LG G2 mini hands-on (MWC 2014)

February 23, 2014
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MWC 2014 Coverage brought to you by: Bitdefender Mobile Security & Antivirus for Android.

We’re in beautiful Barcelona for MWC 2014, where LG has given us the opportunity to try out the newest member of the G family, the LG G2 mini.

Announced just a few days ago, this 4.7-incher may not seem the obvious choice for those looking for a compact device, but thanks to its slim bezel design, the G2 mini is not as large as you might think from the screen size alone. However, there’s more than physical dimensions that define a compact device, so is the LG G2 mini worthy of your attention? Our Joshua Vergara  takes a quick look at the new G2 mini in the video above, and, for a bit more detail check out the rest of this post.

Design, build quality, and feel-in-hand

What we’re looking at here is a surprisingly nimble 4.7-incher that, from our time with it, feels pretty good in the hand. At least for someone used with the ever increasing screen sizes at the top of the Android food chain, the G2 mini actually feels small, and the fact that it weighs just 121 grams really helps with this perception. Sure, the lack of heft could take away from the premium feel of this device, but for someone looking for an affordable Android device that doesn’t go overboard in screen size, that probably doesn’t matter anyway.

In terms of build material, you can notice a change in texture compared to the slippery, fingerprint-drawing finish of the LG G2, the series’ mainstream leader. Instead, the G2 mini (as well as its oversized cousin, the G Pro 2) sports a slightly more matte finish, which helps with grip, and, we think, feels a bit better in hand. Glossiness is on its way out when it comes to phone design, which is probably why LG is transitioning to this new look.

Related: Best LG G2 mini cases.

This is an all plastic phone, so don’t expect a premium vibe from it. But the design is inspiring enough, even if the phone’s a bit on the thick side at 9.8 mm. LG preserved the unique trait of the G2 series on the G2 mini – the rear mounted power button and volume rocker. With this being a smaller phone, the buttons are a bit more accessible than on the G2, which is a good thing.

The G2 mini comes in black, white, red, and gold, depending on the country. We got to try out the white version, but we wished we had the opportunity to fondle the snazzier black or red versions.

LG G2 mini aa 10

Specs and performance

This is the part where the LG G2 mini could leave some people underwhelmed. Unlike some of its competitors in the budding “mini” category, the G2 mini packs mid-range components, starting with the display and ending with the storage options and processing package. LG told us that they didn’t set out to make the G2 mini a “flagship”; instead, the device is supposed to be more of a gateway towards LG’s more impressive products, targeted at people that are happy with “good enough” specs and performance.

The G2 mini packs a 4.7-inch qHD (960 x 540 pixels) resolution, and this is probably the component that could have used an upgrade the most, especially if you’re already accustomed with higher pixel densities. If you come from an older phone or even a feature phone, you could be happy with it though.

There are actually two versions of the G2 mini coming out, depending on the market. One is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC clocked at 1.2GHz and features an 8MP camera. The other version runs on Nvidia’s rather elusive Tegra 4i, which is the chipmaker’s first SoC integrating cellular connectivity. This version comes with a nice upgrade in form of the 13MP camera. Both of these processing packages (aided by the 1GB of RAM) should be more than capable of handling most tasks, especially with the resources frugality of Android 4.4 KitKat.

Storage is rather limited, at 8GB, but the microSD card slot can help alleviate that problem. Moving on, you have a good assortment of connectivity options, with LTE and 3G included on both versions. The Tegra 4i model will be coming to Latin American markets, with Category 3 LTE, while the rest of the world will presumably get Category 4 LTE and even VoLTE support.

The battery is worth mentioning, as it’s a rather impressive 2,440 mAh unit. We’re looking forward to testing the device out to see how it really does when it comes to longevity, but early signs are impressive. Likewise with the camera, for which we’ll need more hands-on time to evaluate; what we can tell right now is that LG packed a ton of software features in the camera app, so if you like to get creative with your mobile snapping, this phone may interest you.

LG G2 mini aa 5

Software

If you’ve played a bit with the LG G2 or even the G Pad 8.3 tablet, you’ll be right at home on the smaller G2 mini, which contains almost every software feature that LG introduced on the flagship G2. Moreover, there’s even some new features coming over from the G Pro 2, most notably Knock Code.

Knock Code is an interesting variation of LG’s (and Sony’s, for the matter) double tap to wake the screen. With Knock Code, instead of just double tapping, you tap certain areas of the screen in a preset pattern, to wake up the screen. You get the convenience of not having to reach out for the power button and protection from intruding eyes. It may not be a solution for everyone, but we do recommend that you give it a try.

LG G2 mini aa 8

Other marque features are Q Slide and Q Apps, that you might know from our previous looks at the G2 and G Pad. Multitasking is not as good on a smaller screen, and with the weaker specs come issues when loading up heavier apps, but for lighter stuff, the G2 mini is pretty good. With that said, we feel that LG needs to cut down on some of its customization and bring Optimus UI in line with modern trends. The notification dropdown is the best example for how Optimus UI is functional, yet heavy on the eye and a bit hard to digest.

The good news is you get KitKat out of the box, with its in-depth optimization for lower-end components.

Image gallery

Wrap up

And there you have it. The LG G2 mini is no flagship, but it was not designed to be one either. Most specs are good enough, though certainly not future-proof. The battery, potentially the camera, and the feature-rich software are among the highlights of this device.

We’ll withhold our final judgment for our full review, but the G2 mini’s success will probably depend heavily on its price tag. With some very aggressive competitors out there, we do expect LG to price the G2 mini reasonably, and hopefully, we are not wrong on this one.

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