I don’t know if it was due to a far too timid unveiling, the uninspired decision to intro it next to two other phones, both more technically impressive, or the second-gen Nexus 7 announcement that grabbed more media attention. Or maybe all those put together.
What I do know is Motorola’s recently introduced Droid Mini grabbed far too few headlines and was far too little talked about in the past week. And that’s a real shame, since this is probably the best smaller than 4.5-inch smartphone ever to see daylight.
Unlike Samsung and HTC’s efforts in the “mini” niche, which clearly look like downgrades compared with the big guys, Motorola’s compact smartphone is as close as a high-end device as it could have got. It’s essentially just smaller than the top-of-the-line Droid Ultra, packing extraordinary hardware, up to date software and rocking a premium design.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’m sure you want proof the Droid Mini is better than the Galaxy S4 Mini and HTC One Mini and that’s exactly what I’ll give you in the following lines. Lilliputian beasts, fight!
Design and build quality
Right off the bat, we have to oust the GS4 Mini from this fight, as it clearly fails to play in the same league as its competitors in design terms. Don’t get me wrong, Samsung’s little guy is not ugly, but it just looks and feels cheaper than the rest.
Now, what about the other two? Well, the One Mini is clearly a looker, with an ultra-slim profile, all-aluminum chassis and all that, but the Droid Mini is no pushover either. True, it weighs 8 grams more than HTC’s 4.3-incher, but it’s actually thinner, shorter and thus more compact.
Plus, as far as build materials go, you can’t get more premium than Kevlar. Not to mention there’s a sort of a retro vibe going on with the Droid Mini that I’m sure Android veterans won’t be able to resist.
Winner: Droid Mini
Sorry, Samsung, but you’ll have to sit this one out as well. Again, GS4 Mini’s panel is not terrible, but it only boasts a 960 x 540 pixels resolution. Meanwhile, the other two contenders sport identical panels (on paper), both measuring 4.3 inches and both rocking 1,280 x 720 pixels (aka HD res).
In real life, there will surely be differences between the two screens, since one is of the Super LCD2 variation (HTC One Mini) and the other is a Super AMOLED, but at this point we’re going to just call this a tie.
Processing speed and cameras
This is the first battle where the GS4 Mini actually counts, as it packs a dual-core 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor that’s narrowly zippier than the 1.4 GHz chip found inside the HTC One Mini. The Droid Mini is however expected to come out on top here too, coming with a homebrewed Motorola X8 CPU clocked at 1.7 GHz.
That’s the exact same clock speed as GS4 Mini’s CPU and apparently Motorola’s processor is based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon. Then again, a unique quad-core GPU should significantly boost its performance, though we should probably wait and see.
As far as cameras go, it should be no contest. The Droid Mini features 10 MP/2 MP snappers, the S4 Mini has 8 and 1.9 MP cams in tow, while the One Mini packs a 4 UltraPixel shooter on the back and 1.6 MP front camera.
Winner: Droid Mini
With Motorola now being a “Google company”, it’s a real head-scratcher why the Droid Mini runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and not 4.3. Oh, well, it’s not like 4.3 comes with so many new features or optimizations, so for now 4.2 will do for most Android aficionados out there.
4.2.2 is also what the GS4 Mini and One Mini pack on the software front, albeit all three phones have their own special pre-loaded content (read: bloatware), gimmicks and so on. On the whole, there’s little to choose between them all on this front, but we expect Moto’s “midget” to get updates in a more timely fashion.
Winner: Let’s say none for now
Battery life and others
The only phone of the three with its battery tested so far is the GS4 Mini, but it’s hard to believe the One Mini will come close to its performance. In fact, the S4 Mini’s ticker actually behaved better than HTC One’s in GSM Arena’s evaluations, so there you have it.
Meanwhile, Motorola has equipped the Droid Mini with a generous 2,000 mAh battery, which is 100 mAh larger than S4 Mini’s, but that won’t necessarily translate into better real-life autonomy. After all, Droid Mini’s panel is higher-res and that quad-core GPU might be a power hog too.
What else do you need to know about the three before deciding which one’s best? For one thing, the S4 Mini is the only one to have expandable storage. The Droid Mini and One Mini come with 16 GB of on-board memory however and the former also packs the most RAM – 2 gigs, which will go very nicely with that already winning CPU/GPU combo.
Finally, in terms of pricing and availability, there’s a lot to talk about, but in a nutshell you’ll probably find all three phones for $100 with US contracts. Oh, and you should also know the Droid Mini will most definitely be a Verizon exclusive, while the other two could land on more than one American carrier.
Are you looking for the perfect mini Android device? There’s no such thing. But if you want to get as closer as perfection as possible, the Droid Mini is definitely your guy. And you don’t even need to know everything about it. All you have to know is it sports an HD screen that’s much crisper than GS4 Mini’s and 2 GB of RAM, which is double than the HTC One Mini. Period.