HTC One Mini Review

I had recently been using the HTC One for nearly two weeks and it had been really good. The device was smooth, had decent features, very little Android jitters, looked fantastic, and felt like an exclusive premium device. While returning it, they had offered me a Review unit of the HTC One Mini. I had not realized it was even out, and as it turns out, it still isn’t! This was exciting!

Before continuing the review, I would like to note, that you might need to take a look at my HTC One review first here, as these devices are really similar!

HTC One Mini -  Review Unit Box

I had wished to show off the retail box but, they hadn’t given me a retail version, but looking at HTC’s new box language and style, it will be the same as the HTC One, just a bit smaller.

Quick Spec Sheet

Contrary to its bigger sibling, the HTC One Mini is quite palmable. It has the dimensions of 132 x 63.2 x 9.25mm. It features a 4.3 Inch Full HD 720P screen with 341PPI (Although everyone is screaming 400+ PPI these days, 341 on a 4.3 inch screen is no dinosaur). The rear of the device encases HTC’s Utrapixel camera which features full 1080P HD video recording, HDR and HTC Zoe, which has a whole list of shooting modes, features and HTC’s ImageChip 2. The front facing camera is a 1.6 mega pixel camera also capable of 720P HD video. The device features HTC boomsound which are two front facing speakers supported by Beats Audio as it’s bigger brother exactly. On the inside, the device features a 1.4 Ghz Dual-Core Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage all in a beautiful 122g body. As for communication, it serves well with 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n Wi-Fi, DLNA (for wireless data streaming to compaitable TV/Computer), and HTC connect, while it has all the necessary sensors such a device needs such as Gyro sensor, Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor and a light sensor. It is a smaller device, with slightly lesser features and a smaller battery.

Being this is directly related to its bigger sibling, let me remind you of some qualities it hasn’t learnt yet: NFC and Infrared Connectivity, big trade off? Not really.

Box Contents

Obviously The box isn’t the retail box, but the contents should, in theory, be the same.

HTC One Mini -  Box Content

No manuals, but after opening the box, I got pretty much what was in the box for the HTC One. A wall charger, a Micro-USB cable, a pair of headsets and a SIM-Card tray ejector tool.

HTC One Mini -  Headphones

The thing I wondered was, are the headsets provided with the HTC One Mini (I hadn’t got any with the HTC One) Beats Audio or were they just color matched. I could not see any Beats Branding, so I shall assume that the whole Beats Audio influence just sits in the device’s audio management. The headsets look really cool though, they had red touches and red tips.

Design, Body and Display

When I did the HTC One’s version of this section, I was really excited because I loved the design, and thankfully the design has not changed, but in my opinion has got even better with the smaller size.

HTC One Mini -  Front and Back

So how does it differ? Initially, the device fits a lot better in the hand being smaller, but they have also tweaked the design a bit. The edges of the HTC One were polished aluminium which could get scratched with use, and could be slightly uncomfortable some times. On the One Mini though, they have extended the plastic center of the device to the edges, so the plastic created a thin border around the front and back edges.

Aside from the edges, the design language remains the same. On the front top sits the sensors, front camera and notification light (Also embedded inside the speaker, although placed more towards the middle). Towards the bottom sits the back and home button. In typical HTC Boomsound style, there are two lovely speaker grills above and below the screen where the audio is directed towards the viewer, rather than on the back like on most phones, again, I can’t describe how that is just plain simple logic! The quality of the speakers are really good, but aren’t so loud (Which is a similar thing I observed on the HTC One) The issue of independent volume still exists, where applications can play audio when the device is on mute.

Around the back, the beats logo is in grey and seems to be executed slightly better, in the HTC One I had, it had started to slightly rub off, here it seems it will be sticking around for a while. In the center sits the engraved HTC logo which I think is such a classy look, and above that is HTC’s Ultrapixel camera with the flash on top of it rather than on the side, with a small microphone hole to the left.

HTC One Mini -  Top and Bottom View

The top of the device, as before, has the 3.5mm headphone jack and the lock/unlock button. On the One Mini, the button is silver like the volume keys as it does not have the built in Infrared.

On the bottom sits the Micro-USB power (Still upside down) and microphone.

HTC One Mini -  Left and Right Side View

On the right side, The One Mini gets dedicated volume keys compared to the one piece design that was on the One. I prefer it this way too. On the right side, sits a plastic SIM-Card tray. Being that the case is a bit of a soft touch plastic, trying to eject the SIM without 100% care, could damage the hole. It is really tiny but still, I like everything pristine.

The device fits your hands, dare I say it, perfectly. It is slightly bigger than the iPhone 5 but fits a lot better. One hand operation is absolute delight and with the exceptional built quality, it just really works in the hand, taking in and out of pockets, lifting it off a table, etc with every use, I appreciated the size, design and feel of the device. I love the build.

As for the screen, it is lovely! To the normal eye, the difference between it and the HTC One is hardly noticeable, the clarity is brilliant, the brightness is very good and pixels are not visible what so ever, it does have 341PPI after all. I do admit that with use, I do not find that a 4.3 satisfied my entertainment use like the HTC One’s 4.7 did. Over there, I felt I wanted to watch videos, while on the mini I did not get much of that feeling, I know the difference is a mere .4 inches. By all means it would handle media very well, but it is a smaller device.

Memory and Data

As with the HTC One, the mini has no memory card slot. It comes with 16GB of build in storage, which offers nearly 11GB or so of free storage for the user. I am not aware of any other storage models other than the 16GB.

To aid with the storage concerns, the One Mini offers 25GB of free Dropbox storage for two years. The only thing is, I think that perhaps 16GB is a little bit too low for the size of files, applications and media these days.

The device comes with 1GB of RAM, which is quite sufficient for every day use on the One Mini. I have not observed situations where I felt the device was over loaded, there are applications that are not supported, I am guessing probably with concerns with storage, resolution or possibly RAM requirements as well, more on that in a bit.

Camera

The camera of the HTC One Mini, is the Ultrapixel camera concept by HTC, which is essentially a glorified 4 Megapixel camera that can take pictures as good as the 8 Megapixel players out there by allowing in more light into the sensors, which does enable better lighting in dark situations and also offers better quality images in low light. The following are some random sample images taken, in the real world. I really don’t like perfect scenario imagery.

IMAG0001

Indoor shot with mediocre lighting of the Nokia Lumia 925 (Also reviewed on ihabstech.com, link here)

IMAG0006

Macro/Close up shot of a burger, I think it did pretty well actually!

IMAG0021

Odd and low light condition

IMAG0023

A showroom with mixed lighting situation, no indoor lighting with really bright sunlight, taken with HDR mode

IMAG0034

This is a picture I really wanted to mention. This car is actually silver, and the road is naturally grey. But with this specific series of shots, there is this blueish/purpleish hue going on that I have not experienced before. I tried to replicate it but didn’t happen again.

Overall, it still has quite a decent camera for a mobile device, it has a lot of options. Tapping the setting icons in camera, opens access to a toggle to switch between front and back cameras, 4 modes (Scene, Night, HDR, panorama and Anti-shake), Video Capture mode settings, Self timer, Crop ratio, quality, review settings, adjustments, ISO, White balance, Continuous Shooting, Shutter options, Focus in video settings, grid options, Auto upload, and buttons to reset settings and help.

Operating System

Again, as with the HTC One, the Mini follows through with the same experience, which includes their HTC Sense 5 on Android 4.2.2.

Screenshot_2013-08-16-17-06-56HTC’s Blinkfeed was a feature highlight on the HTC One, and I had got used to it providing me with all the latest news feeds from my interests. It could be also set up to bring up news from social media accounts but I felt that was a tad too messy for my liking.

The overall experience of the HTC Sense 5 is what matters the most, and I am extremely glad that the device does not lack in terms of experience. Yes, the device is slightly weaker in terms of hardware specifications, and there are some situations where there are slight jitters, but it isn’t major, neither is it often even noticeable.

I enjoyed the HTC One’s experience and this has given me the exact experience, just in a smaller, more palmable package.

Screenshot_2013-08-16-17-14-55The experience continues deep within the device. For example, all core functionality such as keyboards, calendar, messages, notifications, notification center, etc are all done with the exact same way as with the HTC One, which left me as comfortably familiar as I ever could be.

The multitasking on the mini also remains the same, with up to 9 open tasks at one time and no quick way to end all tasks.

Applications are obviously through the play store, but there are a few applications where the mini did not have the minimum requirements in terms of specifications. I often play Real Racing 3 and it, for example, was not compatible with the mini.

Screenshot_2013-08-16-17-15-16Also, built in OS features that were on the One remain, which includes Car mode where the device enlarges icons and provides easy access to a set number of features to be used while driving, in an attempt to safe guard from using the device normally, and Kid mode where parents can set up the phone for their children’s use without access to all the phone’s data.

Overall, the end user experience remains nearly the same, with the same look, feel and usability as with the HTC One, there is certainly nothing really left behind aside from the Infrared remote feature being removed and the lack of NFC communications.

Performance

Even though the HTC One mini runs on a 1.4Ghz Dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM, it could be said that it runs nearly as smooth as the HTC One up to 90% of the times. It is quick and snappy, with the slight jitters from time to time, and switching between apps is fairly smooth.

In the two weeks of use that I’ve had, it has performed quite well, without any major issues or concerns, pretty solid device!

In regards to the 3D Microsoft Fish Tank test it scored the following scores:
(running at 980×440 resolution, same as the HTC One)
With 100 fish, it held 19-23 FPS
With 250 fish, it held 14-16 FPS
With 500 fish, it held 9 FPS

Directly comparing it with the HTC One, the mini performed slightly better, although while running at 100 fish, the rates would randomly drop to 4 and then climb back up. Good performer.

To try it out for yourself, you can visit this link, and I use this to give a rough estimate to compare between reviews.

Something that may not necessarily fit under performance, but the mobile network signal seems to have a bit of an issue. The phone has never missed a call, but the phone signal is almost always at one bar indoors. I do not think the signal is weak as much as the indicator isn’t accurate perhaps.

Battery

The device does come with a smaller battery compared to its bigger sibling, at 1800mAh, but it also has a smaller screen and internals to power. With similar average use as with the HTC One test, I managed to get slightly more juice out of the battery at around 15+ hours, which includes roughly 8 hours of standby.

Screenshot_2013-08-15-14-38-00

A cool feature HTC Sense 5 has is the ability to see detailed use over time. I found this quite interesting to look at.

Screenshot_2013-08-15-14-38-25

This tool really does show much battery draining occurs while the device is on and being used or in standby. Overall, it could pull of a full day’s worth of use. The battery holds up well, it does seem pretty accurate and when the numbers drop they drop evenly. I have had experiences where if a phone has 20% battery left, that almost means 5% in the real world. Decent battery.

Wrap up

Simply put, the HTC One Mini is a very good smart phone, it fits really well in the hands and pockets, has brilliant build quality, it performs quite well, it never showed any signs of serious struggle under hard use and best of all, it looks absolutely fantastic!

The only concern or question I have is, how much is this device going to cost. It offers nearly 90% of the HTC One experience in a compact size, and I think if it costs less than 80% of the price, it is the most appealing non-flagship smartphone I have come across.

Device Pros and Cons

Pros:
– Amazing build quality and materials used
– Beautiful design and engineering
– Gorgeous screen
– Smooth Android experience
– HTC Blinkfeed is a fun place to get news and updates
– Brilliant touch screen keyboard
– Good battery life

Cons:
– Camera is decent not great
– Micro-USB is still upside down compared to other devices
– Lacks NFC & Infrared capabilities
– Does not fit requirements of some HD Applications/Games
– Limited Built in storage

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