HTC One mini 2 review: A question of price
HTC has been creating some cracking smartphones in recent times, best of all was the One. It then followed up with a smaller version aimed at the cheaper mid-range market called the One Mini. In more recent times HTC released the One (M8) and history is repeating itself in the form of the One mini 2.
Has HTC taken out the essence of the capable One (M8) in making the new mini more affordable? Do we have a mid-range champion on our hands? Let’s find out in my One mini 2 review.
HTC One (M8) vs One mini 2
It makes sense to first work out what corners HTC have cut to make the One mini 2 cost £360, instead of the £540 for the One (M8).
Firstly, the display is 4.5-inches on the One mini 2 and of the 720p variety, which means the detail is reduced. This has the knock-on effect of making it smaller. Secondly, the UltraPixel One (M8) snapper is now a 13-megapixel camera.
Lastly, the processor is slightly slower (although both are quad cores) and the One (M8) has 2GB of RAM instead of the One mini 2’s 1GB. All in all, both devices are going to offer top-spec performance, it’s just the One (M8) has superior internals but an inferior camera until you get into low-light conditions.
HTC One mini 2: Design
The One (M8) and One mini 2 both have an aluminium case, which has a brushed metal finish to the case and the same gunmetal grey colour. It looks and feels like a premium device, especially coming from the plastic of Samsung. It weighs 137g and is 10.7mm thick, making it nicely pocketable.
The amplifier found in the One (M8) power two speakers using BoomSound technology. This is why the One mini 2 is a tad larger than its nearest rival, the Moto G.
On the back is a 13-megapixel camera and flash and on the front is a five-megapixel camera (more on those later). At the top is the power and lock/unlock button. To the right is the volume rocker, which is easy enough to reach. Sadly the top location for the power button is awkward.
Aesthetics are a definite strong point of the One mini 2. The One (M8) was a stylish device and its smaller sibling is no different. It does, however, still pale in comparison next to an admittedly much more expensive iPhone 5 and you would certainly find more durability in a Nokia windows Phone.
Chamfered edges and a brushed metal finish are definitely preferred, but the downside is how easy you can drop it. Slippery is an understatement. Worth bearing in mind if you are accident prone.Mmmm metal
HTC One mini 2: Display
The Super LCD 3 display offers a 710p HD resolution and as a result the pixels-per-inch score is 326 – just shy of the Moto G’s 329 and a fair bit short of the Nexus 5’s 445. It is bright and clear, although definitely lacking in detail compared with any full HD flagship smartphone.
Gorilla Glass 3 attempts to keep the screen in one piece should you drop the HTC One mini 2. I get the feeling it would survive a hit or two, but I was unwilling to find out.
Viewing angles are good so there’s no need to look dead straight on at the display to see it at its best. At 4.5-inches, the display is much less unwieldy. One-handed use with the One (M8), for instance, can be difficult as you really need to stretch your thumb to reach the top of the display. Not such an issue for the smaller One mini 2.HTC’s BlinkFeed in action
HTC One mini 2: Operating system
HTC Sense 6.0 and Android 4.4 KitKat run the show. That means the One mini 2 is up-to-date and as slick as you can get short of adding your own custom launcher app.
The One mini 2 benefits from the highly useful Android notification menu. Here notifications gather in a queue so you know what your phone has been up to. In the top right is a button to swap to a quick settings menu. Here you can adjust a number of options including brightness, Bluetooth and get into the full settings menu.
HTC’s BlinkFeed gathers in your social networking feeds into one place. Most of the time you will feel inclined to go into the respective Twitter and Facebook apps, but on occasion a quick look at BlinkFeed suffices.
Zoe is an app that turns your videos and photos into a slideshow. This is currently unavailable, at least until HTC sort out device support. A summer 2014 release date has been promised.
Like most Android devices, customisation is king. Swapping about apps, widgets and adjusting the look and feel of your One mini 2 is painless once you know how. Various on-screen prompts help get you started if you are unsure.
The Android massive will no doubt load up something like Launcher Pro for unrivalled customisation. The more mainstream user will be more than happy with HTC’s blend of its own and Google’s software design.
My only gripe was the lack of permanent hardware or digital buttons. When viewing a photo, for instance, you have to press the screen before you get the option to go back to the home screen. It seems like an unnecessary step.
HTC One mini 2: Camera and video
One area where the One mini 2 excels is with the camera. It lacks the same detail as, say, the Nokia Lumia 1020 PureView snapper, but swapping from UltraPixel technology to a more standard 13-megapixel camera has resulted in better photos.
Whereas the One (M8) can sometimes refuse to autofocus properly, the One mini 2 behaved. Skin tones look natural and the detail is pretty good. Enable the manual settings mode and you can even introduce a bit of blurring behind the subject (known as bokeh).
Speaking of the manual mode, the One mini 2’s interface is well thought out and reminiscent of the Lumia 1020. A series of sliders allow you to either select automatic or fine-tune things like the ISO, aperture, white balance and focus. Simplicity is very much order of the day.
Other areas of the camera menu are just as well thought out. Swapping between the front-facing camera and the rear one, for instance, is done via a big full-screen menu comprised just three buttons. Technophobes, rejoice.
The One mini 2 has a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, the same one you get on the One (M8), in fact. Taking ‘selfies’ is, therefore, easy if you are into such a thing.
You can edit your photo once it has been taken using a reasonable number of built-in options. You can remove red eye, for instance, or smooth out your skin. There’s even an option to increase the size of your eyes (no really) if you ever want to know how you would look as an anime character or make your eyes brighter.Not all photo adjustments are useful…
Some options are more useful than others, admittedly, but it’s good to have a choice. The array of Instagram-esque filters are a highlight if you like your photos to look more ‘artsy’.
Moving onto video, the One mini 2 is capable of full 1080p HD recording. Bear in mind the default is 720p for some reason. Videos are smooth and detailed, but perhaps not as silky as you get on the iPhone 5S.
It’s possible to swap between normal, slow motion and fast HD (60 fps) settings, giving you a bit more freedom in how you shoot your videos. You can also make various manual adjustments like you can with photos.The volume rocker feels good quality
HTC One mini 2: Performance
Spec jargon incoming, guys and gals. The One mini 2 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad core processor clocked at 1.2GHz and 1GB of RAM. That puts it squarely in the mid-range area but you would be hard-pressed to tell.
Apps open and close very quickly and navigation between menus and home pages is buttery smooth. Games run very well, too. Really, it’s hard to fault the power underneath the hood if you care little about bragging to friends about benchmarking scores.
HTC one mini 2: Value for money
With a price of £360, the One mini 2 is by no means good value. A Moto G costs £149 and is just about as accomplished. Certainly a close enough gap to make the significant price gap an issue.
The Nexus 5 is also cheaper than the One mini 2 and that is a flagship product. You could also go for the older HTC One as that was and still is a very capable Android smartphone.
The Windows Phone camp has a number of options within that price range, including the Nokia Lumia 1020. A quick search on Google reveals Nokia’s flagship smartphone goes for less than £300 at the time of writing.
In short, the One mini 2 is anything but good value for money, which is a shame given the quality of the device. Priced lower and it would be a force to be reckoned with.
HTC One mini 2 release date and price
The HTC One mini 2 will be available from the end of May 2014, priced from £360. It will be available in Gunmetal Grey, Glacial Silver and Amber Gold. Networks have yet to announce availability.
HTC One mini 2: Verdict
There’s a lot to like about the HTC One mini 2. It feels and looks like an expensive smartphone. We also like HTC Sense 6.0 for ease of use and that it offers enough performance for the average user and then some.
Unfortunately the Moto G, Nexus 5 and a few other smartphones make it look expensive. As great as the One mini 2 is, it has been priced out of the mid-range market. Unless you absolutely must have an HTC or crave aesthetics, your money is better spent elsewhere. Unless you can find a really competitive contract.
Review rating: Dangerous