Review: Motorola Defy Mini PDF Print E-mail

The Motorola Defy Mini is an entry-level smartphone priced at just under R2 000. At this price, it's sure to attract a host of newbies to the smartphone world. 

In fact, I'd wager that smartphone users lured into attractive service bundles, but who are trapped in a limited ecosystem, may view the Defy Mini as a great opportunity to jump ship.

Despite its low(ish) price, the phone gives users access to the Android store, which has over 200 000 apps, according to a report last December.

Of course, the low price tag does not come without drawbacks. Like many cheaper smartphones, the Defy Mini's camera is only 3MP. Understandably, the phone is also sans the powerful dual-core processor that is found on many of the new high-end smartphones. Possibly the most frustrating drawback, however, is that the small display is simply not adequate for a touch-screen phone, which made typing messages tedious. I didn't even attempt to type e-mails with the phone, valuing my sanity and all that.

Look and feel
 
The Defy Mini is a hardy little phone – I'll give it that. Motorola has thrown in a Gorilla Glass display and says the phone is water-resistant. While I'm not in the habit of splashing water on my phone, I did drop it a few times and was pleased to find that it doesn't pop apart like most phones these days.
 
The phone has a solid feel, while still being light enough to easily operate with one hand. The power button is positioned on the top of the phone with volume controls on the left-hand side. There is also a camera shortcut key on the right-hand side, which is a handy feature for users who like to take snaps while on the go. The earphone and USB/charger inputs are placed at the top and left-hand side of the phone, respectively.
 
I did find that the USB input, the cover of which juts out slightly, made the phone look a bit clunky, but some users might feel this adds to the phone's rugged feel.
 
The matte black plastic cover is a tad tricky to remove, but it doesn't give the impression that it's going to snap in half when you try. Users can also lock the back cover in place, which is probably what stops the phone from falling apart if it hits the floor. The phone itself is just under a centimetre thick, so it also seems unlikely to snap in half.
 
Interface and performance / usability
 
The Defy Mini runs on Android 2.3.6 (Gingerbread), and no, there is no Ice Cream Sandwich update just yet. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see Instagram is available for the Defy Mini.
 
The Android interface is incredibly user-friendly and the Defy Mini allows for a good deal of customisation.
 
There are several home screens the user can scroll through by wiping the screen left or right. The standard home screen has shortcuts to e-mail, the browser, the Play store and the calendar, but users can also customise this.
 
There is also an Activity Graph and Social Graph, which users can set up with their favourite apps and social feeds, respectively. These will appear as icons on the screen and expand and contract in relation to how often they are used. (Twitter dwarfed the rest of my feeds when I set up the Social Graph).
 
Unfortunately, the 600MHz processor means this phone is neither slick nor powerful. Instead, I experienced slight lag when opening applications, and browsing was frustrating at times. Still, the Maps application performed within a few seconds. You Tube videos also played without needing too much time to buffer – provided the phone has adequate signal.
 
There are touch-sensitive keys at the bottom of the screen that allow the user to customise the home screen, navigate to the home screen, navigate back, and search. Users have options to set their own backgrounds and profiles and can also add their own shortcuts and widgets.
 
The Defy Mini is WiFi- and Bluetooth-enabled. Call quality is clear and I didn't experience any issues with connectivity.
Display
 
The 3.2-inch touch-screen is taxing on the user because it is simply too small for an adequate keyboard. I found myself unable to type messages fast and accurately, even when the keyboard was in portrait mode. The display is also too small to really enjoy watching videos.
 
However, the display is bright and clear. The size is also adequate for displaying menus and applications and reading e-mails, although I wouldn't advise typing lengthy e-mails with the touch-screen.
 
Features / multimedia
 
The Defy Mini comes with a 3MP rear-facing camera with flash. The phone also has a front-facing camera to enable video chat.
 
Despite being limited to 3MP, I had a lot of fun with the camera. The shortcut key on the left-hand side of the phone came in handy, and the camera also lets users set exposure. There are predefined settings for certain conditions, like daylight, cloudy and fluorescent, while amateurs can snap away in auto mode. The camera also has four times optical zoom and a video function.
 
Apps and features
 
As I mentioned earlier, the Android app store gives users access to a host of apps. The phone also comes preloaded with social media apps including Facebook, Twitter and G Talk, while users can download Whatsapp for free from the Android store. There is also a voice search app, which had difficulty with my South African accent.
 
The phone has some great features for business use – like a voice recorder and Quickoffice Lite, which has a PDF creator and lets users compile graphs, and word and spreadsheet documents. Users can also turn the phone into a WiFi hotspot, sharing its connectivity with other devices.
 
Battery life
 
The battery life is fairly average. I must say, under heavy usage, the phone battled to last a day.
 
Then again, it does charge fairly fast – under two hours – and it gives the user fair warning before the battery dies.
 
In a nutshell
 
The Motorola Defy Mini is a great smartphone in terms of software and features. It also has a bright and shiny display with a rugged design that is suitable for people on the go. While it falls short in terms of hardware, this is understandable at its low price point.
 
I would argue that the Motorola Defy Mini is worth every cent, and definitely competes well with other similarly priced phones. I would recommend it to users who need a high-functioning device, but are low on cash.
 
IN SUMMARY
 
Good: Great interface, rugged design 
Bad: Low specs 
Rating: 8/10 
Price: R1 999 
 
SPECIFICATIONS
 
Dimensions: 109 x 58.5 x 12.55 mm 
Weight: 107g 
Display: 3.2-inch capacitive touch, 480 x 320 pixel resolution 
Software: Android 2.3.6 (Gingerbread) 
Processor: 600MHz 
Battery: 1 650 mAh 
Connectivity: 2G, 3G, Bluetooth 2.1, WiFi 
Camera: 3MP rear-facing camera with flash, VGA front-facing camera

Newer news items:
Older news items: