/>
X

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

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.
htconemini201.jpg
1 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

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?

htconemini202.jpg
2 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Front of One Mini 2 and One (M8)

htconemini203.jpg
3 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The 3.5mm headset jack is on the top of the One Mini 2

htconemini204.jpg
4 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

There is a microUSB port on the bottom

htconemini205.jpg
5 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Left side of the Ones

htconemini206.jpg
6 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Note the camera differences

htconemini207.jpg
7 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One (M8) flower closeup

htconemini208.jpg
8 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One Mini 2 flower closeup

htconemini209.jpg
9 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One (M8) flower bunch

htconemini210.jpg
10 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One Mini 2 flower bunch

htconemini211.jpg
11 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One (M8) backyard

htconemini212.jpg
12 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One Mini 2 backyard

htconemini213.jpg
13 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One (M8) Star Wars specplate

htconemini214.jpg
14 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One Mini 2 Star Wars specplate

htconemini215.jpg
15 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One (M8) front flowerbed

htconemini216.jpg
16 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One Mini 2 front flowerbed

htconemini217.jpg
17 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One (M8) front flowerbed

htconemini218.jpg
18 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One Mini 2 front flowerbed

htconemini219.jpg
19 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One (M8) flowers

htconemini220.jpg
20 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One Mini 2 flowers

htconemini221.jpg
21 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One (M8) low light photo frames

htconemini222.jpg
22 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One Mini 2 low light photo frames

htconemini223.jpg
23 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One (M8) low light shelf

htconemini224.jpg
24 of 24 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

HTC One Mini 2 low light shelf

Related Galleries

Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6: Electric vehicle extravaganza
img-8825

Related Galleries

Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6: Electric vehicle extravaganza

26 Photos
A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex
img-9792-2

Related Galleries

A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex

22 Photos
Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup
shutterstock-1024665187.jpg

Related Galleries

Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup

8 Photos
Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'
Full of promises!

Related Galleries

Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'

8 Photos
Hybrid working, touchscreen MacBook hopes, cybersecurity concerns, and more: ZDNet's tech research roundup
Asian woman working at a desk in front of a computer and calculator

Related Galleries

Hybrid working, touchscreen MacBook hopes, cybersecurity concerns, and more: ZDNet's tech research roundup

8 Photos
Developer trends, zero-day risks, 5G speeds, and more: Tech research roundup
Person seated at a booth in a cafe looks at their phone and laptop.

Related Galleries

Developer trends, zero-day risks, 5G speeds, and more: Tech research roundup

10 Photos
Drive Electric Day: A dizzying array of EVs in sunny Florida
ca3b4019-26c5-4ce0-a844-5aac39e2c34b.jpg

Related Galleries

Drive Electric Day: A dizzying array of EVs in sunny Florida

16 Photos