Review: HTC One Mini

Review: HTC One Mini

Poor performance and reception means the One Mini is best avoided.

The One Mini has a good design and a great display, but poor performance and reception means this compact Android phone is best avoided.

Design & display

HTC says the One Mini is just a downsized version of the One, but this is a very different device. The main change is visible on the sides, which are now finished in a glossy, white plastic rather than bevelled edge aluminium.

The smooth edges make the One Mini very comfortable to hold and give the phone better ergonomics.

The One Mini has an aluminium finish on the back, comes with dual, front-facing speakers called 'BoomSound', and uses a similar UltraPixel camera lens on the rear.

Sadly, the downsizing has resulted in tinny sounding speakers that are nowhere near as loud as the ones on the larger HTC One.

The fit and finish of the HTC One Mini is reasonably impressive, though there are a couple of annoyances.

The top-mounted power/lock screen button is again positioned too far to the left, so you'll still need to stretch your hand to reach it.

The volume buttons on the right side sit too close to the edge and require a firm press to activate. There's also an inconsistent, visible gap between the speaker panels on the front and the plastic sides.

The HTC One Mini has a 4.3in LCD3 screen with a 720p resolution of 1280x720. Despite the downsize in both screen size and resolution, the display is extremely impressive.

It produces excellent colours, is bright and clear, and performs reasonably well in direct sunlight. Viewing angles are also superb.

Software & performance

The HTC One Mini runs a dual-core 1.4GHz Snapdragon 400 processor compared to the One's quad-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 CPU, has 1GB of RAM compared to 2GB, and comes with 16GB of internal memory instead of the One's 32GB.

There's also no microSD card slot, though that limitation is one feature that's been carried over from the original One.

The One Mini is clearly not as smooth as its bigger brother and can occasionally become sluggish when using basic apps like messaging and phone.

The One Mini runs the same Android software (4.2 Jelly Bean), almost the same HTC Sense 5 user interface and the same BlinkFeed home screen feature that debuted on the One.

The most notable new feature is a newmenu in the notifications panel which includes toggles and switches for brightness, settings, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, airplane mode, power saver, auto rotate, mobile data, sound profile, Wi-Fi hotspot and screenshot.

The main elements of the One Mini's interface, including the app drawer, home screen and lock screen, are user friendly, though the default keyboard remains poor.

Other compromises include a lack of NFC connectivity, no Infrared port, and no optical image stabilisation (OIS) on the camera.

The biggest issue is mobile reception. When compared side by side with a Samsung Galaxy S4 (full five bars) and a Nokia Lumia 1020 (four bars) in the same North Sydney test location, the One Mini only managed to hold three bars of signal on Telstra's 4G network.

Further, it couldn't even manage to connect to get a 4G signal in multiple locations where both the Galaxy and the Lumia easily could. Multiple callers during our tests also complained of poor outgoing voice quality, and reception seemed erratic at most times.

Camera & battery life

The HTC One Mini has an identical rear camera to the larger HTC One, sans optical image stabilisation (OIS).

Very good low-light performance is a highlight compared to most other smartphone cameras, photos captured with the One Mini do suffer from plenty of image noise.

The HTC One Mini includes the ability to record a new media called "Zoe" which captures one second of video before you take the photo and three seconds after.

HTC has downgraded the front-facing camera on the One Mini from 2-megapixels to 1.6-megapixels, and the lens isn't ultra wide like its larger counterpart. Thankfully, full HD video recording remains of a very good quality.

The HTC One Mini has below average battery life. During our tests the 1800mAh battery lasted around 14 hours on average before needing to be charged.

The HTC One Mini is available in Australia through Telstra in glacial silver, and Vodafone in stealth black. While the $480 outright price through Telstra is competitive, the contract plan prices are less appealing given some of the Mini's downgraded features and reception issues.

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