these go on sale today do they not?
I looked at them at my local Verizon store 30 minutes ago. They even have the Mini in stock. Unfortunately, they downloaded a bunch of apps on them before they put them on display. It must be some standard set of apps because they even had Samsung apps on all of them. The circles widget was nowhere to be found. The Mini was plugged into a dead charging station, so I couldn't even turn it on to check the LCD screen. I'm going to check the Verizon store at the mall this afternoon.
The Mini actually felt more secure to hold than the Maxx. The Mini is actually a tiny bit thinner, but the sides are less curved than the Maxx, so it has a wider gripping area. I really like the size of the Mini, but I'm concerned about only having 16GB of non-expandable memory. With all the junk they loaded on it at the store, it only had 8.9GB free. That also made it impossible to see what it looks like from the factory. I think it is about 11GB free in factory configuration.
Spent about 30 minutes in store with all 3 (Mainly the Ultra and Maxx as the Mini wasn't activated and couldn't get to the home screen), next to a fellow android geek who was still rocking his Gnex. Keeping in mind I have a GS4 currently, here are some first impressions:
- The screen is gorgeous. Coming from an S4 that says a lot. Yes you can tell a difference in PPI if you look closely, but it's very crisp, and very bright and vibrant. I didn't test it outside, but based on how bright it got, it should do fine and probably better than the S4 outdoors. Overall I wouldn't rate it higher than the S4, but I wouldn't be disappointed in the change at all. I'm sure it looks even better on the smaller screen of the X. The screen on the Mini was very nice as well, but you can tell the difference in LCD vs. Amoled, and I couldn't see anything besides the activation screen anyway.
- It's big... The Ultra is slightly thinner than the S4, and the Maxx is about the same to slightly thicker. But the frame is larger and more "boxy" - so it won't be as pocketable as the S4 or other ergonomically shaped devices.
- The hard plastic on the Ultra and Mini actually felt much better than it looks, and all three feel like extremely solid unibody devices. The buttons were very tight and easy to feel/push, which was nice. The plastic doesn't feel as "cheap" (sorry, can't think of a better term) as the plastic on the S4. But it still doesn't feel as nice as the Kevlar on the Maxx - at least that's my opinion. Even though I thought the plastic looked cheap in pictures, my opinion is different after holding them - they're VERY solid and premium devices.
- Active Notifications - didn't get to mess with this... for discussion's sake, I go back and forth on how useful this is for me. I kind of like the simplicity and privacy of a light blinking. I fear the Active Notifications will draw too much attention to the device if I'm sitting in a meeting and it comes on. It has settings to make it more private and disable it completely, however. I like how the S4's "active notification" (i.e. air preview) pops up when I want it to, when I want to actually check it. If you're pulling your phone out of your pocket, however, Active Notifications can be handy for a quick peek.
- The quick camera hand shake gesture thing... Since it's universal, I can see it being "handy" (hah!) as a thoughtless gesture once you're used to using it to open the camera. Coming from a locked position, however, it's no faster than a lockscreen shortcut - it's also much more obnoxious of a motion and also not as sure a thing. It's not a subtle gesture - at least on the Ultra and Maxx I tested. Maybe the X will be better. But it's a serious double flip of the hand that if you fall short of, won't register. Like I said, once you're used to it I can see it being more useful... but I can also see myself knocking a drink over at dinner, the phone flying out of my hand, etc.
- The Camera. This was the biggy for me. I've become accustomed to having a phone that can take excellent pictures on the fly with my kiddos, and it's become a very important feature for me. Motorola devices have especially sucked in this area over the past couple of years. They can take solid shots when you have a few to get set and the lighting is right, but most smartphones can nowadays. It was the weak camera on the HD series that pushed me to Sammy's devices, honestly.
So overall... it's solid... greatly improved in speed and auto-focus over the last Motorola lineup. It was hard to gauge in a lit up store, but flash shots of a shadowy area looked like the flash would make the photos pretty washed out, cold, and "blue-ish" - but that's hard to say for sure until it's tried in a truly dark scenario. Regular shots turned out pretty good and were taken pretty fast - but occasionally it had trouble auto-focusing, leaving the shot blurry. In general the shots felt a bit cold and slightly washed out - though MUCH better than previous Motorola devices. I'm also coming from the POV of the S4 which is supposedly too warm and saturated (though I love it...). So take it with a grain of salt. It's a decent camera... great compared to previous Moto devices, mediocre compared to other top-tier phones, and pretty fast and simple.
- User Interface - It's basically stock Android. As opposed to the Razr/Maxx HD and M from last year, it actually feels like stock Android instead of a lightly skinned version. It's extremely smooth and responsive with no lag in the time I was messing with it. Compared to my S4, that's a tough call... the S4 does get bogged down a bit at times, but is still extremely smooth. But I also find myself getting ahead of the S4 at times, especially in processes that I'm very familiar with. I don't see that happening on the Droid. Again, it feels/looks like pure Android on a solid set of hardware.
I guess that's about it...
Good review. Thank you. I think that the Mini does have active notifications, but I don't know how they do it with the LCD screen. I played with them a bit at the mall store. I like the Mini, but I wish they made a Mini Maxx (oxymoron?). Same as Mini with perhaps a 2800 mAh battery and 32GB memory for $199. I'd buy that in a second. I'm also waiting to see the HTC One. I've read very good reviews of the quality of it's headphone amp. Seems like it's better than the rest. Audio quality is more important to me than camera, but so is battery if I'm using it for MP3s.
I played with them all last night as well. Don't have much to add to Jnt's excellent review. I agree about the wave the hand thing and open the camera. I'm sure I'd launch the phone across the room sooner or later. Definitely stay away from JNT if he's had a couple of drinks at dinner and says "Hey, I want to take a picture!" He should say "Heads up! Incoming phone ready for launch!"
I did play with the Mini for a few minutes and it seems very nice as well. The screen seemed just as nice as the others to me. Not quite as bright, but plenty clear and crisp. It was just as snappy as the other two in everything I tried to do with it. Web pages opened very fast. It was not on wifi, but 4G at the store and it was still screaming fast. I think it's going to turnout to be a pretty popular phone for those that don't want the increased size of the others.
I agree with the camera review. It seems better than past moto phones, but maybe a touch worse than the S4. I agree that the S4 over saturates pics and for many people that looks nice. That can certainly be done after the fact with any software. The pics seemed very sharp, focus was quick and easy to use.
Overall, three VERY solid devices. I like em all.
My two nits after playing with them last night. Power cord in the bottom, bah hum bug. Power volume buttons a tad too tall for a naked phone, looks too easy to snag on that loose thread in jean pockets, you know the one. Nice screen and size, definitely will check it out more.
If it's not HD it might as well be a newspaper.