HTC One Mini Review: Miniature Hero

Mini handsets are now an established part of the release cycle. Having been popularised with the Samsung Galaxy S III Mini, and more recently the S4 Mini, HTC has had its first stab with the  HTC One  mini.

With its bigger brother having impressed so much earlier this year, can the mini have the same effect? We liked the look of it in our brief hands-on, but let’s see if it can pull it off.

Key Features

  • 4.3-inch Super LCD2 display
  • UltraPixel Camera with HTC Zoe functionality
  • Metal unibody construction
  • Android 4.2.2 with HTC BlinkFeed
  • 1.4GHz dual-core processor

Design & Hardware

We almost ran out of superlatives with which to describe the HTC One’s design, and it’s the same situation with the mini. Well, almost. That aluminium shell is as premium and lovable as the original, but the addition of a plastic bezel – presumably for cost-cutting measures – jars against the top-end feel. Granted, this isn’t designed to be a flagship handset, but it just looks and feels a bit cheap in comparison.

The overall impression is bang on the money though. Its 132mm x 63mm frame feels almost perfect, and you get that rare impression that this device was meant for your hand. All corners of its 4.3-inch display are easy to reach, and you get some sharp visuals from it as well. It’s only 720p though, so don’t be expecting the same fireworks found on the original, but it’s rather an impressive screen given the price bracket.

The same can be said of the 1.4GHz dual-core processor, which is functional and operates without fuss – it may not be a powerhouse, but there are little to no complaints about its performance. Just the one 16GB handset variant may be an issue for some, but if you’ve got a Dropbox account you’ll still have somewhere to store your stuff.

Software & Multimedia

HTC’s BlinkFeed is a divisive issue, but it provides a unique experience that looks smart and works efficiently. Having news and social updates in one place takes some getting used to, but will eventually change the way you use your phone if you stick with it. And if it’s not your thing, two traditional Android homescreens are right next door, so there’s no need to worry.

The firm’s UltraPixel camera is a real winner, with its larger pixels capturing more light and knocking out some smart images, but  HTC Zoe is the real highlight  , capturing a short video from which you can do all sorts of things. Leave it as a clip, select your favourite frames or make a sequence shot – it’s all easy to operate and looks ace. There’s plenty of editing options as well, so you can sculpt the perfect image even after capture. 

For a cheaper handset there really is a wealth of multimedia functionality. Video recording in crisp HD is one thing, but when you can also film in slow motion, fast motion and a plethora of other modes, you know you’re onto something impressive. Of course, this is all relative to the subject matter, but if you’re into your camera stuff then there’s literally hours of fun to be had.

Chuck in BoomSound speakers, which ramp up the shared music experience – if that’s your bag – and the One mini is a fearsome and functional prospect in most departments. There’s nothing much to differentiate it from the original in terms of software, but things like Google Now keep it in line with more expensive handsets. In short, it can mix it with the big boys with no problems.

Performance & Verdict

There is, however, one caveat with the One mini, and that’s the battery life. In short, its 1800mAh cell just isn’t big enough to cope with the demanding software and multimedia on offer, and a full charge will rarely last a day. Whilst we understand it’s difficult to get a bigger battery into a small handset, the average performance is below par of what we would expect.

It’s a great shame, as were it not for the battery the HTC One mini would be dangerously close to top marks. For a scaled-down handset it offers superb software, exquisite hardware and a multimedia experience to rival the best Android handsets out there, but the poor battery performance robs it of a deserved five stars.

Put that and the relatively small storage aside though and you’ve got a device that works as a both stand-alone and smart variant. It’s full of charm, it’s functional and it’s easily one of our 2013 favourites already.