Motorola's Defy Mini handset is a dinky little number. It has a low price, which ought to ensure it appeals to younger, less wealthy types, in addition to the generally budget minded. And by younger, I really mean those in their low teens. Because only these people are likely to have hands small enough, to cope with this phone.
The Motorola Defy Mini, you see, is as small as its name suggest. It has a 3.2in screen with just 480 x 320 pixels on offer, which feels very cramped for some activities, and in particular for tapping out text. I've got small hands, and I found the keyboard very cramped indeed. Motorola has tried to help out by providing Swype, in addition to the standard Android keyboard, but it didn't really do much for me by way of making typing more accurate.
The Motorola Defy Mini reaches its budget price by compromising on a number of features. A 600MHz processor is one of these. This doesn't always cause problems. Web pages render quickly enough and I didn't notice any interminable waits; the Defy Mini isn't going to win a race against a dual core processor.
There is also the mere 120MB of user memory to contend with, but Motorola does provide a 2GB microSD card to help mitigate this. The use of Android 2.3 can't be mitigated though - you'll just have to suck it up.
On the other hand, Motorola has done well on the chassis design and made some clever software choices.
The chassis shares some of the toughened features of others in the Defy range. The screen is made from scratch resistant Gorilla Glass. There are hinged covers for the USB and headset slots, both of which are fiddly to work with, but both of which help provide water and dust resistance.
And the battery cover is held down by a sliding cover and some very solid edge grips. Motorola doesn't shout that the Defy Mini is IP67 compliant (like the Defy and Defy), but it does say the phone is ‘water resistant' and ‘dust proof'. Both the SIM and microSD card are beneath the battery, offering as much protection as possible, against water leakage.
On the software front Motorola has fiddled with Android, giving you the option to add two more home screens to the seven available out of the box. If nine home screens aren't enough, you can also configure three complete sets of these as ‘profiles'. The profiles have the labels: Home, Work and Weekend, where you could set these up for three completely different looks on the phone.
There are some neat widgets here too. I like both Social Graph and Activity Graph. The former keeps an eye on who you contact the most and offers these people, in a thumbnail array, as a large screen widget. If you prefer, you can populate the widget with people you want on shortcuts - even if you don't contact them very often.
Activity Graph monitors the software you use, and offers the most frequent apps up for fast access. Again, you can override the system and populate the Activity Graph however you like. Meanwhile Music+ gives you access to lyrics, Internet radio and YouTube video that's related to whatever track you are currently listening to.
Even the camera has its good points. OK, it is just a three-megapixel version, which is low by anyone's standards and the images are grainy. Also, the camera shutter is rather slow: shaky hands will result in blurred images and you'll do well to capture a good photo of anything moving at speed. Meanwhile video is limited to the ridiculously low VGA. But there are some really nice filters, including emboss and sketch that can be applied as you shoot.
If I have an annoyance with smartphones it is when features that look as though they could be winners let me down. Sadly, there are two examples in the Defy Mini. First off, as any smartphone worth its salt, the Defy Mini can integrate your Twitter followers into its contact book. It does the same with Facebook. But while it ought to be able to synchronise your Twitter account on a regular basis, my review handset wasn't able to do this, experiencing frequent failures.
The other problem came in the form of the MediaSee app. This ought to be a great little application for those who like to stream video, photos and music over their home Wi-Fi. It certainly found my laptop with no problem at all, located my photos, videos and music, and made a good go of handling the display on the small Defy Mini screen. Then, this app let me stream music and look at photos. But it point blank refused to play videos. I hope a software update will fix this, because the ease of use is great.
Overall, I was left with the feeling that the Motorola Defy could have been a bargain at its price. The specification compromises are to be expected in a handset that costs a shade over £150, and some will find the small screen isn't a problem. If only Motorola had not played fast and loose with Twitter synch and MediaSee.
The Motorola Defy Mini continues the Defy name into a third handset, this time aimed at a less wealthy market. It's not the best budget buy we've ever seen, but it does have some nice features. It's just a pity that everything doesn't hang together that little bit better.
Cons: It's small and won't cost you a huge amount.
Pros: The screen is tiny which can have a negative effect on usability.
Price: £156 inc VAT SIM Free
Network: HSPA 850/900/1900/2100, GSM 850/900/1800/1900
Memory: 120MB plus 2GB microSD
Memory expansion: microSD
Display: 3.2-inches, 480 x 320 pixels
Main camera: three-megapixel
Front camera: VGA
FM radio: Yes
Size: 109 x 58.5 x 12.5 mm
OS: Android 2.3