HTC One Mini 2, Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

How do HTC and Samsung's miniature flagships measure up?

The vast number of mid-range Android devices on the market means there's no shortage of choice for those wanting a smaller, less expensive handset. This year, both HTC and Samsung have fielded "mini" versions of their popular high-end offerings in this form factor, both with 4.5-inch displays and similar hardware loadouts.

As is the case at the high end, HTC and Samsung's mid-level offerings reflect the differences in the two companies' approaches to smartphone design. HTC leads with a flashy metallic chassis and carefully considered software; Samsung is all about expandability and features — what the phone can do more than how it looks.

So it's time to pit these mid-range "minis" against each other. Joins us after the break to see how the Galaxy S5 Mini and HTC One Mini 2 compare.

HTC One Mini 2, Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Hardware and build quality

The HTC One Mini 2 and the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini mostly stick to the design language of their larger, more premium siblings. So in a repeat of that great smartphone rivalry, it's a question of plastic versus metal, aesthetics versus features, removable stuff versus... slightly less removable stuff.

Plastic versus metal, aesthetics versus features, removable stuff versus... slightly less removable stuff.

Externally, the One Mini 2 is clearly the better-looking, more premium-feeling handset. Though its metal casing doesn't extend all the way around its sides, it's clearly a classier phone than Samsung's all-plastic effort — at least on the outside. The GS5 is lighter and a little grippier, with its textured plastic rear, but it's nowhere near as eye-catching as HTC's aluminum.

The trade-off? From a functional perspective, Samsung's battery is removable, whereas HTC's is fixed (both weigh in at 2,100mAh, for what that's worth.) So there's the potential to swap out a fresh battery in the GS5 Mini, or replace it if it eventually fails.

The GS5 Mini also offers an array of features you won't find in the One Mini 2, water resistance being the most useful. The home key also incorporates a fingerprint scanner for biometric security on your lock screen, or when making PayPal payments. And around the back there's a heart rate monitor, which works with the bundled S Health app.

HTC One Mini 2, Samsung Galaxy S5 MiniHTC One Mini 2, Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

With 4.5-inch displays, both handsets fit similarly in the hand — there's basically no difference in width between the two, though HTC's front-facing speakers make its phone noticeably taller, while also shifting the screen up slightly. The pay-off is significantly louder, bassier audio from the HTC device. Samsung's rear-mounted speaker isn't especially bad, but it can't match HTC's BoomSound.

The displays themselves are both 1280x720 resolution panels, but differ greatly in terms of their technology. HTC uses an LCD, whereas Samsung's opted for its home-grown SuperAMOLED. Text appears sharper on the One Mini 2 on account of its RGB subpixel matrix, compared to the GS5 Mini's diamond PenTile arrangement. For most users it'll be a subtle difference, but look closely at text on the GS5 Mini and you'll see signs of jagged edges in on-screen fonts. Whites also appear cleaner on the One Mini 2, whereas the GS5 gives them a very slight yellowish hue.

Both panels use artificial contrast enhancement to give colors a bolder, punchier appearance — the One Mini 2 more so than the GS5, based on viewing color charts on the devices. That said, Samsung's SuperAMOLED produces considerably more vibrant colors without looking excessively over-processed. By contrast, the One Mini 2's colors appear pretty washed-out compared to most modern smartphone displays. Samsung also offers a super-high brightness mode which engages in very bright sunlight to make things more visible, though at the cost of overall image contrast.

As for which one is more pleasing to look at... In our opinion that'd probably be the GS5 Mini's SuperAMOLED, on account of its more vibrant colors. And Samsung's use of off-screen buttons also means more of that 4.5-inch display is dedicated to your apps and content at all times.

Specs

Category Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini HTC One Mini 2
Dimensions 131.1 x 64.8 x 9.1 mm 137.43 x 65.04 x 10.6mm
Weight 120g 137g
Colors Shimmery White, Charcoal Black, Copper Gold, Electric Blue Gunmetal Gray, Glacial Silver, Amber Gold
Display 4.5-inch HD (720 x 1280) Super AMOLED 4.5-inch HD (720 x 1280) LCD
CPU Quad-core processor at 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core at 1.2 GHz
Platform Android 4.4 with TouchWiz Android 4.4 with HTC Sense 6
Internal Storage 16GB + microSD up to 64GB 16GB + microSD up to 128GB
RAM 1.5GB 1GB
Camera Rear: 8.0MP with LED Flash
Front: 2.1MP (FHD)
Rear: 13MP, BSI sensor with f/2.2 lens
Front: 5MP, BSI sensor
Video 1080p, 30fps 1080p, 30fps
Value-added features IP67 Dust and Water Resistant, Ultra Power Saving mode, S Health, Private Mode/Kids Mode HTC BoomSound, HTC BlinkFeed, HTC Zoe Video Highlights, Extreme Power Saving Mode
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, NFC (LTE ver. only), Bluetooth® v4.0 LE, USB 2.0, GPS, IR Remote 3.5mm stereo audio, NFC, Wifi 802.11 a/b/g/n, DLNA, HTC Connect, microUSB 2.0, GPS
Battery 2,100mAh removable 2,100mAh non-removable

HTC One Mini 2, Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Performance and battery life

Outside of benchmarks, there's little difference in performance.

Both phones run quad-core CPUs at 1.4GHz, using ARM's Cortex A7 cores. However these are contained within different SoCs. Samsung uses its own Exynos design, which pairs it with an ARM Mali 400 MP GPU; HTC uses an off-the-shelf Snapdragon 400, with a Qualcomm Adreno 305 GPU. The One Mini 2 is loaded up with 1GB of RAM — about the minimum we'd expect even for an entry-level handsets — while Samsung totes a roomier 1.5GB.

In day-to-day usage, there's really not a whole lot to tell these two apart. Both perform well enough — there's a tangible difference compared to the top-level Android flagships, but neither really feels slow. It takes synthetic benchmarks to tell the two apart in any perceptible way.

Benchmark Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini HTC One Mini 2
Antutu 18426 17206
Antutu CPU integer 2084 1792
Antutu CPU float-point 1661 1446
Antutu 2D graphics 1519 1030
Antutu 3D graphics 5052 5348
GFXBench Manhattan 1080p Offscreen N/A 104
GFXBench T-rex 1080p Offscreen 369 326

Overall the GS5 Mini, with its extra RAM and speedier GPU, scores a little higher, but it's not a landslide victory. The most interesting difference between the two is graphical performance — the Mali 400 MP of the GS5 Mini appears to outperform the One Mini 2's Adreno 305 in most graphical benchmarks, though the lack of support for OpenGL ES 3.0 in the older Mali chip may limit its potential in newer titles.

When it comes to battery life, we've found in real-world use that both handsets keep going for about the same amount of time — a solid 16 hours of moderate use on LTE and Wifi, of which around four were spent with the screen on.

In synthetic benchmarks the GS5 Mini pulls ahead once again, scoring 322 minutes compared to the One Mini 2's 237 minutes in the GFXBench battery test, which loops the T-rex demo continuously. The GS5 Mini produced a lower performance score during the battery test, though — 522 versus 614 — and considering that the GS5 won in our initial run of this demo sequence, this suggests thermal throttling may have contributed to the GS5's higher battery life score.

HTC One Mini 2, Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Software and features

The HTC One Mini 2 and Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini both run Android 4.4.2 KitKat, though it's topped with two radically different UIs. Samsung's TouchWiz is all about bright colors and an ever-expanding feature set, while HTC's Sense is a little more reserved and considered — and in our opinion, the better-looking of the two. TouchWiz is perfectly functional, but HTC's UI seems more thoughtfully designed, and more enjoyable to use as a result.

Samsung's mini retains more features from its flagship phone.

Samsung has arguably retained more of the headline features of its flagship phone, however. Aside from the previously mentioned fingerprint scanner and heart rate sensor, the GS5 Mini's S Health app can make use if the built-in pedometer — a feature missing from the One Mini 2. In fact, the HTC device doesn't really have any bundled health features to speak of. Same deal with the inbuilt IR blaster, which works with Samsung's Smart Remote app.

Elsewhere, you'll find a labyrinthine layout of features and settings on the GS5 Mini — some useful, some less so. We've already gone over the vast array of TouchWiz features in our Galaxy S5 Mini review — basically, the vast majority of GS5 features of consequence have made it across.

Software

HTC brings its core experience with a couple of notable exceptions.

Over on the HTC side, the core experience is there — the BlinkFeed home screen launcher, HTC's Zoe video highlight features and a selection of themes with which you can customize the UI, and the optional Zoe Beta app for sharing your creations on the web. But there's some fairly significant stuff missing. There's no IR blaster, and thus no Sense TV app. And the One Mini 2 doesn't support Motion Launch, HTC's method for unlocking the phone with a double-tap or swipe. Neither is a deal-breaker, but both take the user experience further away from what's available in HTC's flagship.

Ultimately, it's a question of style versus functionality. Everything in HTC's Sense 6 UI is incredibly polished and attractive — and fast to boot, thanks to HTC's legendary touch responsiveness. But there's no denying that the GS5 Mini is a phone that can do more out of the box.

HTC One Mini 2, Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Cameras

On paper the HTC One Mini 2 would seem to have the advantage when it comes to mobile photography — a 13MP BSI sensor behind an f/2.2 lens, compared to the 8MP sensor of the GS5 Mini, with f/2.4. In reality, things are weighted in favor of the Samsung device.

The Galaxy S5 Mini produces photos with less visible noise, brighter, more accurate colors and wider dynamic range. HTC's 13-megapixel unit isn't bad for a mid-range device — and with its wide-angle lens, you'll capture a wider view of your scene, too — but overall Samsung just produces better-looking photos. And it's a similar story when it comes to video, with footage from the HTC One Mini 2 appearing more washed-out than video from the GS5 Mini.

Unfortunately, neither device performs well in low light — HTC's mini produces dark, noisy images, whereas Samsung's software stabilization mode results in brighter but much softer shots, lacking in fine detail.

That said, selfie enthusiasts should take into account the HTC One Mini 2's 5-megapixel front-facer — the same sensor as the HTC One M8 behind a different lens — which is one of the better front cameras we've used.

HTC One Mini 2, Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

The bottom line

Like the full-sized phones upon which they're based, the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini and HTC One Mini 2 are vastly different handsets. HTC maintains its focus on design in terms of both hardware and software, while Samsung continues to expand its ever-growing feature set while fielding a less striking smartphone design.

And the choice between these two miniatures comes down to what's more important to you. On the Samsung side of the fence you get water resistance, a wide array of health features, IR remote controls, a decent camera, and biometric security — packaged together in a rather ho-hum plastic rectangle.

HTC One Mini 2, Samsung Galaxy S5 MiniHTC One Mini 2, Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

The HTC Mini 2 is our preference, but it's not the right phone for everyone.

Choose HTC and you'll enjoy a premium metal design, boomy front-facing speakers, quicker touch responses and genuinely enjoyable stuff like HTC BlinkFeed and Zoe video highlights. Less to do, perhaps, but then there's the old quality versus quantity argument. For roughly the same price — mid-£300s, depending on where you go — you'll get one of two very divergent smartphone experiences.

If you forced us to choose, we'd probably go for the HTC One Mini 2, mainly due to the build quality and a general preference for HTC's Sense over Samsung's TouchWiz. But that's not to say the Mini 2 is the right phone for everyone. If water resistance, health features and a better camera are important, then the GS5 Mini is definitely worth a look. In addition, we'd recommend you take a look at Sony's impressive Xperia Z1 Compact, also lurking around this price.

Do you own an HTC One Mini 2 or Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini? Share your thoughts down in the comments!

More: Galaxy S5 Mini review, HTC One Mini 2 review

 

Reader comments

HTC One Mini 2 versus Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

26 Comments

Why do we have to accept lower end specs with a smaller phone. I want a small flagship phone. All the specs without the huge footprint. I hate the iPhone but almost any android phone is just took big these days. That's why I still carry a Nexus 4. That's as big as I want.

Can we get this spammer gone already?

Don't click his BS links, seriously. His blog sucks almost as much as his mother.

"Externally, the One Mini 2 is clearly the better-looking, more premium-feeling handset."

I'll give you "more premium feel", buy how can you say the m8 is"clearly better looking" it's all based on preference and I think the s5 is better looking

Posted via the Android Central App

I would take the S5 over the One. I hate the unnecessarily elongated body on the One. There is much to be hated there.

I totally agree with the elongated body, and is it just me or does the display also seem a bit too narrow??? But from a form factor standpoint overall, it's hard to argue that the s5 is a better looking device than the m8 imo, this is all subjective ofcourse.

i know the s5 has a respectable bill of materials at 265ish....and honestly the only thing that bothers me about it is the ridged chrome bezels....i know they're thicker because of the ip67....but damn they look bad imho.....using even say, the bezels they used on the galaxy tab S would've made the phone nicer looking. And I personally thing the white s5 looks extremely cheap.

It just seems like they cut some corners as usual to pump out massive numbers of units.

But really for me it the software that's most important, and though most would consider sense as the sleeker, more attractive ui, I actually think samsung did a good job with touchwiz this time around, which is something I've never thought before. And ofcourse, it's armed to the teeth with features.

There build of material is usually higher than most others, so I don't think it's them cutting corners that's just how they do there design. Most disappointing thing about the s5 for me was that it's bezels got bigger compared to the s4. Other than I have no issues. Are they the best looking thing? Nope but they are not ugly too imo but you know it's a Samsung galaxy and I think thats what Samsung want.

Posted via Android Central App on nexus 7 (2nd gen)

You're that ignorant to think all 6billion people would find extreme bezels to be eye candy? I might like Samsung but you either:

1. Hate them as much as I like them
2. be very ignorant

So which is it?

Posted via the Android Central App

Reviewer's Conclusion

"If you forced us to choose, we'd probably go for the HTC One Mini 2, mainly due to the build quality and a general preference for HTC's Sense over Samsung's TouchWiz."

Personally, I prefer Boomsound over no sound.

For me it would be the s5 mini, because it's more closer to the original s5 than the m8 mini is to the m8. I mean no duo camera which is a "big" aspect of the m8,no motion controls again a big part of m8,no ir blaster etc. The s5 mini brought over all the important things that make the s5 the s5 like Ip67, s health, finger print sensor etc. If you prefer the mini 2 thats fine but I think you have to admit that the s5 mini is more s5 than the m8 mini is to the m8.

Posted via Android Central App on nexus 7 (2nd gen)

Incorrect.

The Samsung S5 mini can accept up to 64 GB micro SD

The HTC One M8 mini can accept up to 128 GB