The HTC One mini 2 is one of the better examples of a mid-ranged version of a flagship smartphone. It has the same premium feel as the M8 with only a few downgrades – namely a lower res screen and no Duo Camera or IR blaster. The camera is a little disappointing but good performance and software balance things out.
It’s now a tradition to launch a smaller and cheaper version of flagship smartphones and that’s exactly what HTC has done with the One M8. So here’s our full in-depth HTC One mini 2 review. See also: 33 best smartphones: The best phone you can buy in 2014.
HTC One mini 2 review: UK price
If you can’t afford the HTC One M8 then the One mini 2 is more likely to be within your budget. It’s available for a middle of the road £359 which we think is a good price for what you get. It’s still not as cheap as the Nexus 5 though which has some more impressive hardware, albeit in a plastic shell.
It terms of rival mini phones, Samsung hasn’t announced the price of the Galaxy S5 mini and there’s no LG G3 mini or Sony Xperia Z2 Compact just yet.
HTC One mini 2 review: Design and build
The One mini 2 is, as you would expect, smaller than the flagship M8. But not by much, shaving around 5 mm off the width and 10 mm from the height. That is enough to make it a more manageable phone, though, especially on the one-handed front.
It’s a reasonable amount lighter at 137 g which is a nice weight for a smartphone. However, it is a little thicker at 10.6 mm against 9.4 mm. It’s a little taller than other phones with the same screen size but it does have front-facing stereo speakers.
Dimensions aside, the HTC One mini 2 retains the design and style of the M8 but in a smaller package. It importantly has the same premium brushed metal rear cover which looks and feels great. The cover doesn’t run right round to the front of the phone like the M8 so instead there is a plastic band running around the edge.
This didn’t look so great on the original HTC One mini but it’s tucked away fairly nicely on the One mini 2 so that you don’t really notice it. It had to be slightly lower grade than the M8 in this department somehow but HTC has done a great job of keeping that high-end feel.
A very minor caveat is that the phone rocks from side to side when you use it placed on a flat surface due to the curved back.
The smartphone is available in three different colours: Gunmetal Gray, Glacial Silver and Amber Gold. The Gold model is, at the time of writing, exclusive at EE. Unfortunately, there’s no sign of the Dot View case which we particularly like on the M8.
HTC remains as one of the smartphone makers to not bother with dust- or waterproof certification for its devices. So don’t go dunking the HTC One mini 2. It’s worth pointing out that the device takes a nano-SIM which is a rarity for smartphones still.
Read: What’s the best HTC smartphone: HTC One mini 2 vs HTC One M8.
HTC One mini 2 review: Hardware and performance
As is customary for a mini smartphone, the One mini 2 has a smaller screen than the flagship M8. It’s 4.5in compared to 5in which matches that of the freshly announced Galaxy S5 mini. Whether 4.5in is ‘mini’ enough for you is another matter. The trend of bigger screens continues so we’re now at a point where mini versions of flagships are the kind of size that flagship devices used to be. If you want a smaller screen then you better look elsewhere.
It’s no surprise that the resolution is 720p HD rather than Full HD and although the screen looks good with a 326 ppi pixel density (matching the iPhone 5s), you can get this on budget phones like the Moto G now. Of course, the Motorola Moto G is inferior in many ways but hopefully you get the point.
Under the hood is a 1.2GHz dual-core processor – a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 – with 1GB of RAM. The HTC One mini 2 scored 1153 in GeekBench 3 which matches up with smartphones using the same components like the Sony Xperia M2.
It fell marginally behind in the GFXBench 3 T-Rex and Manhattan tests where it managed 11- and 4fps respectively. In the web browsing SunSpider test we recorded a fairly average time of 1504 ms.
However, it’s no slouch and in everyday use, Android is buttery smooth. Apps are quick to load as are web pages. Scrolling around web pages and maps isn’t a chore: it’s all nice and responsive. Only on one occasion did we see a hesitation when returning to the home screen.
There’s enough power for games, as long as you’re not expecting to play the latest and most demanding 3D games. Games and videos benefit from the great front-facing speakers, too.
There’s only a 16GB model of the HTC One mini 2 so the only difference between models is the colour. It’s a standard capacity now but we’re pleased to report that the handset has a microSD card slot which wasn’t on the first HTC One mini. You can add a whopping 128GB via the card slot so it’s happy days here.
Remaining hardware includes dual-band Wi-Fi (not 11ac, though), Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX, GPS and NFC. There’s also support for 4G LTE networks but you don’t get the IR blaster which the One M8 is blessed with.
As we mentioned earlier, the One mini 2 does have HTC’s BoomSound front facing speakers with built-in amplifiers.
HTC One mini 2 review: Cameras
The One mini 2’s main camera has a 13Mp sensor and is capable of 1080p video recording. As with the One M8’s image quality, it’s all a bit underwhelming when you zoom in and look at the details (or lack thereof), but they’re fine for sharing snaps on Facebook.
Unlike the One M8, there’s no depth-sensing second camera, so you don’t get any of the wacky focus effects on the One mini 2.
In good light, photos are good enough, but they simply don’t exhibit the sort of sharp detail you’d expect at this high resolution.
Videos, as with the One M8, are disappointing. Again, there’s a noticeable lack of sharp detail. Heavy handed compression means textures tend to turn into smudgy messes – bricks, foliage etc.
There’s also no stabilisation, so footage is shaky even if you have steady hands.
The front-facing ‘selfie’ camera has a decent 5Mp resolution and a timer so you can get ready for the shot without having to press a button at the right moment. There are crazy effects for softening skin tones, brightening eyes and even changing the shape of your face.
Once again, photos look pretty good until you start zooming in to see the actual pixels. Do this, and you’ll see the same degrading effects of compression with an obvious lack of detail.
HTC One mini 2 review: Software
Anyone upgrading from an older HTC phone will have to get accustomed to on-screen buttons – no longer do they sit below the display. The firm says this is to be in-keeping with the latest versions of Android. It’s a small change and it’s pretty easy to get used to even if you prefer the old style.
The HTC One mini 2 comes pre-loaded with Android 4.4.2 KitKat and HTC’s Sense version 6.0 – the same as the flagship M8. Sense has always been a decent Android overlay/skin and the latest edition is no exception. It’s clean, stylish and easy to use.
BlinkFeed is HTC’s news and social media aggregation which takes up an entire homescreen panel. Luckily, if you’re not a fan you can simply remove it.
It’s a shame that the Motion Launch Gestures found on the M8 are nowhere to be seen on the One mini 2. These make life easier allowing you to switch the phone on with a double tap or use a swipe gesture to go straight to BlinkFeed. HTC has got to differentiate between the One mini 2 and the flagship M8 somehow and this is one of the ways it’s chosen.
Customisation options do remain though – namely via different themes which change elements like the wallpaper and highlight colour which appears throughout the interface. You can also select or download system fonts (we like the retro LCD) and choose which notifications are flagged up by the notification light.
HTC One mini 2 review: Battery life
Battery life is on a par with most of the latest Android handsets, which is to say that it easily lasts a day. You might even find it carries on well into the next day if you’re not using it too heavily and hammering the 3G or 4G connection.
HTC One mini 2: Specs
- 4.5 inch, HD 720p, 326 PPI
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, quad-core, 1.2GHz
- Android 4.4 KitKat with HTC Sense 6.0, HTC BlinkFeed
- 16GB internal storage
- microSD (up to 128GB)
- 1 GB RAM
- 3.5mm stereo audio jack
- Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX
- dual-band Wi-Fi
- micro-USB 2.0 port with mobile high-definition video link (MHL)
- HTC BoomSound – Dual front stereo speakers with built-in amplifiers
- 13Mp rear camera with AF and LED flash
- 5Mp front
- Video recording up to 1080p
- Up to 4G LTE
- 8Wh non-removable battery
- 137 x 65 x 10.6mm