- Editor's Rating
- Offers great performance
- Less expensive than flagship Droid models
- Features Google Now
- Ugly design
- Comes with a ton of bloat-ware
- Poor battery life
Quick TakeThe Motorola Droid Mini is a great option for those looking for good performance and a good display at a budget price, however the trade off comes with its unattractive design and poor battery life.
Motorola is the latest company to release a “mini”- branded version of its flagship smartphone. Mini-branded smartphones typically represent smaller, cheaper, and lesser versions of their flagship bigger brothers, like the Droid Ultra, but the Motorola Droid Mini isn’t exactly “mini” at 4.81 x 2.41 x 0.34 inches and 0.29 pounds, or “lesser” when it comes to processing power. The Droid Mini is somewhat more affordable than the flagship model, at $100 with a two-year Verizon contract at the time of the review. Brighthand set out to discover where exactly in Motorola’s line of devices the Droid Mini fits in.
The Droid Mini is built with a black plastic covered in Kevlar. Brighthand called the device “ugly” and said the plastic material is “slimy” and “feels gross against your fingers.” Brighthand also noted the device is a fingerprint magnet. Design-wise, the frame is rounded and compact, allowing the device to easily be used with just one hand. However, the front of the device is completely rectangular, which creates a strange juxtaposition. Brighthand did note that the 4.3-inch device is comfortable to use and makes it hard not to wish there were more high-quality, company Android devices.
While Brighthand was unimpressed with the build and design of the Droid Mini to say the least, reviewers said “almost every other aspect of the Droid Mini screams great value.” Brighthand was impressed with the 4.3-inch 720p display with 341 dpi resolution. Reviewers said the “colors are quite vibrant and consistently reproduced well and there’s really no oversaturation.” Brighthand also found viewing angles to be exceptional and noted glare was never a problem, while text was crisp and clear.
Performance-wise, Brighthand said the Droid Mini offers the same level of performance as other Droid models, despite being priced $100- $200 lower, at the time of the review. The smartphone runs on Motorola’s X8 Mobile Computing System, which includes a Snapdragon S4 Pro Chip with 1.7 GHz dual-core Krait processor and 400MHz quad-core Adreno 320 GPU, and a processor dedicated to contextual computing services. Brighthand said the Droid Mini can handle “just about anything you want to throw at it” and makes a pretty good gaming device as well. Reviewers said the Droid Mini “runs like a dream” web browsing, video playback, and menu browsing ran smoothly in testing.
Brighthand found the smartphone’s speakers to be “superior to the majority of its competition,” noting they are “commendably loud”. Voice calling was also more than acceptable and Brighthand found Verizon’s 4G LTE speeds were plenty fast enough. When it comes to software, Brighthand found the Motorola skin improves upon Google’s mobile OS. However, reviewers did note the Droid Mini comes with a lot of bloat-ware, mostly from preinstalled Verizon apps, which Brighthand called “useless.” Remember, Motorola is a Google company now and thus Google has made its personal assistant software, Google Now, the centerpiece of the Droid Mini. Users can navigate most of the functions with voice controls. Brighthand found this works most of the time, although not always smoothly. The Droid Mini also comes with a suite of Motorola apps that Brighthand found particularly useful, including Motorola Connect and Motorola Assist.
In the end, Brighthand found the Motorola Droid Mini is for users looking for a cheaper model with the same level of performance, Google-lovers and users searching for a smaller Android model. Brighthand was impressed with the performance, display and software features but was more than underwhelmed with the design and build of the device, as well as the battery life.
Verizon customers who fit the above criteria and don’t mind carrying a charger and compromising on aesthetics, will enjoy the Droid Mini. The Droid Mini’s camera UI makes shooting very quick and simple, but limits the amount of options users have. Users can just flick their wrists to launch the camera app and then touch anywhere on the screen to instantly snap a picture. Brighthand called the Droid Mini’s camera “generally good, but too inconsistent.” When it comes to battery life, Motorola rates the 2000mAh non-removable battery for 28 hours of usage or 14 days in standby, but Brighthand got only seven or eight hours of battery life with the screen at 50 percent brightness and average use age.