First Look: HTC HD mini review

0 out of 5
price dependent on contract

For

Smaller more manageable screen, cool design

Against

Smaller screen means keyboard fiddly, not as impressive looking as the big screen HD2

While many love the idea of a smartphone with a 4.3-inch screen, to most it's just too big. Perhaps realizing this, HTC has launched the HTC HD mini, a smaller Windows Mobile smartphone with a 3.2-inch display at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Pocket-lint was on hand ahead of the official launch for a quick sneak peek of the new handset.

A fair description of the HD mini would be that it offers the same HD Windows Mobile experience as the HTC HD2, but on a smaller screen. For your money you get a great looking black handset with what appears to be a rubberised backplate and a 3.2-inch HVGA capacitive touchscreen on the front.

Tech specs include the usual array of GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, HSDPA, microSD, 3.5mm headphone jack, FM radio and of course a Qualcomm chip inside - this time a MSM7227 with a 600MHz processor. There's a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash around the back for good measure.

Running Windows 6.5.3 with HTC's Sense interface on top, it's likely to be one of the last handsets available on the older variant of Windows Mobile, thanks to an announcement of a more Zune-like offering from Microsoft at Mobile World Congress. HTC has confirmed this won't be getting a Windows Mobile 7 update, due to the hardware requirements of Windows Mobile 7.

That said, as HTC proved with the HD2, the mini's interface isn't anything but nice. Read our HD2 review for a more in-depth feel of the OS in action. Where the mini takes it one step further over the HD2 is in the design. HTC, once a rather dull manufacturer of OEM smartphones, is really starting to grow and think about the bigger picture.

Having bought industrial design firm One & co in 2009 the fruits of that partnership are starting to deliver with the latest range of HTC devices, especially the HTC Legend, really pushing the design boundaries for mobile phones.

Where they've expressed a design opinion here is in the design of the casing. Firstly on the back there are four rather large screws that actually hold the device together rather than just being for show. Described by HTC as the rather marketing-bullshit-sounding "hidden power", the idea is that the phone is designed to be functional and beautiful at the same time, rather like a sailboat.

Of course that isn't always followed and as soon as you rip the back off to reveal the battery and SIM card you'll noticed something rather odd for a mobile phone. The innards are yellow. Why are they yellow? "Why not?" is the response from HTC. In reality it's rather cool and you just know owners of this phone are going to be keen to show their inner geek to anyone who cares.

It's this inner geek notion that will get the HTC fanboys lapping up the phone and singing about it in the same way the Apple fanboys do. HTC is maturing into a force to be reckoned with and we welcome that with open arms.

 

Verdict

Our time was brief, but that didn't stop us enjoying the HTC HD mini even if we did have to put up with Windows Mobile briefly. If you've fancied the HD2 for some time but don't want such a large phone in your pocket, this might just be the phone you've been waiting for.

The HTC HD mini is expected to be available in Q2 2010. We will have a full review nearer the time.