Following on from last year’s One mini, the One mini 2 is a scaled-down version of HTC’s flagship, the One (M8). Confusing naming convention aside, the mini 2 looks like an M8 which has been photocopied at 85%. It’s smaller, has a less powerful processor and a lower screen resolution - and also misses out on the M8’s clever Duo rear camera - but its mid-range specs are wrapped up in an aluminium body as gorgeous as its bigger brother.
For those who find a 5-inch phone too large, but want a handset with a premium finish, is the HTC One mini 2 the perfect phone? These are our first impressions.
Look and Feel
Ignoring size for a moment, the mini 2 is just about identical to the M8. Both have a curved aluminium back with a hairline pattern machined into it, both have black plastic antennas splitting the back at the top and bottom, both have a central rear camera and both have dual Boom Sound speakers fitted above and below the screen.
But there are some differences. Where the M8 is finished entirely in aluminium, the mini 2 gets a plastic top and bottom, joined by a seamless matt black frame which sits between the metal rear and glossy black screen bezel. By losing the chrome chamfered edges of the M8, the mini 2 looks slightly less premium, but we’re nitpicking here - the phone still looks and feels great.
Other discrete changes include relocating the M8’s headphone jack to the top, pushing the power and screen lock button from the right to left and ditching the larger phone’s infrared blaster.
The mini 2 has a 4.5-inch screen with a resolution of 1280 x 720 - half an inch smaller than the Full HD M8, but still perfectly respectable for a smaller (and presumably cheaper) mid-range handset.
Our first impressions of the mini 2’s screen are very good. This was an area where the M8 excelled and so far it seems the smaller phone is just as impressive. The backlight is strong, combatting glare and reflection on a sunny day; the screen is evenly lit, and it has wide viewing angles. Although not Full HD, it’s almost impossible to spot individual pixels, so the font looks smooth and icons look sharp - we’ll have more to say in our full review later in the month, but so far it looks like HTC is on to a winner.
Software and Performance
The mini 2 is powered by a 1.2GH quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM, compared to the M8’s 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 chip with 2GB of RAM. The smaller phone may seem a little underpowered compared to its larger stablemate, but we’ll have to spend more time running both phones back-to-back to see what the real-world difference are.
However, after spending a few hours with the mini 2 we can say that its Sense 6.0 UI software over the top of Android 4.4 KitKat feels as smooth and responsive as it does on the M8.
Packing Sense 6 and KitKat means the mini 2’s software is exactly the same as the larger phone - that means you get Blink Feed and Zoe, although the latter is yet to be released by HTC for either handset.
The M8’s unique Duo rear camera is not included with the mini 2 - and neither is the Ultrapixel sensor or dual flash. Instead, HTC has fitted a regular 13-megapixel shooter with a conventional LED flash.
This means mini 2 owners won’t be able to take blurred background ‘bokeh’ photos like those possible with the M8, but the extra resolution (13-megapixels compared to just 4 on the larger phone’s Ultrapixel sensor) will surely be welcomed by many.
On the front HTC has installed a 5-megapixel camera capable of shooting 1080p Full HD video - a camera it claims to be 'perfect for selfies'.
We’ll have much more to say in our full review of the mini 2 later this month, but our first impressions are very good. This is a phone that may only pack mid-range specs, but does so while wearing a smart designer suit. The mini 2 looks great and feels every bit as premium as its larger brother - only time will tell if the drop in specifications will be a problem, or if HTC has created the ideal mid-range, medium-sized smartphone.
HTC is yet to announce a price for the mini 2, but as long as it begins with a 3 for a SIM-free, unlocked model we’ll be happy.