The HTC HD Mini is probably one of the last smart phones to be released with Windows Mobile 6.x.x OS. As the usage of the Windows Mobile OS is being slowly phased out in the smart phone market, how will the HTC HD Mini fare against other competitors in the market? This is what we hope to answer in this review.
The HTC HD Mini package comes with a micro USB cable, a fairly compact wall charger, a wired handsfree, the usual start guide, and miscellaneous papers. The only things missing are a phone casing and a car charger. However, in our opinion, a casing is not needed for the HD Mini becaus e it looks fantastic without the use of one.
As its name implies, the HD Mini is fairly compact. Although by far not the smallest of phones, it is easily operable with one hand which is a definite advantage for some people.
The screen is a 3.2 inch TFT with HVGA resolution which utilizes capacitive technology. While an AMOLED screen might provide a brighter and better angle viewing display, rich colors and good image quality can still be enjoyed, although it is nowhere near Super AMOLED standards. Above the display is the earpiece located dead center and a status LED right beside it.
There are a total of five capacitive controls below the screen; two call keys, home, menu and back. This is the same layout used for the HTC HD2 but this time the controls are touch sensitive instead of physical press buttons. This enables a smooth transition from and to the display. The controls are well-spaced out which also enables a fluid transition from one key to another.
From the back you will see four screws on each of the corner of the HD mini which are practically holding the phone together. While it might look a bit weird initially, we grew accustomed to it and even found it to be stylish and unique. The loudspeaker grill is located right next to the deeply embedded camera lens which hosts a 5MP camera.
The volume rocker which works throughout the interface is found on the left side. The right side is completely bare and we found the lack of camera keys fairly disappointing. A camera shortcut key and a half-press shutter key would be a nice addition.
The mouthpiece is located at the bottom of the HD Mini, right beside the microUSB port. There is no cover over the port to keep foreign particles and moisture away. The same holds true for the audio jack located on the top. Another object of interest on the top is the power button, which interestingly also acts as a screen lock button.
We had previously mentioned that the HD Mini uses the Windows Mobile 6.5.3. It is well known that a huge majority of smart phone users would prefer Android or the Apple OS and there is little place for Windows Mobile OS in the customers’ hearts. Well, do not give up on the HD Mini just yet because HTC has improved the user interface with Sense. It should be noted that HTC’s Sense for Windows Mobile is different from Sense from Android with small graphical and functional tweaks.
The Home tab allows you to quickly access all the basic functions such as alarms, call history, calendar, clock, and dialler. Swiping upwards brings out a dock with nine empty spaces which you can assign quick shortcuts to any application within the phone. You can even set up to 12 shortcuts to your favourite contacts in the People tab, each shortcut allowing you to dial, text, or email the contact.
The Messaging and Email tabs easily let you preview different stack of inbox messages which can be browsed by vertical sweeps and there are even handy shortcuts to create new messages. The Email tab allows the handling of several mailboxes. There is even a button for each mailbox and they can be used to switch between mailboxes. The same functionality is also done for the Photo and Video tabs as most of the settings are personalized by Sense and we especially like it this way.
HTC sense allows the HD Mini to come with a handy QWERTY on screen keyboard, a half-QWERTY keyboard in portrait mode and a full QWERTY in landscape mode. Typing is made easy enough with the 3.2 inch screen.
It comes with two internet browsers side by side, the traditional choice for HTC, Opera, and the default browser Internet Explorer Mobile 6. Everything from scrolling to double-tapping zoom works smoothly enough on either browser. Surprisingly, the pinch-to-zoom function works better in IEM6, but the occasional lag and slow loading times make it the worse option of the two.
The 5-megapixel camera is simply not good enough without a flash, which results in fairly dark photos. Most of the objects seen in the photos are quite blurred. In our opinion, this isn’t a good phone for taking pictures. Indoor shots are acceptable but with the lack of flash, it just doesn’t quite cut it.
The video sampling is done at 640×480 pixels resolution. Video is recorded in VGA resolution at 28 fps, not perfectly smooth but usable. Like most other phones, there is no support for DivX, XviD, and H.265 codec for watching videos. However, no issues were encountered when watching high resolution MPEG-4 coded videos with a maximum resolution of 800×480 pixels.
What is the use of a smart phone nowadays if it cannot play music? The HD Mini comes equipped with HTC’s music player which is simple and straightforward to use. The bundled in earphones provides a decent sound which is perfectly balanced.
Pros and Cons
The official YouTube client for Windows Mobile has a very good user interface and you can easily filter out the contents by categories. More importantly, the quality of the streamed videos is great and awesome.
You also get HTC’s Twitter client, which seems to be a huge thorn in our side. Clicking links in a tweet proves to be very troublesome and irritating as it sometimes takes up to ten tries just to get one link working.
The official estimated time for the battery is 7.25 hours of talk time and 14 days on stand-by. Not bad at all we say.
The HTC HD mini is not a great phone but it is pretty much what a modern smart phone should be all about. It does not require the ultimate of technology to impress everyone around. It is just the right working tool that can also manage to keep the user entertained. Compared to the HD2 in the HTC line, it offers a comparable (but slightly inferior) performance at a cheaper price. We are talking about speed and power pitted against fair performance and functionality. HTC has done well using Sense for Windows to cover the shortcomings of the Windows Mobile OS. In our books, the HD Mini is by far one of the best Windows Mobile phones out in the market.