If you’re looking for a new phone… The HTC ONE mini review
When Vodafone heard we were embarking on our mammoth Scottish Road Trip for One Off Places and VW, they asked if I’d like to take along a new HTC phone to try out along the way. Seeing as my 6yr old Blackberry seems to think its job in life is to make phone calls and nothing else, I decided a borrow of a new HTC would be just the ticket, thanks very much.
So a few days before we set off the HTC One mini arrived, and I spent an hour or two getting it all set to take care of me while we were away.
First Impressions? Properly Gorgeous. The metal construction feels solid and sturdy, and the bright bold screen is a joy to use. And as it’s running Android 4.4 KitKat, it’s a doddle to set up and organise for all your social media, mail, and personal preferences (aka Angry Birds Go! and Minion Rush…).
Actually, the ‘mini’ label is a teensy but misleading – this is no mini phone. It’s still practically 11cm tall, but it’s so thin and narrow that it really does slip into your pocket when you need it to.
Now I’m no expert heavy phone user – I imagine I use my phone for what most Mums do. It’s the way I keep in touch – I simply hook up email, Hootsuite, Facebook and G+. It’s my camera-on-the-go. And it’s a time-waster when I’m sitting in a queue, so naturally there’s the need for something to entertain my brain *Cough* Frozen Free Fall *cough*
What I want is a phone that I can install and run all those things on without too much messing about. Well, within an hour of taking the HTC One Mini out of the box, that part was complete. Simples. I also did a quick test-run of streaming Netflix to really test the screen – wowsers. The screen really is good; easily good enough for watching on-the-go movies without creating a massive headache.
Other things on my wishlist for a new phone? Oddly, possibly top of my list would be to be able to use it one-handed. A lot of smartphones are just too wide for this, which means that a quick scroll or photograph while you’re holding something is nigh on impossible. But the HTC One Mini is narrow enough to make that easy – if a bit of a stretch to reach top and bottom of the long screen, it’s at least narrow enough for my hand to wrap around it easily.
Another thing that has always irritated me is that the speaker on a phone tends to be on the back. Why? I want it next to my head playing in my ear, not entertaining whoever I’m sitting next to. Thankfully the fabulous dual frontal stereo speakers on the HTC One mini will also give you amazing sound with Beats Audio™. Perfect.
So we know we can keep in touch with the whole wide interwebs with swish and slick ease. So how’s that camera work doing?
We-ee-ll. It’s mostly fabuloso. Left at full widescreen the quality is astonishing – crisp, clear and full colours that are not oversaturated.
Obviously, it’s easy to use – tap the little camera on the home screen, then tap again to take your picture. In fact, it’s SO easy to use that if you leave it unguarded for 5 minutes you’ll find this kind of thing when you come back…
Unfortunately, the ease of taking photographs can frequently backfire (or down-fire…) if you’re mildly cack-handed when you’re in camera mode. I had a fair sprinkling of these genius shots in my trip album too…
Focusing is quick, and I love the ease of the exposure control which allows you to simply tap the screen to decide what part of the image to ficus on (you know, when you take a picture towards a window or the sky, and the stuff around it all goes dark? Just tap the area around and the brightness will blow out and you’ll have perfectly exposed surroundings instead. Super useful on a sunny day when you’re photographing mountains…).
Sadly, the one function I was disappointed with was the zoom. The minute you moved from full screen and zoomed in (which is the usual pinch and spread finger movement) there was immediate loss in image quality. Rapidly the images became soft, broken and pixellated, and I learned quickly to take the whole image – cropping in photoshop later was a better option than starting with a hideous grainy image.
The photographs are a bit contrasty for my liking, and won’t win any photography awards – but are perfect for quick snapping of your daily memories.
All the usuals are around the edge of the phone – micro-USB port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and volume and power buttons. Easy to find by feel in a dark car or in your pocket once you’re used to the phone.
It’s a shame there’s no expandable storage option – the phone is so all-singing-all-dancing that I can see some would like to use it to store movies etc on too. But the 16GB of storage (5GB of which is accounted for with the operating system etc) is enough for everyday stuff – I was pretty snap happy on our trip, and I never reached the limits with photographs and short videos.
Battery life wasn’t quite as long as I expected either – as I said I’m not a heavy phone user, but I charged the HTC One Mini probably 6 times during our 2 1/2 week trip. I can see if it was in full family use on a busy day out, you’d need to charge it every 24hrs or so.
All in all though? I loved it. We all loved it – and we were really REALLY sad to send it home…
What THEY say:
Smart, stylish and pocket-friendly, the HTC One mini packs in powerful features such as the pixel-sharp HD screen, epic sound quality with dual frontal stereo speakers, a dynamic, breathing photo gallery and fully personalised home screen giving you the updates you want.