HTC One Mini review

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

HTC One MIni review
Hands on with the cut-down One

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The HTC One Mini is a phone that's made for media in so many ways. Be it the BoomSound front speakers or the internal headphones amplifier boosting sound from within, audio loves to come out of the One Mini.

Or perhaps we could talk about Beats Audio, a processing algorithm that you've probably heard about by now. It makes things sound a bit bassier, and a bit better if you like to get all processed on your sounds.

It's definitely a large step up from the normal levels we get on mobile phones, and for that you'll be impressed with the HTC One Mini.

To explain further: BoomSound is the combination of the two front facing speakers and the inbuilt amp to help boost the sound through your headphones - and both chuck out fantastic sound. The latter really does boost the volume levels to a give as more even tone to your tunes, while the former is simply amazing when you're showing off videos to friends and loved ones. As you always do, you bore, you.

We never thought that BoomSound would take off with the HTC One, as nobody really cares about speakers on a phone. Or so we thought... there's no doubt that it's a real selling point on HTC's flagship. And it's equally as good on the HTC One Mini.

Also, with the addition of HTC Zoe video highlight reels, you'll find that showing off your work at splicing together pictures is used a lot more often too, and the sound quality really adds to the show. So while it's perhaps not the most important thing in the world to have on a smartphone, BoomSound works.


As we've discussed, the HTC One Mini is a very adept handset when it comes to making your tunes sound good. It's not overly obvious how to actually get to the music you care about, as the Music Hub that was present on previous iterations of this phone is now dead.

It's been replaced with a pre-loaded folder with all your music and media bits in one place, which leads to the lovely and confusing Music and Google Music, both apps denoted by a headphones icon, living side by side.

HTC One Mini review

The basic music player isn't bad at all, and comes with a very nice widget in both the lockscreen and the notifications bar. It's hard to overstate how good this is, especially when it doesn't work properly on some other handsets.

The two options for getting music on your phone aren't bad - the inbuilt music player is perfectly adequate and comes with enough power and functionality to be used day to day.

Google Music is pre-loaded, so we tried to work out if it was possible to use this instead of the onboard storage, thanks to that being a paltry 16GB. If you're willing to put in the time, you can pop 20,000 songs up to the cloud, which will be more than enough for most people.

However, even after the mind numbing wait (it was days) to get the music up there, you really need a data connection at all times to use Google Music. It's possible to cache stuff on the phone for the train tunnels of this world, but that's not really helping with the storage issue. Plus no matter how you try it, Google Music does suck down more battery compared to the inbuilt option.

The HTC Music app doesn't have the cool SoundHound integration that we're used to, although the app is present on the phone. But what it does bring is new visuals and lyrics to songs if they're available (providing the song information is correct and GraceNote can access it).

It's a fun feature for when you're trying to work out the real words but unless you've got aspirations of making it on the professional karaoke circuit, this isn't going to be a lot of use. Good when combined with the BoomSound speakers though.


We've addressed it above, but it's the biggest flaw on the HTC One Mini: the internal memory is too low. We've no idea why HTC has chosen to imbue it with only 16GB and no microSD slot, as while it can get away with it on the larger device with 32GB / 64GB storage, there's just too little here.

If you throw most of your music collection on this phone, you'll probably have already wiped out 10GB of the available 16GB, as 5GB is already taken up with the OS. That's simply not good enough, as if you're partial to a few Zoes then you'll be close to critical in no time.

And that's even without thinking about watching video on the phone - if you like a quick movie on the go, then you'll be really having to think about storage management - and it's just too far after 2009 to be having such issues on a phone.

HTC One Mini review

The cloud options on offer here, be it Dropbox storage or the aforementioned Google Music, are a good idea, but they're not the solution. HTC might think that the target user for the HTC One Mini will get away with 16GB of space, but we can't help but disagree - if you buy this phone, most people will run out of space at some point during their 24-month term, so get ready to be frugal or connect up to the computer often.


Video on the HTC One Mini actually seems to be a little bit better than on the HTC One, as the brightness levels seem to have been sorted somewhat and this resulted in an overall improved picture.

Watching items downloaded from either the Google Play store or HTC Watch is always going to be tricky as long as the prices remain high, so we spent more time with streaming services and sideloaded content. The former was actually rather good - Netflix was strong on the HTC One Mini's 361PPI screen, and while it's a far cry from the Full HD of the One, we couldn't see a real difference.

The auto brightness does have a little hissy fit every so often, sometimes flickering as it struggles to get the screen at the correct level, and this gets irritating when you're watching anything - this is something that will be fixed in a future software update, we've no doubt of that, but it's annoying when it happens (admittedly sporadically).

When it comes to watching sideloaded video, HTC seems to hate anyone that wants to do such a thing on its phones. Like the larger HTC One, there's no video app on board, so unless you want to wriggle through the Gallery, you're plum out of luck when it comes to watching anything that you've popped on the phone yourself.

There's always the option of downloading one of the myriad excellent video players from the Play Store, so it's not a real barrier, but given the HTC One Mini supports so many decent codecs (DivX aside) we're still utterly perplexed as to why the brand doesn't have a dedicated video app on the Mini.

HTC One Mini review

The battery life when watching video does suffer, as it does on any phone, but the aluminium casing does get a lot hotter than the Samsung Galaxy S4, for instance, when watching movies on the go - whether streaming or watching offline content.

However, storage issues and lack of a player aside, the high-res screen of the HTC One Mini is excellent for watching videos on the go - even the smaller dimensions didn't bother us too much, so we can see this being a big hit for those that like to snack on TV shows especially.

HTC TV was the big fancy app that the Taiwanese brand was talking up for its flagship launch, but that's gone bye-bye as there's no infra red blaster on the One Mini. As such, the TV app has disappeared too, making it a little more difficult to find the programming you're after.

We're sure you'll survive… somehow.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.