The HTC One mini has been officially announced, bringing much of the HTC One love to a smaller, more compact, more affordable handset. The big brother is a fantastic Android device, but can the HTC One mini measure up? We got our hands on the new handset before launch to cast a critical eye over it.
In terms of design, you can see that the HTC One mini is cut from the same cloth as the bigger brother. It has many of the same design lines, but the most distinguishing difference is the plastic band that runs around the edges.
The Glacial White version of the handset we played with, and pictured here, combines the silver of the brushed aluminium with a white that's reminiscent of the HTC One X from 2012. Although here the plastic is little more than a band, it has that same feel to the polycarbonate of last year's flagship HTC handset.
The aluminium areas - the grilles over the BoomSound speakers and across the back - feel almost exactly the same as the HTC One. We spent some time stroking both devices, as we are wont to do, and it feels as though the HTC One mini is finished slightly differently across the front - probably the result of a slightly different anodisation process.
Flip the phone over and you'll find the UltraPixel camera nestled on the back, along with the LED flash. There's the familiar HTC logo and at the bottom, the Beats label. But at a glance, the slimiarity is uncanny. You can see that that these phones fit together as part of the HTC One family, in a way that HTC's different tiered devices didn't in the past.
In that sense, the HTC One mini feels like it's sitting on the coattails of the HTC One in the same way that the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the SGS4 Mini behave. The SGS4 might be a natural rival to the HTC One mini, but there's plenty of differences between the two.
Working around the handset, that polycarbonate belt houses all the connection points. You have the 3.5mm headphone socket on the top, along with the power/standby button, which now loses the IR functionality. There are separate volume buttons on the side; a Micro-USB connection on the base.
The SIM is accessed via a tray on the side of the device, but once again, there's no provision for microSD card expansion of the memory, so this is a lower-spec device that can't expand over the internal 16GB of memory.
The HTC One Mini measures 132 x 63.2 x 9.25mm and it weighs 122g. In the hand the build quality of the HTC One is remarkable. It may sit further down the scale, but there hasn't been a compromise when it comes to the construction of this handset. It feels solid, it has a premium feel, it's a device that's almost as good looking as its brother.
The display on the front measures 4.3-inches on the diagonal, with a 1280 x 720 pixel resolution. That gives you a sharp 341ppi and Android 4.2.2 skinned with HTC Sense 5 looks great, every inch the reflection of the top of the line model. Putting the two devices side by side, we couldn't discern a huge difference in the performance of the displays, but the HTC One Mini was set in display demo mode, so we'll reserve final judgement until we get the handset in for a full review.
But the software experience is the same. You get BlinkFeed fronting everything, but then you have the smart apps tray with customisation options, you have sensible DLNA compatibility and the latest shortcuts that came with the Android 4.2.2 update.
Flipping through the user interface seemed slick and fast, with very little delay in moving between apps or sections of the phone. With a dual-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and 1GB of RAM sitting at the heart, this handset won't compete with those higher up the ladder. How the experience pans out in prolonged use we can't yet say, so we'll be sure to bring you all the details once we've had longer with the phone.
The camera experience is also very similar to that of the HTC One. The Mini uses the same UltraPixel sensor, aiming to give you better dynamic range and cleaner low-light performance than rivals, but it's the convenient interface and funky features, like the highlight videos, that we enjoy the most. As this handset is running on the expanded Android 4.2.2, it has a wider range of themes available for those videos.
The HTC One Mini also features HTC's BoomSound speakers. They may have a silly name, but they don't sound so stupid when you fire up the latest music video. In our quick tests we were really impressed with the output, the rich soundtrack not only benefits your music, but we're hoping they also perform in calls as well as the HTC One.
There have of course been a few hits in making this device. There's no NFC, for example, not that you'll miss it, and the front-facing camera dips down to 1.6-megapixels, so may seem rather average compared to the great performance of the HTC One. The UltraPixel camera on the rear also doesn't offer optical image stabilisation on this device. But you do get the same bands across LTE and 3G, so this handset is ready to feed you fast data.
Powering this new Android handset is a 1800mAh battery, which HTC claims will give 20 hours of talk time. It sounds a little light to us, so we'll be taking a good look at how well it performs as soon as we can.
The HTC One Mini will be available in two colour schemes, Glacial White and Stealth Black. There is also a range of accessories as there is for the HTC One, like the flip case pictured in the gallery.
The HTC One mini will be available in August. There's currently no word on pricing, but we'll be bringing you all the details as they are announced, as well as a HTC One Mini review as soon as we can.