Review: HTC One Mini 2

Like the 5 inch One, the power button is up top and the volume on the right side, and with a smaller screen than the 5 inch model, this means the buttons are easy for anyone to grasp, so grasp hard and press the power button to see that screen get brought to life.

There has been a slight improvement here, with the 4.3 inch in last year’s Mini jumping to a 4.5 inch with the same 1280×720 resolution.

While it’s not a Full HD display like we hope for, the pixel count comes in at 326ppi, spot on to what Apple offers in its iPhone 5S and 5C, making this perfectly clear for our eyes, and likely for yours too.

Is it as good as the current One (M8)?

No, not by a good one hundred pixels per inch, but for most people, it should be plenty sharp.

The operating system, however, is exactly the same as the M8, with Android 4.4 “KitKat” running with the latest version of HTC’s Sense overlay, complete with its multiple homescreens, grid-size controllable menu, and BlinkFeed activity screen all the way on the left side.

Just like on the M8, this is one of the prettiest and cleanest Android overlays around, with colour-coded top bars to identify the type of app you’re in, clean black dropdown bars, lockscreen widgets if you want them, and and transparent Android soft buttons across the entire interface.

Getting used to it shouldn’t take long, and just like on the One M8, a swipe from the lockscreen (when the power is on) will deliver either the main homescreen, the BlinkFeed screen, or the last screen used on the handset.

Performance on the handset is mostly fine, though with some niggles here and there, which we’ll get to later on.

It’s not the same high-end blistering performance that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 and 2GB RAM delivers in its One M8 brother, which is a shame, but it’s still decent all the same.

Mobile broadband is strong, though, with speeds ranging from 20 to 60Mbps in our tests, and support for Category 4 4G networks, which in Australia could see download speeds as high as 150Mbps, network dependent, of course.

Battery life is acceptable, as well, though it won’t win awards like the 5 inch version of a similar name.

While we pulled a day and a half out of the One M8, we could only find a little over a day here on the One Mini 2, that was with us surfing the web, taking photos, playing the odd game, making phone calls, texting, writing and reading emails, and doing that whole social network think.

Essentially, you’ll get the full 24 hours here, but probably not much more, so make sure to find an outlet if you’re running down the clock outside your home.

If you can’t find a USB port to charge from, you will find an extreme power saving mode here, like on other handsets.

Over to the camera, and this is one area where it feels like HTC is correcting one of the mistakes of the One M8, and yet also ignoring other positive aspects of that otherwise excellent smartphone camera.

On the one hand, there’s a new camera here, with the 4 megapixel — sorry, “Ultrapixel” — sensor replaced with a reasonable 13 megapixel shooter, capable of some strong daylight and macro shots, and some usable night shots. Further testing reveals that images in daylight are bright and relatively sharp, while night time images appear with obvious noise in shadows.

Speed-wise, the camera behaves a little slower, often taking half a second to fire the image, but still getting the job done.

Ultimately, this replacement brings HTC’s camera more firmly into 2014, since 13 megapixel shots can’t really be faulted for social networking or Instagram, and for many will likely be even more useful than the 4 megapixel shots made with the One Mini 2’s big brother, the One M8 from this year, even though that was a cool camera itself.

An image from the HTC One Mini 2's rear camera