HTC One Mini review: HTC One Mini

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent

Average User Rating

4.5 stars 3 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Pocket-friendly size; Gorgeous design; Metal construction; Bright and bold screen; Decent battery life.

The Bad Unimpressive performance; Blinkfeed still can't be removed; No expandable storage; No removable battery.

The Bottom Line The HTC One Mini has the same sleek, attractive metal design as its brother, but comes in a smaller, more thumb-friendly size. Its screen is bright and bold too. Although its dual-core chip doesn't impress, it's still a great option if you're after a palm-sized Android phone.

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With 5-inch, 6-inch and even 7-inch variants, high-end smart phones seem to be ballooning out of all proportion. Human evolution is a bit too slow to respond though, meaning we're still left with tiny hands with thumbs that can't stretch across the screen without some kind of invasive surgery.

To help avoid such drastic measures, HTC has shrunk its flagship One smart phone, creating the One Mini. It's gone from 4.7 to a much more manageable 4.3 inches, but still keeps the same luxurious aluminium body. It's a little less high-end, with a 720p display and a dual-core processor, but it does boast 4G connectivity and the same 4-megapixel camera as its big brother.

It'll be going head-to-head with Samsung's Galaxy S4 Mini, which boasts a similar lineup of specs and plastic S4 stylings, and costs about the same.

HTC hasn't yet been able to confirm the price of the phone, but Carphone Warehouse has listed it at £380 SIM-free. Various retailers are offering it for free on deals from £27 per month. It's due to go on sale on 9 August, so expect to hear more detailed pricing nearer the time.

Should I buy the HTC One Mini?

If you've been eyeing up the sleek, metal body of the HTC One but don't fancy stretching your palms out to accommodate its 4.7-inch screen, the One Mini should float your dirigible. Its 4.3-inch size makes it much more comfortable to hold. It still has the gorgeous metal body, making it arguably the closest thing to an Android-powered iPhone you'll get.

Don't think it's just a shrunken HTC One though. Crucially, its processor is dual- rather than quad-core, resulting in much less impressive benchmark results. It also doesn't support many of the more demanding games I tested, though I'm not sure at this point if that's a hardware limitation or a software issue. Even so, if gaming is on your mind, the bigger version is better.

HTC One Mini and HTC One
The One brothers side by side.

The screen isn't Full HD either, though you'd be hard-pressed to tell. It's much sharper than the Galaxy S4 Mini's display and it handles colours well too. The 4-megapixel camera is identical to the One's -- decent, but not brilliant.

If you're looking for a great all-round Android phone that refuses to toe the 'bigger is better' line, the HTC One Mini is the one to go for. If size (or budget) isn't that important, but you do want sleek style, opt for its £500 big brother. The Galaxy S4 Mini isn't a bad option to consider, but it has a plastic body and a lower screen resolution. The iPhone 5, meanwhile, is considerably more expensive, starting at £529 -- even the 3.5-inch 4S is £449.

Design

At 63mm wide and 132mm long, the One Mini is about 5mm slimmer and shorter than the standard One. That might not seem like much, but it actually makes a significant difference. It's much more comfortable to hold in one hand and I didn't need to stretch my thumbs to tap icons on the far side of the screen. It's 20g lighter than the One as well, which you'll notice if you're holding it up for hours on end trying to earn three stars on every level of Angry Birds.

The family resemblance to the One is immediately noticeable. The Mini has the same aluminium body, which not only looks gorgeous, but feels just as luxurious to hold as the full-sized version did. White plastic inlaid lines break up the back's grey metal at the top and bottom.

The only major difference in the Mini's design -- apart from its size, of course -- is that it now sports a white plastic band wrapping around the edge that gives it a slightly toy-like aesthetic. It's not an unpleasant addition at all and should help give extra protection from knocks.

HTC One Mini and HTC One on top
The One Mini's white plastic bumper should stop some scuffing.

I found my review model of the One picked up quite a few scuffs and chips on its sharp metal edge over time. The Mini's light grey silver is just as susceptible to dirt and grime as the bigger model, however, so if you want it to keep looking fresh when you're on your way out to a party, give it a quick spit polish.

The Mini will be available in the same black and silver colours as the One. The full sized One is now available in a stunning shade of red too , but HTC wouldn't confirm if the Mini will ever be available in this tintillating hue.

On the front are the same two 'BoomSound' speakers, perched above and below the screen. They honk out a surprisingly loud and full sound for a phone -- they're certainly among the best speakers you'll find on a mobile device. The sound is helped by the fact that they face forwards, directing the sound directly at you when you're watching a video. You'll still want to use headphones or a good speaker when playing music at home, but they're easily good enough to annoy every single person on the bus.

HTC One Mini camera
Impressively, it's the same camera as the HTC One.

Around the sides is a micro-USB port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and volume and power buttons. The buttons don't sit quite as flush with their surroundings as they do on the One. This makes them much easier to find by feel alone -- the One's volume rocker makes it extremely difficult to quickly turn down your music volume without taking it out of your pocket.

Like the One, there's no slot to pop in a micro-SD card, so you're stuck with the phone's internal storage, and you can't swap out the battery either.

Display

To match its smaller size, the screen's resolution has seen a drop from Full HD down to 720p. In spite of this, the Mini boasts 341 pixels per inch, which is a little more than the iPhone 5's 326ppi and kicks the proverbial of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini's 256ppi.

I found it to be satisfyingly sharp, with no fuzziness around text or icons. Against its Full HD brother, you can notice the difference, but you need to get your nose pretty close to the screen to see it. In everyday use, you're unlikely to feel like you're lacking pixels.

HTC One Mini screen
It's not Full HD, but it's a cracking little screen.

Side by side against the S4 Mini, however, it's a different story. I popped on my favourite test video Art of Flight and was actually quite surprised at the difference in quality. The One Mini's screen was considerably more crisp, showing the flurries of snow and detailed mountain ridges with much greater clarity than the S4 Mini's screen.

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Where to Buy

HTC One Mini

Part Number: 99HVR006-00

Typical Price: £380.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
  • Service Provider not specified
  • Weight 122 g
  • Diagonal Size 4.3 in
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