HTC One Mini Review (AT&T)

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Earlier this year, HTC launched its best phone to date, the One. Shipping with powerful internal hardware, great camera, and stunning design and build quality, the HTC One is still one of our favorite smartphones on the market today. But HTC had no intention on relying on one smartphone for the year.

HTC later announced the One Mini, which is exactly what it sounds like. The HTC One Mini shares many of the same features found on its larger brother, but in a smaller package.

As you’d expect, the HTC One Mini ships at a lower price than the original, and also has a few tweaked specs along the way. But with the great discounts you can find on the original HTC One, is the One Mini worth it? In this review, we’ll see if the HTC One Mini is the best of the all the ‘mini’ smartphones around, so read on!

The Good
  • The Super LCD 3 display on the One Mini is still one of our favorites
  • Ultrapixel camera takes some great photos
  • Feels great in the hand
The Bad
  • Lack of IR blaster and NFC are a bummer
  • Battery life can be hit and miss

Hardware

The HTC One mini has a lot in common with its bigger brother. The design is essentially the same, with the exception of a few tweaks here and there, but it's undeniably a part of the same family.

The One Mini ships with a 4.3 inch Super LCD 3 display with a resolution of 1280 x 720. This is a step down from the original HTC One, but we have our doubts that you'd need full HD on a 4.3 inch display. The One Mini also features a 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 CPU, 1GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, Ultrapixel Camera, Boomsound speakers, and more.

Sadly, there are a few features that you won't find on the One Mini that were on the original. For starters, NFC was stripped from the device, as well as the IR blaster for controlling your television. Still, these features likely won't be used on a daily basis and we can see why they were omitted. You'll also find a smaller battery in this handset, but again, we're not surprised. It's a 'mini' phone.

The face of the device is very minimal, sharing the same setup as the original. Above the 4.3 inch display, you'll find the earpiece built into one of the two Boomsound speakers, as well as the notification LED. Here is where you'll also find the proximity and ambient light sensors and 1.6 megapixel front-facing camera. Below the display sits the two capacitive buttons for back and home, with the HTC logo in between.

The keys on the sides of the One Mini are kept to a minimum. The left side houses the microSIM card slot, volume rocker is found on the right side, and the 3.5mm headphone jack and power/lock button are on the top, leaving the micro USB port at the bottom. The rear side of the device is exactly what you'd expect it to be. Here is where the Ultrapixel camera and LED flash find a home, along with the HTC, AT&T and Beats Audio logos.

Design

Given that this is just a smaller version of the HTC One, the Mini shares an equally beautiful design. That said, some of the 'fancier' design elements were lost in the process.

The sides of the device are no longer metal, so you can kiss those chamfered edges goodbye. We're sad to see them absent for the One Mini, but from a cost perspective, we can see why HTC did this. It was definitely a nice addition on the original, but the One Mini is still a beautifully designed handset.

The 4.3 inch screen allows for a much better grip on the phone, and feels fantastic in the hands. The aluminum body just sends the design of the One Mini over the top. It's really great.

Software

The One Mini ships with HTC Sense 5 running on top of Android 4.2.2. The AT&T HTC One just recently received the Android 4.3 update, and we can expect the same for the Mini in the near future.

Sense 5 is a great update. Previously, Sense was needed on Android devices to cover up the rather drab look of the stock OS. However, as time progressed, Android looked better and Sense became an overcustomized mess. HTC began scaling back the heavy customizations in Sense 4, but it wasn't quite there yet. Sense 5, on the other hand, nailed it. Sense 5 combines the beauty of HTC's custom user interface with the newfound beauty that can be found in the stock Android OS now. There's still a lot of HTC to be found on Sense, but it lets the Android experience peek through just enough.

Possibly the biggest change in Sense 5 ... Or introduction, we should say, is Blinkfeed. Blinkfeed unifies your social streams, be it Facebook, Twitter, and more into one endless stream of content. Out of the box, the feature is your main homescreen but this can be changed easily. Blinkfeed is presented in a slick 3d-esque UI that is easy on the eyes and pretty cool to use for keeping up with your social networks and news outlets.

The Blinkfeed UI can also be found in the photo gallery. If you've linked you Facebook account to Blinkfeed, your Facebook friend's photos will appear in a stream in the photo gallery. This is a great way of keeping up with your friends' photos without having to sift through the mess that can be Facebook at times.

Web Browser, Multimedia And Camera

Camera

One of the HTC One's biggest selling points is the Ultrapixel camera. While only a 4 megapixel shooter, it utilizes larger pixels that allow much more light to be absorbed, resulting in insanely good low-light photos. Thankfully, you'll find a majority of the HTC One's camera guts inside the One Mini.

One of the biggest and best features on the HTC One Mini's camera is Zoe. Zoe allows the user to take small snippets of video that will automatically be compiled into a Highlight Video with its own soundtrack behind it. Visual effects are also implemented to give the Zoes a nice look and feel and can be tweaked a bit to make it just the way you like. In its current form, you can't choose your own music for the soundtrack, but we could imagine that this feature is on the way. Check out the Zoe Highlight Video below from our HTC One Review.

The One Mini lacks the same Optical Image Stabilization found on the original One. There are a few software enhancements for OIS to be found on the One Mini, but it's not going to be the same experience. This doesn't make the camera on the HTC One Mini bad in any sense, though. Just check out some of the samples below!

Call Quality And Battery Life

Call quality on AT&T's network performed very well here in San Francisco. Calls came through loud and clear, with no noticable distortion at all.

For a 1800 mAh battery, we were pretty impressed to see just how long the One Mini lasted. With moderate use, you'll be able to get through a full day with the One Mini, but the battery isn't very forgiving if you're playing a lot of games and streaming videos constantly. Luckily, the battery saver mode found within the settings can help you prolong the life of your One Mini if you're a power user. It can be a bit hit or miss, but it's most definitely not the worst we've ever seen.

Overall, the battery performs serviceably and will offer decent battery life for the average user.

The Final Take

Well, what can we say about the HTC One Mini? It's a pint-sized version of HTC's best phone available at a more affordable price, but is that enough to make you want to choose it over its 4.7 inch brother?

The HTC One Mini provides most of the same features that we loved about the HTC One in a much more pocketable form-factor. And believe us, this phone is small, but packs a punch. The Snapdragon 400 is a snappy CPU and the Ultrapixel camera can take some amazing photos.

If you've been longing to find a snappy smartphone that doesn't ship with a display that's nearing the five inch mark, then the One Mini is going to be one of your best options out there. The in-hand feel is definitely impressive, and what the HTC One Mini does do, it does great.

At $99 on a new two-year agreement at AT&T, the HTC One Mini is a solid handset that provides a real bang for your buck.

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  • someguy

    Um, where’s the review? It says “read on”, but ends there.

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