HTC One Mini review

A little slice of the world's best mobile phone.

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The HTC One brought a new notion to the smartphone market: it decided to only offer a 4MP sensor, the benefits of which it's struggled to convey to some prospective buyers.

HTC One Mini review

That doesn't mean it's not an excellent camera, as the lower resolution allows for faster snaps, better shutter speed and, most crucially, a massively uprated ability to take pics in low light.

What's impressed us with the HTC One Mini is the fact it's got the same sensor on board, meaning users don't have to think about a compromise when it comes to deciding between the two models. We still wish both had the same specs in a smaller chassis, but things like this do help.

In a move possibly dictated by size constraints, the HTC One Mini does strip out the optical image stabilisation from its bigger brother. This has a slight impact on photo quality as we noted a couple of times where the image was more blurry than we expected, especially compared to the larger model.

Picture saving time was a little lower than expected as well on some occasions, although others showed the retention to be instant, allowing you to take many shots in succession.

The other feature that users will want to coo over on the HTC One Mini is the Zoe functionality. This allows you to take a 3.6-second clip with every photo, meaning you get a snap that's so much richer in information.

Be it a short video that evokes feelings of owning Harry Potter-style photos, or being able to manipulate the results in so many ways (action shots are a particular favourite) the functionality is cool.

On top of that you'll get automatically created short 30-second films based on a date or location, meaning when you go out and take loads of pictures of your mates, or a day out with the dog, you'll get a rather awesome highlights reel to play with.

This will also work with still snaps, but the addition of moving footage really makes the little clip stand out when showing it to your pals.

HTC One Mini review

It also converts your gallery into a moving library, which really brings it to life in a way that the normal static image can never hope to.

We've delved into loads of HTC Zoe detail here – so check it out if you want to know just how good this all-new feature is.

But beyond moving images, the control over the phone is excellent as well, thanks to being able to change exposure, contrast and sharpness and also enable HDR mode through the onscreen menu.

HTC clearly wants you to use the front facing camera too – it's been downgraded to a 1.6MP effort, so not as close to the rear sensor (and without all the Ultrapixel jiggery-pokery) but still takes great snaps.

You simply slide your finger up and down the screen to jump between the two cameras as well as enabling the countdown timer if you so wish - it's not a strongly advertised feature, but when you find it, it's really impressive.

The interface for the camera isn't the easiest to use at times, simply thanks to the fact the buttons to hit are so small and there's a great deal of scrolling to alter the effects. There's no intelligent shot mode like that found on the Sony Xperia Z and LG Optimus G Pro, but the auto mode is so good that it doesn't matter in many situations.

But if you want to fire the text mode (which alters the contrast of the picture) or get a little closer up to stuff using macro, you'll have to scoot through a few menu options.

It's also annoying that you can't use HDR (high dynamic range, where multiple exposures are captured of the same photo and stitched together) mode when shootings Zoes as this really improves the picture quality no end.

Given you can use HDR mode while recording video just fine on the HTC One mini, we're not sure why it's not an option. HDR would really bring out the power of the Zoe, and would use the power of the Ultrapixel to an even greater extent. If the chip can support it, why not make it an option?

HDR is a much better option than it used to be on older HTC phones, as it can manage to process in no time at all now. In fact, we wish it could be enabled by default rather than having to switch it on each time.

So onto the good stuff: the camera on the HTC One Mini is not only high quality, but it seems to be every bit as good as the snapper on the more expensive phone.

Don't go thinking you can blow up these pictures and use them day to day for new posters or whatever you're into, as they can become full of noise in certain situations (in the same way many phones can).

There's a lot of noise thanks to the lower pixel count at times, but the range of light levels you get to shoot in compared to other camera phones is excellent.

And the photos we took looked stunning at times on the phone screen, which HTC says is where most of them stay - which we agree with to a degree. On the computer screen photography still looks reasonably sharp, although a lot of detail is lost in the lighter areas and zooming in is pretty much a no-go.

You probably won't look at many photos this way, but if you're thinking of uploading them to Facebook, you probably will get some people checking out your efforts at a larger size.

If you really want amazing photos from your phone, then the HTC One Mini isn't probably the device for you. Yes, you've got the full box of tricks in terms of being able to lock autofocus and controlling the individual elements, but in reality you're not going to get world-beating photography.

What you will get is a really broad range of scenes that will be accessible with your camera, thanks to a bright LED flash and the Ultrapixel system working so flawlessly in so many light levels and scenarios.

We will say this: while we didn't think optical image stabilisation was needed here, the fact that so many pictures came out with a slight blur, added to the fact that Zoes were a jumpy mess a lot of the time, made us really miss the technology. You'll definitely need a steady hand for the One Mini.

For most people they'll be overjoyed with the photo quality on the HTC One. The combination of fast shooting, accurate focus, sharp continuous shooting and a nippy HDR mode, combined with photos that look good on the phone screen, will impress many – and that should tick all the boxes for many looking to get a new camera phone.

HTC One Mini review
A simple black and white effect can enhance photos before taking

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HTC One Mini review
When photos are drawn from Zoe clips, the detail is lost

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HTC One Mini review
Close detail is impressive, but exposure is poor

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HTC One Mini review
This is focusing on the bee, the exposure is locked

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HTC One Mini review
Focusing on the rest of the image loses the brightness

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HTC One Mini review
Close detail can be gained with a couple of attempts

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HTC One Mini review
This was a dark scene, but the auto mode picked up detail well

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HTC One Mini review
This is taken with Night Mode on the Samsung Galaxy S4 - a better picture but much harder to set up

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HTC One Mini review
Even in near darkness, leaves are picked out

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HTC One Mini review
The Samsung Galaxy S4 on Night Mode can't manage the same detail

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Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
Wireless LANYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, UMTS, HSPA+
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyOne mini
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE 800, LTE 1800, LTE 2600
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution4 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Phone StyleBar
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameHTC
Battery Talk Time20.72 Hour
Screen Size10.9 cm (4.3")
Screen Resolution1280 x 720
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)122 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density341 ppi
Front Camera Resolution1.6 Megapixel
Height132 mm
Width63.2 mm
Depth9.3 mm
Battery Standby Time692 Hour
ManufacturerHigh Tech Computer Corp
Product NameOne mini Smartphone
Processor Speed1.40 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon 400
Product LineOne mini
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, Digital Compass
Manufacturer Part Number99HVR006-00
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing InformationGood things come in small packages. Boasting the award-winning features and design of its larger counterpart, the HTC One mini has a compact 4.3" (10.9cm) display screen and a slimmer build. Its dual frontal stereo speakers, automatically updating home screen and low-light camera come in a premium metal design that's more compact than ever.
  • One-hand usage. 4.3" display screen and narrow build for convenient single-hand operation.
  • Small size. Massive volume. Built-in amps and dual frontal stereo speakers provide surprising volume and richness.
  • Up-to-the-minute in a blink. Home screen refreshes when you wake up your phone. Stay informed with your favourite content at a glance.
Premium Metal Body: Innovated Design
Constructed from polished metal alloy, the HTC One mini features a compact profile that's designed for easy, one-hand use. Its durable construction is shaped to seamlessly conform to your grip and provide on-the-go convenience for your busy life.

HTC BoomSound™: Amplify Everything
Dual frontal stereo speakers project sound at you, not away, for unrivalled sound from a smartphone. Built-in amps enhance everything so you'll experience louder, fuller, richer sound for a more immersive experience. The only thing small about the HTC One mini is its size.

HTC BlinkFeed™: Updates in a Blink
Enjoy a home screen that updates automatically with over 1,400 content partners.* News, sport, blogs, posts and more display on your home screen constantly. Customise your very own HTC BlinkFeed™ and start connecting to the content that matters most.

HTC Zoe™: Your Gallery Brought to Life
Create a living, breathing photo gallery and show off your memories like never before. Your HTC One mini selects the highlights of an event and crafts a stunning 30-second show. No additional software or editing skills needed. Choose your music theme for additional effect, and release your life movie for everyone to enjoy.
Limited Warranty1 Year