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 comes with a relatively wide range of connectivity on offer, with many of the usual suspects present and correct. GPS is paired with GLONASS (the Russian system) to bring stunningly accurate mapping, and the Wi-Fi is all the way up to 802.11n, with dual channel bonding on offer too.

It doesn't have the new 802.11ac connection that the One does, but that's not really going to matter in the short term – although anyone buying a router in the next year may slightly miss it.

Bluetooth is offered at the low-power 4.0 standard, with apt-X codecs onboard for improved music clarity over Bluetooth (and it really does improve the quality of music streaming compared to a non-apt-X set) and with the advent of Android 4.3, the ability to connect sensors using this lower power level will be much-needed.

HTC One Mini review

Sadly NFC has been scrubbed from the HTC One Mini, which is something of a worry for the contactless technology. Most brands have been placing NFC in their handsets, especially at the lower end, and this kind of decision seems to show there's an apathy developing for the technology.

HTC's MediaLink is available on the HTC One Mini, so if you've got the little box, a simple three finger swipe on any app will connect you up to your TV, which in turn will see your screen mirrored so you can play movies and games and whatnot on the go.

It's not a great experience doing this, especially on the gaming front, as the response between finger and screen is pretty slow, and the picture fairly jumpy at times.

HTC has included DLNA within the phone, so if there are any nearby media servers sharing content you can connect up to those and download content directly to your phone - look for the option in the menu settings in the Gallery to get an idea about what's on offer there.

And finally: HTC Sync is on offer, and has been combined with HTC Setup on the PC. The latter is more interesting, as it means you can set you sound profiles, wallpaper and ringtones from the web, when logged into your HTC account, and from there it will be beamed directly to your phone with the minimum of fuss.

On top of that you've got the fact you can drag and drop the content directly into the heart of the HTC One Mini - if you don't want to fiddle about with the drivers you can just look through the folder system and dump your pictures, music and video in there without needing to worry about installing a million bits and pieces.

HTC One Mini review

Overall connectivity on the HTC One Mini is OK – you've got the main things we'd be looking for, and GPS in particular is a decent option. Wi-Fi hold was strong on a variety of routers, and while we do miss NFC for some speaker pairing, it wasn't a deal breaker.

The infra red port really wasn't missed either, although there was a point where we wanted to turn off a TV in a pool bar. OK, we had a Samsung Galaxy S4 that enabled us to do the same thing, but that's not the point. If you're in the same situation, you probably wouldn't have the same option.


When it comes to the onboard apps, the HTC One Mini is pretty well stocked. There's a host of extras to make it into a more rounded phone, and then on top of that there's the excellent Google Play store to add from.

This is actually a prevalent option in the app menu, making it easy to get to the millions of apps available to download (simply pull down the menu to get access to some 'hidden options') which is what you'll be doing to supplement things like the invisible video player. As you can tell, we're still annoyed about that.

Kid mode is on offer, as it was the big One, and gives the option to set the phone up with programs the kids will like without giving them the keys to buy stuff from the internet or send a picture of poo to your boss. The main interface is pre-loaded with a load of mind-numbing games and activities (can you tell we don't have kids?) but they all seem beautifully colourful and probably contain some educational message.

HTC One Mini review

You can choose other apps to live in there as well, such as Google Maps so they can learn where Scotland is. It's not a simple interface from the outset, but the buttons are big. Plus kids these days can probably enable root access and hack the interface to something they enjoy. The little tykes.

The only annoying thing is you have to enable Kid Mode, where on Windows Phone the service is accessible from the lock screen, which saves you from a child with sticky fingers nabbing your phone.

Evernote integration is also on offer from the HTC One Mini, with the Notes function allowing you to sign into the service. You can also record voice and notes at the same time and see where the match up afterwards - this is an invaluable tool if you're big on transcription, although you'll have to hope you get pretty accurate with that onscreen keyboard.

Polaris office is on offer and will allow you to view and edit a whole host of document types. It's an irritating app in that when you download a PDF it won't show up in the app - but then when you try to open it with Adobe Acrobat (which you have to download) you're presented with an option to open in Polaris, and it does it better than Adobe. Grrrr.

HTC One Mini review

Beyond that, we're into the same territory as before, with the handy flashlight locked deep away in the menu, so make sure you turn it into an app shortcut if you live in darkness or like poking through stuff quietly.

The alarm on the phone is a poor, as the choice of ringtones is limited and none of them really scream 'let's wake you up softly', rather scaring you into consciousness.

Compare that to the Samsung Galaxy range, which has pre-alarms and fairy mist or some odd business to wake you up with (nicer than it sounds, trust us), or the LG Optimii which make you type in a code to prove you're awake, and we think HTC has been a bit lazy here.

We know we're being a bit over the top with the criticism, but given most people now rely on their phone to wake them up in the morning, this is something that really can't be overlooked. Thankfully, again, there are loads of options on the Play Store to sort you out.

And finally, the HTC Weather widget. How we love you. How very, very much. While Sense 5 has stripped away the temperature graph of old (boooo) and replaced it with a list of temperatures for each hour, it's still light years ahead of the competition, which push you onto a mobile site to just see how cold or hot it's going to be later that day.

Again, a small feature, but a key one for a lot of people.

Google Maps looks fantastic on the pin-sharp screen, with instant connection over 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi to show just how fast you can get the information you want.

Many people are adjusting to the new Google Maps, but we love it. Things look so much better, and using the HTC One Mini as a standalone sat-nav device is a dream, with the smaller screen providing more than enough information for driving on the go.

Gaming is less exciting, as we noted a number of high-power games that can't be used on the HTC One Mini. We tried to download both Grand Theft Auto III and Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, but both were blocked on Google Play.

On the plus side, you can't fill the nominal storage with massive games, nor melt the battery with large and fast full screen gaming in the ways you'd want, but we're annoyed that this has happened when the Adreno 305 GPU on board is clearly powerful enough to run the titles.

This may get fixed in a software update, but we won't hold our breath.

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.