• LG G2 Mini Review

    In June I reviewed the LG G2 and I was extremely impressed. I concluded the review with: There is little to find fault with. I mean this truthfully.

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    LG G2 Mini

    Yes, there are a few small annoyances, but none are perfect. The G2 is very close though. At no point have I felt a real urge to go back to my S4. I would quite honestly have no trouble switching to the G2 as my primary device. 6 months on and LG have brought the G2 Mini to market. It is smaller and a little less feature rich but does it have what it takes to stand out? Trying not to compare the Mini to the original G2 will be difficult, but it needs to be judged on its own merits. Unlike Sony, the G2 Mini makes more sacrifices on the specifications than many would like, but this has a knock on effect for the weight and price, which could be a positive. Headline features include: 4.7″ touchscreen Google Android 4.4 Operating System 8 megapixel rear camera MicroSD memory card slot 8GB internal memory Quad-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz The G2 Mini has tough competition. Sony’s Z1 Compact, the HTC One Mini and Samsung’s S4 Mini Without getting bogged down in the specs as they are all fairly similar, the Z1 Compact takes the crown. The G2 has the largest display and manages to get it in a form factor no bigger than the Compact. The resolution, on board RAM and lack of IP rating let it down. The G2 really should have more than 1GB of RAM as the older S4 Mini has 1.5GB. It does boast a 2440mAh but does that make up for the more plastic feel compared to the Sony and HTC? If you are in the market for a Mini version of the premium devices any of them have a lot to offer, but truthfully I feel the G2’s toughest rival is the Compact. Should the rumoured S5 Mini come to fruition, it will likely be a very different story. It goes without saying that the Mini shares some design cues from the original G2. To the untrained eye you would not necessarily be able to tell the differences, but they are there. There is an apparent bezel on all 4 sides of the screen, but what is quite remarkable is how the overall dimensions of the handset are almost identical to the Z1 Compact from Sony. In fact it actually felt smaller in the hand to hold. The back is home to the rear mounted power and volume buttons. LG introduced these on the G2 and they take some time getting used to, but they do work and certainly makes for easier in call volume control than most other handsets. The back cover is removable, unlike the G2. This means that under the back cover is the battery compartment that houses the user removable battery. The original G2 had fixed internal storage of 16GB, the Mini has the advantage of having only 8, but there is a MicroSD slot to expand this further; so you can essentially have more memory in the Mini. The plastic back cover has a mesh design which gives a more premium look and feel. But can’t quite compete with the Z1 Compact and HTC. It pains me a little to say that the screen here is below the standard I would expect. By no means is it bad; it is quite acceptable, but in the age of HD displays the Mini is a bit weak. The S4 Mini has the same resolution and that has been on the market for a year. The resolution is just 540 x 960 giving a PPI of 234. The Z1 Compact and One Mini have a 1280 x 720 displays with a PPI of 342 and 341 respectively, which is quite a difference. This disparity is then made greater when you consider the G2 Mini has a 4.7″ display compared to the 4.3″ of the others. Truthfully the screen is still pretty good on the G2 Mini. A lower resolution IPS panel means lower power draw and good viewing angles, but put it next to the Z1 Compact and you will notice the difference. The jury is out on what the best user interface is for a smartphone. Some prefer the stock Android, some like the moderately customised Sony and HTC interfaces whilst others may like the much heavier Samsung Touchwiz. It is inevitably going to be personal opinion. LG’s interface sides on the heavier of installs and out of the box of the 8GB internal memory just shy of 4 is available. By the time I had installed all of mine, I was down to 1.5GB. Like the G2, the Mini includes many of the value added features. The kind of features I am talking about include being able to schedule text messages and change the software button layout. One option I particularly like is the ability to orient the home screens into landscape mode. LG have put together a solid all round offering. There is a lot for even an experienced user to customise on this handset, One option that is not present is the control of a notification light, there isn’t one. Some of the Mini’s key software features are: KnockOn – A clever feature that with two taps on the screen can turn it on and off. Konck Code – A new an innovative way of securing the device. The display is split into 4 quarters in which a series of 2-8 taps are recorded 1 or more of the quarters. When the screen is off and secured with a knock code you then make the relevant taps in the same formation as it was recorded, but there is no need to use the full screen to input this code. Guest Mode — Essentially creating another user account that anyone can access without getting into your content. You control what the guest can access. Ideal for the kids to stop them doing anything they shouldnt. Capture Plus — Is a great feature if you need it. It allows you to take an image of the whole web page rather than the portion that may be displayed on screen. It can be cropped accordingly. Clip Tray – Stores multiple items you have copied to the clipboard ready for use later in other apps. A similar experience to using a traditional desktop computer. Smart Video – Look away from the display when watching a video clip and it is paused until your eyes return. It’s quite handy if you get distracted and don’t want to miss parts of the video. QSlide – Allows you to have a window open on top of what you are doing in the background. It worked well and I liked the ability to easily resize the window and change the opacity. I found this particularly useful when I was killing time or relaxing. Other features less publiciesd include a file Manager,FM radio, LG Backup, Quick Memo, Quick Remove and LG SmartWorld. From the original G2 there are vast differences in the software, some of the less required features have gone. See our full written review on blog.clove.co.uk to find out what these are. Of course we can not forget at the heart of this the G2 is an Android powered handset with all the normal Google services. Download your favourite apps, navigate from A to B or stream music from Google Play it is all here. It should be noted that LG have gone to considerable lengths to allow you to personalise the software on the device and neat tricks include being able to change the wallpaper in the app tray and the size of the app icons amongst many more. USB hosting and video out are not supported on the G2 Mini, but everything else is there. Bluetooth, WiFi, NFC, GPS, 3G and 4G are all present. Surprisingly good would be my response if you ask me about audio on the G2 Mini. The HTC One M8 will beat it for overall quality and the One Mini will give it a tough time too, but that is no surprise as HTC’s BoomSound speakers are setting the standard. The G2 has pretty good clarity, a little stretched at times, but still hits the mid 80’s on the decibel meter. As with the original G2 the location of the speakers don’t give it the best opportunity to win us over. Squeezing them into the front may have been a benefit but affected the overall dimensions and aesthetics. With an 8 megapixel camera is is pretty much bang on the mark for a device of this type. The Z1 Compact is a bit of an anomaly with its 20.7 megapixel shooter, but it is not perfect so the G2 Mini need not be left behind. There are a couple of key features. Pause & Resume Recording – Simply put as you record video you can pause it and then resume it again. Fast snapshot – A long press on the volume down button gives you quick access to the camera even when the screen is locked. Multi-point AF – Gives up to 9 focus points in one shot Regretfully the results are mixed and I could not say why. In most instances the shots were ok and acceptable. But in quite a few, what I thought would come out as a good shot was actually disappointing. Overall most images had a darker tone and colour balance to them than was the case at the time of capture. I tooked some images on a rainy and overcast day so the light wasn’t the best but very common of an everyday scenario. The results were that the lighter colours often looked blown out against darker backgrounds, Other results that appeared to look ok on screen were at times disappointing when reviewing back on the computer. The lighting and focus seemed a bit off and some had a definite noise to the image even in relative good lighting. This was most noticeable indoors. Some of this could be resolved through software updates. The camera app is well equipped offering various shooting modes and controls over the shot. There is reasonable scope for the novice to the more advanced photographer. The app is not too heavy with features but rich enough to give you most of what you need for both stills and video. It would be nice to have seen a few more editing features for a bit of fun and creativity. The Z1 compact is known for packing a punch with battery life and the G2 Mini has not done bad in the time we have had it either. From a full charge it was up for 10 hours with 25% remaining in a relatively intensive days use. For average to lighter users 1.5 to 2 days is possible but it might be a bit of a stretch. Battery saver mode may be helpful; but it is not as good or as powerful as STAMINA mode. It does not offer quite such advanced power management controls. I think you will generally be impressed with the performance here, it has done better than I expected, but lives up to the standard it needs to. Naturally nobody wants to pay more than they have to in order to get what they want, but at some point there needs to be consideration for this. The G2 Mini comes in at what I believe to be a fairly justifiable price for the features that it offers, £250 including VAT at the time of launch and recording. However there is no denying that the likes of the Motorola Moto G that comes in somewhere around £80 less has a lot to offer and may be a viable alternative; but my feeling is what it makes up for in price it may lack in advanced software and user experience tweaks that over the life of ownership could easily warrant the additional initial spend. As an owner of the Z1 Compact I am well aware of just how powerful the handset is. I am also apparently aware of its downfalls. It’s size considering the smaller screen is one as is weight another, but there is the solid and more premium feel. It will always be about finding what is right for you. Over the time I have been using the G2 Mini I have had a generally positive user experience, there is a lot to like about it. It has not won me over like the original G2 did, but its not far off the mark., reingniting that spark I have for LG products. My concerns about the slightly slower processor and RAM did not really present itself as an issue during my time with it. I can’t help but really like the G2 Mini I will genuinely be sad to hand it back. It feels like the underdog in the race of the big brands, but an underdog that deserves its 5 minutes of fame because it has so much to offer and is a genuine candidate for your next phone, it just doesn’t get the attention of the ‘more desired’ alternatives.

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