Motorola Defy Mini

Feature set summary for Motorola Defy Mini review
A nice lineup for £160 SIM-free – great web, social and email features plus excellent durability and the ability to fend off water and dust.
Motorola Defy Mini

Style and handling summary for Motorola Defy Mini review
The Defy Mini is a smartphone with good build quality that feels solid to hold and has the benefit of a Gorilla Glass screen

Battery power summary for Motorola Defy Mini review
Battery life is impressive – we got two days out of a full charge using 3G, Wi-Fi and the odd bit of GPS

Performance summary for Motorola Defy Mini review
Performance was not bad, although the touchscreen was slow at times. But the Defy Mini was not able to get through being submerged in water for a minute – although why would you do that to your phone anyway?

User friendliness summary for Motorola Defy Mini review
Motorola has added a social network focused layer to the Android Gingerbread operating system, which is user friendly, and there are some nifty widgets for contacts and your most-used apps.

Full Review and Specification for the Motorola Defy Mini
The folk at Motorola seem to think that smartphones have a hard life, at risk from being dropped, scratched, drowned or even stabbed. That’s why they came up with a semi-rugged handset in the shape of the Defy – which managed to withstand our ‘daily life’ assault of being bashed, scratched and bombarded with water, and do so without having to look like a brick covered in rubber. Now Motorola has come up with the Defy Mini, a more compact version of the device – but can it still be tough AND small?

On screen

The Defy Mini’s display is of the capacitive TFT type offering 262K colours – not exceptional, but not bad for the price. The back is covered by a matt rubber case, which fits tightly to stop any water or dust sneaking in – like its big brothers, the phone is IP67 certified, which means that it is water resistant up to a metre and is also dustproof.

Looks-wise it is not particularly exceptional, but pick it up and you’ll gather that its rubberised case is capable of standing up to a good few knocks, plus the 3.5mm audio and microUSB ports are sealed to help water resistance.

The 3.2in display is covered in Corning Gorilla Glass for extra protection and there is a VGA snapper in the top right corner for making video calls. On the back is a 3MP camera for other photography – you’ll get pretty average snaps from both, with colours that prove a tad dull – but it’s pretty much what you would expect from a less expensive handset like this one.

The Defy Mini runs Android Gingerbread, with Motorola’s own interface laid over the top. This focuses on social networking. The 600Mhz chip means that you shouldn’t expect an upgrade to Ice Cream sandwich any time soon – in fact performance with Gingerbread can be a tad slow at times.

Making contact

As you’d expect from an Android phone, you’ll get total Google sync, so need a Gmail address to activate any Google-related apps – and that includes being able to download apps from Google Play. There are seven homescreens, all of which can be customised, along with some nifty Motorola widgets – we particularly like the favourite contacts widget, which logs the mates you text or call most and then arranges all their profile cards on the display. The size of the card is related to how often you call them – don’t let your other half see this if s/he has a smaller card than your best mate!

The size of the display can make typing feel a tad cramped, even if you have small hands, but the good news is that the Swype keyboard app is already onboard. You simply drag your digit from one key to the next, and it speeds up inputting once you’re used to it. Plus autocorrect is efficient and it automatically inserts spaces.

A favourite apps widget cleverly sorts the apps you click on the most. For social networking meanwhile, there is Moto’s own social networking app, which aggregates all your social network feeds into one stream – but in use it is really slow and has no custom refresh settings – you might as well use the already on board Twitter and Facebook apps.

Tough love

Now, Motorola makes much of the Mini Defy’s tough credentials, but how does it really stand up to the trials of life? We put it to the test.

First we tested its shock-proof abilities by dropping it from pocket height (about 1m) over and over again onto concrete. It survived this mistreatment well, coming out with just a little scuff on one corner. The most important point is that its display was still in one piece and the handset worked fine.

Next we took to it with a pair of scissors in an effort to recreate the keys-in-handbag situation that many phones find themselves in. The display stayed scratch-free – even when we stabbed at it a la Norman Bates in Psycho.

Finally we gave it the old water torture treatment by dunking it in running water for a full minute. According to its IP67 certification, the Defy Mini should be able to survive being in water up to a metre in depth for up to half an hour. Despite the fact that it received a call while under the water, after 20 minutes out of the water the touchscreen stopped working. We have taken the phone apart and are letting it dry, so we’ll keep you up to date on how it does when it dries out.

The Defy Mini also benefits from a super-size battery that offers almost two days from a full charge, even with 3G and Wi-Fi running and the odd bit of GPS.

Our conclusion

It’s funny how you can get attached to a small phone that you are intent on trying to destroy. While it is not quite up there with its older sibling the Defy Plus, you get a good range of features for the price, great battery life and a sturdy handset that is more than capable of coping with the everyday life of a mobile.