HTC One mini review: Meet Junior

GSMArena team, 02 August 2013.

Tags: HTC, Android

Introduction

"Mini" is the hot keyword for phones - a natural response to the pocket-busting 5" inch trend of this flagship generation. With the same premium aluminum unibody, the UltraPixel camera and BoomSound speakers, the HTC One mini can proudly bear its father's name.

HTC One mini Preview HTC One mini Preview HTC One mini Preview
HTC One mini official images

The screen has come down from 4.7" to 4.3" and the height and width of the device have shrunk accordingly. Combined with the lower weight, the One mini feels much smaller than the One, maybe even enough to seduce some iPhone users who have had it with the small 4" screen. The screen resolution of the One mini is 720p, which still helps it to 342ppi density (better than Retina).

A smaller phone means less space for components. The first piece to feel the effect is the battery which has lost 500 mAh of its capacity and is down to 1,800mAh. HTC also went with a Snapdragon 400 chipset, which offers a dual-core Krait 300 CPU downclocked to 1.4GHz (it's typically at 1.7GHz) and an Adreno 305 GPU. The RAM has also got cut down to 1GB, which would have any multi-tasker raise an eye-brow.

There are a few other pieces missing, here's the rundown of both the good and the bad.

Key features

  • Premium aluminum unibody
  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support; 3G with HSPA; LTE
  • 4.3" 16M-color 720p Super LCD2 capacitive touchscreen with 342ppi pixel density; Gorilla Glass 3
  • Android OS v4.2.2 Jelly Bean with Sense UI 5.0
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset: dual-core 1.4 GHz Krait 300 CPU, 1 GB RAM, Adreno 305 GPU
  • 4 MP autofocus "UltraPixel" camera with 1/3'' sensor size, 2µm pixel size; LED flash
  • 1080p video recording @ 30fps with HDR mode, continuous autofocus and stereo sound
  • HTC Zoe
  • 1.6MP front-facing camera, 720p video recording
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA; Wireless TV out
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
  • 16GB of built-in storage
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
  • Front-mounted stereo speakers with BoomSound tech
  • Class-leading audio output
  • 1,800mAh Li-Po battery

Main disadvantages

  • Relatively slow chipset with limited RAM
  • 4MP camera has disappointing performance in good lighting conditions
  • No optical image stabilization that made the HTC One camera special
  • No microSD cards slot, only 12GB user available storage on the 16GB model
  • No NFC or MHL
  • Non user-replaceable battery
  • Poor video and audio codec support out of box
  • No IR blaster

We understand the chipset choice (though the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini runs the CPU at 1.7GHz). We even understand dropping the Optical Image Stabilization, as even the big HTC Butterfly S doesn't have it. The company also dropped the NFC and MHL connectivity along with the IR blaster. The non-expandable 16GB of storage makes us wish HTC would offer a 32GB version, even if it's just to know we have options.

Individually, those are understandable choices, but the Galaxy S4 mini has expandable storage, NFC and IR. Do all the dropped features mean the One mini is really just a fancier midrange phone rather than the compact high-end phone we wanted?

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HTC One mini in our office

We won't lie, the aluminum unibody of the HTC One mini is great - it screams "premium" more than the big Galaxy S4, let alone its mini version. And the stereo BoomSound speakers on the front deliver an excellent audio experience, coupled with high-quality audio hardware for the 3.5mm audio jack and Beats audio tuning.

Throw in an UltraPixel camera sensor and the latest Android 4.2.2 with Sense 5 (on par with the just updated regular One) and the feeling that HTC shortchanged the One mini almost subsides.

We won't let it off that easy, though. We have both the HTC One and One mini in front of us to make sure Junior lives up to the name in all departments.

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