As smartphones continue to grow in size, with many of the big-name electronics manufacturers churning out big-screen “phablets,” some consumers are looking for a device that can be comfortably used in one hand. While the iPhone has traditionally kept a smaller profile than most Android devices, HTC and Samsung are both offering “mini” versions of their flagship gadgets.
Whether you have small hands or simply want something that fits more easily in your pocket, the HTC One Mini, Samsung Galaxy S4, or iPhone 5 should be able to fulfill your needs. Just don’t expect the most up-to-date components or premium features.
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Today’s officially-announced HTC One Mini is the largest and heaviest of the three smartphones. It is 5.2 inches tall, 2.49 inches wide, and 0.36 inches thick. It weighs in at 0.27 pounds.
In the middle of the pack is the Galaxy S4 Mini, with dimensions of 4.91 inches x 2.41 inches x 0.35 inches. While slightly larger than the iPhone, it is also the lightest at 0.24 pounds.
The iPhone 5 is the all-around most compact, with dimensions of 4.87 inches x 2.31 inches x 0.3 inches. It weighs 0.25 pounds.
The HTC One Mini is the clear leader here, beating the other two handsets in both resolution and pixels per inch. The One Mini’s 4.3-inch Super LCD screen is rated at 1280 x 720 pixels with 341 PPI.
The iPhone 5 is a relatively close second place, packing a 1136 x 640 pixel IPS LCD screen and 326 PPI – but it also has the smallest screen, at 4 inches.
The Galaxy S4 Mini trails with a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen that has only 960 x 540 pixels and 256 PPI.
Processor, RAM, Internal/External Storage
While having the weakest display, the Galaxy S4 Mini wins for processing power. Its 1.7GHz Snapdragon 400 comes ahead of the 1.4GHz Snapdragon 400 used in the HTC One Mini. The dated iPhone 5 uses a 1GHz A6 chip.
The S4 Mini also packs the most memory, with 1.5GB of RAM. However, this could be due to Samsung’s bulky TouchWiz interface. Both the One Mini and iPhone 5 have 1GB of RAM.
As far as internal storage goes, the iPhone blows the Android options away. Apple’s ubiquitous handset can be purchased with either 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of storage. The One Mini comes standard with 16GB, but the S4 Mini offers only 8GB.
Even with the smallest amount of internal storage, the S4 Mini may technically beat out the other two. It is the only option that offers expandable memory – accepting microSD cards up to 64GB.
Front and Rear Camera
The Galaxy S4 Mini leads again as far as front-facing camera resolution, with a 1.9MP shooter. The HTC One Mini has a 1.6MP front camera, while the iPhone 5 has 1.2MP.
For back cameras, the S4 Mini and iPhone 5 both sport 8MP shooters. The One Mini uses the same 4MP “UltraPixel” camera as its big brother, which received high marks for low-light photography.
Battery and OS
For battery size, the Galaxy S4 Mini leads once again. It has a capacity of 1900 mAh, and is also replaceable. The HTC One Mini is in second place, with a 1800 mAh battery. The iPhone 5 has the smallest battery, packing 1440 mAh.
The HTC and Samsung options both come with Android 4.2 Jellybean. The One Mini uses the Sense 5 user interface, while the S4 Mini is overlaid with TouchWiz. The iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6.
Each of these smaller smartphones packs enough punch to be used for daily communication, web-browsing, app exploration, and games. But the truth is that the scaled-down Androids are mid-range devices, with lower specs than their pocket-bursting kin. It might be best to wait and see how successful the first wave of “mini” devices is in the current market. If they make a splash, manufacturers may experiment with putting higher-spec components in smaller shells.
As for the iPhone 5 – carriers will undoubtedly be discounting it as it approaches the end of a cycle. It might be a good purchase, financially, but it is probably best to wait and see what Apple offers this fall with the impending release of the iPhone 5S and/or iPhone 6.