HTC One Mini 2

26th May 2014 | 07:01

HTC One Mini 2

HTC's premium design arrives in a smaller suit

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

If you want a premium Android smartphone which isn't massive the HTC One Mini 2 is a worthy contender, but it's not without its flaws.

Like:

Premium design; Strong camera; Boomsound;

Dislike:

Chunky build; Battery still not great; Jarring performance;

Introduction and design

Ratings in depth

HTC One Mini 2 review
HTC One Mini 2 review
HTC One Mini 2 review
HTC One Mini 2 review
HTC One Mini 2 review

Here we are again. The first in what is expected to be a slew of new miniaturised flagship devices has arrived, and it's HTC first to the shrink ray with the confusingly named HTC One Mini 2.

Okay, so the name does make sense if you look at last year's HTC One Mini, but considering the Taiwanese firm backed itself into a naming corner with the One M8 the One Mini 2 is only adding to the mixed up terminology.

Perhaps the HTC One M8 Mini would have been a more sensible name, but it's no more elegant. To be clear the One Mini 2 is a shrunken version of the excellent HTC One M8 - although the design of the handset gives that away almost instantly.

Glance quickly at the One Mini 2 and you'd be forgiven for thinking it's the full blown One M8. It's a lot closer in design to its bigger brother than the original One Mini was to the HTC One.

The plastic band which ran round the circumference of the One Mini persists on the One Mini 2, but HTC has done a much better job of hiding it. You're unlikely to notice it unless you look at the top or base of the handset.

At these two points the plastic rim widens to cover the whole depth of the One Mini 2, but down each side it's pushed into a thin strip by the metal rear cover which hugs either edge.

HTC One Mini 2 review

That brushed metal finish on the rear of the device feels supremely premium and the curved back means the One Mini 2 nestles nicely into the palm while the condensed size makes it a lot easier to hold on to.

Interestingly the One Mini 2 is actually thicker than both the One M8 (9.4mm) and the One Mini (9.3mm) coming in at a chunky 10.6mm - although the rounded corners and arched back do well to hide the fact.

Owners of the original HTC One will be puzzled to find that the One Mini 2 is actually the same height (137.4mm) thanks to the rounded finish employed in the handset's design, although it is narrower at 65mm.

HTC One Mini 2 review

I found that the reduced width (although it is an increase over the One Mini) made it easier to reach all areas of the 4.5-inch display during one handed operation.

The build quality is close to top notch and it really does feel like a smaller One M8, although I did find the nanoSIM tray on the left of the device didn't sit completely flush with the case.

It's very slightly raised at one end, and every now and then I'd run a finger over it and it would detract from the overall experience. Not a big issue, and something which may be addressed in future production batches.

HTC One Mini 2 review

Over on the right side of the HTC One Mini 2 there's a volume rocker switch sitting just below another tray. Like the One M8, this second tray is for a microSD card, allowing you to expand on the 16GB of internal storage.

Some may find it a little bit annoying that you'll need a tool to pop the tray out and access the microSD slot, as you may not have one when out and about, but again it's a small price to pay for the superior design.

With under 12GB of the internal storage available to you, the fact the microSD slot can take cards up to 128GB in size means you won't have to worry as much about running out of space - although apps can make up a pretty meaty chunk quite quickly.

HTC One Mini 2 review

The One Mini 2 arrives in three colours; gunmetal grey, amber gold and glacial silver - the latter being the hero colour for the original HTC One and One Mini.

On my gunmetal grey review unit the volume rocker switch on the right is actually glacial silver.

Initially HTC said this was a defect that would only effect early batches of the grey handset, but the company has since confirmed that all future gunmetal grey One Mini 2s will have the silver volume key.

HTC One Mini 2 review

"Based on positive feedback from the announcement, the product team has decided to keep the silver volume button" a HTC spokesperson told TechRadar.

Up top, housed in the thick plastic band which has replaced the glossy plastic hiding the IR blaster on the One M8, you'll find the headphone jack and power/lock key.

The power/lock key is located on the left and that threw me as on the One M8 it's on a right.

HTC One Mini 2 review

Its placement on the One Mini 2 actually makes it a little harder to hit when holding the handset in your right hand, although lefties can rejoice as it's easier in the opposite paw.

Above and below the 4.5-inch display sits the dual Boomsound speaker grills, giving you stereo sound right in your face, and the additional black bar housing the HTC logo is also present.

This does add some extra length to the handset with no external benefit, but I suspect it has something to do with fitting in all the components under the hood - as is the case with the full size One M8.

HTC One Mini 2 review

The issue some had with the One M8 was the fact you couldn't get in under the metal body and access the battery.

That same issue persists with the HTC One Mini 2, with battery accessibility sacrificed for design.

In my opinion that's not a problem as the premium finish on the One Mini 2 is stunning and well worth this minor compromise, but for the power users out there it could well be a deal breaker.

HTC One Mini 2 review

When it comes to HTC One Mini 2 price the Taiwanese firm has confirmed that it will come in £360-£370 (around AU$650) SIM-free.

On a two year contract in the UK you'll be able to pick it up for free from £21 per month.

That puts the One Mini 2 up against the likes of the Nokia Lumia 1020, iPhone 5C and the HTC One from last year, while undercutting the similarly sized Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and iPhone 5S.

When it comes down to design the HTC One Mini 2 easily trumps the iPhone 5C and it's arguably better than the Z1 Compact and 5S as well, although it doesn't sport the dust or water resistant features of the Sony.

Key features

Blink(feed) and you'll miss it

HTC One Mini 2 review

HTC's Blinkfeed news and social aggregator makes the transition down from the One M8, and if you've used the original One or One Mini the good news is it has been greatly improved.

Blinkfeed is worked into HTC's Sense 6 overlay on the One Mini 2, and it can be easily accessed with a left swipe from your home screen.

You can choose to have Blinkfeed set as your default home screen too, so every time you hit the home key you'll be taken there instead of to the more traditional layout of apps and widgets.

There's even an option to jump straight into Blinkfeed from the lockscreen of the One Mini 2 - so you shouldn't have any trouble locating it on the handset.

Don't expect this service to chuck you excellent articles and updates right from the word go though. Blinkfeed, at times, can be a tedious collection of Twitter updates and Facebook statuses, but the more you read and refine the more it will adjust to your tastes and offer up relevant content.

HTC One Mini 2 review

HTC has added more content feeds to Blinkfeed on the One Mini 2, providing a far greater range of articles to read. When you do find something you want to read, tap it and you're taken to a clean layout which removes the annoying page furniture found on websites for a pure reading experience.

The side swiping interface feels pleasant under the thumb and I was easily able to skip between articles and access the menu to jump between topic areas.

As was noted in the One M8 review, Blinkfeed isn't perfect and the sheer volume of social data that's pulled in from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube can become a little frustrating at times.

More annoyingly you can't easily turn these social interactions off, although the more you use Blinkfeed the better it will become. It won't ever be perfect, but it does improve after a few weeks of use.

Booming Boomsound

When HTC launched the One in 2013 its integrated dual speaker and internal amplifier setup, dubbed Boomsound, blew rival handsets out of the water with its audio quality.

Things got even better with the One M8 and the good news is the improved Boomsound technology has made its way into the HTC One Mini 2, providing excellent sound output.

The One Mini 2 uses the same amplifier as its bigger brother, vastly improving clarity over last year's One and One Mini, as well as providing excellent bass.

HTC One Mini 2 review

Of course they are never going to be as good as a decent set of headphones or external speaker setup, but the One Mini 2 has the best set of integrated speakers on the market - along with the M8.

That said it's still not a huge selling point for the One Mini 2. Sure, it sounds great when showing it off to other people, but I was more likely to plug in a set of earphones when it came to watching or listening to media on my own.

While the dual speakers are hardly a feature you can utilise on the train, it doesn't mean Boomsound can't be used in these situations.

HTC One Mini 2 review

Plug in some headphones and you can benefit from the Boomsound tech with tracks becoming noticeably enhanced.

Jump into settings and toggle Boomsound on and off while listening to music and you'll appreciate the positive difference it's able to create in your ears.

Storage hunters

The storage offering on the HTC One and One Mini was a little disappointing as you got 16GB of internal space with no option to expand.

Thankfully HTC realised the need for additional space and managed to adjust its premium metal design to incorporate a microSD slot.

The One Mini 2 still sticks with 16GB inside - of which 11GB is actually available to use - but the inclusion of a microSD slot just above the volume key on the right of the device is a welcome addition.

HTC One Mini 2 review

It gets even better when you learn the One Mini 2 supports cards up to 128GB in size, and you'll also get 50GB of Google Drive space free for two years when you set up your One Mini 2 - that's on top of the 15GB Google gives you.

I did find it a little frustrating that I had to dig our a SIM tray tool to pop the microSD card out if I wanted to swap it round, but most of you won't be doing that particularly often and thus it won't be an issue.

Interface and performance

The HTC One Mini 2 comes running the latest version of Google's platform - Android 4.4.2 KitKat - and in true HTC fashion it has been covered in its heavy Sense 6 user interface.

Sense 6 debuted on the HTC One M8 and the One Mini 2 is a direct copy, just on a smaller, lower resolution display.

HTC One Mini 2 review

Android purists may well find Sense 6 rather overbearing, but for anyone who doesn't have a strong allegiance towards Google's vanilla software the HTC One Mini 2 is - for the most part - very pleasant to use.

I've already talked about the Blinkfeed integration which is baked into the Sense 6 overlay, but that's not the only tinkering HTC has done here.

On the lockscreen you can have four app shortcuts, allowing you to jump straight to messaging if you've got a new text, which ultimately saves you time.

If you're really not a fan of Blinkfeed it can be removed completely - just hold down on an open space on a home screen and tap "manage home screen panels". From there you can delete the Blinkfeed page.

This gives you greater flexibility and it's a welcome addition as in earlier builds of the Sense UI there was no way to turn Blinkfeed off.

HTC One Mini 2 review

Move into the app draw and HTC has a handy feature here too, allowing you to hide any unwanted pre-installed applications which you can't actually uninstall.

Drag down from the top of the screen to access the notification bar and tap the icon in the top right corner to access the quick settings pane.

There are 12 slots available to fill and you can pick from 24 different options to display here - that's considerably more than nine you get on stock Android. Perfect if you love that instant control.

Use two fingers to swipe the notification bar down and it'll take you straight to the quick settings area, which is a useful touch.

In terms of power the One Mini 2 has not inherited the powerhouse Snapdragon 801 chip from the One M8. Instead it has to make do with a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor.

HTC One Mini 2 review

That's the same chip that appeared in the original One Mini, although in that device it was only dual-core and clocked at 1.4GHz.

You also get 1GB of RAM - down from 2GB in the One M8 - and an Adreno 305 GPU, again a downgrade from the Adreno 330 in its bigger brother.

Can you tell there's less power under the hood of the HTC One Mini 2? And sadly it shows.

During my time with the One Mini 2 it failed to really impress me when it came to load times and general navigation.

Blinkfeed usually took quite a while to update feeds, while even simple apps such as messaging took a few seconds to load up properly.

Sometimes the One Mini 2 would flash up with "no messages found" when I opened the messaging app before loading my conversations.

The message only appeared for half a second, but it did detract from the overall experience and rammed home the fact the One Mini 2 is packing significantly less power.

HTC One Mini 2 review

That said, the One Mini 2 managed to run all the games and applications I threw at it, and apart from some tardy load times operation was smooth throughout.

Multi-tasking also wasn't an issue, and I was able to have several demanding applications open at the same time and skip between them without issue.

I ran Geekbench 3 on the One Mini 2 and after three goes the HTC One Mini 2 ended up with an average of 1155. That's hardly a sparkling performance and it doesn't come close to the 2731 racked up by the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact.

The Sony does have a much more powerful processor, but the 4-inch iPhone 5S also managed 2540, leaving the One Mini 2 lagging behind the competition.

It's also worth noting that the HTC Desire 816, a handset which will slide in below the One Mini 2, sports a punchier 1.6GHz quad-core processor and a Geekbench 3 average of 1463.

Overall though if you're coming from another mid-range mobile, or a low-end device you're unlikely to have any performance related complaints with the One Mini 2. It's just a shame it doesn't more closely mirror the performance of its bigger brother.

Battery life

One of the big sticking points with the original HTC One Mini was its battery life, as it failed to impress and limped towards a charger towards the end of the day.

In fact the HTC One wasn't particularly brilliant in the battery department either, but things improved considerably with the One M8 - thanks in part to the Snapdragon 801 processor housed inside.

HTC One Mini 2 review

Sadly that processor doesn't make the leap into the HTC One Mini 2, and while things are slightly better than the original Mini it's still not particularly great news.

The One Mini 2 does sport a bigger power pack than its predecessor, up from 1800mAh to 2110mAh, which helps towards the marginally better performance.

The higher than expected standby drain witnessed on the One Mini appears to have been addressed on the One Mini 2, as it doesn't lose life at a rate of knots when not in use.

When I powered up the screen on the One Mini 2 and started to push it a little bit things were more disappointing.

One morning the One Mini 2 managed to drop 15% in an hour and a half during which time I was streaming music via Spotify and did around half an hour of web browsing and social networking.

HTC One Mini 2 review

The signal jumped between 3G and 4G which may go some way to explaining the relatively rapid drain in the battery.

Something else I noticed during my time with the One Mini 2 was my Jawbone Up application was zapping a lot of power with regular wireless updates from my Jawbone Up24.

If you're someone who has a fitness band you may want to bear this in mind when looking at the One Mini 2, as it seems to struggle a little. I haven't noticed this problem with other handsets I've used the Up24 with, and they include the One M8, LG G2 and OnePlus One.

With moderate usage however, a few calls, a few texts and some online activity including web browsing and social media the HTC One Mini 2 was able to see out almost a whole day, although I found that power saving mode tended to kick in at some point during the evening to help it stagger towards bedtime.

Hit the One Mini 2 hard though and you'll find you'll be running out of juice by mid afternoon.

I ran our full HD, 90 minute battery video on the One Mini 2 with the screen at full brightness and accounts syncing in the background and the handset lost 29%.

HTC One Mini 2 review

That's a greater loss than the One Mini which saw a drop of 27% in the same test, while the iPhone 5S lost 16% and the Xperia Z1 Compact dropped by 25%.

It's safe to say then that if you plan on watching films on the HTC One Mini 2 you'll want to make sure you're near a charger.

If you know you won't be using social media, watching videos or playing games for a while you can always flick on Extreme Power Saving Mode - a function which has been passed down from the One M8.

In this mode you get a simplified tiled user interface giving you access to calls, texts, emails, calendar and calculator - but that's your lot. It also reduces screen brightness and CPU power to eke out as much battery life as possible.

I found battery life greatly improved when in this mode and I'd recommend switching it on if you know the One Mini 2 will be sitting idle for an extended period, but you want it kept on just in case you get an important call or text message.

Camera

It's in the camera department where the biggest change has occurred when downsizing from the One M8 to the HTC One Mini 2.

The original One Mini inherited the same 4MP ultrapixel snapper which adorned its bigger brother, but this time around the One Mini 2 ditches the Duo Camera which starred on the M8.

Instead HTC has opted for a 13MP lens and a single LED flash, putting the One Mini 2 in line with the next handset down in the firm's range - the HTC Desire 816.

HTC One Mini 2 review

A lot has been said about HTC's Ultrapixel camera technology and it is a real marmite feature, so there will be some who are delighted to see it dropped on the One Mini 2.

I am disappointed that Duo Camera hasn't been carried over, as it has some pretty clever features, but HTC has gone for simplicity with the One Mini 2.

HTC One Mini 2 review

Fire up the camera app and that simple implementation becomes clear. Settings are hidden away in a menu, leaving you with a shutter key, flash toggle and shortcut to video and "selfie" (aka front camera) modes.

If you fancy tweaking your shooting settings you'll find ISO, exposure and white balance controls in the menu along with a range of effects and options such as HDR, night mode and panorama.

You can also program the volume key on the side of the HTC One Mini 2 to control the zoom or shutter key, making it easier to snap photos.

HTC One Mini 2 review

Another little feature HTC has added into the camera app on the One Mini 2 is "make up", which is similar to the beauty modes popping up on other handsets.

A sliding scale from zero to 10 hides in the extended settings menu, and with the mode turned on the One Mini 2 will smooth the skin of any folks in your photos.

HTC One Mini 2 review

I wouldn't recommend ever turning it all the way up to 10, as you get some freaky results, but at level three or four it can produce some pleasing pictures. The fact it's so hidden away though means you'll unlikely to use it much - I was constantly forgetting about it.

Switch into "selfie" mode, which can be easily done by swiping across the display, and there's an additional option in the settings menu - timer.

This gives you a countdown on screen, allowing you to perfect your grin before the One Mini 2 snaps your lovely visage.

HTC One Mini 2 review

On my review unit the Zoe function which arrived with the original HTC One wasn't an option in the camera app of the One Mini 2.

Head over to the app tray though and a Zoe app resides towards the bottom of the list, but you won't be able to do anything with it just yet.

HTC One Mini 2 review

Open the app and you'll be told the functionality to capture short bursts of video and then stitch them into a video highlight reel with be "coming soon" - but it's something I was unable to test.

As soon as it is available for the One Mini 2 I will revisit the handset and update this review - so stay tuned!

Shutter speed and the auto focus are pleasingly quick on the HTC One Mini 2 and if you hold down the shutter key you're able to take a burst of shots - handy as you don't have to switch to a specific mode to capture that split second moment.

The One Mini did produce some fuzzy images during its in depth review and the lack of optical image stabilisation (OIS) didn't do it any favours.

There's a bit of bad news as the One Mini 2 also misses out on OIS, even though its bigger brother sports the technology which produces sharper, clearer images.

It's not a huge issue though, as with a steady hand the HTC One Mini 2 is capable of taking some nice shots.

In good light the One Mini 2 performs strongly, picking out high levels of detail and vivid colours.

The range of effects on offer help to create some unique shots and I was pleased with a lot of the results produced by the phone.

Camera samples

HTC One Mini 2 review

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HTC One Mini 2 review

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HTC One Mini 2 review

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HTC One Mini 2 review

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HTC One Mini 2 review

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HTC One Mini 2 review

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HTC One Mini 2 review

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HTC One Mini 2 review

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Media

Right from the word go the HTC One Mini 2 has stronger media credentials than its predecessor with improved Boomsound speakers, a slightly larger display and more importantly a microSD slot.

That allows you to build on the 16GB of internal storage (of which 11GB is actually available for you to use) with a microSD card up to 128GB.

Add that to the free 50GB of Google Drive storage you get for owning a shiny new HTC device (on top of the 15GB Google gives everyone) and you'll find there's plenty of room for all your movies, TV shows, music tracks and games.

Video

The good news in the video department is the 4.5-inch display on the HTC One Mini 2 is bigger than the 4.3-inch offering on its predecessor.

HTC One Mini 2 review

The less good news is that the resolution has stayed the same at 720 x 1280, so pixel density takes a small hit dropping from 342ppi on the original Mini to 326ppi on the One Mini 2.

Putting that into some perspective the One Mini 2 is on par with the 4-inch iPhone 5S in terms of pixel density, and that means you still get very good results.

It's not as crisp as the full HD display on the larger One M8, and colours lack the vibrancy of Samsung's Super AMOLED tech that is found on the Galaxy S5 and co.

I found that movies did look a little washed out and I'd recommend bumping the screen brightness up to make the image clearer - though you'll want to watch battery life.

Overall though videos are perfectly watchable and the front-facing Boomsound speakers really come to the fore here.

You can turn the volume up nice and loud without the speakers going horribly tinny and the rich bass helps pull you into the film.

HTC One Mini 2 review

While that's all well and good, there were very few occasions I actually found myself using the speakers, as I tended to opt for a set of headphones - mainly because I was usually in public places and didn't want to disturb others with Minion Madness.

Something that's been raised many times with HTC phones is the lack of a dedicated video player app and once again this basic requirement has passed the Taiwanese firm by on the One Mini 2.

That makes getting to any of your own videos a little tricky as you have to navigate the gallery app to access them. It's not impossible, it's just a clumsy way of doing things.

Of course you can always harness the power of the cloud and view your collection via the Google Play Movies application, where there's also a link to the Google Play store where you can buy and rent a whole host of TV shows and films.

Music

The HTC One Mini 2 does have a dedicated music player app however, alongside the presence of Google Play Music, ensuring there's plenty of choice here.

HTC's own music app is better for controlling the music stored on the One Mini 2 - or the microSD card you have slotted in the side - although the benefit of Play Music is cloud storage for your music library and Google's All Access music streaming service.

HTC One Mini 2 review

All Access is a monthly subscription service similar to Spotify and Deezer, allowing you to listen to millions of songs without actually owning any of them.

Back to the dedicated music player application and the One Mini 2 takes advantage of album art to smarten up the interface, making for an attractive app which is easy to navigate.

HTC One Mini 2 review

Playback controls appear in the notification bar and on the lockscreen of the One Mini 2, allowing you to play, pause and skip tracks without the need to go back to the application.

HTC One Mini 2 review

As I've already mentioned in this review, if you plug a set of headphones into the HTC One Mini 2 you can take advantage of the Boomsound enhancement - something the Taiwanese firm has developed after parting ways with Beats Audio.

Switch it on and you'll immediately hear the improvement in playback, with enhanced vocals and a richer bass providing a pleasing audio experience.

Something to note is the Boomsound enhancement doesn't work if you're using a Bluetooth headset - you need to physically plug in as the 2.5V amplifier is integrated into the headphone jack.

A FM radio also manages to sneak into the HTC One Mini 2 if you fancy something a bit more traditional, although you'll need to plug in a set of headphones to act as an aerial for it to work.

Apps and games

The performance of the HTC One Mini 2 has failed to properly impress me, but that doesn't mean it's not capable of running demanding applications and games.

HTC One Mini 2 review

While load times are a little longer than on its bigger, more powerful brother, the One Mini 2 doesn't have any issues when it comes to graphically intensive situations.

I was able to play Temple Run 2, Sonic Dash and Family Guy: Quest for Stuff with smooth gameplay and no hint of lag.

The 4.5-inch display on the One Mini 2 provides ample space for game controls, and I appreciated the extra screen real estate when compared to the iPhone range.

One thing you'll need to watch though is your battery life, because an intense hour of gaming on the One Mini 2 can take a chunk of power so you'll need to be careful.

HTC doesn't go quite as over-the-top with pre-installed applications as the likes of Samsung, and while there are still a few present on the One Mini 2 that you're unlikely to ever use and can't uninstall, you can at least hide them from view.

The essentials

Contacts and calling

Contact book, check. Phone app, check. Phew, that's a relief. HTC thankfully hasn't forgotten to stick the basic functions on the One Mini 2.

You'll find all your friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances in the People app - something which can confuse first time HTC owners who desperately try and locate the "Contacts" app.

HTC One Mini 2 review

While the name may be different, the general functionality is very similar to the normal Android setup - all be it for a few aesthetical changes.

Where the HTC Sense 6.0 overlay really comes into its own is matching your contacts with their various social profiles such as Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp.

The One Mini 2, like previous HTC handsets before it, has a surprisingly high hit rate when it comes to joining profiles and it results in a far more unified and useful contacts list. It even pulls through profile pictures to keep everything looking nice.

The phone app is equally as intuitive, with your standard keypad and last call details on the default page, and with a sideways swipe you can access your favourites, contacts and call history easily.

I found call quality to be acceptable and I didn't receive any complaints from people on the other end of the line.

The HTC One Mini 2 was able to hold onto signal well and I didn't experience any dropped calls or network issues during the review period.

Email and messaging

The stock text messaging app will be familiar to anyone who's used a smartphone, with all the basic controls at your fingertips and profile pictures pulled through to add a bit of colour.

This is an Android handset, so as you'd expect the suite of Google apps come pre-installed including Hangouts.

HTC One Mini 2 review

You can choose to let Hangouts manage your text messages as well as instant messaging via your Google account, but it's an opt in service and if you'd rather use HTC's stock app then you don't have to worry about this.

HTC's email app is present on the One Mini 2, allowing you to sign into all manner of accounts and view them in a single, unified inbox or individually if that's all a bit much for you.

If you just use Gmail then I'd recommend sticking with Google's stock Gmail app, which is easy to use and feature full.

HTC has always created its own keyboard offering instead of sticking with the Android default, and this continues on the One Mini 2.

These Sense keyboards tend to be better than some of the other manufacturer's efforts out there, and I was able to get up to speed without issue on the One Mini 2.

I found that the extra space afforded by the 4.5-inch display made it easier to hit the correct keys compared to the more cramped offerings on the original One Mini and the iPhone range.

Of course if you're unhappy with HTC's effort you can always download a third party offering from Google Play.

Internet

Slightly confusingly the HTC One Mini 2 comes with two perfectly competent web browsers.

HTC One Mini 2 review

There's very little to choose between the two with HTC's own browser competing against Google's now established Chrome.

I prefer Chrome for its lighter, cleaner interface and its harmonious syncing with my Chrome tabs on my laptop and various other mobile devices.

HTC One Mini 2 review

In terms of usage though you're unlikely to notice any difference in loads time. Over 4G or a strong Wi-Fi connection the One Mini 2 loads web pages very quickly, making surfing the internet a stress free experience.

Comparisons

HTC One M8

HTC One M8

The One Mini 2 shares the same design as its bigger brother, but it fails to really live up to the five star greatness of the HTC One M8.

Concessions are always going to be made in shrunken flagships, but I'd have liked to see HTC take a leaf out of Sony's book and shift more of the features from the M8 to the One Mini 2 - namely the Snapdragon 801 processor.

If you're a fan of HTC's design, but don't have the hands or bank balance big enough to splash out on its top of the range handset then the One Mini 2 makes a suitable replacement.

Some may be disappointed that the ultrapixel Duo Camera didn't make the leap down to the One Mini 2, but others will be happy to see it replaced by a more traditional 13MP snapper.

iPhone 5S

iPhone 5S

We haven't seen Samsung or Sony release mini versions of the Galaxy S5 or Xperia Z2 yet, so one of the most obvious competitors to the HTC One Mini 2 is the iPhone 5S.

The iPhone 5S has a smaller, 4-inch display, dual-core processor and 8MP camera, but performance wise it's superior to the One Mini 2.

There's little to choose between the cameras on the two handsets, but the One Mini 2 does have a greater range of options, while battery life doesn't exactly dazzle on either handset.

The iPhone comes running iOS 7, a fluid and efficient operating system which is simple to use and doesn't have the lag of the Sense overlay on the HTC.

A key difference between the two handsets however is the price. With the One Mini 2 coming in cheaper and with a build quality comparable to that of the iPhone it is a pretty good deal.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

While there's no sign of a compact Xperia Z2 just yet, the Xperia Z1 Compact only launched in January and it's somewhat upset the mini mobile apple cart by packing flagship specs into a smaller frame.

Instead of downsizing pretty much every detail of the Z1, Sony stuck the same processor, RAM and camera inside the Z1 Compact making it a serious force to be reckoned with.

Its specs put the One Mini 2 to shame and while it is more expensive, the price has dropped recently bringing it much closer to the HTC.

That gives the Z1 Compact much better performance than the One Mini 2 and its premium design is also dust and water resistant.

Hands on gallery

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Verdict

The HTC One Mini 2 is a solid smartphone and provides a strong option for those seeking a high-end device closer in size to the iPhone 5S than the current fleet of Android flagships.

With a premium design and decent feature set the One Mini 2 offers an enticing package, but unfortunately it isn't without some flaws.

We liked

Again HTC has impressed with its smartphone design. The curved metal chassis of the One Mini 2 looks and feels wonderfully premium and the clever engineering of the plastic frame makes it easy to miss. A clear advancement on last year's One Mini.

The inclusion of a microSD slot is another big plus point over last year's offering, making the One Mini 2 a far stronger media machine.

Some will be disappointed the Duo Camera from the One M8 isn't present here, but a 13MP offering means the One Mini 2 is still well equipped in this department, while the Boomsound speakers and audio enhancement still sound great.

We disliked

The thing I was most disappointed about with the HTC One Mini 2 was its performance.

The lack of zip in the user interface and the slight lag when opening applications may not seem like a huge issue, but it makes for a jarring experience and one that begins to irk after a while.

Battery life is another area where the One Mini 2 falls down. Considering HTC's dramatic improvement in battery efficiency in the One M8 I was hoping to see some of the fruits of that labour passed down. Unfortunately it wasn't to be, and the lower grade processor is a real shame.

The slightly chunkier build may put some off, but I don't see it as a real problem, although the One Mini 2 is quite tall for a "mini" device and I wouldn't have said no to a full HD display with better colour reproduction.

Verdict

I like the idea of a smaller HTC One M8, one which is more manageable in the hand and easier to slide into a pocket.

With the HTC One Mini 2 the Taiwanese firm has manage to keep the beautiful stylings, but on the inside it feels like attention to detail waned a little, with a sub-par processor and a battery which doesn't do the phone justice.

That said, compare it to its size rivals - the iPhone 5S and 5C, Xperia Z1 Compact and Ascend P7 - and the One Mini 2 is still a very capable handset at a reasonable price point.

First reviewed: May 2014

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