I was actually rather excited to be given the opportunity to review the HTC One Mini as I have very much liked what I have seen from the HTC One and was curious to see if HTC could deliver a similar experience with its smaller cousin. If you need a catch up on Ausdroid’s thoughts on the HTC One, check out our review from earlier this year.
Being a Nexus fan, the one thing that I wasn’t too sure about was using a phone with Sense 5. I used to be a fan of Sense, but that was a long time ago and back on Windows Mobile, so I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy that part of the phone.
This phone really is targeted towards those people that want a good looking top quality Android device but don’t have any interest in the recent trend of making phones bigger and longed for the good old days of 4 inch displays. My last phone had a 4.3 inch display on it and at the time I purchased it, I copped a lot of criticism for purchasing such a large phone and now HTC are releasing phones with the same size display and it is called the mini.
HardwareThe HTC One Mini certainly does follow in the footsteps of its bigger relative the HTC One and looks nearly identical. It has the same buttons and ports in all the same places but being that little bit smaller it is really comfortable to hold. I have given this phone to a few people around the office that don’t have hands quite as large as mine and they have all said that love the feel of this device. Although the display shrinks down from 4.7 to 4.3 inches the One Mini is almost as tall as the One but it is quite a bit narrower and this makes a big difference to anyone looking for a smaller device.
For those not familiar with the HTC One, here is the basic layout starting on the front of the device. Obviously use have the large slab of glass up front and below the display is the HTC logo with the back button on the left and home button on the right. Below the buttons and above the display are the dual front facing speakers with the 1.6 MP front facing speaker in the top right. Flip the phone over and you will find the 4 MP camera with LED flash (the same Ultrapixel camera as the One). The bottom of the phone holds the micro usb port and microphone and on top is the power button and 3.5mm headphone jack. Volume rocker on the right and micro sim card slot on the left.
The build quality seems rather nice and the phone feels really solid to hold however this time around HTC have gone with white plastic edging which does make the One Mini look and feel that little bit cheaper. This isn’t to say that this makes the phone feel cheap, but it would have been nicer to have kept the same materials for the One Mini but costs needed to be cut somewhere and HTC could have made worse decisions.
DisplaySpeaking of cost cutting, there are a few places where this has been done. The obvious one is the display, but that is more of a design choice than a cost cutting measure. The bigger change in this area is the screen resolution which has been dropped to 720×1280 from the 1080×1920 display found in the HTC One. Since the display size has dropped from 4.7 inch to 4.3 inch I don’t consider this to be a big problem and the display still looks great. Viewing angles are particularly brilliant and you can see the display from almost any angle.
AudioThe One Mini retains the dual front facing speakers and they sound brilliant. The volume is nice and loud and the sound quality is great also. You will certainly notice the difference when watching YouTube videos, but I did notice that it is still quite easy to block a lot of the sound coming out of the speakers with some misplaced thumbs, but this was more a case of me trying to find a way to block the sound and in normal use it would be unlikely that you will be doing this.
PerformanceThe One Mini sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 dual core processor clocked at 1.4GHz which isn’t the fastest CPU around and it is paired with the Adreno 305 GPU so don’t expect it to score as well as the HTC One in any benchmark tests. While I don’t normally run benchmarks, I was a little bit curious to see how it fared against its bigger cousin and as expected the overall results were lower with a total score of 5,509 compared to the 10,580 that the HTC One scored. However it isn’t all bad news. Since the One Mini sports a 720p display there are less pixels to push around and as a result both the 2D and 3D scores were slightly better than the HTC One.
So now back to the real world and how the device handles day to day tasks. Not once did I notice the device slow down with any of the tasks that I do on a daily basis, but with only 1GB of RAM there will be times that the device will start to run out of steam and this is most likely to occur while playing games – something I don’t do very often on my phone.
CameraThe camera on the HTC One Mini is the same 4MP Ultrapixel camera as found in the HTC One – Minus the image stabilisation – and as with the One it has the ability to produce some wonderful low light images, you may need to try a few times to get a really great photo, but it is possible. I am not a big user when it comes to photography and I know very little about what makes a good photo so I am not going to say too much about the quality other than to say I was happy with the results. The quality didn’t seem as nice as what I had seen from other phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S 4 but they were acceptable.
SoftwareThat brings me to the section of the review where I get to complain about all of the changes that manufacturers have made to stock Android and how you should all be buying Nexus devices. Well at least that is what I was expecting to say going into this review. As I mentioned at the top of the review, I used to be a fan of Sense but have since moved on from those days and I have found most HTC software to be quite dated.
That is not the case with Sense 5. I actually found that the software was a joy to use. Everything has been thought through and it all looks like it belongs, there was nothing that stood out where I could say it was an afterthought or just didn’t fit. Sense 5 on the One Mini is built on top of Android 4.2.2 and while this isn’t the latest and greatest version of Android, I think we have gotten to a point where this doesn’t matter anymore.
Blinkfeed was probably the biggest surprise for me and I found myself using it every day. For those that haven’t seen Blinkfeed before it is a dedicated page on the home screen where you get curated snippets of news from sources that you want to see as well as Twitter and Facebook. Ausdroid is also now one of the featured sources so that was a nice addition. This is not for those people that want to read every article written on 100 different sites, but it is an easy way to flick through a few pages of news and catch up on a few articles at a time.
HTC One Mini
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 Dual Core 1.4GHz CPU
- 4.3 inch 720×1280 display at 342 PPI
- 16GB storage
- 1 GB RAM
- 4MP Ultrapixel Camera
- Corning Gorilla Glass 3
- Android 4.2.2 with Sense 5
- 1800 mAh non removable battery
- 132 x 63.2 x 9.3 mm
ConclusionSo, one simple question to answer, should you buy this device? The answer to this question would have to be maybe. I know that is not the best answer in the world, so lets dive into how I came to that conclusion. If I had to make a choice between the HTC One and the One Mini, I personally would choose the One. It is made of slightly better materials and has the bigger display with the more powerful CPU and extra RAM. But what if you don’t want a phone with a 4.7 inch display? You want something closer to the size of an iPhone. Well, this could very well be the device for you.
The tall and narrow design makes the phone feel smaller than it actually is and it is extremely comfortable to hold. You almost never feel like to have to stretch to reach anything. The one exception to that being the power button since it has been placed on top of the phone. The phone has great performance and excellent sound quality for those nights in bed where you just want to watch some YouTube videos.
The price is probably still a little bit on the high side when comparing it to the Nexus 4 but everything is expensive when compared to that device.