|+ Excellent form factor and design for a comfortable phone to use||- There will always be some with a preference for a larger screen|
|+ Superb HD display||- Missing the M8’s rear Duo camera|
|+ Responsive user interface with HTC’s Sense 6.0 that’s also good looking||- Pricey for a mid-range phone although it could be rated as a higher end device|
|+ Good level of audio from the BoomSound speakers.|
"Gorgeous, just like the One (M8), HTC’s One mini 2 mixes hardware from the top of the market with some mid range internals, resulting in a must-have mid range smartphone."
The smallest things in life can often be the most powerful. This maxim doesn’t seem to have applied to smartphones, with manufacturers opting for 4 inches then 5 inches, and now 5.5 and even 6-inch displays in an effort to meet the demands of customers.
What people want doesn’t always match what they need, and HTC is the first smartphone maker we’ve seen to find a third way. The One mini 2 is the smaller sibling to the One (M8) launched just a few weeks ago. There’s the same attractive styling, but this handset has a display that’s half an inch smaller, a less powerful processor, and a smaller rear camera. This differs from Sony’s strategy of using the same insides as the bigger model version. However, it puts the One mini 2 instantly on the back foot, making us question whether the £175 you save over the M8 is worth the changes.
Could we answer that in the two weeks we had with the mini2? We definitely tried.
For the last two months our regular phone had been the mini 2’s bigger stablemate, the One (M8). So the first time I put the mini 2 in my hand it felt decidedly strange. How would I find the smaller screen and lower resolution?
In reality it only took me one week to feel like the mini 2 belonged in my hand. As I’ve always said, your smartphone might appear huge or tiny at first but once you’ve used it a while you’ll not notice. Especially if the device is the same as your previous phone’s hardware and software.
Indeed the mini 2’s chassis has the same beautiful, aluminium curves as it’s bigger sibling, and you get the same choice of three colours – grey, silver and gold. I received the gunmetal grey phone for review and to my experienced hand and eye it was as comfortable to use as the M8. Likewise the curves make the corners a doddle to reach when using with one hand.
As I had so much experience with both I could notice little things like the way the mini 2’s plastic antennas protrude slightly where they run across the chassis. On the M8 they’re slickly placed along the metal back. The metal panels on the M8 feel like one solid piece, whereas on the mini 2 they’re not as tightly fitted. But that’s just a niggly point. If we’re being really picky, the camera on the M8 has a shiny chrome ring, whereas this is matt black plastic on the mini 2.
A more significant difference is the single plastic chassis on the mini 2, with its finish in the same matt black plastic that covers all the phone’s outside edge, from the top and bottom plus the screen bezel.
On the right hand side you’ll find the volume control and microSD card slot. Use this to up the internal storage of 16GB to up to 128GB. The left houses a nano SIM card tray. The headphone jack is located on the top edge with the microUSB port on the bottom of the phone.
Situated above the screen and underneath are the dual Boom Sound speakers. The M8’s are definitely louder, but the speakers on the mini 2 still provide enough of a boom to fill out the audio on a movie without the use of headphones.
There are more svelte and lighter handsets on the market – the mini 2 weighs 137g and is 10.6mm thick. First impressions were that this was too heavy for a pint-sized version of a smartphone. But then I came to appreciate the way the extra weight made it easier to feel the phone in hand compared to some featherweight devices. A huge plus is the measurements of this phone. HTC has given it a footprint of 137.4 x 65mm. The power button can be easily reached while using the phone one handed. Also you’ve access to every corner of the display. Only the iPhone 5s has this.
It really wasn’t that long ago that we’d have been astounded for someone to describe a 4.5-inch display on a phone as mini. How far we’ve come. Top of the range models now routinely have more than 5 inches so it only makes sense that the slimmed down version’s are also getting bigger screens. The One mini 2 is half an inch bigger than the iPhone 5s and the same again but smaller than the One (M8).
Then there’s the back of the mini 2, which is curved making it simply the most comfortable handset I’ve ever held. Although this is a slimmed down version, HTC hasn’t cut costs on display quality. Holding both the mini 2 and the One (M8) next to each other, the mini’s screen had a slightly more blueish tint, and a little bit of a weaker backlight. Other than that we couldn’t fault the mini 2. Everything was sharp and crisp with accurate colours, deep blacks, and an even backlight. There was no problem with glare even in direct sunlight.
You don’t get the full 1080p HD and that will be a deal breaker for some. But this smaller HTC’s screen size wouldn’t be right for a resolution of more than 720 x 1280. Plus you get the same 326 per inch pixel density found on the iPhone 5s.
In short, despite a cool tone, the mini 2 sports an exceptional display.
One major difference between the mini 2 and its stablemate is the camera. Rather than the Duo rear camera, with its Ultrapixel sensor, you get a Sony 13-megapixel rear camera. So you’re not going to find a depth sensor or any Ultrapixel tricks. Just the camera. But luckily it is a good one, taking decent photos when there’s a good amount of light. Images had a good amount of detail, with a balanced exposure, and none of that noise or graininess you get sometimes with post-processing. Yes, we’re looking at you Sony Z2.
However, the mini 2’s camera wasn’t up to the job in other areas. It doesn’t do so well with poor lighting situations. A photo of someone on stage with a TV screen to one side resulted in a massively over exposed screen, and a grainy subject. Ghosting appeared around sources of bright light in photos, even where the light was reflected on a paper surface. While it didn’t handle situations with artificial light that well, outdoor shots were excellent.
This phone camera lacks the sorts of tricks up their sleeves that other phone camera’s have, but for grabbing a quick picture it does well. There’s a 5-megapixel camera on the front, which is a higher resolution than other phones have. Perhaps as testimony to the increasing trend for selfies.
The One mini 2 runs on the Android 4.4.2 KitKat operating system, and uses HTC’s Sense 6.0 user interface. Powering all this is a quad-core 1.2GHz processer supported by 1GB of memory. This chip is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400 processor, which is slower than the chip used in the One (M8) or indeed in any of the bigger smartphones, but still manages to cope with anything you might want to throw at it.
Every day use, such as social networks, text, calls, email, web browsing and so forth, is just as fast on the mini 2 as it is on the One (M8). I only noticed when trying to download large files. One game downloaded a 1GB file, and while this was happening even typing a text message was slow.
The handset even become warm – not actually hot though. And although the slowness wasn’t convenient it didn’t feel like it was going to crash. Luckily downloads don’t happen that often.
The mini 2 comes with a smaller battery, but the slimmed down internals meant that it lasted just as well as the One (M8). It will easily last a full day of average to heavy tasks. There’s also a number of power saving features built in to the phone to eke out every last drop if you’re running low and can’t get to a power socket.
At the extreme end, it will cut access to everything except the basic phone functions eg contacts, phone dialer, text messages, email, calendar, and calculator.
To give you an idea of the sort of use you can get out of the battery, we found that 30 minutes streaming video using Netflix over Wi-Fi decreased the mini 2’s battery by only 7%.
Should you need to upgrade your phone, but find the huge size of the current crop of smartphones just too overwhelming, then the One mini 2 is the ideal fit. HTC could have been braver and tried to give it internal features to match the One (M8), which is a missed opportunity, but for the majority of the time we used the phone we didn’t notice any lack of power. The mini 2 does well with most tasks you’ll do every day.
Download a big file, and I’ll admit that’s a rare occurrence, or similar high intensive task and the process starts to noticeably creak.
Design is excellent on the mini 2, and for most people this is the size they’ll want. You’ll get good sound from the Boom Sound speakers, a nice touch, and HTC’s Sense 6 UI is easy to use, looks good, and a good development on Android. The mini 2 doesn’t have the M8’s depth sensor, and the rear camera is adequate for most picture taking tasks. There’s none of the range of features you’d get on a Samsung Galaxy type of phone though.
All of these are niggly little faults. If you find the One (M8) and the Samsung Galaxy S5 too big to be comfortable, this is the best alternative. And better yet you’ll save £175 on the M8 to boot.
Screen size: 4.5” 720p
Screen Resolution: 1280 x 720 display resolution
Pixels Per Inch (PPI) : 326
Processor: 1.2GHz Quad core application processor
RAM: 1 GB
On-board Memory: 16 GB
Camera: 13MP (rear) 1080p video (5 megapixel front-facing)
Operating system: Android 4.4.2
Ultrafast / 3G / 4G LTE: Yes/ Yes/ Yes
Bluetooth / NFC : Yes/ Yes
Battery capacity: 2100 mAh
Colours: Gunmetal Grey, Glacial Silver, Amber Gold.
Launch Date: June 2014
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