When it comes to minis, OEMs could learn from SonyAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Mini versions of our favorite flagships have become a sort of a “thing” over the past few years. Since the release of the Samsung Galaxy S III Mini, we’ve seen other Minis surface from HTC, Sony, and Motorola. However, it seems like in most cases that manufacturers are mostly consumed by the size of the device. While I think that producing smaller versions of flagships isn’t too shabby of an idea, I do feel like the shared names between the mini and the original loses some of its value when the “flagship” part of the mini is only skin deep.
In short, I still think it’s lame that the minis mostly look the part rather than playing the part. Still, we know that packing flagship specs (or close to them) is completely possible. We’ve seen Sony do it with the Xperia Z1 Compact, or even the iPhone, which still manages to pack a whole lot of phone in a much smaller area.
Phablets are a great thing, but I feel like the whole phablet thing blew up rather quickly. I remember being awed by the size of the HTC EVO 4G and its 4.3-inch display, and even more at the Samsung Galaxy S II’s 4.5-inch display, and then again by the 4.8-inch display of the Galaxy S III. From then on, it seemed like there was no looking back. To manufacturers, bigger meant better. To consumers like me, what started out as a blossoming variety of cool new smartphones suddenly turned into slim pickings, especially when I discovered last year that I hit my limit when it came to size comfort. The 5-inch screen that came with the Galaxy S4 was not something that I would be able to use comfortably with one hand. Fortunately, at the time, the 4.7-inch HTC One was around to save the day.
Unfortunately for me, the 5-inch screen on the M8 makes things hard to hold again, which is why I was looking forward to seeing what the M8 Mini, or the HTC One Mini 2, had in store this year. The HTC One Mini was okay, but it could still stand to be closer to the HTC One itself. I thought perhaps this year things might change a bit, especially considering the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact showed us that it was entirely possible to do.
Alas, things didn’t really change. The HTC One Mini 2 is just as beautiful as the original, as it ought to be. On the outside. On the inside, the phone has a different story to tell. A slower processor and just 1GB of RAM can make a big difference in performance, which is something that people look to flagships for in the first place. The HTC One Mini 2 also, much like the first One Mini, isn’t exactly that “mini” at all with a 4.5-inch display. This "mini" phone is just a mere .5-inches away from phablet territory. What kind of mad world are we living in here?
On the plus side, though (because yes, there is one) one of the biggest issues with the HTC One M8 is that HTC opted to keep the 4-megapixel UltraPixel camera. Although the M8 offered some improvements, such as the dual-camera on the back and the ability to take rather good low-light photos, it’s understandable that the 4-megapixel number that the UltraPixel camera ultimately boils down to is a turn-off for many. Fortunately, the Mini One 2 trades in the UltraPixel camera for a more traditional 13-megapixel camera, and still offers an impressive 5-megapixel camera in the front. This is a good saving grace for the One Mini 2.
The One Mini 2 also manages to keep the front-facing BoomSound speakers, which is something I hadn’t expected to see in last year’s model (but was certainly happy to see).
The One Mini 2 isn’t all bad news, but I do believe that Sony has raised the bar for my expectations between flagship and mini quite a bit. How is that Sony is able to take a phone with a 5-inch display and stuff all of the same components into a phone with a 4.3-inch display, but others can’t seem to do the same? Perhaps by next year, the mini flagships will both look and act more like their larger counterparts. Here’s to hoping, at least.