HTC One Mini

HTC's new 4.3-inch handset is no lightweight​

As much as we might like to believe otherwise, not every phone buyer is after a gargantuan slab of glass and plastic. And if you're the sort of person who likes your smartphones to be hand, pocket and wallet-friendly, it's not always possible to work the latest features and the fastest performance into that formula. So here's HTC with the One Mini, a device that promises most of the features of the larger, more expensive 4.7-inch One in a smaller chassis at a lower price point.

Despite recent successes with the HTC One, the past year hasn't been kind to HTC, and the manufacturer's mid-range efforts in particular have failed to impress. Last year in particular saw the HTC One brand being applied to phones which, if we're honest, probably didn't deserve it. This summer, then, the Taiwanese manufacturer will be looking to make a splash in the mid-range space its latest handset, officially announced today.

We've had the chance to spend some quality time with the HTC One Mini, and you'll find our full video walkthrough, along with more photos and words, after the break.

Video walkthrough

HTC One Mini hardware

One Mini

It’s difficult to describe the HTC One Mini without doing so in terms of its larger, 4.7-inch sibling, so let’s start by saying the two share an awful lot in common when it comes to design. The display is sandwiched between bassy front-facing “BoomSound” speakers, the aluminum back has a neat, ergonomic curve, and you’ll find all the Mini’s buttons and ports are similarly placed. Likewise, the Mini sees the continuation of HTC’s unique (if not universally popular) two-button setup.

One of the Mini’s stand-out feature is its size — it’s fitted with a 4.3-inch display, allowing for a smaller and slightly lighter chassis. It’s still a big, tall phone, but most of the space-saving seems to have been focused on the One Mini’s width rather than its height — thus making it more comfortable to hold one-handed, and easier to reach more of the screen with your thumb.

HTC One miniHTC One mini

The screen itself is a 720p SuperLCD panel, which spread across 4.3 inches of glass gives you an ample 341 pixels per inch. It’s a great-looking screen, with rich colors, a high maximum brightness level and wide viewing angles. (We’re not sure if it’s the same panel HTC used on last year’s Windows Phone 8X, but it looks just as good.)

While still packing a metal frame, there’s a bit more plastic to be found on the One Mini. The outer trim is a glossy polycarbonate, reminiscent of the shiny band used on last year’s One X — and it also extends around the exposed edges of the phone, which might make the mini less prone to picking up knocks and scrapes on its aluminum parts. Holding the One Mini, you’re aware of a slightly more plasticky look and feel, however the all-important back panel remains metal, and that’s the part your palm comes into contact with.

One Mini top, HTC One below

On the inside, the One Mini is powered by a Snapdragon 400 dual-core CPU, clocked at 1.4GHz, and backed up by 1GB of RAM. While not quite a cutting-edge chip, the 400 has proved itself in devices like the HTC First and Galaxy S4 Mini, and it’s more than up to the task of powering a handset with a 720p display. Hardware specs are becoming less and less crucial when it comes to delivering a fast, responsive user experience, and so what really matters is that the One Mini is just as fast as its big brother in real world use.

HTC One MiniThe rear camera is a 4-megapixel “Ultrapixel” shooter — the same unit used in other HTC phones, including the full-sized One. The Mini is lacking Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), however, a hardware feature which allows the lens itself to move to counteract unsteady hands. (To make up for this, there’s now an “anti-shake” software shooting mode.)

The only other hardware casualties are NFC and the IR blaster. How big a deal that is will depend on how you use your phone, but we suspect most people will miss IR the most — that's the part that lets you control your TV from your phone.

The One Mini also packs 16GB of internal storage, of which around 12 is available for your own stuff.

More: HTC One Mini official specs

HTC One Mini

HTC One Mini software

The HTC One Mini runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and HTC Sense 5, and the software experience is just as we remember it on the HTC One. Animations are smooth, apps load in an instant, and almost every widely-advertised software feature from Sense 5 is alive and well on the smaller handset. That includes the BlinkFeed home screen reader — which now supports Instagram feeds — and the wide variety of Sense widgets with which you can customize the regular home screens. The fact that the One Mini's firmware is based on Android 4.2 means you also benefit from features like Daydreams — the little screensaver-like animations — as well as lock screen widgets and quick settings in the notification shade.

The camera and gallery apps represent another important pillar of the HTC Sense experience, and they've made the transition across to the HTC One Mini. As we mentioned, the Mini uses the same Ultrapixel sensor as the larger One, though without OIS. Because of this you now get a software stabilization option, though we'll have to spend more time with the Mini before we decide if this is a suitable replacement. Regardless, you should get a comparable photo-taking experience on the One Mini — assuming your hands are steady enough.

HTC One Mini camera appOne Mini camera

Just like its big brother, the One Mini can shoot Zoe shots — the little three second video clips that include rapid-fire photos — and automatically arrange your photos and videos into highlight reels. As it's based on the latest version of Sense, you get all the new video highlight themes that the HTC One recently gained in its 4.2 update.

So the HTC One Mini compromises almost nothing in the software package it offers. In fact, the only application we couldn't find on the One Mini was the Sense TV app, presumably removed as it's not particularly useful without the requisite IR blaster. Most impressive, perhaps, is that we couldn't detect any drop in performance, despite the move to a less powerful chipset.

More: Zoes and video highlights, BlinkFeed walkthrough

Quick comparisons ...

HTC One Mini versus the HTC One

One Mini versus the original

Despite the hardware differences, the HTC One Mini includes pretty much the entire HTC Sense 5 experience, including BlinkFeed, the BoomSound front-facing speakers, the Ultrapixel camera, Zoe photos and video highlights.

Build quality, too, is almost on par with the full-sized One, with an aluminum back — though a slightly more plasticky trim. What's more, HTC's used an excellent 4.3-inch 720p SuperLCD panel on the Mini. 

But there are three major omissions — first, there's no OIS, which means photos will be more vulnerable to shaking. Next, there's no IR blaster, meaning you can't control your TV using the phone. Finally, there's no NFC support, which, let's be honest, will likely mean nothing to average users.

The internal hardware of the Mini is a step down from the full HTC One — a dual-core Snapdragon 400 at 1.4GHz versus a quad-core Snapdragon 600 at 1.7GHz. There's half the RAM, at 1GB versus two, and half the base storage, at 16GB versus 32. Despite this, performance in day-to-day tasks is virtually identical on the Mini.

So compromises have been made, but not in a way that results in a compromised device.

More: HTC One versus One Mini specs

HTC​ One Mini versus Galaxy S4 Mini

One Mini versus the Galaxy S4 Mini

Both the S4 Mini and the One Mini are powered by the same Snapdragon 400 CPU, though the S4 Mini boasts a little more RAM — 1.5GB to HTC's 1.0. As a result, performance is a wash —- both are very speedy handsets. The screens, though equally bright, are a world apart in terms of resolution. The One Mini uses a SuperLCD at 720p, while the S4 Mini uses a (PenTile) SuperAMOLED at 960x540. As such, HTC wins on display fidelity overall.

The S4 has a microSD slot, but HTC has around 12GB of internal space available out of the box, versus Samsung's 4GB. When it comes to cameras, the HTC Ultrapixel sensor should win in low light, though we've been impressed with what the S4 Mini can do in daylight shots.

It also seems like the One Mini retains more of the features from its full-size counterpart than the S4 Mini. The S4 Mini loses features like Air View, Air Gesture, the more advanced eye-tracking tricks. Meanwhile, headline HTC features like Zoes, BlinkFeed and BoomSound are alive and well on its Mini.

It's worth pointing out, however, that Samsung did manage to fit an IR blaster into the Mini's svelte chassis, giving it TV-controlling capabilities. Similarly, the Samsung includes NFC, while HTC does not.

More: Galaxy S4 Mini video walkthrough

HTC One Mini

HTC One Mini accessories

As it's done for previous phones, HTC plans to release a range of first-party accessories for the One Mini. There's a new flip case that doubles as a kickstand, and the One Mini flip case significantly sturdier than the regular HTC One version, with a solid plastic back and no cut-out area. Color options include blue, red and black, and green and black.

HTC One Mini accessoriesHTC One Mini accessoriesHTC One Mini accessories

We also saw double-dip hard cases for the One Mini in blue and grey, and orange and grey — these looked almost identical to the regular HTC One double-dip cases we came came across a few months back. Finally, HTC will offer a plain-looking but functional stand for the device. 

Hit up the ShopAndroid newsletter to learn when the first HTC One Mini accessory stock arrives.

Our first impressions

When it comes to "mid-range" smartphones, it's easy for manufacturers to fall into the trap of making one compromise too many, and giving consumers are lackluster device as a result. Though we've only spent a short amount of time with the HTC One Mini, it's clear HTC has focused on bringing the important, core components of the HTC One user experience across to its smaller (and cheaper) device. The list of things the HTC One can do that the mini cannot is remarkably small — NFC, OIS and Infra-red — and of those only the IR-based TV controls could be called a user-facing feature.

HTC One Mini

Perhaps more importantly, HTC hasn't skimped on two of the most important areas of any phone. First, the screen, which looks as good as any 4.3-inch panel out there. And second, the device's build quality — the One Mini looks good and feels sturdy — though it's bested by the full-sized one in this area.

The competition among big-name mid-range phones about to hot up, with Samsung's Galaxy S4 Mini already in play and Motorola about to join the fray with the Moto X. But however things pan out, HTC has a strong entrant in this space with the One Mini, and we're looking forward to spending more time with it in the weeks ahead.

HTC One MiniAvailability and pricing

The HTC One Mini will launch in selected countries in August, and will be available in silver and black color options. HTC isn't offering any specific info on pricing just yet, but the company told us that it intends to sell the Mini at "two price points below" that of the HTC One.

Update: In the UK, Phones4u, O2, Vodafone and EE send word that they'll be selling the HTC One Mini.

More coverage

 
There are 31 comments

TLB69 says:

They might as well flood the market with all sizes,Samsung style. Lol!!

Sent from my HTC One rockin Jelly Bean 4.2.1

15israellai says:

Then they'd have to release 10 times more phones to catch up.

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TLB69 says:

This is off topic but I hope HTC does what Sammy is doing go straight 4.3

Sent from my HTC One rockin Jelly Bean 4.2.1

ne0ne says:

No. They have already pushed the 4.2.2 update to certain regions. The mini is shipping with 4.2.2

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epps720 says:

Don't understand what's taking so long for this update to come to the US? I have the unlocked One and check once a day waiting for this update! Let's go HTC!!!!

TheMimic12 says:

I have a feeling that HTC will ship the Verizon version with 4.2.2, which will make it the third Verizon phone to have 4.2.2, the others are the galaxy s4 and the galaxy nexus

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ne0ne says:

I really don't like the extra plastic. The front view of the one mini isn't as sexy as the one with that white bordering it so obviously. Still a great phone and I love my one.

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TyBec says:

Although the majority of people don't use either, its hard to accept that they had to remove both NFC and the IR Blaster. Maybe if only one of the two was gone it would sound a little better. This looks like a great phone that's easily recommended to regular phone buyers though.

ne0ne says:

Yeah. I also can't believe they did away with OIS.

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DeerSteak says:

This right here is what ticks me off.

This phone is basically my One S with a 720p screen. I think that screen alone (and Sense 5) would get me to upgrade, but I'd really hope for the full camera experience if I was going to do that. I'm not super-shaky taking pictures, but OIS would be a huge plus.

trwrt says:

Yep, that's going to hurt the low-light performance. Disappointing.

salem7777 says:

Great

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Taz89 says:

Imo the device size doesn't make it a mini she it's smaller but just by a little. It looks like compared to the one the mini's screen shrank much more than the body.

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muddy13 says:

I like the smaller form, but I wish they would put out a smaller form with the same internal specs as the flagship One. I can't see myself buying a phone without at least a quadcore processor.

dannyd86 says:

+1, Im looking for my next upgrade from my Blackberry Z10. I like the one handed use but I want top tier specs. Why does small device have to mean small price. Ill pay top price I dont give a shit lol. Moto X, and Nexus 5 wont be top specs either so maybe it really doesnt matter anymore. Everything is good enough.

So then we chose on experience, moto x has some cool features. I think Ill wait to compare the moto x and nexus 5 though. If the nexus drops with Android 5.0 done deal, ill take one.

TheMimic12 says:

I don't know, if the nexus 5 is like the nexus 4 in any way, we should get pretty close to to tier specs for a lower price. The nexus 4 has a quad processor, 2 GB of ram, a 720p display, NFC, and wireless charging and seeks at $300. That's a pretty tremendous value.

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johnyguy says:

What do you need the quad core for!

Axeavius says:

Gaming ;)

JHK1984 says:

Love the size and design, this is actually what I would hope the original One is sized at, but don't dig the specs... I guess you can't have everything perfect.

Seamus6971 says:

Lower specs, than the htc one s. Yet no 4.2.2 or sense 5 for the one s. My next phone will be a nexus.

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usfslacker says:

I wouldn't really call the new SnapDragon chips inferior to the S4 chips in last year's device or you risk looking... well, wrong.

Is it crappy that the HTC One S got screwed over on updates? Absolutely. But was it unexpected? History suggests probably not.

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heathroi says:

what does couple of price points below htc one mean? 2 bucks less? 100?

TheDu9du says:

WE WANT RAM!!!

MrJedi says:

Looks like it is just an HTC First phone in a different housing and smaller battery:

http://www.phonearena.com/phones/compare/HTC-One-mini,HTC-First/phones/7...

Unless it is $250 or less off ocntract, I can't see this being a good buy. There are some decent used HTC Firsts going in the $160 or so range.

oddom says:

I like it...but I already have the htc one full sized beast so I won't be getting this. I don't mind the idea of no ir blaster because no regular consumer I know with a gs4 or htc one besides myself even knows it exists nor cares :/ so kudos to htc for this good looking phone.

k3davis says:

If they offered a Google Edition of this phone, I'd bite. I want a small phone, but don't want Sense. No mention of that though on any manufacturer's "mini" version, so far.

Diskoman says:

This is essentially a One S with a 720p screen and (most of) the One's camera. Pricing is going to be the key with this.

Wow this is a nice phone if your not a tech geek. But I still love the one and only "ONE".
I hope that AC does more HTC One giveaways. would love to get that phone. :)

jedah says:

I might've put up w/ the minimal storage and small battery if it still had the OIS. I want a phone that I can use comfortably w/ one hand, but I don't want one so much I'm willing to live w/ a diminished experience. Processor is just fine for a non-gamer. But, low light photography was one of the One's best features; lack of OIS will really take away from that.

TheMimic12 says:

So NFC isn't considered a user-facing feature? What about Android beam? It makes sharing photos and other data much faster than having to bother with cell towers. for some, 4.3" is their size, but I like 4.7" the best, since it seems to be the perfect balance between a large screen and handheld portability. I also dig the 1080p resolution and I like having NFC capability.

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iphoners says:

i think that the appearance of htc is more beautiful than iphone, anyone agree with me.