Even as large phones and phablets pop up everywhere, some people still want a phone they can easily use with one hand. The HTC One Remix (free with a 2-year contract, $450 full price) is a smaller version of the manufacturer's One M8, appearing very similar in design, but lacking the same power. The HTC One Remix competes with similarly sized phones such as the Droid Mini and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, and its specs place it strongly in the midrange smartphone category. So how does it stack up?
The HTC One Remix looks quite high-end despite being the cheaper cousin of the HTC One M8. It sports a mostly metal body, with white banding along the sides and around the back at the top and bottom of the handset. The Remix has rounded corners and is very light, weighing 4.83 ounces versus 5.6 for the One M8. All of these design choices make the device easy to hold and use with one hand and look and feel more expensive than it is.
There are a few small differences in the ports and buttons on the One Remix compared with the M8: the power/lock button is on the top left of the phone and the headphone jack is on the top right. The volume rocker sits on the right side of the device and its Micro-USB port for charging is on the bottom.
The One Remix measures 5.41 x 2.56 x 0.42 inches, making it both smaller and lighter than the M8 (5.8 x 2.8 x 0.37 inches). However, it is the biggest out of its two direct competitors, the Droid Mini (4.81 x 2.41 x 0.34 inches and 4.6 ounces) and the Samsung S4 Mini (4.9 x 2.5 x 0.35 inches and 3.9 ounces).
Click to EnlargeThe HTC One Remix's 4.5-inch 720-pixel HD display is bright and lovely to look at. It presents vibrant colors and sharp text, and I never felt my eyes straining while using the device for long periods. While watching videos, however, the colors became a bit washed out--the trailer for the new season of American Horror Story: Freakshow offered sharp details but dull hues.
Click to EnlargeWith a Delta-E score of 1.1 (0 is a perfect score), the One Remix reproduces colors fairly accurately. The display notched 91.5 percent on the sRGB gamut test, which is lower than the 116-percent smartphone average, but not horrible.
The HTC One Remix measured 429 lux in our testing, falling close to the category average brightness of 405 lux. This is much brighter than the super-dim Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini (267 lux), yet dimmer than the Droid Mini (540 lux).
Thanks to the One Remix's front-facing BoomSound speakers, the device plays the best audio when resting face-up on a hard surface--holding the phone in my hand resulted in the music sounding more distant.
The HTC One Remix offered fairly loud and clear audio during my testing. I played Maroon 5's "Maps," and the vocals were super clear; only when the speakers were at the highest volume possible did some of the background instruments get a little washed out. However, the speakers struggled a bit with harder alternative rock songs such as Fall Out Boy's "Centuries," as the guitars and drums became a little raspy when played at the highest volume.
The One Remix registered 84 decibels on our Audio Test, which measures a smartphone's sound from 13 inches, about the distance from the screen to the user's nose. This is very close to the Droid Mini's (86 db) and louder than the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini (79 db).
Click to EnlargeThe HTC One Remix runs Google's Android 4.4 KitKat with HTC's Sense 6.0 UI on top. When you unlock the One Remix, you're met with a clean, easy-to-navigate interface, with four home screens all ready for you. On the default home screen are weather and time widgets at the top, a Google Now search bar right below them, and app shortcuts to your phone, messages, Google Chrome and the camera at the bottom of the screen.
Click to EnlargeBuilt into one of the home screens is HTC'' BlinkFeed, a news aggregator that you can customize to pull in updates from your favorite websites and sync with your social media accounts. If you always find yourself checking multiple dedicated apps to get your news, you'll likely love BlinkFeed.
Swiping down from the top of the screen with one finger brings up all your notifications, while swiping with two fingers is a shortcut to your settings. Swiping up from the bottom brings up Google Now, which is a pretty convenient way to check important information at a glance, such as the weather, sports scores and places nearby.
The One Remix comes with a bunch of pre-installed Verizon apps that you might not use much, including VZ Protect and Caller Name ID. My Verizon Mobile is more useful (for checking data usage) and Mobile Hotspot for connecting other Wi-Fi-enabled devices. The good news is that you can zap anything you deem bloatware by tapping and holding the icon and dragging it to the top of the display, where the trash can icon appears.
If you're Google-centric, you will get much more use from the pre-installed Google apps, including Gmail, Maps, Drive, YouTube and Hangouts. There's a shortcut to the Google Play Store on the default homepage, which made it easy for me to install all of my favorite apps, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Spotify.
MORE: 25 Best Android Apps
Click to EnlargeDespite its midrange processor, the HTC One Remix performed smoothly in my testing. I saw only a bit of lag when multiple apps were open. It's powered by a Qualcomm 1.2-GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor and 1.5GB of RAM, compared with the more premium One M8's 2.3-GHz Snapdragon 801 processor and 2GB of RAM. The One Remix comes with 16GB of built-in memory, but with the handset's expandable SD slot, it can hold up to 128GB of memory.
The HTC One Remix didn't exactly shine in various benchmark tests. The smartphone took 21 seconds to load the N.O.V.A 3 game, making it slower than both the Droid Mini (15 seconds) and the Galaxy S4 Mini (18 seconds).
In our VidTrim test, the One Remix took 11 minutes and 36 seconds to transcode a 204MB, 1080-pixel video to a 480p file. That's much slower than both the Droid Mini (6 minutes and 35 seconds) and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini (7 minutes and 19 seconds).
The HTC One Remix scored 5,622 on the 3DMark Ice Storm test, a graphics benchmark based on the Android version of the jPCT 3D engine. While this showing is slightly better than the Galaxy S4 Mini (4,915), it's below the category average of 8,515, and lower than the Droid Mini (11,408).
On the Geekbench test, which measures the performance and speed of a smartphone's processor and memory, the HTC One Remix scored 1,124. Again, the One Remix slightly outperformed the Galaxy S4 Mini (1,087), but it's still less than the category average of 1,842, and just a hair lower than the Droid Mini (1,253).
Camera and Camcorder
Click to EnlargeThe HTC One Remix features a 5-MP front camera and a 13-MP rear camera. I was surprised by how well the cameras performed--the rear camera takes lovely photos that are crisp, clear and filled with vibrant colors. I got the best results taking photos in natural light, but even photos taken inside my apartment with little lighting looked decent, with only a little bit of noise. Taking a close-up shot of a flower outside on a gorgeous day did render a slightly dark image, but the details in the petals were still intact.
The camera's "selfie" mode activates the front camera. It takes slightly darker and grainer photos than the rear, but I could still see my facial features with minute detail well.
The 1080p video I shot of life around my office in New York City on a typical day resulted in a clip with crisp details and little noise, although the colors were a bit dark.
4G LTE Performance
The HTC One Remix I tested taps into Verizon's 4G XLTE network, which delivered fast results. In Sunset Park, Brooklyn, I recorded average downloads of 19.7 Mbps and uploads of 8.1 Mbps. In New York City's Flatiron District, I recorded even faster speeds, with average downloads of 30.3 Mbps and uploads of 25.8 Mbps.
Click to EnlargeThe HTC One Remix has a nonremovable 2100 mAh Li-Ion battery. On the LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuous 4G LTE Web surfing at 150 nits of brightness, the handset lasted 5 hours and 50 minutes. That's better than the Droid Mini's endurance (5:04) and the Galaxy S4 Mini (5:40) but still a couple of hours less than the smartphone category average (8:30).
To be safe, I suggest that you charge the One Remix at some point during the day. When the One Remix stayed idle in my bag for most of one day, the battery dropped to 80 percent.
Currently, you can get the HTC One Remix for free from Verizon with a 2-year contract. A 2GB data plan will cost you $50 per month, with an additional $40 per month line-access charge, bringing the total to $90 per month. Over the course of two years, the HTC Remix will cost $2,160.
The Droid Mini is also available for free on Verizon with a 2-year contract. Since the data plan and monthly line-access charge would be the same, you would spend the same amount over the course of two years on the Droid Mini as you would on the HTC One Remix. The Samsung Galaxy S4, however, will cost you $49.99 with a 2-year contract with Verizon, costing about $2,210 over two years.
Click to EnlargeThe HTC One Remix is truly the little brother of HTC's M8--it's smaller and less powerful, but still pretty awesome. It gets the job done in a stylish package, and for a free phone, that's a big achievement. I also like the quality dual speakers, BlinkFeed app and 13-MP camera.
Although it's not the fastest phone in its price range, I prefer the HTC One Remix over the Droid Mini and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini because of its more luxurious design, better camera and slightly better endurance. If you're on Verizon and want a phone that looks expensive, works well, but won't break the bank, the HTC One Remix is a solid choice.