Review Price £150.00
Where this phone most immediately shows its low cost is in its screen. At only 3.2in across, it's quite small, and moreover looks particularly tiny thanks to the large bezel surrounding it. Its is however a reasonably sharp display thanks to its iPhone 3G equalling 320 x 480 pixel resolution. Nonetheless, this is a display that's more suited for important phone duties than the multimedia side of things.
Need to find out where you are on GoogleMaps, want to lookup the local restaurant's website or drop the AA a call when broken down in the middle of the peak district? This phone and its screen will suffice, but if you're looking for something that'll entertain you while backseat-driving en route to your destination, you may find it coming up short – watching video and playing games that use onscreen controls aren't all that much fun. That said, it will stretch to making the odd YouTube clip, a catchup on Facebook and Twitter, and a read of mobile-optimised websites reasonably enjoyable.
For an LCD, viewing angles are good and overall colour reproduction is decent too. We found it reasonably easy to view in bright conditions but it's by no means the best in this regard.
Interface & Performance
The third big hurdle here is the performance of this phone. With only a 600Mhz processor onboard, it is pretty sluggish. This flips between being acutely annoying and reasonably tolerable, so overall we'd say you'd cope, at a push.
Most of the time you just need a little bit of patience while some apps take a moment to load, or you need to be careful not to be overly zealous scrolling through a long list, as you may need to wait for the phone to catch up. However, on the odd occasion – particularly if there's a hefty app running in the background – it can slow to a crawl. Probably the toughest challenges are graphically rich websites, which can cause the phone to become very unresponsive as you try to scroll around and zoom in and out of them.
Otherwise, though, Motorola has done a good job of optimising this handset to suit its intended purpose. While the screen may be small, Motorola has made the keyboard easy to use by preinstalling the one-finger swiping keyboard, Swype. This is one of the few times we've really felt this keyboard significantly improves the typing experience over a normal touch keyboard, as the small screen makes normal typing a struggle – using Swype is easy, though.
You also get a neat activity app called the Instrument Dashboard that provides a one-stop solution for all your jogging needs. Open the app and you've instant access to a run logger, which at the tap of a button uses the phone's inbuilt accelerometer to guestimate the number of steps you're taking while also tracking your route via GPS. By also inputting your height and weight the app can guess as to how many calories you've burned.
Swipe across the top portion of the screen and you can view a map of your run, get quick access to a music player and view the weather, while below are four spaces to fill with quick links to your favourite apps. By default these come filled with a sensible selection of the camera, compass and FM Radio.
All told it's a nice little addition. However, anyone that's already using another app, or that does more than running is probably better off sticking to what they know or using a 3rd party app. We use RunKeeper but there are plenty more that work alongside extra accessories.
Apparently I like the App Store
A final Motorola addition of note are the popular contacts and apps homescreen widgets. These track your most frequently used contacts and apps, presenting them as a spiral of descending popularity with the most popular sitting centre stage. They're quite useful if you don't like to keep your phone's apps rigidly organised.
Aside from the Motorola extras, the interface is pretty standard Android 2.3. So in terms of capabilities, you're left wanting for little – a quick trip to the Google Play app store will get you just about any app or game you need. As mentioned, things like web browsing are hampered by the smaller screen but otherwise we have few complaints.
Multimedia and Gaming
You can drag and drop files onto this phone for easily playing music and video while out and about – no iTunes required here – and there's a microSD slot under the battery cover to add extra storage. However, we'd seldom consider it worth the effort when it comes to video. The screen is too small and the processor too slow to play most decent quality files, so you'll have to convert them before copying them onto the phone.
The processor also impacts gaming performance, with for instance 3D racing shooter, Death Rally, simply not running.
A rare sight on such a budget phone is a front facing camera but Motorola has chosen to include one here. It's a basic unit but does the job for video calling.
The main camera also boosts more than you might expect given the phone's budget. It has a reasonably powerful LED flash and a shutter button that makes it easy to take shots with gloves on. However, quality is not all that clever, with blotchy low-detail pics the order of the day. Low light performance is particularly poor too.
We may not have had great weather recently but it wasn't this dull in real life.
The flash is next to useless.
The Motorola Defy Mini almost fulfils its remit as a small, cheap, rugged smartphone that's ideal for camping, festivals or tearaway kids. However, its lack of true waterproofing, small screen and sluggish processor combine to leave us a bit underwhelmed. If your budget really is limited to around £150 then we'd suggest trying to find a larger Motorola Defy, or if you can stretch to just over £200 then the Motorola Defy+ is a much more accomplished handset all-round.
Scores In Detail
- Screen Quality