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HTC gives a huge smartphone its own Mini feature phone


January 26, 2013

HTC's Mini lets your Butterfly delegate the whole phone thing to a little helper

HTC's Mini lets your Butterfly delegate the whole phone thing to a little helper

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Huge smartphones and phablets are great for some customers. They provide more screen real estate, and can double as miniature tablets. But the bigger these devices get, the more awkward they become for phone calls. If your 5-inch smartphone has you feeling like Zach Morris, then HTC has a solution: give it its own personal dumbphone.

A phone's phone

Meet the HTC Mini. Though you might mistake it for the phone you had in 2006, it's an accessory for the HTC Butterfly (known as the Droid DNA in the U.S.). Chinese Butterfly owners can use the Mini to make and take calls without removing their super-sized phones from their pockets.

The device connects to the Butterfly via Near Field Communication (NFC). It's small, light, and could be dropped in a shirt pocket while the much larger Butterfly sits in a deeper pocket or purse. In addition to making calls, it can show messages, calendar appointments, and call history on its monochrome display.

The HTC Mini has a few other tricks. With the Butterfly tethered to a TV set, the Mini can also serve as a remote control for menu navigation. And if you misplace your smartphone, the Mini will ring it to help you to quickly find it.

Joke or genius?

Is the Mini an innovative stroke of genius, or an illustration of how ridiculously oversized our phones have become? Though we still call them phones, smartphones are really pocketable computers. Perhaps if you see the Mini as an ultra-portable phone accessory for your primary computer, it sounds a bit less absurd.

The HTC Mini is only available for the Chinese market, and only compatible with the Butterfly. We inquired with HTC about any future availability outside of China, but the company has nothing to announce at this time.

Source: Xataka, via Slashgear

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin

I've been interested in something like this for some time because most features of a smartphone ideally require a screen larger than is comfortable or practical as a phone. An inexpensive, discreet and small handset to make and receive calls, and maybe messaging but I'd hope that someone will make one that works on many devices. It's also great for device security.


This is where I think things are going. People will have one device for personal computing that can make and receive calls in standby mode using accessories such as this.

Seth Levy

Yo dawg... I heard you like to talk on the phone, so we made a phone that talks to your phone so you can talk on the phone...

Dan Dolar

I would use the pygmy phone just for texting on T9, if HTC would allow it. Besides, I would love to hold a device next to my brain that isn't emitting microwaves and WiFi rays every second.

The Reekly

Reekly, wifi and microwaves use the same radiofrequency.

Tobias Moo

It's a no brainer. Especially for moving high powered microwave radiation away from said organ.

Gethin Coles

Good idea.

Michał Borsuk

If I go mountainbiking, I'll still have two carry the giant phablet part with me, so this is essentially a bluetooth earpiece that cannot fit in my ear.

What would be totally useful is to have the carriers allow me to move my number between phones. That way, I can use my phablet monstrosity for everyday tasks, and my tiny and cheap bare bones phone when when do stuff that requires only emergency calling and compactness. Alas, that would be a pipe dream since the carriers will never allow it.


@sk8dad You can switch between cell phones by removing the SIM card from one phone and plugging it into another. I've done it with my iPhone 3s and my old LG phone, works. I'm on AT&T.


Agreed sk8dad. A phone is good for phoning and sms but screens are too small for internet and other functions. I much prefer Asus' other way of thinking with the padfone where you plug the phone into the tablet.


So they've made a thin Pokia with a screen, using NFC instead of Bluetooth.

sk8dad That's why you go with a GSM telco. You can swap the SIM card from phone to phone and the telco doesn't care.

Europe and Asia have had the same thing for CDMA for years. It's called the RUIM or Removable User Identity Module. It's identical to a SIM in hardware but the software on it is different.

Over there you can get phones with up to 3 SIM and one RUIM slot. Why do such exist? Because in some places it's far cheaper to have multiple phone plans that to pay the huge roaming fees. Users simply select which card to enable as they travel.

Would be nice if Sprint and Verizon would use the RUIM in North America!

Gregg Eshelman

The real solution that Microsoft and Apple both already have patents on is to have one compact, screen-less compute module that contains CPU/GPU/cell radio + Wi-fi hub. The person carries this hub with them wherever they go in a pocket or purse. Under this paradigm, third-party manufacturers would build several different form-factor satellite modules (mainly various touch-display form-factors) that are compatible with any compute hub by adhering to various standard protocols. If the hub is made thin enough, it could slide into any satellite big enough and specifically manufactured to accommodate a hub. (Hub dimensions would be standardized.)

For any given scenario, a person could then in addition to the compute hub carry an ultra thin micro-phone, mini-phone, phone display, phablet, tablet, mega-tablet, etc., that would simply serve as a wireless touch-display/audio/sensors device, even link to a TV or large screen wherever they go. If multiple satellites are present, the one last touched becomes the active one. All processing, memory, and storage would exist in the compute module.

Newer near-field wireless protocols are making low-latency 2K+ video possible, so the satellite devices can truly simply be dumb displays+audio+sensors.

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