In the modern smartphone arena any high-end android phones will come with a screen size of 4.7 inches or larger, but where does that leave consumers who want something smaller? Other phone companies have stepped in with scaled-down versions of their flagship phones, Samsung offering the S4 Mini, and HTC the One Mini. However both of those make hardware sacrifices in one way or the other. The Droid Mini, which is a direct upgrade to the RAZR M carries the same internals as the rest of the latest Droid family, and shares it's interface and enhancements with the Moto X. So how does a smaller phone stack up in a large phone's world? Read on to find out.

Look and Feel

Galaxy S4, HTC One, Droid Mini, and Electrify M

Galaxy S4, HTC One, Droid Mini, and Electrify M​

If you've used a Droid RAZR M the Droid Mini will feel extremely similar - the dimensions are nearly identical, and if not for a few moved ports you could even swap cases from one phone to the other. Perhaps the biggest external change is that Motorola has chosen to remove the option of using external storage by not including a Micro SD card slot. On a more positive note, they also moved the keys from being on-screen to just below it, giving you that last quarter of an inch back as usable screen area. The power and volume keys are also slightly more pronounced, and give a much better feel than the Razr M.

Another thing you'll quickly notice about the phone how slick it feels in your hand. There were several moments when it felt like it might slip from my hand, and trying to use it while it was resting on a smooth surface would cause it to slide around under my finger. Other than this the build feels extremely sturdy, and fits in my hand quite comfortably. The smaller size means there is no awkward stretching to reach from one side of the screen to the other.

While many people faulted Motorola for sticking with 720p instead of updating to 1080p on their larger phones, the difference is impossible to tell on the smaller 4.3" screen. Colors are bright and text is crisp and easy to read.


As with most phones the Droid Mini has a single rear speaker and a headphone jack. If you just want to show someone a quick video it will work well enough, but if you want to use it as your main music player you will obviously need a pair of decent headphones. Even after playing with the equalizer settings, and while using headphones, the sound coming out of the phone was average at best. It did the job, but you won't be impressing anyone with the sound.


I was able to compare the 10 MP camera in the Droid Mini to the cameras for both the S4 and HTC One. In low light the Mini was fairly equivalent to the S4 in terms of noise, however it fared worse in accurate color representation. Under normal lighting conditions all three phones produced fairly similar pictures, with little difference in quality or color representation. Natural lighting was a similar story as far as quality goes, although the S4 did seem to produce superior color representation.

The camera app itself is a completely new interface, you slide the options out from the left and the gallery from the right. Any touch on the screen will take a picture, which takes some getting used to when you are used to that action causing the camera to change focus. It also comes with the standard filters as well as a slow-motion mode. Slow motion works as expected, and the videos it produces don't suffer from darkness or stuttering.

Mini-ScoreBattery and performance

The Droid Mini advertises itself as a flagship phone in a smaller package, and actually has the same specs as its siblings in the Droid line, as well as the Moto X. While using the phone I never noticed any lag, and it seemed to keep up with any task I had for it. Battery life was equally pleasing as I was able to make it through a day of normal use without the need to recharge.

Benchmarks place the Mini lower than current flagship phones available, but in this age of diminishing returns it was almost impossible to tell the difference during normal usage.


Motorola's plan with the new Droid line, as well as the Moto X is to counter lower specs with a better user experience. The most useful of these in my opinion turned out to be Active Display, where the phone would detect when you took it out of your pocket or picked it up from a surface and automatically turn on portions of the screen to show you the time and notifications. It's truly surprising how quickly you get used to having this feature, and how convenient it winds up being.

The other main feature that Motorola is touting is the voice activation. While there are certainly times when it could come in handy, it soon becomes more of a neat trick the phone can do than something you will come to depend on. I was able to use the feature to identify a song playing on the radio while driving, but telling it to play a certain song would most often result in a Google search.

Twisting your wrist to open up the camera is another feature that will likely be rarely used, especially when you can quickly access the camera by swiping the lock screen to the left. The vibration to simulate the actual noise of a digital camera turning on is a nice touch, but this feature will probably be ignored by most users.

Another aspect that needs to be mentioned is the inclusion of Ingress on the device. When you first open the box and remove the phone the first thing you see under it is a card telling you about the game. When you first log in to Ingress through the phone you are greeted with a message that you've been given 50 XMP, 50 Resonators, 5 Ultra Strikes, as well as 10 Power cubes and shields, all on whatever level you are currently at in the game. It's not clear if this is a way for Google to promote the game to new players, or convince current players to purchase a Motorola handset.

Final Thoughts

After using the phone for two weeks I was still extremely happy with the features and performance. It doesn't have the biggest screen available, but if you are considering the phone that isn't your main concern. If you want a phone that has a smaller screen and that will fit easily in your pocket you don't have a lot of options if you want the specs to keep up with the higher end phones out there.

With the recent ability to gain root access to the entire line of modern Droid Phones there should be very little standing in your way if you choose to remove the bloatware that comes on most new phones.