Unleashed at Mobile World Congress, but cast deep in the shadow of the awesome HTC Legend and HTC Desire, the HTC HD Mini is the mobile maker’s most recent Windows Mobile phone. It’s just hitting the shelves now, after its older sibling, the HTC HD2 won plaudits for being a media workhorse with a monster, 4.3-inch panel. So how does the HTC HD Mini measure up?
The HTC HD Mini really does look sharp, with a rock-solid, black plastic finish and even a sleek interior, with a shock of yellow metal when you prise off the battery panel. HTC Sense is present and correct, but it’s hard to get het up about, seeing as it’s the older version which just doesn’t compare to the brilliant, social networking-centric edition on the Legend and the Desire. Fonts are niggly and the whiff of Microsoft’s soon-to-be-defunct OS is never that far away.
HTC has really upped its game in the design stakes in recent years. The HTC HD Mini certainly looks slick, with a matte black finish and a back panel which appears screwed down, thanks to four fixings, one in each corner. It isn’t. But it might as well be, given the struggles we had in getting the rear to come off. Once we had, though, we were rewarded with a cracking yellow interior, which shows thought hasn’t just gone into how this appears to your pals. The super-slim body is fantastic and feels great in the hand, with the tapered edges giving a more assured grip.
The five megapixel camera has become an HTC standard. But here it’s let down by the lack of any kind of flash. That means that as soon as a room gets vaguely dark or you’re out at night, snaps are grainy. It certainly doesn’t compare favourably to the snappers on the Legend and Desire.
The other key draw here is HTC Sense. Sadly, the older version just cannot match the newer, tarted-up affair. It doesn’t come with Friend Stream or Leap for a start. However, you still get easy direct Twitter homepage access, the clever and intuitive weather app and the chance to load up mail directly to the front page, so delving into menus is needless. That said, other features do serve up some niggles. The screen is supposed to be top-notch, but while browsing we saw plenty of low-res rendering of images, which really lets the side down.
As mentioned, HTC Sense isn’t quite at the bleeding edge on the HTC HD Mini. And the software disappointments are not confined to the skin. Windows Mobile 6.5 is nowhere near as good as Android and has already had its death knell signaled by announcement of Windows Phone 7. The honeycomb menu structure is easier to the touch, but the whole feel of the device is very early 2009. Considering the huge advances in the past 12 months, that’s a big disappointment and one we struggle to get past. The HTC HD Mini is powerful and the software is passable, but why buy this when the Legend is craving your attention?
Ease of use
Getting to grips with the HTC HD Mini is easy enough, with prompts to load up sign-in details for email, Facebook and Twitter all present and correct when you first start up the device. Sense, though, is let down by Windows Mobile, with the touchscreen just not as assured or accurate as on HTC’s Android phones.
We found getting spot-on prods was awkward when browsing - almost as bad as when using a resistive touchscreen. That said, menus are relatively clean and clear and ducking into them is easy thanks to the direct keys which sit flush to the bottom of the device.
- HTC Sense with Windows Mobile 6.5
- 3.2-inch, HVGA touchscreen
- Five megapixel camera
- 3.5mm jack
- Wi-Fi, HSDPA
- microSD up to 32 GB
- Haptic feedback and capacitive touchscreen.
Overall mark: 7/10
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