HTC One Mini 2 review: A premium compact smartphone for those who hate big phones

HTC One Mini 2 review: A premium compact smartphone for those who hate big phones

Summary: Like last year, HTC released a smaller cousin of their flagship device. The new HTC One Mini 2 should be called the M8 Mini and it is great to see this device perform well in a small form factor.

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  • HTC One Mini 2 and HTC One (M8)

    While my favorite smartphone last year was the HTC One M7, my wife was smitten by the HTC One Mini primarily due to the smaller form factor. HTC again released a smaller version of its flagship device, this time as the HTC One Mini 2. It should have been called the M8 Mini as it really is more of a little brother to the M8 than a successor to the One Mini.

    While the hardware is very similar to the HTC One M8 on the outside, it has lower level specs just like the One Mini and Galaxy S4 Mini with a price that is not as low as expected for a non-flagship device.

    Despite the lower level specs, the HTC One Mini 2 is a device to consider if you want an Android that remains quite pocketable and allows many actions with a single hand. It is just slightly narrower than my HTC One M7, but quite a bit more narrower than the M8.

    Hardware

    Camera: The first thing I wanted to know when the HTC One Mini 2 arrived was how it is different from the new HTC One (M8). I was particularly interested in seeing if a standard 13 megapixel single camera was better than a dual UltraPixel strategy.

    After testing the cameras in various situations, it looks like the HTC One M8 UltraPixel strategy is the best of these two cameras. I do still think an 8 megapixel UltraPixel camera or better 13 megapixel camera with OIS and solid optics would be better than the current 4 megapixel UltraPixel camera, but we may just have to wait until the HTC One (M9) is released to see if HTC agrees.

    I personally like the photos from the M8 better and find the Mini 2 camera to just be an average smartphone camera, but better than other mid-range devices like the Moto X and Nexus 5.

    You lose the fun special effects from the Duo Camera on the M8 and also the ability to capture 3-second Zoes. The Zoes, combined with Highlight Videos, actually tell the full story of events and are a fun way to share with your family and friends. You do still get Highlight Video support, just without the short video clips.

    What else is different?: Besides the camera, you will find there is no IR port, the headphone jack is on the top, the processor is slower, the battery is smaller, the One Mini 2 has a lower screen resolution on a smaller display, a single LED flash is on the back, Motion Launch gestures are not present, and RAM is half of what you find on the M8.

    What is the same?: The software, including HTC Sense 6, is the same, both have BoomSound front facing stereo speakers, both have 5 megapixel front facing cameras for great selfies, and both have microSD cards supporting capacities up to 128 GB.

    The HTC One Mini 2 definitely fits easier in your hand and rivals the feel of my Moto X, with a bit more height and less width. HTC did a fabulous job with build quality and while the metal doesn't wrap all the way around the edges, the black matte plastic looks and feels great. I still want to see HTC reduce the side, top, and bottom bezel distance though.

    Software

    The HTC One Mini 2 launches with the same software as the HTC One M8, Android 4.4.2 and Sense 6. I still think Sense is one of the best Android custom interfaces and it flies on the One Mini 2.

    The unit I tested is an international model from HTC so there was no preloaded carrier junk on it at all. If AT&T and Sprint load it up then you will likely see something less than the 10 GB of available on device storage that I see on this unit.

    Usage and experiences

    HTC knows how to make great hardware and most reviewers agree that hardware is generally not their problem. I like the feel of the Mini 2, but prefer all of the information I am seeing on the larger, higher resolution displays today.

    I experienced HSPA+ speeds on T-Mobile and the battery lasted me for a day and a half. It was tough for me to personally use the device as my primary for too many days since I have other devices that are more compelling to me personally. If the Mini 2 was priced very low, then I might consider it, but at the near premium smartphone pricing overseas I would rather have a One M8, Galaxy S5, or Z2.

    Pros and Cons

    To summarize my experiences with the HTC One Mini 2, here are my pros and cons.

    Pros Cons
    Excellent 4.5 inch 720p LCD2 display Expensive compared to other mid-range devices
    Solid design and construction  
    Decent camera for a mid-range phone  
    Great sounding front-facing BoomSound speakers  
    Functional HTC Sense 6 UI  

    Pricing and availability

    We do not yet have official pricing, but indications are that it will cost $400 to $450. It will be launching soon in the UK and other countries, with no current announcement regarding a US release.

    The competition

    The main competitor is the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and that is a device that Sony released with specs that more closely match the full size relative.

    Samsung currently has the Galaxy S4 Mini and may launch a S5 Mini to compete with the HTC One Mini 2 as well. All of these devices focus on taking a flagship down in size.

    When looking at other mid-range devices, we have the Moto X priced reasonably with specs similar to the One Mini 2. The Moto G is also priced at about half the One Mini 2 and is a very popular device.

    Specifications
    Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core 1.2 GHz processor
    1GB RAM
    16GB internal storage with microSD card slot
    4.5-inch 1280x720 pixels resolution Super LCD display
    13 megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front facing camera
    HTC BoomSound front-facing stereo speakers
    802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX
    2,100 mAh battery
    Dimensions of 137.43 x 65.04 x 10.6 mm and 137 grams

    Conclusion

    The new HTC One Mini 2 is a solid compact Android smartphone. While it doesn't have the high end specifications of the M8, it is not designed to be the flagship device. It holds its own and I honestly had lots of trouble developing a cons list for a device of this class and target audience.

    While the price may be a bit on the higher end for a compact version of the M8, it is still quite a bit less expensive than the One M8 and other flagship products. The One Mini 2 is for the buyer who wants a smaller phone and in that regard I think it meets its goal.

    Contributor's rating: 8.5 out of 10

    Related coverage:

    *HTC announces One Mini 2 with 13 megapixel camera and looks of the M8

    *From the HTC One to the HTC One Mini: Wife's weekend experiences

    *My year with the HTC One; still my favorite smartphone of all time

    *HTC One M8 review: More metal, same limited detail UltraPixel camera

    *HTC One Mini competes with Apple iPhone 5 for single hand crown (Gallery)

    *HTC One Mini vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini: What are consumers giving up for small size?

  • Front of One Mini 2 and One (M8)

Topics: Mobility, Android, HTC, Reviews, Smartphones

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13 comments
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  • I like the resolution

    "4.5-inch 1280x7200 pixels resolution Super LCD display" - 7200 lines takes it to the Guinness :)

    Typo aside, it's nice that smaller phones can also be top devices, it's getting increasingly hard to buy quality smaller phones. For me is unthinkable to carry something bigger than 4.5'' or over 150g (already stretching it).
    AleMartin
  • Sorry...?

    Snapdragon 400 and 1 gig of ram is a "premium smartphone"?

    When Sony can put the same specs as their flagship into its mini namesake, this is a fairly feeble effort
    Daishi83
    • I agree ...

      Buy an m7 - it's cheaper, has better specs and is slightly wider but a full mm thinner!
      John in Brisbane
      • Nice recommendation

        HTC is really lazy with this mini one i think. My hand is small compared to normal man, so i like good small phone very much!

        thành lập doanh nghiệp
        vanyeuseo
  • Windows Phone Version

    Any word on whether that's even happening, and if so, when?
    x I'm tc
    • Never?

      I have a WP, but the dearth of new devices is certainly not promising. That said, this would be an awesome WP offering, considering there is really nothing like it among the few devices available. With Nokia 630 being the closest similar phone, but missing front facing camera and flash (and only 0.5 GB memory), it's pretty much a non-starter for many.

      This seems like a phone that would be perfect for T-Mobile in WP form, but I doubt it'll happen.
      fawlty70
  • How can you trust the review...

    ...when the grammar is awful: "...but quite a bit more narrower than the M8." Perhaps it's just a typo? Fine, then who is editing this stuff before it gets posted? Does anyone look at this stuff before it's made public?
    SteveStevenson
    • Downward spiral

      This is a nasty trend. The quality has gone down steadily for years. The issue you fingered pales in comparison to some of the egregious errors in structure and syntax that are pervasive, particularly in this industry, not to mention the yellow journalism headlines and lack of regard to facts.

      So, who *is* allowing these junior-high-school mistakes to get by?! Have people in this business gotten too comfortable with texting shorthand to even care?

      Like any other set of principals (like in programming, for instance) following the rather established set of grammar rules does, for damn sure, make a difference in both trust and clarity.
      Lucky2BHere
      • Reminder to watch your own ability to spell...

        What you are referring to is not "principals" (as in a school overseeing teachers and students) but "principles" that guide your thinking and behavior.
        john.jay.moore@...
  • Waste of money! Buy a superceded m7!

    This phone is essentially a waste of time. It the same length, 3 mm narrower and 1mm thicker than the m7, which has better everything (almost). Compared to the m8 mini, the m7 has:

    * bigger, higher res screen
    * faster processor and GPU
    * lower price

    Plus, and I know this is subjective, the case on the new m8 just doesn't seem as special. My m7 is sharp and seems small for it's specs. The m8 feels softer and to have too much size without much more screen.

    In conclusion, why pay extra for an inferior device? Don't. Buy an m7. They're cheaper and flog the m8 mini in almost every way.
    John in Brisbane
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  • Overdue

    Having more options in smaller, but capable, form factors is hugely appreciated. Really sick of toting around bigger and bigger phones, specially when these lower spec units are so much better than many of the big flagships from just a year-or-so ago.

    I took stock of how often I used my phone for browsing and video work, the two activities where screen size is more important. It was simply not worth having to deal with pocket bulge, particularly when I have a tablet and notebook. Although I really love the way it worked, I sold my Nexus 4 and dug out my old HTC Radar I was using as backup. I figured I'd just use it until the dust settles in the next wave of announcements.

    I miss the functionality of the 4, for sure! But, I"ll easily put up with the Radar's relative impotence for a few weeks to get back the real-world portability. Been using it for about three weeks now and I'd forgotten how much more convenient the size was. I'm now looking *only* at smaller form factors.

    Unfortunately for the Mini 2, the pricing isn't attractive enough. There are some great alternatives, both new and used, that are more than acceptable. This was on my short list until I saw the possible pricing. Will wait for the official word, but will probably move on. I'd spring for the Sony at this point.
    Lucky2BHere