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.

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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.