Building a mini version of your popular flagship handset seems to be the in-thing among Tier 1 smartphone makers and once again, we have Samsung to thank (or resent) for this. If memory serves us correctly, the S3 mini really kick-started this craze and soon other OEMs were also infected with this virus. Today’s example is the One mini which officially made its way to India a couple of months back. The phone has gone through a mandatory strip down in terms of specifications and size but for some strange reason, HTC has still priced this along with their other flagship phones or there about. Puzzling, right? We think so too. Let’s dig a little deeper and see if there’s any real method to this madness.
Design and Build
The HTC One mini is exactly what you’d expect a miniature version of the One to be; but it somehow feels a lot better. It’s not just the fact that the 4.3-inch screen sits more comfortably in your hand but we feel it’s the mix of aluminium and plastic that makes it feel less clinical compared to its elder siblings. The mini looks a lot like a mash-up between the One and the One X, with its aluminium back and white plastic on the sides. It’s quite hard to describe it but the phone just feels great when you hold it.
Sizing them up
The front has the stereo speakers on the top and bottom for HTC’s BoomSound. There’s a 1.6MP camera upfront which is capable of 720p video. We also have the two-capacitive button layout down at the bottom. The fit and finish of everything is impeccable and feels premium. The 4MP camera sits at the back which is borrowed straight from the One. The One mini is a single SIM phone with no memory expansion capability. Overall, we were really impressed with the aesthetics and attention to detail given to the mini and is easily the best miniature version of a flagship phone around in this respect.
A very pretty rear end
The 4.3-inch display has an HD resolution which brings the pixel count all the way up to a sweet 342ppi. Text is sharp and crisp, colours are vivid and punchy and sunlight legibility is great thanks to the S-LCD 2 technology. The screen sensitivity is also very good and it’s scratch resistant thanks to Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3. The display feels tiny, especially after using so many 5-inch and above smartphones but you get accustomed to the size after a few days. Beats Audio delivers really good performance through the speakers.
Just doesn’t stack up against the competition
The One mini is powered by a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 (MSM8230AB) which is the same one used in the Galaxy S4 mini. However, HTC has scaled down its maximum frequency to 1.4GHz. It’s not the most powerful SoC in that price range but it gets the job done. The phone does lag slightly if you try to do any heavy multi-tasking and there’s a notable stutter in some of the animation effects. The phone also tends to heat up pretty quickly when gaming, using the camera or GPS.
You get 16GB of onboard storage for your music and videos but sadly, there’s no option to expand it. Beats Audio is now available for headphones as well as the loud speaker with HTC’s BoomSound. This leaves you with a great audio experience even without headphones. The media player easily manages popular audio and video formats, including 1080p video. HTC’s video player also adds support for lyrics, folder view and visualisations.
Good media playback
The One mini is a quad-band GSM and 3G handset. Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi ‘n’, Bluetooth v4.0, GPS, GLONASS and USB 2.0. There are a bunch of features that are missing though like NFC, IR, Wi-Fi ‘ac’ and MHL. This is big disappointment considering the price it commands in the market. HTC has also thrown in quite a few handy features, including a Kid Mode, Smart Connect, stock market app, voice recorder, flashlight, LogMeIn app, Polaris Office, PDF viewer and 25GB of Dropbox space.
The One’s many nifty features
The camera is similar to what we saw on the HTC One so there’s nothing really new to right about here. There are plenty of features to go around like HDR, burst mode, etc but the best is Zoe mode. This remains one of the best implementations of its kind when compared to LG’s and Samsung’s similar offerings.
Very good macro shots
The 1,800 mAh battery on the One mini finished our 8-hour loop test with about 11 percent battery remaining. While this isn’t exactly the best, it’s better than what the One or the One dual sim delivers.
HTC’s official retail price is Rs 36,790 but you can find it online for as low as Rs 33,000. Considering you can get much more powerful handsets for cheaper, the One mini is highly overpriced. In fact, the entire One series is overpriced and we can’t figure out why. If you love this sort of form factor, then we recommend you take a look at the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini. It’s almost Rs 10,000 cheaper, is lighter, has more RAM and support for microSD card up to 64GB, a faster CPU (1.7GHz), a bigger battery and has IR. The S4 mini is no competition to the One mini in terms of build quality and design, but then again, I find paying so much more for an aluminium shell a bit absurd. If the HTC One mini drops to Rs 25,000, we whole heatedly recommend it but anything beyond that is paying too much. If you are shopping in the Rs 30,000 segment then look no further than the Google Nexus 5 which just went on sale today.
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