Motorola Defy Mini review: Motorola Defy Mini

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good

Average User Rating

4 stars 5 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Dust, scratch and splash-proof; Pocket-friendly size.

The Bad Weedy processor; small and unresponsive screen; internal storage space is low.

The Bottom Line Although it lags behind the pack in terms of raw technological power, the dinky Motorola Defy Mini offers a cheap yet tough package that should prove ideal for younger, less conscientious owners. Seasoned Android fans won't find anything too alluring here though.

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If you're a complete and utter klutz and are forever dropping your mobile phone into puddles, drinks and other liquid-filled receptacles, then the Motorola Defy Mini could be the perfect foil for your cack-handed clumsiness.

A cheap-and-cheerful companion to the original Defy (and its supercharged successor, the Defy+), this diminutive handset is water and dust-proof, and comes with a shock-absorbent casing as well as a scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass screen. All in all, it's one tough little customer.

However, beyond the hard-as-nails exterior and bargain basement price -- around £150 SIM-free and unlocked -- the Defy Mini is a bundle of compromises. It's packing an anaemic processor, a 3-megapixel camera and a small 3.2-inch touchscreen -- none of which will endear it to those who crave the very latest tech in their trouser pocket. It's also saddled with Android 2.3 , which is no longer the most hip and happening iteration of Google's mobile operating system.

Should I buy the Motorola Defy Mini?

Don't go mistaking the Defy Mini for a possible upgrade to your existing -- and most likely battle-damaged -- Defy. This scaled-down device represents a route into smart phone ownership for younger, less experienced types.

Motorola Defy Mini apps
The Defy Mini has access to the Google Play market for apps and games.

Compared to other low-cost Android models, the Defy Mini doesn't offer any tangible technological benefits -- the 600MHz CPU is distinctly last-generation, and although the 3-megapixel camera takes decent shots, it only shoots video in 480x640-pixel resolution. What makes Motorola's pint-sized challenger appealing is its ability to absorb life's knocks without batting an eyelid.

Long-suffering parents who are sick to death of constantly replacing their child's phone because it got dropped/fell in a puddle/was chewed by the dog (delete as appropriate), will be pleased to learn that the Defy Mini is built to take such trials and tribulations. As such, it's the perfect kid-proof smart phone. And the one thing that won't break is the bank.

Design and build

Like its older and larger siblings, the big draw of the Defy Mini is its ability to withstand more punishment than the average smart phone. Blessed with the power to repel dust and water, this low-cost Android device is perfect for clumsy users and will survive a drop onto the floor better than most.

Motorola Defy Mini back
The plastic cover on the back of the phone has a rubber-like texture, making it easy to grip.

Such robust protection does come with some caveats. Although the Defy Mini is small, it's surprisingly thick at 12.5mm -- thanks to the chunky nature of the protective casing. Another drawback is that getting the back cover off is like cracking a safe -- no doubt a side-effect of the handset's impressive water-resistant capabilities. Don't expect to have any nails left if you plan on opening the phone regularly.

Motorola Defy Mini side
At 12.5mm, the Defy Mini is a chubby little chap.

Finally, there's the annoyance of the plastic covers on the micro-USB and 3.5mm headphone ports. These obviously have to create a completely watertight seal when fitted, but their flimsy nature does little to inspire confidence. I dare say that after a few months, both will be loose and ineffectual.

Motorola Defy Mini micro-USB
To keep them watertight, both the headphone and micro-USB ports have plastic covers, but they feel cheap and nasty.

Motorola has got some things right with the design of the Defy Mini though. The inclusion of a dedicated camera button makes me happier than it probably should do, and the LED notification light in the top-right corner of the screen is welcome. With the latter, you can quickly see if you have an unread message without having to actually activate your screen.

Performance and internal storage

With 1GHz processors becoming commonplace on entry-level Android phones, Motorola's decision to shove a pathetically weak 600MHz CPU inside the Defy Mini is incredibly disappointing. Backed by just 512MB of RAM, this minnow of a chip struggles to cope with even the most basic of tasks. Just moving from one home screen to another is a stutter-packed affair, and rarely does the phone's user interface feel slick or responsive.

Motorola Defy Mini rugged exterior
Small but seriously tough, the Defy Mini's rugged exterior belies the weak power contained within.

When you consider that companies like Huawei are putting 1GHz CPUs into handsets that cost less than £100 such as the Ascend G300, the Defy Mini's lack of technological grunt is unforgiveable.

The phone's internal storage capacity is similarly dire, with only 160MB of user space available for applications and games. Android's built-in ability to store some app data on the microSD card helps that meagre amount go a little further, but you'll still find that it fills up quicker than a newly-opened branch of Primark. The 2GB card that is included with the phone will serve for a short while, but you'll want to upgrade pronto if you plan to flood the device with candid snaps and toe-tapping tunes.

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Where to Buy

Motorola Defy Mini

Part Number: CNETMotorola Defy Mini

Typical Price: £150.00

See manufacturer website for availability.