HTC One Mini 2 Hands On: Like a Small M8, but Not a Small M8

By Gerald Lynch on at

Yep, you read that headline correctly -- this isn’t the HTC One M8 Mini, as had widely been rumoured, but a HTC One Mini 2, a follow up to last year’s flagship spin-off. And it’s a distinction that’s important to make.

Though the HTC One Mini 2 looks like a shrunken-down version of this year’s One M8, a phone that wowed us back in March, it’s missing a number of of the M8’s headline features. Gone is the dual-lens rear Duo Camera, the Motion Launch gestures are missing too and you won’t be able to get the attractive Dot View case for it either, due to its reliance on the aforementioned Motion Launch features. Its core specs, while notably improved from last year’s One Mini, aren’t as impressive as those of the M8. Its design language has evolved to keep pace with this year’s device, but compromises have been made to fit into this smaller frame. While it’s less exciting than a fully miniaturised One M8, at least HTC is being honest by aligning the handset’s naming with last year’s spin off.

That’s not to say what’s present here isn’t worthy, particularly if oversized phones like the 5-inch M8 don’t float your boat, and especially if the industrial design of the M8 has piqued your interest. It may not have a full aluminium unibody (there’s a notable plastic edging to the device, especially around the top edge where the M8’s IR blaster is no-longer present), but the tidy, comfortable curve of the M8’s casing does remain. Measuring 4.5-inches in size (up from the One Mini’s 4.3-inches but down from the M8’s 5-inches), there’s a nicely-sized 720p screen present, comfortable to use in one hand if not as sharp as its full-fat inspiration. Just like with the M8, grey, silver and gold colour options will be available. Note too that the silver volume rocker seen in my images will be replaced by a grey shade the same as the rest of the phone when the devices eventually hit stores.

HTC’s Sense 6 reskinning of Android 4.4.2 carries over to the One Mini 2 and, aside from omissions relating to the Duo Camera, Motion Launch and TV-controlling features, all other software features from the M8 are present. You’ve got the Blinkfeed social and news aggregator as one of your homescreens for instance, as well as the optional Kid-friendly mode and Zoe moving image picture gallery. Powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor backed by 1GB of RAM, the handset smoothly glided through applications during my brief time with it. It’s not the powerhouse that the M8’s Snapdragon 801 processor is, but I believe few but the keenest tech-heads would notice outside of a side-by-side face-off. It also felt noticeably snappier than the One Mini’s 1.4GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400.

The differences in the cameras between the One Mini 2 and the One M8 however will be more keenly felt. The One Mini 2 makes use of a standard 13MP rear camera (with a 5MP one up front) rather than the One M8’s unique Ultrapixel Duo Camera. Whether you buy into the “ultrapixel” benefits or not, and even if you don’t care about the Duo Camera’s depth-tweaking features, the One Mini 2’s camera upon first impressions didn’t seem as capable of capturing fine details and rich colours as the HTC One M8’s system could.

The impressive BoomSound speakers also return for the One Mini 2, and they’re using an updated amp to bring their output more in line with this year’s M8. Despite the smaller frame, they’re still incredibly loud, offering clear and reasonably-bassy stereo sound when the handset is held in landscape view.

NFC is onboard, with the HTC One Mini 2 offering up 16GB of storage space, expandable by microSD cards. And though its 2,100mAh battery seems slight, HTC promises it’ll deliver comparable usage lengths as found in the One M8, which I’ve found to be very impressive, regularly stretching into a second day’s worth of juice.

Not the phone then perhaps that many had hoped for given how impressive the HTC One M8 is, but a solid enough handset that looks set to land at a notably cheaper price point. We’re still waiting on confirmed pricing and stockist details (HTC says to expect similar support as the original HTC One Mini received), but expect to see it in stores by June. We’ll also have a full review following shortly, so head back here soon for that too.