As the name implies, the Motorola DROID Mini is a smaller version of the DROID Ultra. In fact, it is almost the same size and weight as the DROID RAZR M, which makes it quite compact and comfortable to hold. Even though the DROID Mini is slightly thicker than the DROID Ultra, this doesn’t take away from the overall appearance.
Motorola has decided to bring back the dedicated capacitive control buttons (back, home, and recent apps) under the display, instead of using the on-screen buttons. Most likely this was done to make better use of the screen real-estate, while above it is a 2MP camera for self pics or video chatting. On the right edge of the phone is the power/lock key and volume rocker, which are raised-up and have a nice texture to them so they are easy to find. Up on top is a 3.5mm headset jack, with the microUSB port on the bottom, and the camera with LED flash and external speaker on the back. If you are wondering about the SIM card slot, it is actually part of the volume rocker. All you need to do is get your finger nail (or a small pin) under the center part, push up and pull out. This is an interesting way to make use of all available space, instead of having a separate SIM slot.
The DROID Mini remains at 4.3”, though instead of using Super AMOLED technology, the DROID Mini is sporting an LCD display with a resolution of 720x1280 pixels. When looking at the DROID Mini next to the DROID Ultra, the Super AMOLED on the Ultra does have more “pop” to it, but the LCD on the Mini still looks great. In fact, due to the higher pixels-per-inch, both text and images look a bit sharper on the DROID Mini. The only downside is that DROID Mini’s LCD screen doesn’t have as wide of viewing angles, and is not as bright and visible when viewed in heavy sunlight.
Also on board is the Active Display notification feature, which we’ve seen on the Moto X and DROID Ultra. Basically what it does it allows you to nudge the phone, and only the center of the display will turn on showing the date and time. Then if you get any notifications, such as a new message or a missed call, only that part of the display will turn on. This way, the device will conserve power since it does not have to turn on the entire display.
Interface & Functionality
Wow, take a look at that! The Motorola DROID Mini is running the exact same flavor of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean that we saw on the DROID Ultra. All joking aside, we’re glad to see Motorola using the same software across multiple devices in its DROID line-up. Like we mentioned before, it’s as close to stock as possible, with 5 home screens, apps drawer and widget selection, but still has some extra additions.
Everything else is pretty much stock Android, from the calendar, calculator, clock, and alarm, to the E-Mail and GMail apps. Just keep in mind that since the display is 4.3”, the on-screen keyboard is a bit cramped and the keys are a bit small in size, which may pose an issue for people with larger hands.
Processor & Memory
Again we see the use of new Motorola X8 SoC, which combines a 1.7 GHz dual-core application processor, 400 MHz quad-core GPU, a natural language processor core, and a contextual computing core. The latter of which is used for voice recognition of Touchless Controls and the behind-the-scenes working of Motorola Assist. (You can read more details about the X8 here).
Since the Motorola DROID Mini and DROID Ultra make use of the X8 processor and have 2GB of RAM, it’s only natural that both devices would have similar benchmark scores, but they also stack-up nicely when compared to other devices that use standard quad-core processors. The DROID Mini is plenty quick in its boot-up time, loading and running apps, multitasking, and playing games.
One area of disappointment with the new devices is that the DROID Mini and Ultra lack a microSD card slot for expanded storage, which means you are limited to the internal 16GB. This then gets divided into the Android OS (4.97GB), Apps, etc, which leaves you with about 9GB of usable space out of the box. The only way to have more storage space is to opt for the DROID MAXX, which comes with 32GB of internal storage.
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