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Hands-On: HTC One mini 2

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May 15, 2014, 2:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today trotted out a smaller version of its flagship smartphone, fittingly called the One mini 2. This easier-to-handle handset offers all the good looks of its bigger brother, but not quite all the same features. Here are our first impressions.

from HTC

The HTC One mini 2 is just as attractive and finely-crafted as the larger, pricer One (M8). HTC wants the One mini 2 to appeal to the same design-conscious customers it is chasing with the M8, knowing that even those who love good design can't always pay for it. HTC made key concessions in creating the One mini 2 in order to drop the price to a point where it will be appealing to a wider set of potential customers.

This leaves consumers with a choice: spend more money to get the One (M8), or spend less to get a phone that looks just as good, but loses some of the defining characteristics of HTC's flagship property?

The One mini 2 is a compact and attractive handset. As with the M8, it is milled from a single block of aluminum. HTC claims 90% of the M8's chassis (not including the screen) is aluminum. With the One mini 2, that number drops to about 50% -- though you can hardly tell. Where the M8 features a curved metal back plate that wraps around the side edges all the way to the display, the mini 2 replaces some of that metal along the sides with polycarbonate. HTC said this not only saves money on materials, but also on manufacturing costs. The same black polycarbonate bands appear on the back, but they aren't as clean or flush as they are on the M8. That minor point aside, the One mini 2 feels every bit as polished and well-designed as the M8. HTC took obvious care in bringing over as much of the M8's high-end appeal as possible. I think it mostly succeeded.

The One mini 2 still has BoomSound, though it's not quite as loud as its larger brother. Most buttons and controls are in the same places. That means the volume toggle is on the right; the screen lock button is on the top; the microUSB port is on the bottom; the SIM card slot is on the left; and the microSD card slot is on the right. The headphone jack has been moved from the bottom (on the M8) to the top of the One mini 2.

 

Body

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Apart from the design, there's actually very little the One mini 2 shares with the M8. The One mini 2 has a 4.5-inch 720p HD screen. It uses a Super LCD 3 panel. It is amazingly bright, and the smaller dimensions help make up a bit for the smaller pixel count. My eyes can tell it's not 1080p HD, though.

Astute observers will note there's only a single camera on the back of the One mini 2. HTC was forced to ditch the duo-camera design for cost and space reasons. In fact, HTC also ditched the M8's 4-Ultrapixel camera sensor and opted for a traditional 13-megapixel sensor instead. HTC said the One mini 2 won't offer quite the same level of low-light performance of the M8, buy hey - three times as many pixels! The front-facing camera is also downgraded, from 8-megapixels to 5-megapixels. The camera software loses some features too, including the Zoe camera, dual-capture (front/back), and 360-degree panorama. Don't worry, Selfie mode has been preserved. The One mini 2 downgrades the M8's two-tone flash - meant to help improve skin tone - to a single LED element.

To be honest, the few test shots we took still looked pretty darned good, so don't fret too much.

The last major difference between the two handsets is the processor. The M8 has a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor - in other words, the best processor currently available. The One mini 2 takes two steps back and downgrades to a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM. I've tested the 400 in several handset this year. So far, I can't say I've noticed a performance problem with any of the devices using the Snapdragon 400 - and that includes the One mini 2. After using the phone for several days, there was no lag apparent in the user interface, and most apps launched quickly. Probably the only time I noticed slower performance was when it came time to download apps/updates from the Play Store. The process took longer with the One mini 2 than it did with the M8.

 

One v One mini 2

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The One mini 2 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and Sense 6.0, which is the exact same setup on the M8. That means it has the new Blinkfeed app and all the other revised apps and services developed by HTC.

As far as first impressions go, the HTC One mini 2 leaves a strong one. In fact, were it not for that fact that we're already acquainted with its older brother, we'd call the One mini 2 one of the most attractive and well-designed devices out there.

HTC has not committed to bringing the One mini 2 to the U.S. - yet. HTC announced the original One mini under similar conditions last year and it was eventually sold by AT&T in the U.S. I wouldn't be too surprised to see AT&T or T-Mobile pick up the One mini 2 later this summer.

 

Comparison

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

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Make it smaller and faster! Colombianmax May 15, 2014, 10:18 AM
 
 
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