By April 15, 2010

HTC HD mini Review

HD mini-Black_Front Back Left

It was back in February that I first got my hands on the HTC HD mini. One of four devices announced at Mobile World Congress, the HD mini is the third to be released, following on from the HTC Legend and Desire. Still to come is the HTC Smart. The HD mini is the only Windows Phone out of the four and with Windows Phone 7 coming at the end of the year a lot of people are wondering if the HD mini is worth getting.

Like its big brother, the HD2, the HD mini runs Windows Mobile but now with version 6.5.3. There are not too many changes in terms of software but a few hardware ones. As the name of the phones says, it’s more or less a mini version of the HD2 just with slightly less power.

Interested? Read on to find out what I thought of the device and how it compares to its big brother.

 

The ten second review:

Device: HTC HD mini

Cost: £323.13

Summary: A compact version of the HTC HD2 but still with all the great features.

Best of: Size, Sense UI, Connectivity.

Worst of: Video Camera.

Buy it now from: Clove

HD mini-Black_Front

HTC HD mini specification:

  • Operating System – Windows Mobile 6.5.3 Professional with HTC Sense
  • Processor – 600MHz
  • Memory – ROM: 512MB / RAM: 384MB
  • Display -3.2" (320 x 480 HVGA) Capacitive touch screen
  • Network – HSPA/WCDMA: 900/2100 MHz / GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • G-Sensor
  • Proximity sensor
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Bluetooth 2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate (Supported Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, BIP, BPP, DUN, FTP, GAP, GOEP, HFP, HID, HSP, OPP, PAN, PBAP, SAP, SPP)
  • 3.5mm stereo audio jack
  • Standard micro-USB (5-pin micro-USB 2.0)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
  • Internal GPS Antenna
  • MicroSDHC (SD 2.0 Compatible)
  • 5 megapixel colour camera with auto focus
  • Talk Time – Up to 435 minutes for GSM
  • Standby Time – Up to 340 hours for GSM
  • Re-chargeable 1200mAh Lithium-ion battery
  • Dimensions – 103.8 x 57.7 x 11.7 mm (4.09 x 2.27 x 0.46 inches)
  • Weight – 110 grams (3.88 ounces) with battery
  • FM radio
  • Internet sharing through USB or Bluetooth
  • Wi-Fi Router
  • Facebook integration
  • Photo sharing on Facebook and Twitter
  • Video sharing on YouTube
  • HTC Peep for twittering

 

What’s in the box?

  • Device
  • Battery
  • USB Cable
  • Charging Plug
  • Headphones
  • Quick Start Guide/Warranty

 

If you have not seen Matt’s HD mini unboxing video please check it out.

 

General:

The top of the device houses the headset jack and power button. It also has a shiny bit!

HDmini-top

HTC HD mini Top

 

Only the MicroUSB port can be found on the bottom.

HDmini-bottom

HTC HD mini Bottom

 

On the left side of the handset is the up/down volume rocker.

HDmini-left

HTC HD mini Left Side

 

The right side is flush with no buttons or ports. Not an excuse to forget to take a photo of it Matt!!!

The back looks mean and menacing. Present is the camera lens and speaker grill and also the four cool looking screws.

HDmini-back

HTC HD mini Back

 

As always the best bit is the front. At the top is the ear speaker and at the bottom are the touch sensitive buttons.

HDmini-front

HTC HD mini Front

 

Highlights:

  • Size and feels great to hold
  • Does so much in such a small package
  • Wi-Fi, 3G
  • Wi-Fi Router
  • Peep (Twitter)

 

 

Lowlights:

  • Video Capture
  • Windows Marketplace

 

Review:

With the HTC HD mini being a smaller version of the HD2, with a few changes, the review is clearly going to be very similar to the HD2 review I did last year. If you read that one and are thinking of not reading this let me give you a quick teaser to make you carry on. I actually prefer the mini to the HD2!

Let’s have a quick look at the hardware differences first as that’s where the major changes are compared to the HD2. The biggest change is obviously size and the great thing about the HD mini is that it fits comfortably in the hand. Holding the HTC HD Mini feels great as the four corners of the phone are smooth and rounded.

HDmini-v-HD2a

HTC HD mini vs. HD2

 

The four hardware buttons below the screen on the HD mini are identical to on the HD2, being call send/end, home, windows and back, but this time they are touch sensitive. The HD2 had actual physical keys that you could press but not on the HD mini. It’s kind of a shame as I prefer proper buttons but the touch sensitive ones seem to work very well. They give a wee bit of haptic feedback when touched.

 HDmini-buttons

HTC HD mini Touch Sensitive Buttons

 

“…the HTC HD mini brings you some yellow pleasure!”

The HD mini now has a dedicated power button on its top side. This did not appear on the HD2 as it used the ‘call end’ button to power on and off. I like having the power button on top as it’s what I have been used to with previous HTC devices.

Another hardware difference is where the headset jack is located. It was on the bottom of the HD2 and this time it has been relocated to the top. A good change I think. At least now the phone can be the right way up in your pocket when listening to music. Not a massive change but a positive one I think.

There are some big changes on the back of the HD mini. If you remember, the HD2 had that sticky-out camera lens which was bad for two reasons. The first was that it made the phone very wobbly when laid down on a flat surface. The second reason is that the lens was susceptible to scratches as it was so prominent. Things are better on the HD mini. The lens is set back inside the phone like on most devices. We are now missing the flash that was on the HD2 but that’s not the end of the world. I will cover the camera quality later in the review.

One more thing on the back of the device which I like is the four screws that are visible. These are not just here for aesthetic purposes, they actually are holding the phone together! Removing the back cover of the HTC HD mini brings you some yellow pleasure! Why it is yellow, I’m not sure, but it looks good.

HD mini-Black_Pers_Inner

HTC HD mini insides

 

So onto the software. The first thing you will be greeted with is the lock screen. A quick slide of the lock bar downwards unlocks the phone and you are good to go.

lock

HTC HD mini Lock Screen

 

You will then be at the home screen. This is very similar to the HD2 and as the HD mini runs the Sense UI it’s not too dissimilar to the recent Android devices.

Home

HTC HD mini Home Screen

 

We are pretty much used to the information we find here but there is a slight difference found compared the the HD2. As you can see in the picture below the HD2 home screen contains three customisable tabs.

Screen05

HTC HD2 Home screen

 

These tabs are present on the HD mini but to access them you need to give the home screen a quick flick upwards. This then gives you access to the nine tabs as seen below. When adding a tab you can choose from a list of programs, contacts or bookmarks. Nice.

home fav

HTC HD mini Favourite Tabs

 

As expected with an HTC Windows Phone you also get the TouchFlo3D bar on the home screen. This contains quick access to the following:

  • People
  • Messages
  • Mail
  • Internet
  • Calendar
  • Stocks
  • Photos & Videos
  • Music
  • Weather
  • Twitter (Peep)
  • Footprints
  • Settings

“…then the shortcut can be set up to email that person”

I wont cover all the above in great detail as we have seen it all before but the best bits can be found below.

The people tab is where you can add your best buddies or contacts that you get in touch with most regularly. The beauty here is that it doesn’t have to be just their telephone number that you have for a shortcut. If you email a certain person all the time then the shortcut can be set up to email that person when you select their tab. A clever feature me think. You can have up to 15 people in this application.

contacts tab

HTC HD mini People Tab

 

Next we have messaging.  As usual with HTC devices setting up an email account is easily done. Once this is up and running your most recent email will appear on the email tab in TouchFlo3D. From this screen you can scroll up and down your emails and you can see the first thirty words or so of the message. A press of the message you are looking at will take you into it or alternatively you can press the inbox tab at the bottom of the screen.

 

email5 email6 email7

 

Now would be a good time to mention the onscreen keyboard on the HD mini. It is clearly smaller than on the HD2 but it’s still useable. In portrait mode I was able to use it without too many mistakes although it was a bit slow going as you really need to concentrate. In landscape mode though you can really get some speed going using your two thumbs. Haptic feedback is present and the letter you are pressing appears above where you are pressing to show you that you have the right one. And like on previous HTC devices holding a key down will allow you to use the highlighted number or symbol dedicated to each letter key.

  sms

 email4

HTC HD mini Keyboards

 

Using the internet on the HD mini is great. As usual with HTC devices the mini comes with both Opera and Internet Explorer installed. Which is best comes down to personal preference.

“…Nice and easy to get you to your most visited websites.”

opera1

Opera Tab

Opera is the default browser and this appears as a tab in TouchFlo3D. As seen above, you can have bookmarks on this screen and the bookmark will actually be a thumbnail of the page. Scrolling the screen up will reveal a further eight bookmarks allowing for a total of ten. Nice and easy to get you to your most visited websites.

 

op2

Opera in Portrait Mode

op3

Opera in Landscape Mode

 

Opera works great in booth portrait and landscape. As the HTC HD mini supports multi touch you can use pinch to zoom which is a real bonus if you ask me.

The one feature that impressed me most was that when you do zoom in, the HD mini re-aligns (re-flows) the text on the screen meaning you don’t need to scroll from left to right to read. A massive plus point!

op4

HTC HD mini Re-aligning text

 

Internet explorer does not re-flow the text and this is where it is let down compared to Opera. Apart from that it seems to work very well. Another area where the two browsers are different is a simple web search. By default Opera uses Google and Internet Explorer uses Bing which I am not too keen on.

ie3

Internet Explorer in Portrait Mode

ie4

Internet Explorer in Landscape Mode

 

One little feature I do like on Internet Explorer is the zoom bar. If you are using the device one handed and are not able to use pinch to zoom then the onscreen zoom bar allows for zooming really quickly.

ie2

Zoom Bar on Internet Explorer

 

The calendar on the HTC HD mini is just like we have seen before. When viewing the calendar from the TouchFlo3D tab the phone will display today’s appointments as well as the current weather conditions.

calendar tab2

HTC HD mini Calendar Tab

 

You have a few options of how to view the calendar, by month, week and year.

calendar calendar week calendar year

Calendar Options

 

Entering an appointment etc could not be easier. It’s just a case of pressing ‘new appointment’ and off you go . Fill in the bits you want and press ‘done’.

calendar2

HTC HD mini New Appointment

 

As I have said in previous HTC reviews I have no idea when it comes to stocks and shares, but if you do then the HD mini can help you keep on eye on them.

Stocks

HTC HD mini Stocks

 

Viewing photos and videos is as pleasant as expected. From the TouchFlo3D tab you can flick up and down or by entering the application you can find your albums.

pictures tab albums

Once selecting a photo the image will appear full screen when the device is rotated or as the phone sees fit how to give you the best view of the image. Like on most smart phones you can then scroll left or right viewing all the pictures full screen and on the HD Mini they look pretty good.

photos1

Sample Full Screen

Video is also decent to watch on the HTC HD mini. Although not having the biggest screen the HD mini produces a reasonable picture. Pre-installed is the Windows Media Player but you will want to also download a third party one for watching MP4s. These can be downloaded from various sources and for free.

 

The weather applications on HTC devices is always fantastic. As well as the current conditions you are also given a forecast. In addition you can add many locations and these can be accessed by swiping up or down. Within the settings you also have the option to choose how frequently the weather updates. These updates will be incorporated into the home screen weather too. A nifty feature.

weather tab weather settings

Weather on the HTC HD mini

 

“…It’s aesthetically nice as well as efficient.”

Twitter comes as standard on the HTC HD mini in the form of Peep. Peep has appeared on many HTC devices now such as the, Hero, Desire and Legend as well as the latest ROMs for the Touch Pro2 and Diamond2. It’s not the most advanced Twitter app but it’s more than adequate for taking care of most peoples Twitter needs. I personally really like Peep. It’s aesthetically nice as well as efficient. As you can see below you can either view your timeline direct from TouchFlo3D or by entering the app itself where you can get a bit more detailed info.

peep tab peep

HTC Peep on the HD mini

 

The settings tab leads you to dozens of extra screens and options and I wont bore you with them all. What I will say is that tweaking the settings on the HTC HD mini is simple and straight forward. Gone are the days when altering the settings on a Windows Mobile would be super complicated. HTC have put an overlay on most options on the device.

Settings

HTC HD mini Settings Tab

 

So the things I have already covered can all be accessed from TouchFlo3D. Lets check out what’s in the main menu now. The menu can be accessed from the home screen by pressing the menu onscreen tab or alternatively by pressing the Windows touch sensitive button.

menu1 menu2 menu3

HTC HD mini menu

The menu itself is the same as on all Windows 6.5 devices. All the applications are listed in the above form and you scroll down to see them. We do however have a bonus feature on the HD mini. Up until now the only option you had for re arranging the icons was to ‘move to top’ which was a bit lame. Luckily now you can drag to wherever you like. A big improvement.

 

The 5mp camera on the HTC HD mini did a pretty good job. It’s not brilliant but will be good enough for taking shots and uploading to face book, twitter etc. It’s unfortunately let down in the flash department as it doesn’t have one so low light shots are a no no. As you can see below in daylight the photos produce reasonable colours and detail. The macro mode again is not the best but it’s not bad.  The camera interface is super easy to use. All controls are done on screen and settings are not too complicated.

1 3

2

HTC HD mini Camera Samples

 

I was a little disappointed with video capture. I shot some video of the ducks in the photos above and even with the video at half the screen size on my laptop the footage was grainy and not worthy of including in the review.

 

It’s pretty standard now with HTC that the phone comes pre loaded with CoPilot Navigation software. You get a free 15 day trial which is more than enough to help you decide if you want to purchase the full edition. You can read my CoPilot Live8 review here.

copilot2 copilot1

CoPilot Live8

 

Keeping an eye on what apps you have running is a doddle on the HD Mini. The task manager is found within the main menu, or can be added to the shortcuts on the home screen, and this is where you can manage memory on the device. Simply by opening the task manager you will see a list of all applications running on the phone. If the device is slowing down or lagging due to too many apps running it’s just a case of pressing the menu key and closing all the apps or you can do it individually.

task manager task manager2

HTC HD mini Task Manager

 

Like its big brother, the HTC HD mini comes with Microsoft’s ‘My Phone’ and ‘Marketplace’ built in. If you have not used a Windows Phone before ‘My Phone’ is a must have app. To summarise, it not only syncs your contacts but you also have the option to sync SMS, Photos, Video, Calendar, Tasks, Music, Documents and Browser Favourites. Not bad eh?  You don’t have to sync all of these. You can just do the ones you want. Only downside is that you get 200mb of storage which is not a great deal if you want to store a lot of photos and videos.

myphone marketplace

My Phone and Marketplace

Marketplace is pretty straight forward. This is Microsoft’s app store. It’s not great and prices are high compared to Android and Apple so if you want a load of apps please take this into consideration . There are third party places you can download free apps from. We recently featured OPNMarket so have a butchers at that.

 

Listening to music on the HD mini is enjoyable. Quality is decent and the interface is great. As you can see below you can play albums straight from the TouchFlo 3D tab or alternatively enter the music player for more options. The handset also comes with an MP3 Trimmer so if you want to use a music track as your ringtone you can edit the song so it starts and stops at your favourite part.

music tab music mp3 Trimmer

Music on the HTC HD mini

 

Another thing that is pretty much standard on all Smartphone’s these days is a YouTube player. This one is the same as on all recent HTC devices and it works a treat.

youtube youtube2

YouTube Player

 

Having a built in Wi-Fi router in your mobile is a recent feature and I am glad it’s included in the HD mini. As the picture says you can use the phones connection as a modem to connect other devices, whether they be phones or laptops. A nifty feature but do ensure you have a decent data package.

wifi

Wi-Fi Router

 

So they are the main features on the HTC HD mini. There are plenty of bulk standard things I could tell you about but we have covered them dozens of times in previous Windows Phone reviews so I am sure you are familiar. Things like world clock, office mobile and a calculator.

 

Conclusion:

Overall I really like the HTC HD mini and I know that Matt does also. Why did I say I preferred it to the HD2, well mainly down to size. I found the HD2 to be just a little too large and now the HD mini has fixed that problem. It feels so nice to hold! In terms of features there aren’t too many differences between the two devices so if you are thinking about which to buy I would imagine it will come down to two factors. Size and price. At £323.13 the HD mini is a hell of a lot cheaper than the HD2. Sure you are not getting as much phone for your money but in terms of features the HD mini is good value. 

If the networks choose to pick it up and can give the device away for free on a £20-£25 per month contract then the HD mini is going to sell well. I do however think that the type of person getting the device on a contract may be getting it because it is a nice looking device and has a lot of features, rather than choosing it because it is Windows Mobile. I could be wrong though!

With Windows Phone7 coming at the end of the year many people are saying the Windows Mobile is finished. I hope these people are wrong. The OS will continue to offer people all the customization that they have been used to as opposed to Windows Phone7 which will offer none at all!

Only time will tell but well done on this one HTC. Another fine device 🙂

Posted by: James

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

Five year veteran of the site. BlackBerry specialist, but experienced in most operating systems. Enjoys flower arranging and cross stitch.
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