HTC One Remix review: A pricey mid-range phone that's worth the splurge

At a Glance
  • HTC One Remix

    Greenbot Rating

    It’s $450 off-contract, compared to the Moto G’s sub-$200 price tag, but all the extra features it does come with might be worth the splurge after all.

Smartphones may be getting bigger, but our hands aren’t, so it’s nice to see companies like HTC release more compact versions of its stellar flagship phones. Unfortunately, the “miniature” versions aren’t usually as high-performing or feature-loaded as their counterparts, which is a real bummer if all you want is a smaller device with flagship features.

Fortunately for HTC, its One Remix is loaded with so many premium features, you can hardly tell that its specs essentially mid-range. The device is Verizon’s re-branded One Mini 2, and it’s a shrunken, pared down version of the One (M8). It’s a seriously comfortable phone for smaller hands, and proof that HTC is capable of making stylish phones in any size.

It's not a flagship

I really, really liked the HTC One (M8). I maintain that it’s still one of the best flagship devices to come out this year, which is why I’m glad to see that HTC stuck to its signature aluminum unibody design for this slightly smaller version, rather than reinvent the wheel. Like they say, "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it," though if you do break the One Remix you're out of luck, because the repairability score of its embedded battery pack is very low.

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The MicroSD expansion slot and volume rocker buttons on the One Remix reside on the same side as the One's.

htconeremix 1MICHAEL HOMNICK

The One Remix's front-facing speakers have BoomSound, and they sound awesome. 

Despite their shared name and outfitting, the One (M8) and One Remix are two entirely different devices. For instance, the One Remix is equipped with a 4.5-inch, 720p HD screen. Photos, text, and video appear crisp and clear, and while there are no issues with viewing angles, you’re going to have to definitely increase the font size if you want to comfortably read an e-book.

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It's only slightly smaller than the One (M8), seen here on the left, but it's easier to hold. 

The One Remix is also packed with different hardware than the One. Its quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor is the same chip found in the similarly mid-range Motorola Moto G, so if you’re particularly power hungry, you’re better off considering another device. Its 2,100 mAh battery pack is only slightly bigger than the Moto G’s, but it lasted only 7 hours and 11 minutes in our battery rundown test. I was expecting better results. 

A camera with 13 regular ol' megapixels

HTC refrained from tossing the 4-megapixel "UltraPixel" camera sensor inside its mid-range device and opted for a 13-megapixel one instead. It's photo-taking abilities are definitely superior to the Moto G’s, but don't expect the same camera you get from the One (M8).

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The One (M8) (left) and One Remix (right) take very different photos. 

The UltraPixel camera does have its drawbacks, as I noted in my original review of the One, but its bigger pixels have their purpose. When it comes to smartphone photography, I'd rather have better low-light and white balance abilities than a huge JPEG file to crop. And though the One Remix is certainly a better value as a mid-range device because of its capable camera hardware, its low-light and white balance abilities pale in comparison to its big brother.

htconeremix outsideshots

Outside shots taken with the One Remix are decent, though a bit blown out with the bright, foggy sky overhead. 

htconeremix closeup

Close up, those 13 megapixels don't seem to matter much, since the pixels are muddled together. 

htconeremix lowlightcomparo

 The HTC One (M8)'s 4-megapixel UltraPixel camera sensor (left) fared better in low-light situations than the One Remix's 13-megapixel camera sensor (right).

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 It's also interesting to see the difference in white balance between the two devices.

The camera on the One Remix is also devoid of the fancy bells and whistles of the One, like the dual-camera lenses and the Zoe camera mode. At least selfie addicts will be delighted by the 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

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The One Remix is missing a few of the One (M8)'s camera modes.

Simply Sense 6

htconeremix software

Except for a few extra features, the software inside the One Remix is the same as the One’s. It features BlinkFeed and the customizable Application Drawer, as well as Motion Gestures, though not nearly as many as its larger counterpart. It doesn’t support the double-tap to wake either, and since it’s a Verizon exclusive, you’ll get all of Big Red's apps suite bundled with it.

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The One Remix comes standard with HTC's BlinkFeed.

Should you buy it?

htconeremix 2MICHAEL HOMNICK

The One Remix is one stylish little phone.

Talking on the phone is something I still do, so being able to do so comfortably is incredibly important to me. If that’s a concern of yours, too, the One Remix is a good catch. It also supports 4G LTE data, which many other mid-range phones don’t.

What’s also nice about the One Remix is that, while it’s not an exact copy of its flagship sibling, it’s loaded with premium features like a 13-megapixel camera, fashionable chassis, superior front-facing speakers, and a crisp display. That’s quite a leg up over the Moto G, which is currently the world’s favorite mid-range device. The One Remix's higher cost will be its main drawback in the long run, however. It’s $450 off-contract, compared to the Moto G’s sub-$200 price tag, but all those extra features it's bundled might be worth the splurge after all.

 

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At a Glance
  • Greenbot Rating

    It’s $450 off-contract, compared to the Moto G’s sub-$200 price tag, but all the extra features it does come with might be worth the splurge after all.

    Pros

    • Very capable 13-megapixel camera
    • Crisp, clear display
    • Stereo-quality speakers

    Cons

    • Missing some of the One (M8)'s special camera features
    • A little too pricey for a device with mid-range innards
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