It's deja vu all over again as Verizon picks up HTC's One Mini 2
Here is where we bring you a very brief look at the HTC One Remix on Verizon — aka the HTC One Mini 2 everywhere else. We've already taken a pretty deep look at the Mini 2, so we're not going to go too far into the nooks and crannies, as the Remix is the exact same thing, only on Verizon, with Verizon's preloaded software.
And there is quite a bit of that. Preloaded software, that is. Some of it you might want. Some you might not.
Let's take a quick look.
Setting up the HTC One Remix is a pretty straightforward affair. It's worth noting, however, that Verizon warns you (or informs, or whatever) that this is a smartphone, and as such it has location-tracking abilities, and that you should pay attention to the apps you're using if you're worried about that sort of thing. So no complaining about that later, m,'kay? Verizon also pretty strongly urges you to use its Verizon Cloud service for syncing all of your data — contacts and text messages and the like.
The only real difference between this and the HTC One Mini 2 is bloatware.
Get through all that and you'll find yourself in the HTC Sense 6 home screen — including BlinkFeed — running atop Android 4.4.2.
And that's where the real differences show up on the Remix. You'll find a Verizon folder on the home screen, filled with the following apps: My Verizon Mobile, Mobile Hotspot, VZ Protect, VZ Navigator, Accessories, NFL Mobile, Games, Caller Name ID, Setup Wizard, Cloud and Slacker Radio.
Pan over one home screen and you'll find a huge Amazon widget taking up the entire screen. Amazon and Verizon are very much continuing their partnership, and you'll find a complete Amazon folder in the app drawer, comprising the Amazon Appstore, Audible, IMDB, Amazon Kindle, Amazon (shopping) and Amazon MP3 apps. Scroll over one more home screen and you'll find a little "My infozone" widget with things like battery life, free storage and a shortcut to your Verizon account info. There's an ISIS Mobile Wallet icon tucked down here as well.
And finally there's the Verizon Message+ messaging app — not to be confused with Google Hangouts, which will show you a notification about being able to handle your text messages when you first start up the phone, or HTC's own Messages app, which is hidden away in the Tools folder. So, yes. Messaging is still a mess on yet another Android phone. That's three apps that can all do the same thing, and for whatever reason nobody seems to care about how confusing that is.
If you're a fan of HTC's apps, well, most of them are gone.
We need to note here that while you might have heard about Verizon trying out a system in which its bloatware — erm, preloaded applications — is downloaded after you first set up the phone, and thus you'll be able to uninstall the apps you don't actually want, you can't do any of that here on the HTC One Remix. What's loaded is loaded, and you'll need to do some hackery to get rid of anything.
Apps that have been removed, however, include a bunch of useful HTC tools — the entire Tools folder on the HTC One Mini 2 proper is missing, actually — including the FM Radio and Flashlight apps, and most productivity tools. We can only hope that these apps were unloaded to make room for all the Verizon and Amazon apps, and not because someone thought they weren't useful. (That said, there are still some hooks for FM Radio in the stock ROM. Go figure.)
Speaking of storage, this Remix is a 16GB model, and we've got about 9.58GB remaining after first boot. So it could be worse.
Only one camera here, but at a higher overall resolution than UltraPixel.
The Remix sports a 13-megapixel rear camera that's decent but won't win any awards. It's also not using HTC's "UltraPixel" technology or anything. So it doesn't perform quite as well as the HTC One in low light, and you don't get all those refocusing effects. There's also no Zoe mode in the camera app — you're limited to Camera, Video and Selfie modes — but that's sort of a moot point now that the standalone Zoe app is available in beta form. You can just shoot pictures and video as normal, then compile it all in the Zoe app.
The Remix sports a 4.5-inch display at 720p resolution that we're perfectly fine with, even in this era of quad-HD screens. In fact, that may be the Remix/Mini 2's greatest advantage. It's got the look and feel of the HTC One M8, in the same size as last year's HTC One M7. And as we've already noted, that means it's easier to hold than the M8. You've also got the same sort of front-facing "BoomSound" speakers as in the HTC One M8, they're just a little smaller. It's a noticeable difference if you have both phones sitting together, but the Remix/Mini 2 still sounds lightyears ahead of anyone other smartphone with a traditional single speaker.
The bottom line
So what do you get here in the Verizon HTC One Remix? A smaller, less powerful version of the HTC One M8, mostly, with a different camera setup. Verizon's got a bit further and stripped out a bunch of software that you might actually use for a bunch of software of its own design, and a bunch of Amazon software that you can download from Google Play or the Amazon Appstore whenever you want.
Is it a bad phone? By no means. The hardware's the same as the HTC One Mini 2. The software is mostly intact. You're just going to have to put up with the Verizonifcation of it, is all.
You can pick up the HTC One Remix on Verizon for $49.99 with a two year contract, $22.49 on Verizon EDGE, or $449.99 outright.
Read more: Our review of the HTC One Mini 2, the Remix's international cousin