Motorola Defy Mini review: Motorola Defy Mini

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good

Average User Rating

4 stars 5 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Water resistant, dust and shock proof. Slick redesign. Decent battery life.

The Bad Low-quality camera. Sluggish performance.

The Bottom Line Motorola's promise of a "life-proof" Defy should still resonate with the clumsy and active alike, but it is worth considering some of the other, better, phones in this price range.

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Design

The Defy is back, this in its third iteration, and though it's mostly the same old Defy we've become familiar with over the years, the new Defy Mini certainly looks like its growing up. The changes between this newer model and previous versions are subtle, but the Defy certainly looks slightly more business-like this year. The plugs in the phone's various ports, necessary for waterproofing, are now more flush with the edges of the handset, and there is an external speaker grille running along the length of the screen, along the bottom, which looks pretty slick.

For its AU$199 asking price (locked to Optus), you'll get a 3.2-inch colour touchscreen with a WQVGA (320x480 pixels) resolution. This is the standard in this price range, with similar screens on the HTC Explorer and Wildfire S , for example. This size and resolution is fine; it's perfectly usable, but you'll want to hold it away from your face to blur the rough edges of some of the icons and images.

As is common with the Defy range, this handset is designed to weather the elements, which is the demise of so many smartphones. On the back of the phone, you'll find a neat locking device, which keeps the battery cover snugly attached to the rest of the chassis. In fact, taking the battery cover off is a real mission and will be bothersome for users looking to hot-swap micro-SD memory cards in this phone (though we suspect that this is a pretty unpopular practice these days). Our review unit came with a 2GB memory card, though, if you plan to take a bunch of music with you, you'll want to budget for a larger card.

User Experience and performance

One of the big differences between the Defy+ and the newer Mini, is the update to Motorola's Android user interface. Between the older and newer Defys, Motorola launched the Razr, complete with a new-look user experience. This carries over to the Defy Mini, and the phone is better for it. The icon design is much more attractive and some of Motorola's own widgets are very clever. We especially like the frequently used apps widget, which populates itself as you use the phone.

The UI runs smoother than the older software on last year's phone, but it's still pretty sluggish. Motorola opts for a 600MHz processor and 512 RAM to power the Defy Mini, and while we understand that there are costs to keep down, this just isn't enough power to make the most of Android. Media playback is stunted, with the phone avoiding 720p video files, and owners of the Mini will need to pick their games wisely, as the Mini does not like games that require too much, graphically.

Battery life is good though; we ran a test, which loads web pages continuously at short intervals, and the Defy Mini maintained this activity on a Wi-Fi network for over five and a half hours. This equates to an average of one day and a half of moderate use, between charges.

Compared to

Motorola Defy Mini Samsung Galaxy Ace Huawei Vision HTC Incredible S
600MHz processor
512MB RAM
800MHz processor
278MB RAM
1GHz processor
512MB RAM
1GHz processor
512MB RAM
3.2-inch
320x480 pixel
3.5-inch
320x480 pixel
3.7-inch
800x480 pixel
4-inch
800x480 pixel
Android Gingerbread Android Gingerbread Android Gingerbread Android Gingerbread
AU$199 (locked to Optus)* AU$206 (locked to Optus)* AU$279 Outright* AU$332 (locked to Optus)*

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Where to Buy

Motorola Defy Mini

Part Number: CNETMotorola Defy Mini

Typical Price: $199.00

See manufacturer website for availability.