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HTC One Mini review

 Review: August 2013  
 

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: The HTC One Mini is a smaller, cheaper version of the flagship HTC One. It's a gorgeous-looking phone, but over-priced for what you get.

Best buy: HTC One Mini 2 - Sim Free Sm ... from Amazon (£0)



 

Introduction

The formula is simple - take a highly-rated flagship phone, make it smaller, reduce a few specs to keep the cost down and sell it as a "Mini" version. That's precisely what HTC has done with their enormously successful HTC One. Say hello to the HTC One Mini!

One design

The One Mini really does live up to its name. It looks almost exactly like a smaller version of its big brother. Everything is the same - the premium aluminium body, the screen made from "Infinity Glass", the front-facing stereo speakers with their mean-looking grilles. The phone radiates style and attitude, and is one of the best-looking phones on the market today.

The only real difference between this and the full-size version is the size. It's shorter and narrower, but retains the same superslim, tapered profile, making it highly pocketable and ready for single-handed use. It's 20g lighter too, which is significant.

The downside of course is that the screen is smaller too, yet at 4.3 inches it's not small by most standards. It lacks full 1080p HD resolution, but with 720p HD resolution on a smaller screen, it manages an impressive 341 ppi definition, giving a sharp display. It certainly beats the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and the iPhone's Retina display.

BlinkFeed & HTC Sense 5

The One Mini runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, coupled with the HTC Sense 5 user interface enhancements. Version 5 of HTC Sense takes a step back compared with previous versions, in recognition that Android is maturing as a user interface and that HTC no longer needs to do as much tweaking as it used to. You won't find Locations, Footprints or the various HTC hubs.

What you will find is a completely new home screen, called BlinkFeed. BlinkFeed replaces the (boring) default Android home screen with content streamed from sources like facebook, twitter, calendar events and news feeds. It looks a little like, dare we say it, Windows Phone 8. And that's no bad thing.

Sadly the phone misses out on the infrared blaster that lets you use it as a TV remote. To be clear - the HTC One does it; the Mini doesn't,

Dual-core speed

Whereas the HTC One has a quad-core processor available, the One Mini must make do with a dual-core processor. Hardcore app users and gamers will notice the difference, but for most purposes the 1.4GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 is plenty fast enough. To put this in perspective, it's about as fast as an iPhone 4S.

RAM is reduced as well, from 2GB down to a more modest 1GB, and this also takes its toll when running demanding apps.

The built-in storage is just 16GB and there's no memory card option. This is limiting, and feels like a cut too far. You do get 25 GB of Dropbox cloud storage free for two years, but lack of memory is likely to be an issue for many users of the phone.

UltraPixel camera

One thing that the One Mini shares with its big brother, for better or worse, is its UltraPixel camera. The thinking behind this is that the quality of a digital camera doesn't just depend on the number of megapixels. The size of the sensor and the quality of the optics matter just as much, if not more. The UltraPixel camera has just 4 megapixels, but each pixel, being larger, is able to capture more light.

The result? Mixed, to be honest. Certainly the camera takes good quality photos, especially in low light conditions. But zoom in and you quickly start to see the low resolution of the images. Overall, we don't think it lives up to the hype.

On the other hand, the camera does have plenty of cool features. One-press continuous shooting and VideoPic enable you to take multiple photos and to extract a still image from a video. The camera also captures a 3 second video at the same time as taking a pic, so your photo album becomes, in HTC's words, a living, breathing gallery. It's called Zoe and it's a bit like the magical photos in Harry Potter! Zoe also compiles these 3 second clips into 30 second music videos that you can upload them and share.

The camera also records video at 1080p full HD resolution, with a slow motion option. A 1.6 megapixel front camera with 720p HD video recording completes the package.

Audio

One of the top features of the phone is its audio capabilities, which it shares with the HTC One. HTC calls this BoomSound. We think this is just a fancy name for the front-facing stereo speakers with built-in amplifiers. These make a significant difference when you're annoying other people on the bus enjoying your music without headphones. It also has Beats Audio for studio-quality sound through quality headphones.

In addition there's a HDR Microphone. Dual built-in microphones detect ambient noise and dynamically boost the in-call voice to compensate.

4G & connectivity

The One Mini is a 4G phone, giving it data access speeds of up to 100Mbps. It also supports 3G HSPA+ with downloads of up to 42Mbps.

Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX, micro-USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack and DLNA support.

Surprisingly though, and somewhat disappointingly, it's not NFC-enabled, so users will miss out on this feature just as it looks set to start becoming useful.

Battery life

The battery has a capacity of 1800mAh, which is some 20% less than the battery of the HTC One. That's not too unreasonable, considering that the One Mini has a smaller, lower resolution screen and half the number of processor cores, but it's possible that battery life will prove to be a problem with this phone. Like the HTC One, the battery is non-removable.

Conclusion

It seems like a winning formula. Start with a premium handset. Reduce the size, specs and price. Voila! Job done!

What could go wrong? Two things. First, HTC have cut the specs perhaps a little too much in certain key areas. Firstly, the 16GB of memory is far too small, especially since you can't add a memory card. Secondly, the battery life teeters on the edge of acceptability. Thirdly, the lack of NFC is just plain irritating. But the second mistake HTC made is just as serious - while it cut the size and the spec ruthlessly, it failed to cut the cost enough. At launch, the HTC One Mini costs almost as much as the flagship HTC One on contract. It costs more than it's arch-rival the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, which for us means that we'd recommend the Samsung, despite the HTC's gorgeous looks and other charms.

If the price falls, the balance will change, but we'll always be frustrated by the lack of a memory card.


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HTC One Mini user reviews

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Average rating from 2 reviews:

Reviewed by Glenn from Australia on 16th Feb 2014
Totally satisfied in general, though the ram seems to run at around 70-80%. I regularly have the 'clean' the ram use. Battery life is good for me. I only use the phone for messaging and voice calls. No games.
I did have a problem with the volume not working, both the manual 'buttons' on the side and the electronic-version. Though it all works fine now. I think this was related to how I remove/ replace the phone from/to the HTC protective case I use. All in all, I will probably buy an HTC next time.

Glenn
Rating:

Reviewed by Noemi Frank from England on 14th Oct 2013
Believe it or not this is my first touch screen phone. The only reason why I waited this long is because I did not want an IPhone and all the other "smart" phones seemed rather complicated to me than "smart". Until HTC come out with the ONE!!! I was a well worth wait! I am a woman and I am blond. I admit it I am way to stupid for these "smart" phones and I just hate the fact that everybody's got IPhone. With the ONE it was love at first sight! It is great it just does what and how and when I want it! Even my boyfriend said that he can see himself changing his IPhone 4S to the ONE!! I can't explain all the technical staff about it but for a smart phone to please a doom blond it has got to be pretty good! I hope that anybody who is looking for an easy use but great phone other than the IPhone will give a try to the ONE!!! Enyoj!!! I am!!! xxx
Rating:


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