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The HTC One is arguably one of the most popular flagship Android phones HTC has ever created as not only do reviewers agreed it’s quite the smartphone, but the device has sold exceptionally well for the company. As a result of its success, HTC is rumored to be manufacturing a phablet version of the phone, called the HTC One Max, but before they go big with the HTC One, they’ve gone small with its HTC One Mini.

We got our hands on the HTC One Mini a few months ago and we were extremely impressed with the device from our limited time with it. It seems to have given us the same experience as the HTC One, except its in a much smaller form, although it comes at the cost of not being as powerful. If HTC is able to bring what made its HTC One so popular into the HTC One Mini, then we’re sure it’ll be an instant hit to those looking for a device that’s easier to handle. There’s only one way to find out how well the HTC One Mini performs and that’s by giving it some serious attention for our official review.

HTC One Mini Specs

Display: 720 x 1280
Display Size: 4.3 inches
Display Type: Super LCD
Processor: 1.4GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor
RAM: 1GB
Storage: 16GB
MicroSD: No
Battery Capacity: 1800 mAh
Rear-Facing Camera: 4MP
Front-Facing Camera: 1.6MP
Weight: 122g
Dimensions: 132mm x 63.2mm x 9.3mm

Context

I had the opportunity to get some hands-on time with the HTC One prior to its official release. At the time, I was extremely impressed with its camera, design and with HTC’s Sense 5. I’m aware both the HTC One and HTC One Mini have many similarities, but at the same time they’re not completely identical.

For our review, I’m going to focus on comparing between the HTC One and HTC One Mini, although I’ll also be looking at it as a standalone product since I feel it deserves its time to shine outside of the HTC One shadow.

Industrial Design

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If you’re at all familiar with the HTC One’s design, then you’ll feel right at home with the HTC One Mini. To the untrained eye, you’ll probably think both devices are exactly identical, except for of course the differences in their overall size. But there are certainly some slight differences which we’ll shortly get into. Before we do, let’s take a look at the overall design of the HTC One Mini.

When you first pick up any smartphone, you’ll most likely first look at its screen, so let’s start from there. The HTC One Mini has a 4.3-inch screen with a black bezel surrounding it. The side bezels look to easily measure in at less than ½ an inch, while the top bezel is around ½ an inch. The bottom bezel is a bit thicker at around 1 inch as it features two capacitive buttons and the HTC logo.

Above and below the display you’ll find two strips of brushed aluminum with the HTC One Mini’s speakers, which features their BoomSound technology. The top portion is where you’ll find the device’s front-facing camera and two sensors.

"THE CHANGES HTC MADE TO THE DESIGN OF THE HTC ONE MINI ARE SLIGHT"  

The outer rim of the HTC One has a small strip of reflective aluminum, which HTC didn’t bring over to the HTC One Mini as its outer rim is completely covered in white plastic. It’s certainly a minor change that we’re sure many people probably won’t notice unless they have both devices. Aside from the minor cosmetic change, the overall layout of all of the buttons and ports remain the same as you’ll find the HTC One Mini’s microUSB port at the bottom, SIM card tray at the top-left, 3.5mm headphone jack and sleep / wake button at the top, and a volume rocker on the right side. HTC changed the volume rocker a bit as well. Instead of it being a thin film of aluminum, HTC decided to have two aluminum strips protruding out from the device.

The rear of the HTC One Mini looks, for the most part, completely unchanged from the HTC One. The rear is completely covered in a matte aluminum finish with a thin strip of white plastic located at the top and bottom, with the top plastic strip housing one of its microphones. Directly underneath the top plastic strip is the HTC One’s 4MP camera along with its flash, which has been moved to above the camera module, instead of to the left side like the HTC One’s flash. To finish off the rear of the device, HTC placed their logo directly in the middle along with BeatsAudio’s logo located above the bottom plastic strip.

The changes HTC made to the design of the HTC One Mini are slight, and judging from our time with the device, in no way impact its overall look and feel. We said the HTC One was one of the most beautiful smartphones on the market when it released, and we still feel the same way in regards to the HTC One Mini.

Display (excellent)

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The screen on the HTC One Mini may be smaller than the HTC One’s, but that doesn’t mean they scrimped on the quality of the screen. The HTC One Mini doesn’t have the Full HD display we’ve come to know so well with the HTC One, instead, featuring a 1280 x 720 resolution. The colors are still quite vibrant and it also has great contrast. The display also retains the great viewing angle we experienced with the HTC One’s display, which is certainly a very, very good thing. In addition to a great viewing angle, viewing the HTC One Mini outdoors was also easy to do, especially when the device’s automatic brightness feature was activated.

HTC One Mini Custom Apps

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BlinkFeed

HTC introduced us to its Sense 5 custom Android UI when they first unveiled the HTC One. One of the major features of Sense 5 is BlinkFeed, which allows you to keep tabs on what’s most important to you without having to view the information in their corresponding applications. For example, instead of jumping to your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and catching up with your favorite news sites, you can have all of that information presented to you in BlinkFeed. You’ll be able to interact with all supported services as well, such as leaving a Facebook comment or liking an image on Instagram. BlinkFeed makes connecting with content you care about easier, which is why we always get a kick out of using it whenever we come across a new HTC device.

"BLINKFEED MAKES CONNECTING WITH CONTENT YOU CARE ABOUT EASIER"  

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HTC Zoe

HTC Zoe was also introduced during the unveiling of the HTC One earlier this year as a feature that helps its users get the most out of their photos. With HTC Zoe, you’ll be able to take a video of a moment while Zoe takes photos at the same time, making both available so you won’t need to make the tough decision of choosing between taking a video or photo. HTC Zoe also makes it possible to add filters to your photos and videos and create an animated slideshow of previously captured content, which can also have a music soundtrack added to it.

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A Slew Of AT&T-Branded Apps

What’s an Android device if it doesn’t include some carrier-branded applications? The HTC One Mini we were lent for our review was an AT&T version, so it was chock full of applications that are published by AT&T. There are some applications that are helpful, such as the myAT&T app, which allows you to access your account information as well as pay your bill, and the Wi-Fi Hotspot, which as you’d expect, allows you to turn your device into a Wi-Fi hotspot. But others, such as the AT&T Navigator and AT&T DriveMode are completely obsolete considering just how flawless Google Maps is. We’re sure if you get your hands on the HTC One Mini, you’ll be deleting quite a few of these apps.

Killer Apps

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Virtual Keyboard (very good)

The HTC One Mini features a stock HTC keyboard that has white symbols over black keys. By default, the keyboard offers a slight bit of feedback when you type on a key and was overall responsive during use. Typing both in landscape and portrait modes felt comfortable, even though the device has a 4.3-inch display. The virtual keyboard allows you to type in numbers or special characters by holding the corresponding key for one second, which will bring up the secondary key. This method makes typing a bit quicker, especially when it comes to typing in numbers.

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Facebook (very good)

If for some reason you feel the need to use Facebook outside of BlinkFeed, you’ll be presented with a pretty standard experience. Running on the HTC One Mini, Facebook is very responsive and quick when scrolling through your news feed. Photos look great on the HTC One Mini’s display, although clicking on a link will open the link in your browser of choice, rather than having the option to open the web page directly from within the Facebook application.

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Google Maps (excellent)

Google Maps on Android has always been a worthwhile experience considering Google is always able to update it as much as it likes since it’s running on their own operating system. Google Mas on the HTC One Mini is pretty much the flawless experience you’d expect on mobile devices these days as you’re able to search a location to receive driving directions, walking directions and public transit info to get you to your destination. You’ll also be able to perform searches for points of interests, such as restaurants, lodging and gas stations as well as specific searches.

Entertainment (very good)

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Video Playback (very good)

Since the HTC One Mini features a 4.3-inch 720p display, the video-watching experience on this device will be a tad smaller and less detailed when comparing it to the HTC One. We know devices with bigger screens and higher resolutions are extremely popular these days, but the HTC One Mini is still able to offer a really nice experience when watching videos. When combined with its front-facing speakers, you can expect some really great audio along with those nice visuals.

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Gaming (excellent)

The HTC One Mini may not be as powerful as the HTC One as it features a 1.4GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor, but it’s still powerful enough to play some of your most favorite Android games. One of the major reasons why it can is due to its 720p display, which helps in keeping the demand on the One Mini’s hardware low.

"YOU’LL BE HAPPY TO HEAR IT WILL GIVE YOU A GREAT GAMING EXPERIENCE"  

For the purpose of this review, we checked out Candy Crush Saga and Dead Trigger in order to give us a good understanding of how the HTC One Mini performs when both casual games and titles that demand more from its hardware are played. As you’d expect from our experience with Candy Crush Saga, we noticed no lag or graphical issues whatsoever, so you could be rest assured you’ll be able to continue to feed your addiction without any problems.

Dead Trigger is a game that’s a bit more demanding as it’s a first-person shooter with 3D graphics, different methods of lighting and tons of zombies. Our experience in Dead Trigger was completely flawless as the HTC One was able to keep up with all of the action that was going on in the game, and as an added bonus, the device’s front-facing speakers made the experience that much more engrossing.

If you’re a gamer and you’re interested in the HTC One Mini’s overall smaller size, you’ll be happy to hear it will give you a great gaming experience.

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Speaker Quality (excellent)

HTC may have scrimped on a number of features to bring its HTC One Mini to market, but one thing they certainly didn’t scrimp on is its speakers. The front-facing BoomSound speakers that were first introduced on the HTC One have been included on the HTC One, albeit with smaller speaker holes due to the device’s smaller frame. Smaller speakers haven’t impacted on the quality of the sound they offer as they sound just as excellent as they do on the HTC One, which arguably offers one of the best smartphone speakers we’ve ever heard.

Digital Imaging (very good)

The HTC One Mini features the same camera module as the HTC One, although there are some minor differences between both. First, both cameras feature Ultrapixel sensors and capture their images at 4MP. The difference between both devices is the HTC One Mini doesn’t include optical image stabilization as well as the front-facing camera being lowered to a 1.6MP camera.

For the purpose of our review, we pit the HTC One Mini camera up against the HTC One, which means we shouldn’t expect there to be that big of a difference considering they both use the same camera module.

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Camera Application (very good)

The camera application on the HTC One Mini offers a lot of options as you can set the camera to a number of modes, such as Night, Panorama and Anti-Shake. You can also set a self timer, automatically take a photo when the phone senses a smile, and change the white balance if you’re the kind of person where “auto” isn’t good enough for your works of art.

HTC Zoe is a feature that most people will get a good amount of use out of if they struggle whether to take video or photos of something. Zoe makes it possible to do both at the same time while also giving you a suite of visual filters and music that you can set to the content you just captured. Accessing Zoe is as simple as tapping on its icon while you’re in the HTC One Mini’s camera, which means it’s very easy to access and actually use.

Photo and Video Quality (very good)

Since both the HTC One and HTC One Mini both have similar camera modules, we weren’t surprised to see very little difference when taking the same photo with both devices. As you can see from the images above, there’s only an extremely slight difference between the photos taken with both the HTC One Mini and HTC One, although that difference may have something to do with the slight change in angle. The Ultrapixel sensor is able to produce a very nice image within a 4MP camera.

Performance (good)

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The HTC One Mini features internal specs that aren’t quite as earth-shattering as its big brother, the HTC One, but it still has a nice set of mid-range specs with its 1.4GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. For our benchmarks, we ran two widely-used programs: Antutu and GLBenchmark.

Antutu 3.x is an overall system performance benchmark which takes into account everything an Android device has to offer, including its CPU, GPU, and storage. The majority of Android devices tend to fall into a comparable performance footprint, which means unless you need to do something very specific with your device, like gaming, then you can expect a similar performance across the board.

antutu results1

For our Antutu benchmark, the HTC One Mini scored a 14383. Compared with the HTC One’s recorded benchmark of 23720, the HTC One Mini scored nearly one thousand points below it. Considering the HTC One runs on a quad-core CPU, it’s a bit unfair to compare the scores of both products. The HTC One Mini scores pretty well compared to previously released quad-core smartphones, such as the HTC Droid DNA and even the LG Optimus G, which is quite a feat considering the HTC One Mini only has two cores in its CPU.

GLBenchmark 2.7 was designed to stress the Android device’s graphics processor by running a game-like demo which features a fight between various characters in a number of different environments.

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The HTC One Mini performed pretty well for a dual-core smartphone in the sub 5-inch range as it scored a total of 15fps. This isn’t exactly mind blowing when compared to high-end smartphones, but it’s still a pretty good score for an Android device with a 4.3-inch display. As we saw for ourselves in the gaming section of our review, the HTC One Mini does a pretty good job with 3D graphics for its size and shouldn’t give you too much trouble when attempting to play games or perform any tasks where graphics are important.

Perceived Performance

As important as it is to gauge just how powerful a device is based on benchmark results, we also find it’s equally important to describe a device’s perceived performance. In the case of the HTC One Mini, we didn’t find there to be any noticeable lag or hiccups when using it on a regular basis. Applications loaded fairly quickly and its BlinkFeed was very responsive when refreshing and selecting stories. We’re sure if you ever get your hands on the HTC One Mini, you’ll be impressed with how powerful it feels when you consider how small it is.

Battery (very good)

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Moderate usage (excellent)

For our moderate usage test, we used the HTC One Mini off and on for about an hour performing tasks that weren’t exactly going to push the smartphone too hard. We checked Facebook, corresponded to emails, read some news stories and other activities that you’d consider to be typical for most people. After an hour, we noticed the HTC One Mini’s battery dropped a total of 6%, which means you should expect roughly 16 hours of battery life under these conditions.

Video Streaming Test (good)

For our video streaming test, we streamed a 1080p video for one hour with the display set to 50% of its full brightness. After streaming the video for an hour, we noticed a drop of 18%, which means you should expect around 5 hours of battery life under these conditions. For a smartphone with only a 1800mAh battery, this is actually a pretty good amount of time seeing how most major films tend around or below two hours.

Intense Usage

For our intense usage test, we played Dead Trigger for an hour, which is a game that pushes the HTC One Mini’s hardware to its limit, to see just how long the battery will last. After an hour of slaying zombies, we noticed a 48% drop in the HTC One Mini’s battery life. This means if you do some serious pushing on the HTC One Mini’s hardware, you can expect it to last for around two hours.

Charging time

As important as it is to check how long a battery would last with regular and intense usage, we feel it’s also important to check to see how fast a device charges its battery as there’s nothing worse than having to wait a full 8 hours in order for your device to charge. For this test, we simply left the HTC One Mini charging for an hour to see how much of its battery was charged. At the end of the hour, we noted an increase in the battery by 44%. This means if your battery is completely dead, you’ll have a full battery after charging for a little over 2 hours, which I personally think is an excellent rate considering how many devices I’ve reviewed that at times can take twice as much time to recharge. Just look at the Lumia 925, for example.

Conclusion (very good)

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The HTC One Mini was an attempt in HTC offering a smaller version of its popular HTC One. The HTC One Mini may not have the high-end specs of the HTC One, but for a product its size, it’s an extremely impressive smartphone.

"THE HTC ONE MINI DOES A GREAT JOB OF BRINGING THE HTC ONE EXPERIENCE INTO A SMALLER PACKAGE"  

The HTC One Mini has a rather large screen, a powerful dual-core processor and enough unique bells and whistles to make it a worthwhile device for those seriously considering it. If you’re looking for an Android smartphone that is a little more easy to handle as well as a fraction of the price of the HTC One, the HTC One Mini does a great job of bringing the HTC One experience into a smaller package. We just wish HTC would have offered an HTC One Mini with 32GB of internal storage, especially given the device doesn’t have a microSD card slot.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a larger screen, more internal storage space and high-end specs, we wouldn’t blame you if you picked up the HTC One instead. Regardless of which device you pick up, we’re confident you’re going to be enjoying your experience for a long time.

Filed in Cellphones >Featured >Reviews. Read more about Android, HTC and HTC One mini.

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