Motorola has been relatively quiet since Google announced its takeover intentions, but in 2012, it’s been downright silent. The newly-Googly manufacturer announced a couple of new devices like the Droid 4 and Droid Razr Maxx around the time of CES in January and at this week’s Mobile World Congress, it had a booth with almost nothing new to show. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Motorola’s recent products are hardly outdated and generally pretty good, but compared to the bevvy of new devices at booths like Samsung and ZTE, Motorola’s offerings are a bit sparse.
I did find two new devices, the MotoLuxe and Defy Mini, hiding around the edges of the booth, and they’re not too bad. Unfortunately, because they aren’t top-tier devices, reps told me that there’s little to no chance that they’ll ever come to North America.
The Defy Mini is somewhat light on processing power, but makes up for it by taking a punch with grace. There were several demo stations showing that it could handle being pummeled with sand on the beach, getting hit with coins in your pocket, or being rained on. And these were no ordinary storms. Using a spinner, you could pour whip actual sand, coins, and water on test devices at your leisure. It was the kind of demo I’d love to see in a Verizon or AT&T store.
Aside from its durability, the Defy is a small, weak little phone, but for the budget-conscious person who’s rough on their phones, it would be better than no smartphone at all. It comes with a 3.2-inch Gorilla Glass screen (480×320), Android 2.3, 3MP rear camera, VGA front camera, 600MHz processor, and 512MB of RAM. It’s basically a Droid 1 in a new shell, for all intensive purposes. Still, it ran fast enough to get basic tasks done.
I wouldn’t throw a wad of pennies at the MotoLuxe, or shoot it with a Super Soaker, but it had its own strange little appeal as well. With a supercharged 800MHz processor, 4-inch screen (480×854 pixels), 8MP camera, and 1 full gigabyte of internal storage (rest of specs equal to Defy), it kicks things up a notch for low-budget devices. The white MotoLuxe had a particularly nice design as well, with some HTC Incredible curves to it and a nice big green light on the front that glows when you get messages or other notifications.
The Luxe also has a couple new widgets that Motorola would be wise to port to its top-tier devices. In a quirky looking grid, they show you the friends you are in contact with the most and the apps you use the most throughout the life of the device.
Not for everyone, but maybe for someone
These devices are not designed with me, or likely you, in mind. Still, when compared to some of the other low-budget Android phones on the market, they do get the job done. If you tend to be the kind of person who loved Nextel phones a long while ago, the durable Defy Mini may be a good pick for you, much like the MotoLuxe might satisfy those hankering for a tinge of style for almost nothing (with a two-year contract).