HTC One Mini Follows Samsung's Lead

The HTC One Mini is a shrunken version of the HTC flagship, complete with BlinkFeed and Zoe and intended for mid-tier buyers.

HTC introduced the HTC One Mini July 18, borrowing from the playbook of market leader Samsung, which in May introduced a tinier version of the Galaxy S 4, which features a 5-inch display.

The One Mini is, as its name suggests, a petite version of the flagship device HTC introduced Feb. 19.The One Mini features a 4.3-inch display with 341 pixels per inch and measures 5.2 by 2.5 by 0.4 inches. By contrast the One, with its 4.7-inch display, measures 5.4 by 2.7 by 0.4 inches.

The Mini indeed looks like a shrunk-down version of its big brother—HTC prefers to think of it as a distillation—and includes the latter's more compelling bells and whistles.

These include the BlinkFeed home screen, with its updating tiles of information from more than 10,000 sources, from your Facebook feed to ESPN; an UltraPixel camera that lets in 300 percent more light than traditional smartphone camera sensors, per HTC; HTC's Zoe camera software, which makes 3-second videos out of photos; and dual front-facing BoomSound speakers, which sound good but more importantly put the speakers where they're actually most useful.

The HTC One Mini also features a 1.6-megapixel front-facing camera and a 1.4GHZ Snapdragon processor.

While HTC hasn't yet offered pricing information, Informa Principal analyst Malik Saadi, citing some investigating by the firm, wrote in a July 18 research note that the price is likely to be $150 lower—more miniature?—than the original One.

HTC is aiming to capitalize on the halo effect of the HTC One, finding new opportunities in the mid-range market, said Saadi. But this, he warned, could backfire.

"Its specifications and the price it is offered at means that there is no doubt HTC One Mini will be a success for HTC, but this success will come at the expense of its flagship product," Saadi wrote. "The risk of cannibalization is considerable and it could shift the company's positioning from being a key provider of premium devices capable of competing against devices like iPhone 5 and Galaxy S 4 to being a mid-range smartphone maker playing in the Galaxy S 4 mini or iPhone 4S area."

HTC, with Motorola, LG, Nokia, BlackBerry and others, has struggled to find its footing in a market dominated by Samsung and Apple. With the One, HTC regrouped and came out swinging, and to strong effect—the critics embraced the device.

And while it received a handful of industry accolades, its most compelling recommendation may have come from reviewers of the Samsung Galaxy S 4, a surprising number of which, with the Samsung in hand, said consumers might want to check out the HTC One instead.

Ultimately, however, a feature that earned the One much of the praise—its camera—was also its downfall. HTC banked on the One to carry it through the first quarter, but when the camera supplier fell behind schedule, the One wound up in initially just three markets, instead of 80, and HTC posted its worst quarter since 2004.

Ultimately, the HTC One made it to 583 networks in 181 countries and Informa's Saadi expects the One Mini to do the same.

"Sales of the HTC One Mini need to be twice as high as those of HTC One," he wrote, "if the company aims to improve the profitability of this brand."

The One Mini is expected to launch in select markets in August before rolling out globally in September.