HTC One mini 2 review: Growing up
The HTC One mini 2 comes with a Sense-ified version of the stock Android browser and Chrome out of the box.
The stock browser packs the usual features: Incognito tabs, Find in page and Desktop view. Note that GIF animation needs to be enabled from the settings. There is no Flash support.
Besides the usual bookmarks, you can keep a Reading list of pages to read later and a Watch list of videos. Pages are saved on-device so they can be read offline, but videos are not. The Watch list feature works on sites like YouTube and Vimeo. It detects multiple videos per page (so you can add them all) and when you're ready, you can check them out without any distractions from the page they were on.
Google Chrome is becoming the most popular mobile browser and should be fairly familiar. It has some advantages over its vanilla-flavored buddy, including switching between tabs with a wide swipe from either the left or right of the top bar.
Chrome has Incognito tabs, too. Speaking of tabs, it can sync what you have open on other devices (desktop, tablets) with the phone. This feature also syncs your bookmarks and favorite sites and can remember passwords and login data.
The Reduce data usage option sends web pages to be compressed on Google's web servers before loading them on the device to save data and speed up slow connections. This doesn't work for SSL-protected pages and Incognito tabs for privacy reasons.
Other pre-installed apps
HTC has skinned the Calendar to match the Sense 6 looks. Adding an event lets you specify time (with a warning if there's a conflict with another event), who will attend and where the meeting will be held. Multiple online calendars are supported.
The Tasks app is another way to organize time. It can handle multiple separate lists of tasks and syncs with your Google account. Each task can have a due date and a location associated with it. Map view lets you easily find nearby tasks, though we would have loved a "Navigate to" button here.
Google Drive comes preinstalled. It combines all of your documents, spreadsheets, images and more in one easy to use data vault app. You can also access more than a single Google Drive if you have multiple profiles on your smartphone, which is neat.
The Alarm clock application can handle multiple alarms, each with its own start and repeat time. The stopwatch and timer are self-explanatory. There's also a Calculator and a Flash app that sets the power of the back-placed LED to three strengths.
HTC Backup can do manual or scheduled backups of your apps, messages (texts and emails), contacts and accounts (mail and social). The data is sent either to Google Drive or Dropbox and you can limit the app to transfer over Wi-Fi only.
Google Now integrates with your Google account and can access your daily routine, internet searches, email, etc. and give you information relevant to your interests and daily needs.
It provides traffic information to your work or home, knows the scores of sports teams you follow and gives you the weather forecast for your location. It's great for at-a-glance info, but can handle voice Google searches as well. It also has a dedicated homescreen/lockscreen widget.
HTC's Weather app can give you weather information for your location and others. It looks great and gives you an animated representation of the weather conditions as well as a multiple-day forecast. Weather information is sourced from AccuWeather.
The HTC Guide app is an excellent app for beginners. It contains tips and help, troubleshooting info and a display of the vital phone stats the support call center might ask you about. The Phone health option offers some self-help tools like running diagnostic on individual components (speakers, backlight, buttons).
The app will also help you manage the storage with a handy option to clean unwanted files and trackers for call minutes, texts and data plan megabytes.
Google Maps is the default navigation app, but it's most useful when you use it while you are online. It allows you to download offline maps of an area and even plan routes without a data connection but you can't search for addresses or POIs without an internet connection.
On the positive side, it can plan driving, public transport, cycling and walking routes. It can also display pretty accurate traffic alerts as well (though it doesn't always take them into account when routing you).
Another great support tool is Android Device Manager. It's available for all Android devices linked to your Google account. It can help you find your misplaced HTC One mini 2 by ringing it and if it's not at the house, by finding it on the map. If it's stolen, you also have the option to lock the device and delete all data (so make sure you have HTC Backup set up to work automatically so you don't lose your data). You have to enable the remote locking initially via the preinstalled Google Settings app on your smartphone.
And finally, Google's Play store hardly needs any description. It the biggest catalog of apps and also features movies, TV, music and even devices but those services are dependent on your country. Opening the store brings you highlighted apps based on recommendations and your usage. There are categories, ranked apps and more.