Review: HTC One Mini (AT&T)

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One of HTC’s best phones, ever, was released in 2013. The HTC One. That device was released back in April on 3 carriers in the US, just launched on Verizon recently. Now, HTC has released the little brother to the One. Which is the HTC One Mini. The HTC One Mini is only available on AT&T in the US, at least at this point, but I’m pretty sure it’s an exclusive to AT&T. The One Mini is built almost the same as the One, except, you’ll notice that the sides are plastic, unlike the One which is completely aluminum. As far as the specs go, here’s what the One Mini is packing:

  • 4.3-inch 1280×720 resolution Super LCD2
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 16GB of internal storage; no microSD card slot
  • 4MP (UltraPixel) camera on the back; 1.6MP camera on the front
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 dual-core procesor clocked at 1.4GHz
  • 1800mAh battery
  • Android 4.2.2 – Jelly Bean

The HTC One Mini is slacking in a few areas, most importantly, the battery. However, we’ll get more into that further down in the review. The One Mini is a great feeling device. It fits in my hand nicely, even with the power button on the top of the device, unlike every other Android device out there that puts the power button on the side. Then there’s the 720p Super LCD2 display that’s only 4.3-inches and it looks great. I’ve always been a fan of SuperLCD displays, and the HTC One Mini is no different.

Design

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The design of the HTC One Mini looks very familiar. Very much like the HTC One, but as mentioned above, it does have plastic on the sides unlike the HTC One which is completely aluminum. It features the front-facing BoomSound speakers which make the device about as tall as my Nexus 4, which has a bigger display. On the front you have your two speakers, notification light and camera, along with the 4.3-inch 720p display and the home/back buttons. Looking at the right-hand side, you’ll see your volume rocker, then at the bottom there’s the microUSB port and a microphone hole, on the left-hand side there’s the SIM card tray (yes it’s micro SIM). At the top there’s the 3.5mm headphone jack and the power button. On the back of the device there’s your 4MP UltraPixel camera with flash, along with all the logo’s and FCC information.

Display

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I seriously can’t say enough about this display. Personally, I prefer SuperLCD displays over the AMOLED and IPS displays out there. However, that’s my own personal opinion. Even at a 720p resolution, the One Mini still has over 300ppi, which is amazing. It’s been hard for me to put this phone down, because I love the display so much. It’s probably the best display on a “mini” phone. The Galaxy S4 Mini has a qHD display, the DROID Mini has a 720p AMOLED display, but I haven’t used it yet so I can’t comment on how good or bad it is.

Performance

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The Snapdragon 400 is a pretty good processor. But what is surprising to me is that it’s the same processor as what’s in the Galaxy Mega 6.3 which I reviewed last week, but it seems to lag a bit more. The One Mini is clocked at 1.4GHz compared to the Mega at 1.7GHz. So I think HTC would have done better if they clocked the Snapdragon 400 higher. While the HTC One Mini does lag, it doesn’t lag often. But I was also using this device as a “power user” which I have a feeling that most buyers of this device aren’t power users. So it should still work great for those looking for smaller phones.

Battery Life

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The battery life on the HTC One Mini is rather disappointing, at least in my opinion. Although on WiFi it did fair much better, but I know not everyone lives on WiFi like I can. According to Battery Widget Reborn, I was averaging about 8 hours of battery life. That was with I’d say around 2 hours on screen time. Unfortunately, in Sense 5 HTC has gotten rid of the Display from the battery stats. So it’s hard to tell for sure. It seems like every HTC phone always has one problem, it’s always the battery. The DROID DNA had this problem, the HTC One kind of had this problem and now the One Mini has it. Hopefully they’ll throw bigger batteries in their devices come 2014.

Software

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The HTC One Mini is running Android 4.2.2, compared to the HTC One running Android 4.1.2 (here in the US at least). So there are a few changes. Mostly having to do with lock screen widgets, quick settings and some new enhancements to the camera like more highlight effects for HTC Zoe’s. Overall the software was very fluid and seemed to be pretty lightweight. I never really had problems with the device running out of RAM, even though it only has 1GB.

My time with the One Mini was really the first time I spent some quality time with Sense 5. Sure I’ve used the HTC One, but it was for a very short length of time. I have to say, HTC has done a great job with Sense 5, and it’s a shame that some people can’t look past HTC’s previous mistakes with Sense and updates. The HTC One Mini is definitely a quality device. I actually found myself using Blinkfeed quite a bit. Even more than using Feedly, which to be honest, surprised me. I’ve always been a fan of Sense, but I will agree that before Sense 4, the skin was really resource intensive. That has all changed with Sense 4 and now Sense 5. Although I’d love it if they added a menu or recents button instead of double tapping the home button or long pressing it.

Benchmarks

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When we review devices, there are two benchmarks we use. That would be Vellamo (results shown above) which shows off the HTML5 and Javascript capabilities of the device. We also use Basemark X (picture below) which does test out the GPU speed.

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Camera

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The camera on the HTC One Mini is the same controversial camera that’s found on the HTC One. It’s a 4 UltraPixel camera. While many people might think “4 megapixels? Fail”, I wouldn’t write it off that fast. I took a ton of outdoor shots which you can see in the gallery below, further down you’ll see some indoor and outdoor shots that are done in low light, which is where this camera is supposed to shine. The camera also features different filters, along with auto-uploads, and my personal favorite HTC Zoe’s.

In low light conditions, the HTC One Mini’s camera does pretty well. Of course, it’s not going to hold a candle to your DSLR. However for a camera on a smartphone, I’ve found it to be very adequate and it gets the job done. If you’re looking for a phone with a DSLR-quality camera, then you want the Nokia Lumia 1020 or the Galaxy S4 Zoom.

The Good

  • ¬†Amazing: The device is amazing, especially for a “mini” device which are usually mid-range phones.
  • Display: I absolutely love this display at this size. Sure a 1080p display would be better, but at 4.3-inches 720p works great
  • Sense 5: Yes, Sense 5 is a good thing. Many people think Stock Android is ugly or boring. I’m not one of those, but I do like what HTC has done with Sense 5. It looks much better than some of these skins out here

The Bad

  • ¬†Battery Life: The same disappointment we see with most HTC phones, battery.
  • Exclusivity: Once again, this one is exclusive to AT&T, and yes that sucks

Final Thoughts

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The HTC One Mini is a great phone, and definitely one I’d recommend to those that love the smaller displays like 4.3-inches. However, I would not recommend it to power users. Especially those that are not looking to carry a charger or external battery pack with them every where they go. While the HTC One Mini is almost a perfect phone, there are two things holding it back. Performance and battery life. Now you can easily fix the problem with the Snapdragon 400, just overclock it to 1.6 or 1.7GHz. But the battery life can’t be fixed that easily.

Yes, I do love the HTC One Mini, but it’s just not “my next phone” while it has been my daily driver for over a week, it won’t be replacing my Nexus 4.

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