Even though reduced in size, a screen has to represent the phone in a manner worthy of its price tag and market position. So let's get to it - how do the two minis fare in the display department.
On paper, the HTC One mini is the clear winner - it's an HD unit of 1280 x 720 resolution resulting in around 342 pixels per inch, meaning you won't discern individual pixels with a naked eye from a normal viewing distance. The Super LCD2 is also a proven name and we loved it on the 4.7" HTC One X.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 mini goes for the same 4.3" diagonal but lowers the resolution to qHD (540 x 960) which amounts to around 256 ppi, meaning it's not quite as sharp, but the Super AMOLED panel gives it an edge in other aspects of the image quality. The Galaxy S4 screen has naturally superior contrast to any LCD and offers more vibrant colors with more saturation. It also features Samsung's screen modes settings that let you tune down the effect and get the natural and realistic looks of the LCD screens.
Despite being an AMOLED unit the screen on the Galaxy S4 mini isn't using a Pentile matrix but instead goes for a somewhat unorthodox RGB. Check out the pixel arrangement below. The HTC One mini has the same pixel arrangement as its 1080p brother but pixels are larger, while the S4 mini uses the pixel arrangement of the Galaxy Note II.
HTC One mini • Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
We come up comes to the more scientific analysis part of the screen test. The Galaxy S4 mini has all-natural blacks but the HTC One mini doesn't do too bad either. Speaking of which, brightness is way superior on the HTC One mini, which is mainly due to the LCD technology - AMOLEDs tend to be a little dimmer to preserve power.
Contrast on the Super AMOLED is practically infinite, but the HTC One mini isn't doing too bad for the LCD league either.
|Display test||50% brightness||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
|Samsung I9195 Galaxy S4 mini||0||166||∞||0||396||∞|
|HTC One mini||0.15||177||1197||0.5||685||1361|
Next up is the sunlight legibility test. What you need to know before we continue is that AMOLEDs have a tendency to be less reflective than LCD's because they have one less layer to worry about. This helps the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini take the victory and despite its lower native brightness.
Winner: HTC One mini (only just). The large resolution advantage helped the HTC smartphone to victory here. It found itself trailing in terms of contrast, sunlight legibility and color reproduction, but differences aren't too large there so they couldn't turn this one around. Feel free to disagree if you do more video watching than web browsing though.
Battery life is one of the most important aspects of a smartphone, and one that we watch very closely. The HTC One mini is powered by a 1800mAh Li-Po unit against a 1900mAh Li-Ion unit in the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini.
Let's see how the devices did at talk time. The HTC One mini managed a little over 12 hours while the Galaxy S4 mini got an hour and 6 minutes more for a total of 13:10 hours of talking. A clear win for the Samsung mini here.
In web browsing, the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini once again outdid its rival with 9:47 hours against 8:12.
Watching hours of video seems more of a task for those full-HD 5" flagships but if you want to test out the minis we've got you covered. This is a shameful defeat for the HTC One mini - it managed 7:23 hours against the impressive 13:12 hours straight for the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini.
Adding the numbers up and factoring in stand-by efficiency gets a decisive victory for the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini in the battery life test, with an endurance rating of 54 hours. What this means is you can count on more than two full days and then some between charges if you do an hour of calling, browsing and watching video daily.
The HTC One mini didn't have the best of times here, its rating of 40h not nearly good enough to compete with the Galaxy S4 mini. And to make matters worse the Galaxy S4 mini offers a user-replaceable battery so you can carry a spare unit or easily replace your original one when it starts to degrade.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S4 mini. Not only did it complete a clean sweep in the individual challenges, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini downright trashed the HTC One mini when it came to the overall rating. And that user-replaceable battery also played in its favor.