The Defy Mini is a compact, well-built smartphone that feels solid in the hand, with a toughened Gorilla Glass display that survived heavy impact
Motorola's light, social-centric skin adds some flavour to the intuitive Android Gingerbread OS, with cool widgets for most-used apps and contacts
A wallet-friendly price of £160 SIM-free gets you an impressive lineup of great email, web, and social features, as well as way-above-average ability to survive shock and IP67 certification for dust and water resistance
The Defy Mini survived all the water, drops and sharp objects we hurled in its direction. Overall performance was decent, but the touch-screen was occasionally sluggish
The large 1650mAh battery provided nearly two days of juice with Wi-Fi, 3G and occasional GPS use
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,1/11/2012 2:50:12 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Tough yet streamlined design, Swype keyboard makes typing comfortable on a small screen, shock-proof, water resistant, good value
Mediocre camera, slightly sluggish touch-screen
Phones travel in some tough situations. Who knows, you could drop it, drown it, scratch it, maybe even stab it. At least that's what Motorola reckons, with the launch of its smart looking ‘life-proof' Defy, a semi-ruggedised handset that survived our patented tough-osity tests for water, impact and scratches, all without resembling a brick encased in a rubber brick. Moto followed it up with the equally suave and strong Defy Plus and now, the downsized Defy Mini. Can this cheaper compact cutie follow in its predecessor's toughened footsteps?
From looks alone, the Defy Mini doesn't particularly stand out. But grab it in the hand and you notice that its rubberised chassis could withstand more than a few knocks (we tried), while its microUSB and 3.5mm ports can be sealed for added water resistance. Its 3.2-inch touch-screen is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass with a VGA camera in the top right for video calling and a three-megapixel snapper out back for cam-phone photography. Both cameras produce average images with slightly dull colours - but it's nothing you wouldn't expect from a lower-range smartphone like this.
The HVGA (480x320) screen is a TFT capacitive touch display with 262,000 colours, which isn't stunning but decent for its price. Smooth matt rubber covers the back of the phone, which snaps tightly on to prevent dust and water seeping in. Like previous Defy phones, it's IP67-certified, which means it is dust-proof and water resistant up to one metre.
This is an Android Gingerbread phone, skinned lightly with Motorola's pleasing social-centric interface. With its 600MHz processor, it's unlikely to be in line for an update to Ice Cream Sandwich, though with its slightly sluggish performance on Gingerbread, that's probably a blessing.The super-sized 1650mAh battery ponied up a battery life of nearly two days, impressive with Wi-Fi and 3G on, plus occasional GPS use.
As with its Android antecedents, the Defy Mini sports full Google sync with a Gmail address required to activate all the Google-related apps, including downloading apps from Google Play. It rocks the standard Android look with a scatter of icons and widgets making up its seven home screens. All this is fully customisable, and Moto has added its own touch with some cool auto-updating widgets like the Favourite Contacts widget, which logs the friends you call or text the most and arranges their profile cards on a screen. Such is the level of detail that the cards are actually sized and positioned according to the most-contacted friend. There's also a useful Favourite Apps widget that arranges itself into the apps you click on most. It's pretty handy discovering that you're actually on WhatsApp far more than Ping, for example.
Typing on such a small screen feels cramped even with our dainty hands, but the excellent Swype keyboard app is preloaded as the default option for typing. Just drag a finger from letter to letter to write words – the auto-correct is impressive and spaces are automatically inserted, making this the ideal solution for a restrictive virtual keyboard.
Moto's Social Networking app syncs social network feeds including Last.fm into a stream - but as it's awfully slow and lacks custom refresh settings, you'll be better off using the preloaded Facebook and Twitter Android apps.
Now to the nitty-gritty – how good is the Defy Mini at surviving a battering? Check out our toughness test video to find out!
Attacking a phone with scissors wasn't how we planned our lives to turn out
Outcome: A perfect scratch-free screen remained despite our determined efforts to create scuffs. We even stabbed at the toughened display with zero effect.
Outcome: A small scuff appeared in the top left corner but the most important thing, the screen, remained resolutely intact and the phone itself worked perfectly.
Outcome: The Motorola Defy Mini's IP67 certification says it should be able to resist water up to one metre deep for up to 30 minutes. But it seems its snap-on cover and sealable ports have let it down - despite ringing while under water, and responding right after we took it out, 20 minutes after the tests the touch-screen stopped responding.
Opening up the casing revealed a small amount of water had seeped inside. We're currently allowing the handset to dry in pieces overnight and will update with its status soon.
Dunked in water, the Defy Mini still received phone calls. Impressive!
** UPDATE: After drying overnight, the Motorola Defy Mini was back in full working condition. Result! In summary? Maybe don't leave it underwater if it should fall thusly.
After spending a few days with the Defy Mini actively trying to destroy it, we definitely grew an attachment to this wee cheerful smartphone that largely managed to dodge the calamities we aimed at it. It's not quite as slick as its bigger brother, the Defy Plus, but for its price it offers an impressive set of smart features, astounding battery life and to top it off, a sturdy body that easily lasted through the common disasters that would fell more fragile, higher-end handsets.
You can buy the Motorola Defy Mini from Clove Technology for £156