The HTC Mini is a phone remote control which allows users to make and receive calls and messages without having to wrench their oversized phablet from their pocket or their bag.
As strange as the idea may sound, HTC has already started bundling the rather svelte device with its 5-inch Butterfly handset (sold as the HTC Droid DNA in the US) for the Chinese market. It pairs with the main handset via NFC then maintains contact via Bluetooth. As well as providing feature phone functionality -- calls, texts, appointments, etc, it will also serve as a remote control for the TV and can be used as a remote shutter release for the camera on the main handset, for those moments when a group shot is called for and there are no passing volunteers to serve as the cameraman.
However, despite its functionality, the HTC Mini also raises one serious question: Why? Phablets were conceived as a single device that offered the functionality of both a smartphone and a tablet so that users need only carry one handset. Carrying what amounts to a second phone defeats the purpose for which phablets were created. If a phablet is too large to hold up to the ear to make a call, a consumer can buy a wireless headset.
It will be interesting to see how the HTC Mini performs in China and whether or not the company will start offering it in other territories.
But while the Mini's popularity remains to be seen, what is not in doubt is the continuing appeal of the devices it is designed to partner with. The latest figures from ABI Reseach show that 150 million phablets are expected to ship globally this year and will soon account for 25 percent of the world smartphone market.