HTC One mini 2 Review

18

Introduction


Not wasting any time, veteran smartphone maker HTC is quickly launching the very first off-side variant of its beloved flagship in the HTC One M8. Coming in with a more form-fitting package, the HTC One mini 2 is making its splash into the market in a hurry – whereas before, last year’s HTC One mini was released significantly later than its prized sibling. In fact, it took HTC nearly 5 whole months to announce the HTC One mini after the HTC One M7, so it’s a pleasant change to find a more aggressive rollout with this year’s model.

In a sea of other “mini” sized smartphones, the HTC One mini 2 delivers the same compact characteristics of its esteemed brethren, but there are some notable changes found with this particular model over the beefier spec’d HTC One M8, which we’ll go through in this review. Of course, the addition of this phone helps to marginally spread the diversity of HTC’s portfolio for this year. More importantly, though, is that its arrival comes so much closer to the release of the company’s flagship – giving consumers that morsel of choice in what to pick out. At the end of the day, will this phone be able to compete against some already established “mini” smartphones floating about?

The package contains:

  • microUSB cable
  • Wall charger
  • Stereo headphones

Design

Smaller in size, there’s no compromise seen with the design of the HTC One mini 2 – it’s solid, form-fitting, and premium.

Glancing at the phone for the very first time, there’s no denying that it’s sporting the same lovable updated design we’ve seen already with the HTC One M8, but in a more form-fitting package. Essentially, it’s significantly easier to handle with a single hand – where our thumb is comfortably able to encompass the entire area of the display. Thanks to the arched nature of the phone, it ergonically contours in our hand to provide a natural grip.

It’s solidly constructed thanks to the unibody brushed aluminum material we greatly adore, but upon closer inspection, the phone actually has a design attribute that’s more akin to last year’s HTC One M7. Specifically, it pertains to the polycarbonate siding that prevents the aluminum material from completely wrapping around the phone’s sides. Well, it’s not quite as apparent on the gunmetal grey version of our review unit, but it’s profound on the glacier silver version. Knowing that, the “more metal” approach isn’t quite as enforced on this model.

Although it’s not a surprising turnout, the premium nature of the HTC One mini 2 continues to be one step ahead of the otherwise plastic bodies of other “mini” phone. Certainly it’s not an original design, but for what it offers, we’re pleased with the solid results and charming looks of the phone.

Generally speaking, these so-called “mini” smartphones tend to follow the design arrangement of their fuller-sized siblings. However, we’re able to spot a few alterations with the HTC One mini 2. Firstly, the placement of its 3.5mm headset jack and power button have been modified, but everything else are in familiar locations. Along the left and right edges of the phone, we continue to find its microSD card slot, volume rocker, and nanoSIM slot. Interestingly enough, the volume control here has a silver accent, which is slightly an off-color tone than the gunmetal grey color of the body.

Also a characteristic thing to find, it bears the same dual front-firing speakers with HTC BoomSound. Unfortunately though, the IR blaster has been omitted with this model – it’s one of the more noticeable changes with the phone.

In terms of cameras, many of us are shocked to find this one sporting a larger-than-normal 13-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash in the rear. For HTC, it’s obviously a dramatic departure, seeing that they’ve touted highly about its “Ultrapixel” camera technology on its phones. We won’t get into the details right now, but we’ll expand more on this later. Nonetheless, we should point out that this one manages to feature the same front-facing camera as its sibling – a wide angle 5-megapixel snapper.

HTC One mini 2
Dimensions

5.41 x 2.56 x 0.42 inches

137.43 x 65.04 x 10.6 mm

Weight

4.83 oz (137 g)

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Dimensions

5 x 2.56 x 0.37 inches

127 x 64.9 x 9.5 mm

Weight

4.83 oz (137 g)

LG G2 mini
Dimensions

5.1 x 2.6 x 0.39 inches

129.6 x 66 x 9.8 mm

Weight

4.27 oz (121 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
Dimensions

4.91 x 2.41 x 0.35 inches

124.6 x 61.3 x 8.94 mm

Weight

3.77 oz (107 g)

HTC One mini 2
Dimensions

5.41 x 2.56 x 0.42 inches

137.43 x 65.04 x 10.6 mm

Weight

4.83 oz (137 g)

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Dimensions

5 x 2.56 x 0.37 inches

127 x 64.9 x 9.5 mm

Weight

4.83 oz (137 g)

LG G2 mini
Dimensions

5.1 x 2.6 x 0.39 inches

129.6 x 66 x 9.8 mm

Weight

4.27 oz (121 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
Dimensions

4.91 x 2.41 x 0.35 inches

124.6 x 61.3 x 8.94 mm

Weight

3.77 oz (107 g)

Compare these and other phones using our Size Comparison tool.


Display

The size has been increased marginally to make it more flagship-like, but as a whole, there’s nothing particularly out of the ordinary with it.

Not straying from the path, the HTC One mini 2, much like the other devices in the “mini” category, sports a smaller, more thumb-encompassing sized screen. Bearing a 4.5-inch 720p Super LCD-3 display, we’re not surprised to see a lower resolution screen, which chimes in with a pixel density count of 326 ppi. It’s not a number crunching figure in comparison to the titans in the space, but nevertheless, it’s effective enough to still make out fine text.

Despite having its resolution reduced, a common occurrence amongst “mini” phones, the HTC One mini 2 matches its bigger sibling’s potency. Specifically, it’s able to churn out 489 nits of brightness, keeping the screen visible under sunny conditions. Upon closer inspection, the panel here exhibits a cooler tone due to its color temperature of 8639. In comparison, the HTC One M8’s display has a more agreeable color temperature of 7182. Staring straight at the screen isn’t an issue at all, since colors radiate with a pleasant glow. However, there’s that milky grey hue with the color black when it’s tilted slightly. It’s not horrific or dramatically decreases the display’s usability, but rather, it’s something that jumps out at us.





Interface and Functionality

Attention to beauty is present here with Sense 6.0, however, this particular experience lacks the Motion Launch gestures of the HTC One M8.

In being a member of HTC’s current generation of Android smartphones, the HTC One mini 2 gets treated to the HTC Sense 6.0 UI running on top of Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Flaunting the same modern and clean looking UI we first experienced over on the HTC One M8, we’re presented with nearly the same experience here – albeit, there are some omissions here that reduces its functionality over HTC’s flagship.

Well, at least some of the primary features are here, like the social networking aggregate tool of HTC BlinkFeed, and the updated widgets from HTC. What’s plainly missing here are the various Motion Launch Gestures we saw introduced by the HTC One M8, and the HTC TV app. With the former, we found the feature extremely useful because of its quick peek/access functionality, but HTC clarifies to us that it was removed due to the type of processor used by the phone. Additionally, the HTC TV app is gone here because the unit lacks a proper IR blaster for the function.

Organizer


Aside from those two particular items, everything else pretty much remains unchanged from what we experienced on the HTC One M8. Therefore, all of its core organizer apps, like the calendar and address book, function exactly like they do.

Always enhancing the functionality of any smartphone, Google Now and all of its self-awareness functionality is in tow here with the HTC One mini 2.

Messaging


Moving onto its on-screen keyboards, the HTC Sense 6.0 keyboard isn’t anything new to us, as it features a spacious keyboard that’s easier for one-handed operation, and is super responsive in typing up a lot of text.

Processor and Memory

A smaller phone, a lower tiered processor. It’s fast enough to run trivial things, but it’s tested by heavier processes.

Not one to scare the pants off of people, the HTC One mini 2 is sporting a quad-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC coupled with 1GB of RAM. Armed with this combo, it’s effective enough to handle all of the basic tasks we’re used to doing on our phones, but it exhibits just some minor evidence of sluggishness with more processor intensive operations – like heavy 3D gaming. It’s not to the point where games crawl to a stop, but instead, we see some skipped frames and minor lag.

Stuffed with an ample 16GB of storage, it’s a tally we’re happy to find on any smartphones, and at the same time, there’s an available microSD card slot to supplement it. However, it’s still a process to access because it requires the aid of those pinhole-sized adapters to open up the slot.

QuadrantHigher is better
HTC One mini 29844
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact20567
LG G2 mini9025
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini6783
AnTuTuHigher is better
HTC One mini 217433
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact33468
LG G2 mini16215
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini13341
Vellamo MetalHigher is better
HTC One mini 2567
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact1183
LG G2 mini573.6
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini685
Vellamo HTML 5Higher is better
HTC One mini 21174
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact2947
LG G2 mini1122.3
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini2088
SunspiderLower is better
HTC One mini 21285.2
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact744.7
LG G2 mini1344.8
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screenHigher is better
HTC One mini 23.9
LG G2 mini6.4
Basemark OS IIHigher is better
HTC One mini 25.3
LG G2 mini456.3

Internet and Connectivity


The experience of surfing the web, like on most mid-range and high-end phones, is something we’ve come to find inviting. With that said, there’s no surprise that the HTC One mini 2 fits into that mold too with its speedy pages loads, responsive navigational controls, and on-the-fly page rendering. All told, the experience here is almost similar to HTC’s flagship.

Our particular model, an unlocked international variant, has support for certain LTE bands, but in our time using it, we’re left with HSPA+ connectivity with AT&T. Once carrier announcements are made domestically, it’ll no doubt have support for their respective LTE bands. In tow, the HTC One mini 2 features aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX enabled, dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, NFC, and DLNA.



Camera

HTC ditches the ‘Ultrapixel’ camera in favor of an unsuspecting 13-megapixel snapper, one that dishes the details we desire, but is lacking under lower light.

Having Sense 6.0, the HTC One mini 2 sees its camera app updated as well with the same simplistic, less cluttered interface established by the company’s flagship. It’s still something that’ll appease the most hardened shutterbugs, seeing that it features enough manual controls and fun shooting modes. Strangely enough, the camera has been stripped of several notable functions. Although we’re not shocked to realize that HTC’s new Duo Effects feature is omitted here, it has also been stripped of the dual capture, pan 360, and Zoe modes that are available on the HTC One M8.

Call it an inviting gesture we’re open to seeing HTC dive into more, the HTC One mini 2 is outfitted with a beefier 13-megapixel camera that features an f2.2 aperture lens, backside illuminated sensor, and a single LED flash. This pairing, of course, is an interesting one to say the least – more so when HTC has touted and praised its “Ultrapixel” camera technology. In one fell swoop, HTC is definitely catching our attention with this rousing revelation, but it’ll take more than a higher count camera to appease us. One problem we see right from the get-go is the longer time it takes the camera to snap a shot.

On the surface, the HTC One mini 2’s camera takes some very average looking photos. For a 13-megapixel camera, there’s no denying that it’s more than capable of capturing more fine details than the HTC One M8 – and the results verify those claims! Regardless of that, photos tend to exhibit an under-exposed tone, where colors appear warmer. Overcoming the HTC One M8’s biggest weakness is one thing, but overall, the results aren’t quite as favorable in our opinion. In fact, it performs worse under lower lighting situations, where its under exposed presence hides away details.


Taking a picLower is betterTaking an HDR pic(sec)Lower is betterCamSpeed scoreHigher is betterCamSpeed score with flashHigher is better
HTC One mini 26
No data
308
253
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact3
No data
461
393
LG G2 mini3.8
No data
501
431
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini3
No data
449
430


Switching gears, its 1080p video recording quality doesn’t necessarily earn any astounding remarks, since in all fairness, its quality amounts to nothing more than average. The details are good, but not super sharp to entice our eyeballs from drooling over its quality. Audio recording is mostly clear and it records at a smooth 30 frames per second, but it lacks continuous auto-focus and stabilization. All told, it’s good, but not necessarily great.


Multimedia

Bigger screen, louder speakers, and a speedier performance makes the new HTC One more of a multimedia powerhouse.

The Sense 6.0 music player isn’t a huge leap over its predecessor, but the fact remains that it continues to be one of the more dazzling and polarizing music players. Visually, the otherwise static look of album covers popping up with each song is further complemented by the option of having a 3D visualizer running. Testing out its dual front-firing speakers with HTC BoomSound, there’s a strong presence with its 70.3 dB of volume output – though, it’s a bit terse to the ear.

Playing high-definition videos isn’t a problem with this one, since we’re greeted with smooth playbacks of various encoded videos. Even with its responsiveness, our eyes can’t creep away from the washed out looks of the display when it’s tilted ever so slightly – it’s just distracting when colors have a flat tone to them.

Keeping it well within production cost, the HTC One mini 2 doesn’t feature an IR blaster to double the phone as a universal remote – so there’s no HTC Sense TV app with this one. Even though the camera app no longer has a dedicated Zoe mode, the Sense Gallery app will automatically compile a Zoe for us. Certainly, it’s a feature that hardened shutterbugs will appreciate, since it’s optimized more than ever to capture the moments in such an elegant manner, but most people won’t be bothered by it unless they actively look.

Headphones output power(Volts)Higher is better
HTC One mini 20.88
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact0.24
LG G2 mini0.33
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini0.31
Loudspeaker loudness(dB)Higher is better
HTC One mini 270.3
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact66
LG G2 mini72
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini75




Call Quality

Volume is plentiful in this one to give voices a fair amount of emphasis.

Taking a phone call in noisy environments isn’t an issue here, mainly because both its earpiece and speakerphone pound out enough volume to overcome and drown out any unwanted noise. Voices through the earpiece are mostly audible, but there’s a subtle hollowness attached to them – though, it’s nothing too distracting. On the opposite end of the line, our callers mention being treated to clear, evenly toned voices.

Battery

It works to get us through the day with no issues, but it doesn’t have the same longevity as its bigger sized sibling.

It’s not all that surprising to find a lower capacity 2100 mAh battery here, in comparison to the One M8’s mightier 2600 mAh one. Before going forward with our own battery test, we were expecting to see some great results from this beauty. However, its tally of 6 hours, 23 minutes on our battery benchmark test isn’t all that impressive, but nonetheless, it’s average enough to churn out easily one-day of normal usage.

We measure battery life by running a custom web-script,designed to replicate the power consumption of typical real-life usage.All devices that go through the test have their displays set at 200-nit brightness.
hoursHigher is better
HTC One mini 2
6h 23 min(Poor)
LG G2 mini
8h 32 min(Good)
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
5h 1 min(Poor)

hoursLower is better
HTC One mini 2
3h 14 min
LG G2 mini
3h 13 min

Conclusion


Let’s be serious folks, the HTC One mini 2 isn’t for everyone. Without question, the smaller and more form-fitting nature of the phone is what’ll attract people to it – that’s of course, if they happen to love the HTC One M8, but not its beefy size. Quite simply, they’ll find the same stylish design and premium construction here. However, it’s accompanied by its fair share of omissions that reduces its functionality over its more highly esteemed sibling – and they exist in both the hardware and software.

Out of everything, we’re most impressed by HTC’s aggressive commitment in getting this out and into the market. Unlike before, where they released the original HTC One mini many months after the HTC One M7, this one is making its rounds nearly over a month after the HTC One M8’s release. Carrier adoption won’t be as saturated, but consumers can expect to pick up this phone at a lower on-contract cost – around the $100 on-contract mark from what we’re told. Likewise, its outright cost has also been adjusted to reflect its smaller size and reduced features.

It’s a gorgeous phone and whatnot, but when other phones like the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact have raised the bar in what we expect from these so-called “mini” phones, we expected better from this.

Software version of the review unit:

Android Version: 4.4.2
HTC Sense Version: 6.0
Software Number: 1.16.401.2
Kernel Version: 3.4.0-gf8f27cb
Build Number: 1.16.401.2


Video Thumbnail



Pros

  • Same premium design as One M8, but in a more compact package
  • More details captured by its 13-megapixel camera

Cons

  • Underwhelming low lighting results with the camera
  • Omitted features (IR blaster, Motion Launch gestures, etc)
  • Blueish screen

PhoneArena Rating:

8.0

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