HTC One Mini 2

It's not as big and not as powerful as its namesake, but the HTC One Mini 2 appears to be a very capable smartphone

You can't pick up the new HTC One Mini 2 and not think it.

This is what it's supposed to feel like.

HTC today announced its latest mid-ranger, a dead ringer for its big brother that's destined for Europe, the Middle East and Asia in the coming weeks. We've had a bit of time with the Mini 2, and this much is clear: It's not just a scaled-down version of the HTC One M8. It's smaller, sure. But it's also lacking some of the features that truly make the M8 special. It's got a lower-resolution display, but a higher-resolution camera. (See the complete HTC One Mini 2 specs here.) But it does have that sex appeal of the M8, those curves and that finish — all in a size that's a lot easier to hold, pretty much eliminating our chief complaint about the HTC One M8.

And, in fact, it's that smaller size that is causing a bit of a theoretical conundrum for us. Would we prefer a brand-new HTC One Mini 2? Or an aging but still extremely relevant (and in many ways better-spec'd) HTC One M7 from yesteryear?

We'll tackle that question a little bit later. For now, let's explore the new HTC One Mini 2.

The HTC One Mini video walkthrough

Exploring the HTC One Mini 2

HTC One Mini 2

Let's start with what you can see on the outside. The HTC One Mini 2 (we're just going to call it the Mini 2 at this point) slims down to a 4.5-inch display. That's lopping a good half-inch off the M8's display diagonal, and significantly changing the feel of the phone, even with the extended front-facing BoomSound speakers. That takes nearly a full centimeter off the height of the phone, and half a centimeter off the width. It's just a tad thinner as well.

It's like an HTC One M8. Only different. Smaller and less powerful.

The display itself is 720 by 1280 and looks fine at that size. No complaints there at all. And for those who have been kept up at night by the asymmetrical speakers on the M8, that particular character flaw has been fixed in the Mini 2.

There are some subtle differences in the body as well. You'll find more plastic along the edges and on both the top and bottom sides. HTC says that takes the Mini 2's metal composition down to 50 percent, compared to a about 90 percent in the M8. Presumably that cuts down materials cost as well as production cost. In any event, it doesn't do much to lessen the look and feel of the phone. The buttons have been changed up, with the power button moving back to the top left of the phone, instead of the top right on the M8. It's less of a stretch, for sure. (But a bit of a tax on the ol' blogger brain after using the M8.) The SIM card tray and microSD slot are on either side. And maybe it's preproduction (or early run) wonk, but we're feeling a bit of an imperfect fit in the trays of our unit. We've had M8s suffer from that as well, and the M7 did, too. Not a deal-breaker, but it's noticeable.

HTC One Mini 2

Flip the phone over, and you'll quickly spot the differences. Gone is the secondary "DuoCamera" of the M8. And that means none of the slick re-focusing that's all the rage these days. We can live without it, though. And to soften the blow, the Mini 2 has a much more palatable 13-megapixel camera, and not the 4-"ultrapixel" camera with its 4MP resolution. (The front-facing camera is the same 5MP shooter that's on the M8.) The flash has been reduced to a single tone as well.

In early, casual use, the Mini 2's Snapdragon 400 seems just fine. But you'll miss the cool camera effects.

It's all powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor at 1.2 GHz, with 1 gigabyte of RAM for keeping apps in their place. Tooling around the home screens presents no lag, which is good. We'll have to wait and see how battery life handles on a proper European network. (Alex is on top of that one.)

We've got 16 gigabytes of storage built in, with a little more than 10GB available to the user.

Software-wise, we're looking at Android 4.4.2 and Sense 6, same as on the M8. It's missing some features, most notably in the camera department. It's relegated to just three modes — "Selfie," "Camera" and "Video" — a far cry from the M8. There are still options for editing and filtering photos, just nothing that would have involved the secondary camera for depth information — no defocusing or 3D effects or any of that. You'll still be able to use the Zoe app once it's released to view other people's pictures, but you won't be able to take Zoes yourself.

BlinkFeed is still there, though. So there's that. But you're also missing the Motion Launch gestures, and there's no HTC TV (because there's no IR port).

The bottom line, so far

HTC One Mini 2

That the HTC One Mini 2 lacks the features of the M8 is not to say it's a bad phone. We're not getting that feeling at all. It looks and feels great. It's snappy. The BoomSound speakers (and audio enhancements), while smaller, still sound better than any rear-speakered phone out there.

Our question: Buy the Mini 2? Or a 2013 HTC One M7 with more features? Depends on the price, perhaps.

But the question we keep asking ourselves — and one we'll try to answer later in a full review — is this: If there's any sort of parity in pricing between the HTC One Mini 2 and 2013's HTC One M7, should you not opt for the older, but better-featured phone?

We know what HTC's answer would be, probably. And it (and the businesses that sell the phones) will certainly push you in whatever direction makes them the most money. But we just can't help but wonder if that's the best direction for you, the consumer.

Stay tuned.


Reader comments

Hands-on with the HTC One Mini 2


This should have a totally different name. I get the space considerations, but the HTC One line shouldn't get treated to specs that suck this badly. Taking away Zoes, the beautiful screen and dropping the SoC & RAM to less than half performance is scary. I get people want a smaller form factor and THAT makes sense, but I think we wanted to see an M8 in a smaller form factor, not a slightly beefed up HTC Thunderbolt with better software 3 years later.

HTC - I want to like you! But you gotta meet us half way! And I don't mean with half a device.

I'm assuming you mean you basically want them to take the Sony approach by releasing a compact version?

That's fine but tbh how many people would buy these phones if they due to their high end specs would cost the same as the bigger flagship devices?

There is a huge market for mid range devices and this phones actually looks better than most phones out there.. It's also has a pretty good camera setup which makes it a good selling point..
Most people wouldn't care that it has a snapdragon 400 inside, when Sense 6 still runs perfectly fine on it

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So midrange automatically means smaller display, and vice versa (flagship must be huge)? There are a few hundred million users of a particular smartphone with a smaller footprint that doesn't have subpar or mid-range specs--why do we assume all customer's who would choose Android want giant phones?

And they don't have to cost the same. I'm using a Z1 Compact that retails for significantly less than it's 'flagship' big brother yet doesn't compromise on any of the hardware.

This phone is the same size as last year's HTC flagship, yet offers subpar hardware and will almost certain cost more than a new M7 would. HTC needs to take their head out of the $@% and actually think about their business strategy.

If the question is whether or not I would buy an M8 in a Moto X sized frame at the same price as an M8 - yes. I understand that components cost money and that some devices are large enough to where people are worried about portability/usability, etc.

I'm assuming that Ultrapixels are out due to cost and/or size considerations, same with the battery and that's cool - and dropping to 720p can be justified by space/cost considerations as well. Those last two work together to an extent, less power is required to power a smaller, lower res screen.

Lowering the RAM, GPU & CPU and dropping features is what stings here. Of course, they could drop to a majorly low price point given those changes, but this really appears to be a Moto G competitor and what is asked for is a HTC One M8, Galaxy S5, LG G2 & Xperia Z2 competitor in a smaller body. Smaller shouldn't automatically equate to "budget".

As long as they keep making phones uncomfortably large, I'll pay double for the flagship specs in a normal-sized phone. Money goes away but holding a stupid huge monster device never does.

People buy benefits, not features. The larger screen of the full sized M8 doesn't offer much extra benefit, and the size is working against it for many potential buyers. I think the Sony approach would do HTC some real good, in terms of sales, especially if they release it first, then the larger one later for those who absolutely feel the have to have the 5+ inch screen.

"the beautiful screen" Oh come one, the HTC One X had a fantastic screen. Not for its time; it still looks great. And since this is at 4.5 inches it'll be well over retina territory. Let's not forget that the camera can actually take better shots in regular sunlight as well. And it's looks like the performance is still pretty good.

Don't get me wrong, this is in no way a miniature version of the M8. But the way I see it, the Moto X is to the One M8 as the Moto G is to the One Mini 2. In both cases you pay $200 less for a similar build and material phone with a smaller screen and mid-range specs. Unfortunately HTC starts to see some problems when people start to compare the Mini 2 to the Moto X.

One more thing: "a slightly beefed up Thunderbolt"? Entirely incorrect. That might just be the biggest insult to a smartphone ever. I might have to borrow that from you sometime, though.

At the time of that post the specs were listed to include a qHD screen, 1GB RAM, etc. My Tbolt was closer to those specs in a lot of way than the actual M8 is (and the M7), however give the update to the article(s) that it is a 720p screen, it does become much more comparable to the Moto G.

Mini 2 vs. Moto X - that was my thought as well. I've never had a Motorola, and I've been watching the M8 with keen interest, so I was hoping the Mini 2 would not disappoint. Now, I'm waiting on the Moto X+1 to see what they come up with, but I think I might even be happier with the Moto X that's out now than with either HTC phone.

so much bezel. but i'm the type to want smaller bezels and dimensions over boom sound. speaker on the bottom side is the sweet spot.

Agreed. I use my phone's speaker about 10 minutes a month, but I have to hold it and stick it in my pocket every day a good part of the day. I'd rather get rid of the space.

How is the camera compared to the m8 though? 13mp vs 4.1 ultra pixel....would it have been a better choice to go with the 13 or does the ultra pixel cam beat it in quality

This is the important difference. I am very curious about how the camera performs. If the sensor is decent it should do pretty well with f/2.2, and generally capture more detail than the ultra pixel sensor. I never found 4MP to be quite enough, especially in wide format.

You'll notice the drop of available Ram via the lowe price point..

Would you rather have a bad camera setup and double the ram?

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Basically this phone has the specs of Moto G , just w better camera and "fancier" body.
I'm really curious how much will they sell it for. Highly doubt below 350$ if not 400$+ W the given size, people can pick up just any flagship from the last year for the same amount and get more value.
Anything over 300$ for this phone is a miss, big miss (again).

VZW Moto X

So according to your logic what matters in a phone is the processor and amount of Ram?

The moto g is a budget phone all around.. It's a got a crappy camera and a build quality that is pretty cheap..
It's still cheap and a good buy for that price point, but don't be comparing it to the htc one mini 2.

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You got it wrong. It's not to me and my logic, that camera and build quality is less important. my question is - would anyone value that as much as 200$ and up. Especially w the fact that for almost the same money -those who do value that addition , can by far more superior phones like S4, N5 etc.
My point is - who do you sell this phone to for 350 $ +

VZW Moto X

I dont know about him, but I would, yes. If i cared that much about a phones camera, i'd buy a Nokia. Or an actual camera. I want the phone to be fast so the more ram the better.

1GB of ram is fine on kit kat. I used the Moto G for a bit and its performance is more than acceptable.

Posted via Android Central App

Just got my m8 yesterday....although it's a fantastic phone I really miss my nexus 5

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HTC can easily take this opportunity to price match this to the Moto G and SELL.
They won't.

Posted via Android Central App from my Moto X

Htc one (M7) anyone? It has better specs and has the Zoo feature and it will have sense 6 at some point.

I don't get this M8 mini 2 when there is the M7.

Posted via Android Central App

Big fan of those massive bezels...

And HTC has proven time and time again that it cannot deliver a good experience by having only 1GB of RAM and shoving Sense on there. Pay the extra 75 cents, HTC, and at least put in 1.5.

Modern Sense is a lot more scaled back than the sense of yesteryear. It should run on 1GB ram just fine. The s400 chip is very capable as well.

There is so much dead surface area on the front of that phone it's wild. HTC needs to figure this out. Looks awful IMHO..

Dear HTC, here's a better naming for the three One devices you're releasing this year:
HTC One S8
HTC One M8
HTC One L8
You're welcome.

Still I don't understand why OEM's thinking and marketing stratergy is this much absurd? "Mini" means budget. People must not desire to use a high specd smaller phone. It is a sin. They should use only mini phone with mediocre specs. If they want phone with high specs they must carry a tank in their pocket. No matter they like it or not. Wow!!!!! Appreciate the great common sense of OEM's. Thanks to Sony for delivering what people have been wanting for years with Z1 compact.

The issue is making a phone smaller with the same specs generally will make the phone more expensive to produce due to design reasons. The only real cost saving part would be the screen and that's a marginal one at that. At best they'd end up costing the same to produce. So if you took the One M8, retained it's specs, and made it 15% smaller it will cost you the same to make, yet people will expect to pay $100-$150 less for it. Just can't do that.

Yes. definitely agree that. Even that is what sony also did. the price difference between Z1 and Z1 compact is not much(atleast here in India). But still I see people going for Z1 compact very happily without complaining much. I think the needs of this segment of market that wants a compact flagship with whatever cost it may be is not at all fulfilled.

I agree, people expect a mini to be cheaper. From a marketing standpoint, if a company wanted to offer the same specs at different sizes, they would need to release both/all sizes simultaneously, and present the phones side by side. They could use a phrase like "get exactly what you want, and don't compromise". I'll bet that would generate interest in all the sizes, not just the monster screens.

OMG! What is wrong with you people? If HTC doesn't make a damn phone that's perfect for you, then just shut up and go buy the phone that is! Sheez! All of this whining about bezels and it's not spec'd high enough and why can't they do this and why can't they do that? ? Blah blah blah! PLEASE JUST GO BUY THE PHONE THAT YOU LIKE. IT'S OBVIOUSLY NOT THIS PHONE!

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The M8 is too big. Period. They should have packed the features of the M8 into the form factor of the M7. In my opinion, any "mini" should have a screen size not exceeding 4 inches. If my M7 broke today, I would replace it in a heartbeat with another M7.

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I call bullshit! I have the phone and it's the perfect size for me and I'm not the only one. You don't get to make a definitive statement about something that truly is just your opinion! Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one!

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My note 2 was huge at first but after about 3 weeks it was just like having a normal size phone...big android phones are in...if the demand was for high end 4.3 inch android phones they would be making them but Samsung,HTC,and Lg are making a boat load of money off 5.0 inch plus form factor phones...

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I agree they're all making $$ on big phones, but we can't really know if there is a significant demand for smaller sizes because no one is testing that market. I think Moto and Sony are both working in the direction of catering to those who don't want to carry a small flat-screen TV in their pockets, but Moto is combating a mediocre reputation (at best), and Sony is priced a bit too high for the masses to even look at. Samsung, HTC, and LG are the names people gravitate to, and until they start building high-spec, smaller screen phones, we won't really know how many want them.

I, for one, prefer a smaller phone. My Galaxy Nexus is getting long in the tooth, but it's still about as large as I ever want to carry.

I look forward to seeing camera samples from this device, compared to the M8. I hope HTC doesn't gimp the software on the Mini 2, so it makes the low res photos of the M8 look better. I don't care about zoes, and focusing after the fact.

I just wish one of the major manufacturers would recognize not everyone wants to choose between a phone that's too big for anyone but Shaq to use one-handed, or a phone with second-rate performance and features. Give me the power of an HTC One or a Samsung S5 with a screen size about equal to an S3, and I'll happily pay the price for a premium phone. But I'm not sure I'd swap my S3 for any of the current "mini" phones or their giant big brothers.

Looks is not so attractive as G Moto or Moto X, lets see how much competition HTC can provide to moto series

Also i will wait to see the camera images taken because as per camera secs device becomes more interesting

When one has to use both hands to work a smart phone, that should not be called a "mini" any more.

Yeah, you can pick up an M7 for cheap now. Probably cheaper than the M8 Mini when it is released.

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Funny how people complain about bloat on touchwiz on the s5 but

"We've got 16 gigabytes of storage built in, with a little more than 10GB available to the user."
just as bad with bloat.

The most telling part about this entire article was the photo just below the "The bottom line, so far" section.

Check out that wear and tear on the full size M8 already. Yikes.