution of 1,136 x 640 pixels and an 8-megapixel rear camera.

However, the Galaxy S III mini may outshine the iPhone 5 in some areas, with rumored near-field communications (NFC) capability for contactless payments.

Samsung sold 20 million Galaxy S III smartphone in the first 100 days after its launch, and had notched up double the sales of its Galaxy S II predecessor after five months.

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    Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET and CBS News. He is based in New York City.