The second screen market — using your phone as a companion display for your TV or computer — is just now emerging. At first, it seemed silly, but then we all quickly realized we really do play with our phones while we watch media. Now, as that market grows, a new, similar market just burst onto the scene thanks to the HTC Mini+ — the second phone market.
Not too long ago, a team created a wireless e-ink display that charged its battery through NFC transactions with a phone. The e-ink screen is able to display image files stored on a small amount of FeRAM. The team suggested it as a second screen for your phone, thus becoming a second screen for the device that is supposed to already be the second screen. Along with that, smartwatches — such as the Pebble or upcoming Galaxy Gear — are also essentially a second screen for your phone. However, you don’t really need a second screen for your phone. The smartphone isn’t the kind of venue from which you need distraction — it’s the distraction itself. There is one actual use for a phone’s second screen, though, and that’s wanting to screw around with it while you’re on a call. So, that’s why HTC just invented the second phone market with the HTC Mini+ accessory.
Yes, a “second phone” in relation to “second screen” is exactly what it sounds like: a smaller phone strictly limited to call and text capabilities that leaves your smartphone available to distract you. The design is similar to what the notorious, brick-like Nokia phones might look like today if they followed a path of sleek, thin revisions. It looks very similar to the Apple TV remote control, but with your standard number pad. The Verge got an up-close look at the device, seen below:
The HTC Mini+ is actually the follow-up to the original HTC Mini, which appeared in China earlier this year. With the reveal of this follow-up — around eight months after the original, mind you — it appears this second phone mentality isn’t going away. The accessory can be described as a something of a wireless Bluetooth headset, with buttons, that isn’t hands-free. Not too desirable based on that description, we’d imagine. The Mini+ is comprised of a 1.5-inch, 128×128 white-and-grey OLED display and a metallic silver body, features a 320 mAh battery that can provide nine hours of talk or 95 hours of standby, and is Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and NFC compatible. The little guy comes equipped with a laser pointer, the ability to remotely control PowerPoint, act as a remote for your phone’s camera, and can change channels on your television. Basically, one day HTC decided it really wanted to make a new device, but realized there wasn’t anything left to invent within the capabilities of modern technology.
The goal of the HTC Mini+, to be fair, is a noble one. For example, if you’re walking through a shady area and really need to make a phone call or check a text but are scared of your fancy phone making you a target for a mugging, the HTC Mini+ will prevent you from having to take your phone out of your pocket. Along with that, the accessory does appear to show that HTC acknowledges smartphones are getting too big and unwieldy, and this just happens to be the company’s roundabout remedy.
Along with the Mini+, HTC also showed off a new find-your-phone accessory, the Fetch. It’s a little Bluetooth black box (pictured top) that hooks onto your keychain, and will ring your phone for you if you aren’t sure where you left it. No longer will you have to grab your roommate’s phone and call your own in order to realize, oh right, you left it in the bathroom again. The Fetch is actually a great idea for those of us who never know where our phones are, but we know how those of you feel who are more responsible with your mobile device:
The HTC Mini+ is compatible with the HTC One Mini (not at all confusing), the Butterfly S, the Desire 200, and the Desire 500. There is no word of pricing or a release date as of yet, but its official product page is live, so we’ll probably receive word on those tidbits soon enough.
If this is the device you have always needed, then congratulations on your new device! However, the HTC Mini+ is literally a phone for your phone. This device falls in line with a current (though muted) trend in mobile tech of not knowing where to go next — previously highlighted by the Asus Fonepad and Padfone. If your phone is so big that you need the Mini+ to make your life less tedious, maybe you shouldn’t have bought a phone that big in the first place.