Ever, since I saw the first HTC Mini, I was fascinated by the idea to have a Bluetooth telephone receiver which can do even more and I was even more fascinated, when I learned more about the HTC Mini+ earlier this summer. The HTC Mini+ is described to be a multi-tasking solution for HTC Android phone users which allows to take calls while using the phone to surf online, watch videos or play games. Furthermore it provides instant notifications of text messages, events and E-Mails and comes with handy features like hands-free remote camera control, doubles as a TV remote control for HTC phones without an infrared transmitter and pairs with selected HTC devices to operate multimedia streaming through the HTC Media Link HD.
The HTC Mini+, which mimics the HTC One aluminum design, is made of plastic and measures 118.7 x 39.8 x 7.15 mm. It features a power saving 1.5" 4 gray OLED screen at a resolution of 128 x 128 pixel. In addition to the non-touchscreen, the Mini+ features a typical mobile phone keypad layout including a green send and red end button, as well as a d-pad with a center button. On the right side, the Mini+ features a volume rocker.
The Mini+ connects to HTC smartphones via Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and if the phone supports NFC, this near filed communication can be used for hassle free pairing. In addition to Bluetooth, the HTC Mini+ features a consumer IR transmitter and a laser pointer.
The embedded 320 mAh battery, which can be charged with a standard micro USB cable, is said to be good for a talk time of up to 9 hours and a standby time of up to 95 hours.
According to HTC, the Mini+ is compatible with the HTC One, HTC One mini, HTC One max, HTC Butterfly, HTC Butterfly s, HTC Desire 200, HTC Desire 300, HTC Desire 500 and HTC Desire 601.
As initially mentioned, the HTC Mini+ is far more than just a telephone receiver but it also acts as a Bluetooth connected remote control of and for the connected smartphone.
Incoming calls are displayed on the OLED screen with the telephone number and if this phone number is in the Android device's contacts, the name is shown as well. Furthermore it's possible to initiate calls from the Mini+. Either by entering the phone number through the hardware keypad or by using HTC Smart dial which search for contacts on the Android phone. Furthermore is the Mini+ showing the call history with received and missed calls as well as a list of frequently called numbers. In-call volume can be conveniently changed by pressing the volume rocker on the side.
Messages shows received text messages in a list style. Selecting an opening a message shows the full message text. It's possible to reply to received messages with predefined standard answers which can nevertheless not edited. It's also not possible to create a new text message, for instance by using T9.
The Calendar shows the agenda summaries of the most recent ongoing and upcoming events. Events can be viewed by selecting and open it by pressing the action button. It's even possible to scroll through the events by pressing left or right on the d-pad. However, it's not possible to create a new calendar entry.
Notifications shows an info of received E-Mails from the phone's E-Mail app as well as an info if the phone's battery is critically low. If an alarm sounds on the connected phone the notification will be displayed on the screen and it's possible to snooze the alarm or dismiss it. However, not supported are services like Facebook, Twitter or 3rd party messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Skype.
Remote allows to remote control curtain functionalities of the either connected smartphone or Windows 7 and Windows 8 PC.
Since the Mini+ comes with a consumer infrared transmitter on the top, it can be used as a remote control for TVs, set-top boxes and DVRs, even if the connected smartphone lacks the IR port. In this case, the smartphone will download HTC Sense TV (which is for instance preinstalled on the HTC One and HTC max which both come with an IR eye). After configuring HTC Sense TV, the TV can be either controlled from the Mini+ or from the connected Android smartphone. In this case, the Mini+ needs to be placed somewhere in front of the TV and the commands are then transferred from the Android device via Bluetooth to the Mini+ which then translate it into an IR command.
The HTC Mini+ can also be used to to remotely operate the camera shutter of the connected phone. This for instance if handy for self portraits and group photos. If the connected phone supports continuous shooting it's even possible to do so with the mini+ by pressing and holding the action button to take multiple shots. However, it's not possible to switch between photo and video.
Presentation allows to controlling a presentation on the connected phone, which for instance, is connected to a projector using a MHL-HDMI connection. HTC's preinstalled Polaris Office is optimized to work with the Mini+ and allows to go to the next or previous slide. Same works if the Mini+ is connected to a Windows 7 or Windows 8 PC or laptop where a presentation is displayed by using Microsoft PowerPoint. While controlling a PowerPoint presentation, the HTC Mini+ can be also used as a laser pointer.
Furthermore, the HTC Mini+ can be used to remote control a media player on the device. This works also with 3rd party media players like Spotify or Google Music and isn't necessarily requiring the original HTC media player. While playing music, the volume rocker can be used to control the playback volume. Unfortunately is the media player remote control neither displaying current track info nor upcoming tracks.
Settings comes with a couple of features like find my phone which lets the phone ring.
The HTC Mini+ is a funny little accessory for many HTC Android smartphones and is has several advantages. Users of the HTC One max might appreciate the smaller size of the Mini+ which makes it more convenient to make phone calls. Users of the HTC One mini or the range of supported Desire phones will benefit of the IR functionality which allows to use these devices as a remote control for TVs. All customers will benefit from the device remote control functions like using the Mini+ as a remote shutter or remote control of the media player. Furthermore it's handy to remote control presentations from the Mini+ and the laser pointer is an appreciated 90's addition.
Is the HTC Mini+ one of the accessories you can't live without? No, it's not. It's a gadget accessory you nevertheless don't want to miss anymore if you used it once. I for instance have my Pebble smartwatch and the Mini+ connected with the HTC One max which sits in my pocket. Incoming calls are displayed on my watch and taken with the Mini+. That's quite handy like it is to be able to make and receive phone calls while browsing the web or playing a game at the same time.
Too bad the HTC Mini+ is limited to pre-defined services and notifications only. I haven't heard of an API which is available for developers and therefore also third party notifications like for Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp or Skye aren't supported. Therefore the device can't stay in the pocket the whole day since you might otherwise miss the one or the other update and message.
However, the HTC Mini+ isn't cheap at all. The suggested retail price is around 130 Euro. That's a lot for a gadget which works with the latest HTC smartphones only. But it has its niche everybody has define for himself. This nevertheless doesn't mean that everybody finds a useful use-case. I, however, found it in the combination with the HTC One max and Pebble smartwatch.
Cheers ~ Arne