While Samsung is going larger with some of its Android devices, rival HTC is going smaller with a new handset that dons the Google mobile operating system. The Taiwanese company just announced the HTC One mini, a compact version of its popular HTC One, complete with proprietary technology bells and whistles like BlinkFeed, Zoe and BoomSound.
HTC is clearly playing off the success of the One, which has received plenty of industry accolades. According to HTC's research, the device has increased its brand awareness with young consumers to an all-time high of 87 percent -- and the number of consumers who plan to buy HTCs in the next six months has doubled. So why not roll out a smaller version of the device that fits in your pocket?
"The HTC One mini embodies everything that makes the HTC One a success on a smaller but equally eye-catching scale," said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corporation. The HTC One mini offers a 4.3-inch display. By comparison, the HTC One offers a 4.7-inch screen size.
The SUVs of Smartphones
We caught up with Carl Howe, vice president of Research and Data Sciences at the Yankee Group, to get his thoughts on the device and the strategy. Given that mobile phone manufacturers have already introduced more than 40 different smartphone models with screens greater than 5 inches in diagonal measure during 2013, he told us it's nice to see HTC going the other direction with the HTC One mini.
"Frankly, I think we'll look back at some point in the future and wonder why mobile phone makers thought that big display phones were such a great idea. These giant phablet phones generate more heat, chew up more battery life, and don't fit as well in a pocket or purse, but manufacturers keep churning them out," Howe said.
In some ways, he reasoned, this is a lot like the sport utility vehicle (SUV) craze in the early 2000s: Car companies kept making these giant vehicles just because they could, not because everyone wanted to drive a Hummer and pay outrageous gasoline prices to fill one up. Howe said he thinks the phablet craze will similarly run its course and people will then start thinking about what they actually want and need.
Closer to the iPhone
"One final point: the best selling smartphone in the world, Apple's iPhone 5, has only a 4-inch screen," Howe noted. "HTC's One mini is a lot closer to that size with its 4.3 inch screen than the HTC One is. Maybe HTC has an idea that bigger isn't necessarily better when it comes to mobile phones."
The HTC One mini dons a dual-core 1.4 GHz processor. It runs the latest version of Android with HTC Sense, a user interface based on the TouchFLO 3D design. The HTC One mini will be available in select markets beginning in August and rolled out globally from September.