HTC One Mini review: Now With HTC Sense 6.0

Reviews Richard Goodwin 13:35, 17 Jul 2014

The HTC One Mini – a smaller version of the HTC One that packs a punch in all the right areas

Rating: 
4.5
Typical Price: 
£379.99
Pros: 
Amazing build quality and design, brilliant camera, carries across many of the features that made the HTC One so good, Android Jelly Bean, Sense 5 is a great Android skin
Cons: 
Battery life isn't all that impressive, no SD-support
Verdict: 
HTC told us that it took a ‘no compromise’ approach to developing the HTC One Mini. Looking at the device, holding it in your hand, and flicking around the UX illustrates this point profoundly. Everything that set the One apart from the crowd is here – imaging technology, quality build materials, UX design and functionality.

The HTC One Mini is the latest small version device to hit the market after the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini and Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

Although Mini-branded devices tend to get a bad rap - Mini also means trimmed down features - the HTC One Mini could easily be mistaken for the HTC One proper.

But what makes the HTC One Mini such a good smartphone contender if you're looking for a mid-priced handset?


The HTC One Mini is smaller than the HTC One and, yes, it is also cheaper but, importantly, not much else, at least on the surface, has been lost in the transformation. The end result is compelling to say the least. So much so that we’d say HTC has yet another BIG handset on its hands with the HTC One Mini.

HTC One Mini review: Design and build quality

Finished in aluminum and carrying much the same design and overall shape as the HTC One, the HTC One Mini does not like a mid-range handset. Like its forbearer, the HTC One Mini is a thing of beauty with the only clue that it’s not the HTC One – aside from its size – is its thicker plastic outer edging.

The top and bottom grills, complete with BoomSound technology, are constructed from aluminum and carry much of the One’s now famous aesthetics over to this smaller handset. The back panel, which is made entirely from aluminum and finished with plastic accents, is essentially the same deal you get on the One, too. The end result is nothing short of stunning.

There’s no IR blaster and the two separate volume buttons are positioned on the side, rather than the one continuous button on the HTC One. The extra definition makes it easier to change the call volume when the phone is to your ear. The power/unlock bottom (sans IR capabilities) sits on the top left hand side. The 3.5mm jack is also up top, and you’ll find the microUSB charging port on the bottom.

The handset itself is exceptionally lightweight in the hand, weighing just 122g and measuring in at 132x63x9mm (versus the 137x68x9mm and 143g of the HTC One). HTC told us the removal of the One’s IR blaster and NFC chip, as well as the inclusion of a smaller 4.3-inch display, all contributed the HTC One Mini’s reduced waistline. 


All that premium aluminum does cause issues though, especially for those of you that carry lots of change or keys in your pockets. The trademark aluminum chassis – gorgeous as it is – shows scratches and scrapes all too easily, so if you want to keep your HTC One Mini (or HTC One, for that matter) in pristine condition it’s worth investing in a case from the get-go – either that or sew a silk-lined pocket into your jacket/coat/t-shirt.

HTC One Mini review: Display

The 4.3-inch display aboard the HTC One Mini is 0.3-inches smaller than the HTC One’s 4.7-inch full HD 1080p setup and this size does make a difference if you've been using a larger screen, especially when typing. It also has a lower 1280x720 pixel resolution but still manages to wipe the floor with the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy Mini S4 with its very decent pixel density of 341ppi.

Once you get over the 300ppi mark everything looks pretty sharp, so it’s no surprise that the HTC One Mini is a solid performer in this regard. And because it uses the same Super LCD display tech as the HTC One, you’re not left wanting when it comes to clarity, detail and colour reproduction either.

Video content and games look great and text – either in the Kindle app or on websites – appears crisp without a hint of pixilation. The HTC One does have the HTC One Mini beat in two key areas: pixel density and size. Overall though, or, more appropriately, to the naked eye, the difference is negligible – both offer better than excellent experiences for their respective price points.

HTC One Mini Gets Sense 6 UI Update

HTC is now rolling out the Sense 6 UI update to the HTC One Mini.

The software patch is seeding to users across Europe and brings the slightly older HTC One Mini variant (now superceded by the HTC One Mini 2) up-to-date with version 6.0 of HTC's Sense interface. It's expected to go worldwide very soon.

The 500MB update contains the usual set of bugfixes and performance tweaks, as well as a list of feature enhancements - see below:

  • HTC Sense 6 update
  • Color coded themes for easy navigation
  • Personalized Font style
  • Extreme Power Saving Mode
  • Button that clears all recent apps
  • New interface for Gallery and Camera
  • Image Match function to find photos faster in the Gallery
  • Support POI (Points of interest) location in Gallery's Map view
  • Smoother BlinkFeed, continuous scrolling experience
  • New BlinkFeed UI to intuitively add new content
  • Nearby restaurant recommendations
  • Schedule function for the Do Not Disturb mode
  • Improved Music app

 

HTC One Mini review: Hardware and specs

As we mentioned earlier in our review, certain things have been removed from the HTC One Mini in order to keep the size as it is and the price lower. NFC, the IR blaster, and the 720p 4.3-inch display have all been noted thus far. But what else is missing? 

The HTC One Mini uses Qualcomm’s dual-core Snapdragon 400 chipset clocked at 1.4GHz and features 1GB of RAM (the HTC One uses a Snapdragon 600 clocked at 1.7GHz and 2GB of RAM). Expandable storage is also missing, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone – HTC hasn’t included SD-support inside its Android handsets for eons.

The HTC One Mini ships with 16GB of internal storage. You get access to around 11GB of it, with the rest being used by Android and HTC’s Sense 5 UX. One of the most notable differences between the two handsets, however, is the battery setups: the HTC One uses a 2300mAh cell while the HTC One Mini uses a 1800mAh setup.

The difference in raw processing power and available memory is understandable – one’s a flagship and the other is a mid-tier offering. And, for the most part, performance is still very good on the Mini. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400 does not leave you wanting. We just wish we could say the same about the HTC One Mini’s 1800mAh battery…

HTC One Mini review: Performance

The HTC One Mini is a great little performer. Multitasking, web browsing, and gaming are all handled effortlessly thanks in no small part to the refinements present inside Android Jelly Bean and Qualcomm’s excellent Snapdragon 400 chipset. 

At no point during testing did the HTC One Mini feel like a mid-tier handset. It looks great and performs like a top-tier smartphone. And the reason for this is HTC’s careful approach to cutting only what was necessary in order to hit the desired price point. Core features and functionality were left untouched. And that’s a big win for the HTC One Mini.

The end result of this careful cutting is that hardly anything is lost in the transition from the HTC One to the HTC One Mini. Benchmarks aren’t the best indication of a handset’s real-world abilities, but the HTC One Mini also performed well in this regard, too, as you can see below:

Qualcomm’s Adreno 305 GPU ensures demanding titles like Real Racing 3 and Dead Trigger are handled with relative ease. Lag or stutter? Forget about it – neither were anywhere to be seen. In fact, the only real downside to gaming on the HTC One Mini is the speed with which it depletes the battery. 

Like its flagship counterpart, the HTC One Mini also gets very hot while running GPU intensive tasks and on long-winded calls over 30 minutes. But that’s just another unfortunate downside to that gorgeous aluminum chassis. Not that it’s a deal breaker in any way shape or form – we’d take HTC aluminum over Samsung plastic any day of the week – but it’s definitely something worth keeping in mind. 

Specifications

Length 132mm
Width 63mm
Thickness 9mm
Weight 122g
Screen Size 4.3-inch Super LCD (1,280x720 pixels)
Operating System Android Jelly Bean 4.1
Processor Dual-core Snapdragon 400 clocked at 1.4GHz
High-speed Data HSPA, LTE (optional), HSPA+
Connectivity Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
Designer Lens HTC UltraPixel Lens
Camera Resolution 4-megapixel (rear) 1.6-megapixel (front)
Video Resolution 1080p (rear) & 720p (front)
Built-in Memory 16GB

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