G2 Mini packs in quad-core and KitKat, but cuts some crucial corners (hands-on)

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February 23, 2014 4:00 AM PST / Updated: February 23, 2014 5:16 AM PST

BARCELONA, Spain -- Following the trend of releasing a shrunken-down, mini variant of a flagship device (like the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and the HTC One Mini), LG showcased its G2 Mini this week during Mobile World Congress 2014.

Featuring a similar but smaller look to its bigger G2 brother, the Mini also sports more modest specs like a Snapdragon 400 processor and an 8-megapixel camera. Though pricing and exact availability has not been released, LG said that the G2 Mini's global rollout will occur some time in March.

Design
More compact than its G2 counterpart, the Mini measures 5.10 inches tall, 2.6 inches wide, and 0.39 inches thick. It also weighs in at a manageable 4.27 ounces, and feels noticeably more comfortable handling with one hand compared to the G2.

Though we expected the device to be smaller, it appeared that LG pulled back the Mini's build quality too. This may be due to the fact that we handled the matte black and white versions of the Mini, which resulted in the device not feeling as premium as the (glossy) G2, and quite plasticky.

Like we've seen on recent high-end LG devices, the phone's physical control buttons are located on the back. To wake up the handset, users can tap twice on the display (a function LG calls KnockOn).

The phone's 4.7-inch qHD IPS display ekes out a fairly meager 960x540-pixel resolution, for a density of 234 pixels per inch. That's nowhere near the quality of the best screens on the market, however, the display looked completely passable and vibrant during our brief time with it.

LG has released four color versions of the Mini (black, white, red, and gold), but color availability will vary depending on the region.

LG G2 Mini (rear)
Just like its G2 counterpart, the Mini houses its physical control keys in the back. Sarah Tew/CNET

Key components and features
While the G2 packs a mighty 2.26GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, this little bro makes do with a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400. (Interestingly enough, the Latin America, LTE variant of the Mini will feature a 1.7GHz Nvidia quad-core Tegra 4i inside.) It has half the amount of memory too, with 1GB of RAM compared to the G2's 2GB.

Elsewhere the Mini's specs are distinctly middle of the road. There's 8GB of storage, expandable with microSD, and a decent 2,440mAh battery that you can swap out.

Shutterbugs will be keen to know that the phone will have a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and an 8-megapixel camera. (Though, like the different processor, the Latin America model will sport a slightly upgraded 13-megapixel camera.)

The handset will run Android, 4.4 KitKat. While some mid-range mobiles are still hitting the market running Android 4.2, that's very welcome.

4G LTE will be standard in Europe and Asia, but Russia and other CIS countries will get a 3G dual-SIM version. In addition, only the 4G LTE models will have NFC capabilities.

LG G2 Mini (white and black)
The device includes a Snapdragon 400 processor and Android 4.4 KitKat. Sarah Tew/CNET

Outlook
Though exact dates remain unknown, the Mini will be released in CIS countries first, and then hit countries in the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, and Europe. Given the range of variants released (colors, dual-SIM, 3G, 4G), LG is aiming for a wide global appeal with this device. Of course, a competitive price will be an important factor in terms of the Mini's success, but we wouldn't expect this handset to cost more than $150 on contract, or $400 without.

Check out more of CNET's MWC 2014 coverage.

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About The Author

Nick is CNET's global copy chief, writing news and managing the reviews copy desk from our London office. He's worked at CNET since 2005 and loves phones, movies and video games.

About The Author

Lynn La is CNET's associate editor for cell phone and smartphone news and reviews. Prior to coming to CNET, she wrote for the Sacramento Bee and was a staff editor at Macworld. In addition to covering technology, she has reported on health, science, and politics.