What is the HTC One Mini 2?

The HTC One Mini 2 is the 'mini' version of the HTC One M8 and the follow-up to the HTC One Mini. The not so small clone of HTC’s 5-inch flagship strips back some of the specs, while keeping the same attractive design. Prices are yet to be confirmed for the One Mini 2, but it's already available for pre-order on some _phone_ retail websites for £360 SIM-free and Vodafone is offering the One Mini 2 for £21 a month on 24-month contract, which is the same you can get the original One Mini for and £7 cheaper a month than the M8 on contract.

When you consider the same specs are packed into the sub-£150 Moto G on paper you are paying for the M8-inspired body. Is it enough?

Watch our video review of the HTC One Mini 2


HTC One Mini 2: Design & Features

Just like the HTC One Mini is to the One (M7), the One Mini 2 is the metallic offspring of the M8. It has the same beautifully curved aluminium chassis available in Gunmetal Grey, Glacial Silver and Amber Gold shades, though it’s not entirely identical thanks to the black plastic trim that runs around the sides, top and bottom of the phone. It’s not as prominent as it is on the One Mini and does break up the continuity of the all-in-one design, but it’s still one of the nicest-looking smartphones.

Up front, the One Mini 2 has the same proximity sensors and notification lights as the One Mini and houses the improved front-facing Boomsound speakers. It joins the M8 in moving to a Nano SIM where the card slot lies over on the right edge, with a volume rocker and microSD card slot (notably absent from the One Mini) over on the left. The headphone jack is also up top like it is on the original Mini next to the on/off button with the micro USB port at the bottom. On the back it doesn’t take long to spot that the M8’s duo camera is gone and the dual flash is now down to one.

Weighing in at 137g, it’s lighter than the M8 (160g), but it's slightly thicker at 10.6mm compared to 9.6mm. It’s larger in all dimensions compared to the One Mini, too. It’s not enough to radically change how it feels to hold, though the 'mini' label isn't quite as appropriate now. Thanks to the Boomsound speakers it's as tall as a Nexus, which has a 5-inch screen, and only marginally narrower.

The One Mini 2 is still a gorgeous smartphone, though, and undoubtedly a better-looking effort than the original One Mini.

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HTC One Mini 2: Screen

HTC hasn’t upgraded from the 720p HD display on the One Mini, which is mildly disappointing when you consider that the Moto G, now the benchmark for smartphones below the iPhone 5S, One M8, Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2 boasts the same screen resolution. What has changed is the size, moving from a 4.3-inch display up to a larger 4.5-inch Super LCD 3 screen.

It’s a massive drop off from the M8 in terms of quality, but you do manage to get the same level of maximum brightness. Running a HD video, it struggles to replicate the punchy colours or the clarity on show on the bigger HTC phone. As an upgrade from the One Mini, which has an excellent 720pHD display, there’s improvements, but they are far from radical changes.

Watching the same film on Netflix side-by-side on the One Mini and One Mini 2, the One Mini 2 produces a subtly sharper image with better black levels and more natural skin tones. Despite spreading the pixels across a larger area the overall quality doesn’t suffer as a result.

There’s very little difference between the One Mini 2’s panel compared to the 720p one on the Moto G and it even uses the same toughened Gorilla Glass 3 to add a layer of protection and deliver the impressive viewing angles. The pixel count is pretty much on par with the One Mini 2, offering 326 ppi against the Moto G’s 329ppi.

All of which is, generally speaking, perfectly adequate at this size. Indeed, the One Mini 2 has more or less the same 'pixels per inch' as the iPhone 5S, even if it doesn't quite match the iPhone for overall quality.

HTC One Mini 2: Android and Apps

The One Mini runs on Android 4.4 with the new Sense 6.0 giving you most of the same software perks as the M8. HTC’s skinned approach to Android has always been more successful than something like Samsung's TouchWiz, putting performance before bloatware in the most recent Sense updates. As a result animations are smoother and more fluid.

Other notable changes include the physical hardware buttons making way for software keys you have to swipe up on the screen to reveal. The new HTC clock and BlinkFeed still take up space on one of the homescreens. Blinkfeed, HTC’s social stream feed, where you can scroll and search through feeds. Twitter, can Facebook can cache content, which means you can view information when offline, but it's a feature we suspect most will ignore as we found dipping into Twitter and Facebook apps was still the most natural thing to do.

Some of the apps included on the M8 are missing. The Zoe app is installed in the vertical app draw, but it’s not currently supported on the One Mini 2. Zoe takes stills and video and pulls them together into a slide show. Launching the app suggests it's coming soon and is expected to arrive in the summer. Sense TV also misses out and that’s down to the lack of an IR blaster. Fitbit integration is also absent as the One Mini 2 doesn’t include the M8's new Motion Launch processor, which works in similar manner to the M7 co-processor packed into the iPhone 5S.

The usual Google suspects and stock apps are all there like Google Play’s suite of apps with Media, Productivity and Tools apps all neatly organized into folders. There’s no big surprises here and it has most of the bases covered apart from games. A swift trip to the Google Play store will soon sort that out.

One Mini 2 apps


HTC One Mini 2: Performance

The One Mini 2 moves to a Snapdragon 400 quad-core CPU clocked at 1.2GHz, again another characteristic it shares with the Moto G along with 1GB of RAM to handle multitasking. This is obviously not in the same bracket as the Snapdragon 801 processors inside top tier phones, but it offers more power than most mid to low range smartphones. It’s more than adequate for most tasks and ensures the One Mini 2 can boot up in under 10 seconds and overall runs nice and smooth.

There's no signs of stuttering when swiping through homescreens and launching apps, either. Over time the One Mini showed more of a strain running multiple apps, but in our time with the One Mini 2 it handles multitasking much better. The extra 1GB of RAM the cheaper Nexus 5 manages to include would have been nice, but we experienced few issues here.

One Mini 2 performance


For streaming video and running Real Racing 3, a game that bizarrely is not compatible on the One Mini, the Adreno 305 GPU is well equipped and there’s no concerning frame-rate issues to hamper our gaming experience. The benchmarks show near identical performance with the Moto G, posting a multi-core score of 1,120 in Geekbench 3. In comparison, the Moto G scores 1,155 and the HTC One Mini 749.

All of which is fine, but it’s also worth considering that the cheaper Nexus 5's Snapdragon 800 processor scores much higher at 2,715, more than double of the One Mini. What the benchmark and real world testing shows is that this is a more than capable phone, but it doesn't deliver much bang for your buck considering it's as fast as a _phone_ that costs around £150 (or less) SIM-free and is considerably slower than the Nexus 5 that's around the same price, or less.

HTC One Mini 2: Sound Quality

The HTC BoomSound stereo speakers from the M8, which pretty much blow most other smartphone speakers out of the water, are intact on the One Mini and are hidden behind slightly longer speaker grilles.

Testing it out on Spotify on both the One Mini and Mini 2, the latter does show an improvement particularly in power and bass response where it’s more stable at higher volumes. It’s an equally good showing for gaming or watching films where dialogue comes out nice and clear.

As a means of bypassing carrying around one of those tiny Bluetooth speakers around with you, the Boomsound speakers are still head and shoulders above other phones.

HTC One Mini 2: Camera

Where the HTC One M8 uses HTC's Ultrapixel concept to produce better shots in low-light, the One Mini 2 is rather more conventional. It uses 13-megapixel camera with no optical image stabilization and the Duo camera from the M8 is missing as well, though the 5-megapixel front camera appears to be the same.

The camera app simpler affair at first glance, but it can become fiddly to jump between modes quickly. You can at least quickly switch between camera, video and selfie mode from the icon in the bottom right corner, while over on the left the there’s a decent amount of modes to choose from including HDR, sweep panorama, an anti-shake mode, manual controls, backlight and a text mode, which can highlight the words on a page or screen.

Here are some samples of the One Mini 2 camera modes in action and in comparison to the One M8 and One Mini

Landscape camera mode (HTC One M8 vs One Mini 2)

One Mini 2 vs One M8


Automatic mode (HTC One M8 vs One Mini 2)

One M8 vs One Mini 2


Macro camera mode on HTC One Mini 2

HTC One Mini 2 macro mode



Text camera mode on HTC One Mini 2 (Automatic and Text)
HTC One Mini 2 photo samples 1


HDR mode (HTC One Mini 2 vs One Mini)
HTC One Mini 2 photo samples 2


Automatic mode (HTC One Mini vs One Mini 2)
HTC One Mini 2 photo samples

Low light HDR performance (HTC One Mini vs HTC One Mini 2)


One Mini vs Mini 2 low light HDR

Compared to the One Mini’s Ultrapixel camera, there’s definitely some improvements in overall image quality, particularly in low-light where the HDR mode generates sharper, brighter images with better colour accuracy. The One Mini struggles to keep things in focus as the image above illustrates. In more generous light, HDR mode again delivers the more vibrant image but there’s subtle noise issues in both sample photos.

Against the One M8’s Ultrapixel, the differences are more dramatic. Colour reproduction and overall vibrancy is more telling in the Mini 2 samples, even if both on closer inspection lack overall sharpness. This is particularly noticeable in the sample of the leaves. In the landscape shot, there’s still a murkiness in both images.

It does manage a strong Macro performance, a mode missing from the One Mini. Shooting in automatic mode, images aren't exceptionally sharp, but the One Mini 2 does capture more natural colours than the One Mini.

Despite the improvements to the front-facing camera, shooting some low-light selfies in HDR mode actually show that the One Mini produces the more balanced images. So, more megapixels up front doesn’t necessarily translate to dramatically better images.

Like the One Mini, you can shoot Full HD 1080p where you can shoot in normal, Fast HD at 60fps and slow motion video, and the One Mini 2 does a good job offering clear, vibrant video and clear sound capture, which is all easy to share and upload.

HTC One Mini 2: Battery Life

The One Mini 2 includes a non-removable 2,100mAH battery, up from 1,800mAh in the One Mini, which just about made it through a day. HTC also includes a Power Saver mode where you have the option to conserve CPU usage, reduce screen brightness, turn off vibration feedback and put the data connection to sleep when the screen is off.

Applying these power management tools are crucial to getting a day’s play and even more. In light use and off a single full charge, you can comfortably get a day and half out of the One Mini 2 and that's a big improvement on its predecessor. In more intense circumstances, it’s a little less. Running a standard definition video on loop with 50% brightness and power saver mode on, the One Mini 2 manages a still impressive 9 hours. Again, an improvement on the One Mini.

When the battery is flat out, charging from the mains for 30 minutes adds 15% of battery and takes three hours to get back to full capacity.


HTC One Mini 2: Call Quality

The One Mini 2’s call quality is fine. Not a lot has changed here and it still includes dual microphones and uses HTC’s Sense Vice to increase volume levels when you enter noisy environments to ensure calls are heard loud and clear on both sides of the conversation.

Calls are perfectly audible and noise-free. It doesn’t replicate audio clarity issues you’d normally associate with mid to low range smartphones.

HTC One Mini 2: Connectivity and Storage

The One Mini 2 supports Wifi 802.11 a/b/g/n and is 4G LTE compatible to enjoy those faster web browsing and download speeds depending on the coverage in your area. A run of the Speedtest Android app in Uxbridge and then at our Central London offices with a Vodafone 4G SIM delivers an average of 9Mbps download speeds and 4Mbps upload speeds. Uploads speed get up towards the 35Mbps running in the Central London tests, but that’s well below the maximum 150Mbps speeds. Those optimum scores do of course depend on the perfect coverage conditions.

For multimedia streaming and connectivity, NFC has now been included. There’s 16GB of storage to accommodate files and that’s helped by the fact there’s microSD card support up to 128GB if you are willing to spend big on the additional microSD cards, of course. 


Should I buy the HTC One Mini 2?

This is a difficult one. Just like its larger, more expensive compatriot the One M8, the One Mini 2 is a great-looking phone. It has a great screen, too, a better camera and improved battery life compared to the One Mini, and better than average speakers. But it's hard to escape the feeling it's a little pricey considering the alternatives available.

The new, 4G Moto G, for example, is half the price and offers almost identical performance, but the for the rather average camera. For the same price, meanwhile, you could get the HTC One M7 from last year or the outstanding Nexus 5, which is still one of the best smartphones you can buy and isn't really that much larger in the hand despite its 5-inch screen.

What it comes down to, then, is how much value you put on the One Mini 2's sleek, metal design and its speakers. If these appeal to you it's a good phone that won't let you down, but if you're more concerned with value then there are better deals out there.

Verdict

The HTC One Mini 2 is a nice phone, but at launch it's a little expensive. If you love the design you won't be disappointed with the One Mini 2, but we'd recommend most people seek out cheaper alternatives or wait for the price to drop a little.