maandag 26 mei 2014

HTC One mini






in
The HTC One is a smartphone you can fall in love with. It presents an irresistible mix of sculpted contours, gorgeous display, and fast performance. When the list of best Android phones for 2014 is drawn up, the One will be at or near the top. But the One is also expensive — a premium device at a premium price — and for HTC to thrive it needs tosell millions of phones to millions of people. Even Apple isn’t immune to these market pressures, as evidenced by last year’s introduction of the iPhone 5C as a more affordable way to get new users on board. When it goes on sale in June, the One mini 2 will be the HTC equivalent: a phone for those who want the One experience but not the One price.
HTC already did this once, with mixed results. The 2013 One mini was a cut-down version of that year’s One flagship phone. It had a similar aluminum build, the same camera, and an equally attractive display, but it also used too much plastic to cover up for its tighter budget. Nonetheless, says HTC, it was a success for many carriers because it “hit a good price point.” Now it’s time to do it all over again, with the added benefit of a year’s worth of hindsight and user feedback



The HTC One is a smartphone you can fall in love with. It presents an irresistible mix of sculpted contours, gorgeous display, and fast performance. When the list of best Android phones for 2014 is drawn up, the One will be at or near the top. But the One is also expensive — a premium device at a premium price — and for HTC to thrive it needs tosell millions of phones to millions of people. Even Apple isn’t immune to these market pressures, as evidenced by last year’s introduction of the iPhone 5C as a more affordable way to get new users on board. When it goes on sale in June, the One mini 2 will be the HTC equivalent: a phone for those who want the One experience but not the One price.
HTC already did this once, with mixed results. The 2013 One mini was a cut-down version of that year’s One flagship phone. It had a similar aluminum build, the same camera, and an equally attractive display, but it also used too much plastic to cover up for its tighter budget. Nonetheless, says HTC, it was a success for many carriers because it “hit a good price point.” Now it’s time to do it all over again, with the added benefit of a year’s worth of hindsight and user feedback.

The One mini 2 is an amalgamation of all three of its forebears. At 4.5 inches, its display is a little bigger than the 4.3-inch One mini, a little smaller than the 4.7-inch 2013 One, and different enough from this year’s 5-inch flagship to justify that tenuous "mini" title. Like the older devices, its power button is at the top left and its headphone jack is on the top right. Unlike them, the One mini 2 drops the capacitive keys in favour of on-screen Android navigation.
The big story here, though, is the lustworthy brushed aluminum design of the new HTC One. More than anything else, that’s what makes HTC’s leading phone desirable and sets it apart from the competition, so the question is, how much of it has made the transition to the mini 2? There’s a mathematical answer to that. 90 percent of the One’s case is made of aluminum, whereas the One mini 2 only reaches a mark of 70 percent. So it’s 77.78 percent as awesome.
HOW MUCH DO CHAMFERED EDGES REALLY MATTER?




A plastic frame that wraps around the sides of the One mini 2 accounts for most of the lost aluminum. I don’t mind it at all: it’s matte and subtle and integrates well with the phone’s overall design. Still, it’s not the One. The chamfered metal edges at the front of the bigger phone gleam invitingly, reminding the user of the craftsmanship required to perfect them. As Scott Croyle, HTC’s departing chief of design, told me recently, "just by the way the light reflects off that brushed surface, you instantly know that you’re looking at metal." That’s true when looking at the back of the One mini 2 but not the front.
Placing a One and a One mini 2 in each pocket, I’ve been walking around trying to distinguish a difference between them. There isn’t much. In spite of its name, the new handset isn’t that much smaller nor very much lighter than the 5-inch original. It’s once I pulled the devices out and started using them that the real difference manifested itself. I checked emails quicker, captured photos faster, and made calls more easily on the so-called mini phone — simply by virtue of it being so much more usable with one hand. The curved back of the One has always been a pleasure to hold, but its elongated body makes that awkward and sometimes frustrating. With the One mini 2, you don’t need to stretch your thumb’s tendons before attempting to reach the top-left corner of the screen. You just do it. It’s a small change in size that leads to a big improvement in ergonomics.



A SMALL CHANGE IN SIZE LEADS TO A BIG IMPROVEMENT IN ERGONOMICS
Comparisons outside of HTC’s own smartphone range are less favorable. The cheaper Moto X has a larger 4.7-inch screen, but is physically smaller than the One mini 2. With its side-mounted power button and Active Display notifications, it’s also more convenient. Also costing less is the better-specced Nexus 5, while for the same price as the One mini 2, you could get the bijou powerhouse that is the Xperia Z1 Compact. Then there’s the very real threat of the Moto G, a handset running the same 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, with the same 720p display resolution, and now also the same LTE connectivity as the One mini 2. You could get a pair of Gs for the price of a One mini 2. What none of these phones will give you, though, is an aluminum unibody construction. Or the BoomSound.

 BOOMSOUND SPEAKERS MAKE THE PHONE BIGGER, BUT ALSO BETTER
Every size critique of HTC’s One line has to be tempered by the quality of its front-facing stereo speakers. They consume an unusually large chunk of space on each phone, but deliver sound that cannot be matched by any comparable device. I can casually listen to music on the One mini 2 without always needing my headphones. Only the Xperia Z2, which uses smaller but similarly arranged speakers as HTC does with BoomSound, comes anywhere even close. Having used that phone, the One, and now the One mini 2 for the past couple of months, I find myself reluctant to return to more conventional handsets. Good audio is a very nice thing to have, because it can be felt and appreciated in so many circumstances. Like the screen, it’s a pervasive part of the user experience and is worth the time to get right.
Display quality is a traditional strength for HTC, however the One mini 2 is a step below the best the company has shown so far. Its 4.5-inch 720p display is sharp and crisp, but it just doesn’t have the viewing angles or contrast of the HTC One or even last year’s mini. Whereas images on those handsets can look so lifelike as to seem drawn on, the new mini’s colors fade when it’s not squarely facing the viewer. It’s a subtle distinction, but like those chamfered aluminum edges, it takes away from the sense of excellence that the One emanates





Photography by Sean O'Kane.