Following in the footsteps of Samsung, HTC, and Sony, LG has announced a "mini" version of their G2 flagship, and they're showing the phone off here in Barcelona. The G2 Mini uses a smaller screen than the 5.2-inch G2, but it's also got considerably weaker hardware.
At 4.7 inches, there's nothing really "Mini" about this device, but you'll definitely notice the lower resolution on the LCD (960x540). The hardware inside is also less than inspiring, with just 1GB of RAM serving the 1.4Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 400. Around back you'll find an 8 megapixel camera hanging out above LG's now-standard rear power and volume controls. Storage is 8GB plus an open MicroSD card slot, and the removable battery is a respectable 2440mAh. The display phones were running Android 4.4.2.
But of course, this isn't exactly stock Android. LG has covered the phone with its software "enhancements," and even now it's hard to tell them apart from Samsung's TouchWiz at a glance (if you ignore the virtual navigation buttons). One of the things that LG is pushing hard this year is KnockCode, an evolution of the KnockOn feature from the G2. This lets you tap out a pattern similar to Android's pattern lockscreen, but when the screen is off. It's just a little more personalized than KnockOn, and on our phone at least, it was fairly reliable. I'd like to see more options here, ideally something that would let you time your taps instead of positioning them on a physical part of the screen. This is mostly because I want to tap the Batman theme song to unlock my phone.
The rest of the phone is, in a word, unremarkable. It uses the entirely safe styling and features from the G2, in a slightly smaller but much less powerful package. The build quality is decidedly plastic, with a matte finish and a chunky frame that screams "budget" in spite of the "G2" moniker. I doubt that anyone is going to truly desire the G2 Mini as a smaller and more comfortable alternative to the G2 (as opposed to the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact or the DROID Mini, which really do offer almost all the features and powers of their larger siblings.
The G2 Mini has the relatively large battery and Android 4.4 working in its favor, and the low RAM and cheap build working against it. It's hard to see why someone would pick this over any other mid-range phone, including LG's own similar L90. There are certainly better alternatives - we'll see if it competes at all on price when it releases in Russia in March, then in Europe, Asia, The Middle East, and Latin America later this year. There's no word on any American carriers picking up the G2 Mini, but with LG's decent relationships with US telecom companies, it's a definite possibility.