HTC One Mini
The HTC One Mini is here, promising cutting edge Android in a beautiful chassis that’s not so large you need two hands and a stylus to operate - a rarity these days. Like its bigger brother the HTC One, it boasts HTC’s own take on Android, Sense, plus a clever new UltraPixel camera, not to mention the slickest full metal jacket outside of Cupertino. But would you really pick one of these over an iPhone? Let’s find out.
While the HTC One Mini is far from the first shrink-rayed Android super phone, it is the first to look respectable. Compared to Samsung’s plasticky Galaxy S3 Mini and S4 Mini blowers, this is a league above, with a beautiful design and curved metal back. The only difference is the plastic frame, which slightly diminishes the premium feel, but only when you hold it. From a distance, this is the same class act as the HTC One, and worthy of its name, with the same truly spectacular speaker sound.
The 720p HD display meanwhile is as vivid as it is sharp, but just as important is the size: 4.3-inches is much smaller and more manageable, letting you roam over the keyboard with one hand easily. This feels like an iPhone running Android, which might be your dream come true if you hate giant phones and Apple’s iOS limitations.
Performance wise, the HTC One Mini impresses: its dual core 1.4GHz processor whizzes along, and you’d be hard pressed to detect if it was any slower than its quad-core sibling. It’s running super fast, app stuffed Android 4.2 out of the box, which means you get extra goodies like widgets on the lockscreen, so you can check out your updates without even having to punch in your password, if you so choose.
The HTC One’s smaller frame does have some drawbacks: HTC’s only found space for a rather measly 1,800mAh battery, which left us struggling to get through a day of use. There’s also no space for the infrared TV remote control sensor or a microSD card, which is a bit disappointing as you only get 16GB of storage on board, 11GB of which is available to the user - in other words, that’s your limit for storing video, pictures and music and there’s nothing you’ll ever be able to do to change it.
We’re also sorry to say that HTC’s UltraPixel camera - a four megapixel sensor with larger pixels, which can theoretically capture much more accurate detail as a result - still doesn’t impress as much as it should. Images are not discernibly better than those from new Sony or Samsung phones: if anything, they’re more washy. If you want a camera phone, you’re still better off with a Sony Xperia X, Nokia Lumia 925 or 1020.
What doesn’t help matters is HTC’s extra software. Some of it, like its BlinkFeed stream of news on your homescreen, ranges from inoffensive to useful depending on where you like to get your stories from on the go. Other additions are just downright pointless: we still don’t understand why its Zoe camera software exists: think of it as a half-baked version of Vine but more useless and you’re getting there. HTC’s keyboard feels cramped and narrow on the screen too: you should immediately switch it out for SwiftKey’s virtual keyboard instead. Still, the HTC One Mini runs Android, so it’s hard to get too riled up about these features. That’s the beauty of Google’s mobile OS: you can always change everything about it you don’t like.