• Motorola DEFY Mini Review

    By Shaun McGill , March 12, 2012 - Leave a comment

    The DEFY name has come to symbolise phones that are tough and able to withstand daily living. The marketing calls the phone ‘Lifeproof’ and includes examples such as water, getting dropped in dirt and all sorts of other activities and environments that people would never consider using their phones for or in.

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    What strikes me is that the DEFY range of smartphones offer more than this when it comes to toughness. Think about how you use your phone and how often you catch yourself thinking about how to put your phone down, how you are carrying it and what you are doing with it. Does it need a case? It can’t go in your pocket because you have coins and keys in there as well and the screen might get scratched. And so on. For all of the greatness and advanced features in modern-day smartphones, these little thoughts still get in the way of daily usage and are an annoyance.

    With a DEFY, these thoughts disappear quickly and you can now use your phone in any way you like. No more worries about cases, how and where you are carrying it- just you and your phone working how you both want to. It may all sound like marketing buzzwords, but it is a fact.

    The DEFY MINI is a budget phone by price and the 600MHz processor, 512MB of RAM and ROM and 480 x 320 pixel screen are evidence of that. You may believe that the 3.2” screen is too small, but it is very similar in size to an iPhone 4S in reality and all of this is housed in a phone that is at the limits of portability. It neither feels nor looks like a budget device and of course the build quality is exceptional.

    The fact that Clove sent me this phone to review and that they sell the phone in no way sways my opinion on any product, but this is a seriously good phone for the money. Seriously good. It feels great in the hand and practical to use apart from the power button which is on the left at the top. This makes it slight tricky to turn on for right-handed people who tend to carry phones in their left hands. Left-handed people will be fine, however, but it is unusual for a manufacturer to cater for the minority or maybe it was just a design oversight? Add to this the volume buttons being on the right which is easier for right-handers and the confusion becomes apparent. I would normally expect the power button to be the same side as the volume keys.

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    The microSD port and headphone jack are sealed by rubber inserts which waterproofing and they are cleverly designed so that the inserts are easy to pull out when required and also easy to re-insert when you want the protection. Finally, the battery cover is also locked so that it cannot come undone during extreme use and that just about sums up he DEFY from a hardware point of view. With scratch proof Gorilla glass topping it off, you end up with a phone that will easily cope with almost anything you throw at it.

    And then we move to the Android implementation which you may be expecting to be sub-standard because of the price and processor speed. In fact, it turned out to be speedier than I expected with a snappy feel when moving between screens and applications. At times things slow down, but that happened to me when I had eight applications running of which four were I would consider to be intensive. Overall I found general performance to be perfectly usable and will be more than enough to suit most potential users.

    There are a selection of extra apps included by Motorola which have a leaning towards those of an active persuasion. Cardio Trainer lets you monitor your workouts and provides analysis on how many calories you have burnt alongside other useful stats, Dashboard is designed to once again help your fitness with some clever interactive touches and the compass is obviously a compass. And then there is the battery manager which lets you quickly change profiles to suit the current state of the battery, an FM radio, a basic file manager, sound recorder and a torch! These are mostly simple solutions which serve a purpose, but it would be fair to say that there are better options available in Google Play for most of them. They do, however, act as a decent starter for new users who may be unaware of the types of apps available. MediaServer may work out to be an effective solution for those who are used to the workings of DNLA, but overall the aim of the DEFY MINI appears to be for consumers who are more active than the majority.

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    Despite the fact that I am probably less active than the majority, the DEFY MINI is still a phone I could live with. I like the idea of never worrying about how I am handling my phone and the freedom that it offers. I like how the software responds and how well the screen works despite the relatively low resolution and small size and I like how it is all put together. This is a budget phone, which is apparent in some areas, but it also comes with a feature set and build that is way above what should reasonably be expected for the asking price. I expected to conclude that this phone would not be suitable for me, but the specifications are very similar to the original DEFY and this highlights how far we have come in a short space of time. To get all of this for a snip over £160 confuses me, in a good way.

    Shaun McGill

    A freelance writer and mobile technology addict there are not many phones that have not been through Shaun's hands. Honest and straight talking, Shaun provides insightful content and provokes thought and debate and reviews products highlighting their good and bad bits to provided a rounded conclusion, taking in too all the various users.

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