HTC One Mini review

It's hard to rate phones sometimes, especially when they offer something new. How will the market take it? Is it something that we've been sorely lacking, or just a gimmick to put on adverts? (*cough*SmartScroll*cough*).

But it's actually harder to rate a phone like the HTC One Mini when it's trying to follow something that is dominating the smartphone world (at least critically) in the shape of the HTC One.

In order to make something mini these days, it invariably seems to mean you have to make it lower power. It doesn't matter that there's a genuine clamour for smaller screens with the same grunt that we get with the HTC One; no, if you want smaller you have to accept less.

It does help with the price though, as the One Mini is significantly cheaper than its bigger brother, and that's never something to be sniffed at in these still-austere times.

We liked

If you hold both the One and the One Mini, you'll struggle to tell the difference, apart from the fact one is smaller than the other (obviously). The aluminium build quality pervades, and it's hard to believe that you're not holding one of the premium devices on the market.

Even the polycarbonate band that runs around the edge of the phone is unobtrusive, which means you get a distinctive design that doesn't impact on the way the One Mini sits in the hand.

We love that the functionality of the One Mini isn't compromised from its larger relative, with the likes of UltraPixels and BoomSound all involved without being watered down. HTC has been very clever in the design of this phone by bringing nearly every great element of the One to the smaller version, and packaging it in a way that still makes it very attractive.

We noticed no slowdown during use of the phone, and even the animations of flicking between apps was great. To say we were impressed would be an understatement.

We'll mention the price here, as we think it still qualifies as a positive. It's a long way from being the cheapest phone on the market, but the value you're getting is excellent indeed.

We disliked

Sadly, the overall impression we got of the HTC One Mini was one of a phone that didn't quite match up to the One in terms of spec or performance, even taking into account the lower price tag.

Battery life is once again our biggest concern here, as while it's not atrocious there's still a lot to be desired. We can see a number of people nervously checking the battery meter during use, worriedly watching as the percentage points trickle down to nothing even with medium-weight use.

And we're sorry HTC, but that 16GB of storage space simply isn't going to cut it. You can tell us until we're blue in the face that most users don't need any more than that, and that cloud storage is a perfectly viable alternative - but it's not.

If you want to pop some music on there, a movie or two or just not have to worry about constantly siphoning off your camera handiwork to a PC, then you'll have to start thinking about deleting some items after a few months.

And let's not forget that some games don't work on this device - we're not sure why, but the more powerful titles can't be used on the HTC One Mini. Is that the core audience? Probably not, but it's all about freedom on handsets like this, and the HTC One Mini is a little lacking here.

The photos from the camera are often sharp and clear, but we noted too many times that they would come out fuzzy, especially in areas of high lighting levels.

And we'll save it until last: where's the goddamn video player for when you want to watch a movie without having to reach for a third party option through the Google Play store?

Verdict

Would we recommend the HTC One Mini? Absolutely - the mid-range market renaissance is something we didn't expect, but is an area that HTC is intent on winning - and we think it's managed that with the One Mini.

We really love the aluminium shell, the UltraPixel camera and BoomSound on board, plus we get to play with the latest version of Android as well as all the cool apps like the Music Player, which show lyrics to songs as they're playing. Actually, we're just happy to have the headphone-boosting amplifier on board - as long as our songs are nicely audible, we don't really care.

The issues with the battery and storage do rankle somewhat, and do detract from an otherwise flawless performance from one of HTC's best phones out there.

But they're more caveats on an otherwise top-end phone rather than reasons not to buy it, and placing it two price tiers below the HTC One is a great move indeed.

So if you're looking for a cutting edge smartphone that takes all the great elements from the world's best handset and crams them into a smaller frame, you should really check out the HTC One Mini. We promise you won't be disappointed.