23
Jul
mini2

Just as expected, Verizon revealed its new family of DROIDs today, courtesy of Motorola. The smallest is (naturally) the DROID MINI, entry-level counterpart to the big daddy Ultra and MAXX, and ostensible sequel to the excellent DROID RAZR M. The phone uses the same Kevlar-wrapped style as the larger phones, with the naturally updated hardware that you'd expect. It launches on August 20th for $99 on-contract, and pre-orders will be live today.

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All three new phones use a Motorola-branded octocore system on a chip, the X8. (This may be a bit of a misnomer - a Verizon slide mentioned 2 processor cores, 4 GPU cores, one contextual computing core, and one language processing core.) Verizon claims the CPU is 24% faster, while the GPU is 100% faster - not bad, considering the respectable Snapdragon S4 on the previous phones.

Update: So that "X8" SoC is just Qualcomm hardware with a few tweaks especially for Motorola. Dual-core CPU, quad-core GPU, low-power core, and a core dedicated to the language processing in Google Now and Motorola's custom implementation. The eight-core business is mostly marketing fluff.

The DROID MINI uses a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen with the same "edge to edge" build as the RAZR M, meaning a smallish bezel. It's a 720p panel, the same size but denser than the RAZR M, and the same resolution as the larger phones. The phone will include wireless charging. Voice commands work even when the phone is off, as seen in leaked Moto X videos. The Mini gets 2GB of RAM and a 10MP rear camera, just like the larger phones, and the proprietary "DROID Zap" media sharing feature, plus Miracast support.

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More interesting is the change in style that Motorola has gone with. The Nexus-style virtual navigation buttons from the RAZR M have disappeared, replaced with capacitive versions (but thankfully in the standard back-home-recents configuration). We don't have a reason for this change, but it is a bit disappointing from a pure Android perspective. The rest of the phone is much improved cosmetically - gone is the jarring mix of materials and finishes from the somewhat disjointed M. It's smooth, rounded Kevlar, Gorilla Glass, and not much else. Also: the microUSB port has been moved to the bottom of the device. Finally!

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Features include active display alerts, which lights up a portion of the screen instead of using an alert light, the "Quick Capture" feature seen in the Moto X camera leak, and the Command Center widget. This is the old "Circles" Motorola widget on steroids. And for you Ingress players, the Google location game is pre-loaded. (Here's hoping it can be disabled.) Buying the DROID MINI between now and September 30tht will get you free Google Music All Access for six months.

Update: Android Police has confirmed with both Verizon and Motorola that the bootloaders are locked on all three new DROIDs. Everyone try to act surprised.

Source: DroidDoes.com

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Gaurav Chandiramani

    something tells me that this same 8 core SoC is going to power the Moto X

    • disqus_is_good

      Its just a dual core processor really.

      • Gaurav Chandiramani

        Yes, in all it's essence it is just a dual core CPU. But the interesting part is the dedicated contextual awareness and voice recognition cores, I bet that's a real power saver.

        Also, the number cores don't matter (a dual core Nexus 10 beats a quad-core Nexus 4 in benchmarks) what really matters is the optimization.
        Also, if they're using something decent like the dual core S4 Pro, then it should be enough power for a general consumer.

        • Simon Belmont

          You're right. The number of cores don't matter, especially in this instance.

          But calling it 8-core or octocore makes it look like 8 CPU cores for applications, sorta, when they're actually dedicated "cores" for other things. I'm glad it was clarified in the literature.

          • TynanDeRosa

            At this point, more cores is just marketing, don't knock it til the stats are out. Look at Intel vs AMD, 4 cores outperforming 8 cores processors. I want to see real world benchmarks before saying it's a pos.

          • Simon Belmont

            I wasn't knocking it. I always reserve judgment on things before they're out, but I'm just making an observation here that calling something Octocore seems a bit misleading when people may think it means 8 application cores.

            Honestly, core counts is just a dick measuring contest. Just like MHz and GHz in the 1990s and early 2000s was.

          • anon.yser

            cpu-z is a great app to get on your android device to see information about the SoC and best of all it's free

  • disqus_is_good

    They should have just added that 3500 mAh battery to Moto X and call it the day.

    • Justin W

      "and call it a day."

      .... Or two.

      • miri

        What you did... It's there and I see it.

  • http://www.ronakg.com/ Ronak Gandhi

    "Motorola X8 mobile computing system" — a new 8-core chip with 2 application processor cores, 4 graphics cores, a contextual computing core, and a natural language processing core.

    This is interesting. Also, the new Droids have same always on listening mode too.

  • Captain Canada

    I want a Maxx variant for Canada so badly, with all that battery life there'll be so much room for activities.

    • Justin W

      I want a GSM version available in the US.

      • turdbogls

        weren't the last ones "unlockable" to be used on GSM networks? could be wrong here but i though i heard that somewhere.

        • Justin W

          Yes and no. They were Global ready, but I don't know whether the bands were compatible with T-Mo or ATT or if you could use a SIM from ATT/T-Mo and get it to work on them.

          • Freak4Dell

            They came with a band lock for domestic networks. However, with a simple mod from XDA (don't need to be rooted or anything), it can be unlocked for AT&T and T-Mobile (and their MVNOs). It doesn't support the AWS band that T-Mobile uses, but since they refarmed most of their markets to use PCS for 3G/4G anyway, it doesn't matter all that much. I'm using a RAZR M on T-Mobile right now.

          • Justin W

            Hmm.... I may just be getting me a Droid....

            Do you by chance know what LTE bands the Ultra/Maxx uses? I can't find that on Vzw's specs listings.

          • Freak4Dell

            Well, I wouldn't jump on the new Droids just yet. It took a while for them to figure out how to get the M and HD to work on AT&T/T-Mobile. Keep an eye on XDA, though, and hopefully it will be done sooner rather than later.

            As for LTE, Motorola's site lists bands 4 and 13. 13 is 700MHz, which is what Verizon and AT&T use, but it's a little odd they would have done 4, which is 1700. T-Mobile uses 1700. Sounds to me like this thing could possibly pick up T-Mobile LTE. I'm mainly interested in the X, but if I decide I don't want that, I'll definitely be looking at the Mini as a possible replacement for my M if the devs can get it working on T-Mobile.

          • Justin W

            4 is AWS, isn't it? Wouldn't that mean 1700 and 2100? I'm mainly interested in the Ultra or Maxx because of the 5" screen. I already have two devices with a 4.7" and I want something bigger.

          • Freak4Dell

            Yeah, I couldn't remember if 4 was both 1700 and 2100, or just 1700, but I think it is full AWS. It's just interesting that these phones support those bands for LTE, since Verizon doesn't use them. There's a very small possibility that they may have just not done the band lock this time, either. Maybe I'll go to a Verizon store on the 20th and see if I can pop my SIM in one of them to check.

  • David Margolin

    nooooo... they can't just give away ingress... took me months before i could get an invite when it first came out... and now everyone just gets to play... heck they even preload it for you...

    • http://petercast.net Peterson Silva

      Hipster much? =P

    • Brandon Jiang

      why don't you want more players?

      • David Margolin

        cause they will take up all the portals making it harder to level up...

        • Brandon Jiang

          hey
          competition. challenge. shouldn't you enjoy that?

    • jb

      well it didnt say a invite code was provided but probably so.
      i have been sitting on a few spare invites and many others do as well.

      • David Margolin

        Yeah, i got five extra invites now... i feel as though my work to get a code for my first time (ingress artwork, begging, signing up, begging some more, some more artwork, signing up with a different account) has been wasted...

  • Jeremiah Rice

    Sorry for the lack of details, folks - Verizon was pretty sparse in the announcement. We'll post better specs as soon as we can.

  • andrew8806

    Hmm, I think they forgot to mention the locked bootloaders. Strange.... :)

    • Josh

      Probably because no one actually cares. Only a small group of enthusiasts.

      • dave

        Yup. Noone cares.

  • moelsen8

    heeeeello hideous menu button bar!

    • Anthony Restaino

      Yep. I was really happy to see the on-screen buttons on the last generation of droids and now they've gone to this... I hope these are designs coming from before Google took over... if not... what are they doing

      • Justin W

        My guess is they aren't, since the last gen had on-screen keys.

  • sourabh

    whats wrong with capacitive buttons?atleast it doesnt have a physical home button like the one on the S3/S4 etc or a menu button.Onscreen make complete sense when on a tablet but what do a bring to a phone other than taking up a part of my screen's space?except in very few apps,the nav bar doesnt hide.i was playing shadowgun and tiny thief the other day and i disabled the navbar (aokp feature foe the S3)and i could see more stuff especially in tiny thief.IMHO i would prefer capacitive buttonsas long as i have these buttons- back home and recent apps i would prefer capacitive buttons instead of on screen nav bar

    • Brandon Jiang

      the problem is, go look at what happened to the HTC one s, x, v, droid dna, and htc one
      ugly menu bar taking up a giant portion of the screen. moto will face the same problem

      • sourabh

        one of the ways to eliminate this problem is by using capacitive buttons and forcing developers to incorporate menu buttons in their apps.the menu bar only pops up in some apps,but the nav bar is always there whatever app you will use thus eating your effective screen space

        • Brandon Jiang

          to be honest, I would rather have a full navigation bar always eating up my space as opposed to sometimes having a bar that serves a single purpose (looks very ugly too), and sometimes the menu button doesnt even do anything - it's just there

          the reason why it's hard to get developers to add get rid of the legacy button is because of the popularity of the galaxy s series.
          "why should i get rid of the menu button in my app when most people use a phone with a physical menu button? then it'll make that button uselss."

          mostly samsung's fault, but still - google wants softkeys. a manufacturer that is owned by google should play by their rules.

          • David Sousa

            The reason is abandonware and lazyness.

            Providing an app which does _not_ use the infamous three dots at the bottom won't make the physical menu button useless in devices that have one. They will still be used like they always have been: the menu key will be mapped to the rest of the menu if memory serves me well. I.e., the menu key will show all the menu keys that are not visible (visible in the ActionBar).

            However, in devices with virtual buttons, that menu is replaced with the overflown menu: a three dots button appear in the ActionBar itself, at the side of the visible menu buttons of the app, and pressing that bar item will display that expanded menu (the overflown menu, which is the same as the other one, just called differently for theoretical reasons).

            I know that, at least in previous Android versions, you can force the overflown menu, thus rendering the physical menu key useless in a 2.3 device. However, as far as I know, you can't do the opposite, i.e., force overflown menu in a 3.0+ device with a physical menu key, but I'm not sure if that option works there. I don't know because I couldn't care since I consider it an anti-pattern and never use that option (again, not even in 2.3- devices). Fortunately, that is not the default behavior and must be explicitly enabled in the app, so only people who have some understanding of the option, or had read the docs, enabled it (hopefully).

            Personally, as a user, I prefer onscreen buttons because of the discoverability of the menu actions, and the bigger screen in an equally sized profile. I know it takes some logical space in the screen, but I'm fine with that.

      • Victor Orlando Nash Jr

        I'm sorry but you notice you mention nothing but HTC phones. My wife gs3 and my optimus g Dont have that stupid three dot menu button. Also there was an update to those phone to change the recent button into a menu button and a long press for the recent app which is the same way Samsung and lg did but was smart enough to have it on as default and at launch and not as an ota update like HTC did.

        • Brandon Jiang

          yeah... that's kinda the point.
          samsung does worse. trying to keep that crap menu button alive, and extremely ugly home button. blegh
          LG also kept the actual menu button, although didn't implement the crap home button.

          I'm sorry but I don't understand what you're saying. how does this relate to the motorola phones? are you just trying to pick a fight with someone you disagree with by bringing in wild topics?

  • br_hermon

    I would put a pretty hefty bet that there's one reason and one reason only that Moto reverted to capacitive buttons for these Droid phones... Differentiation. There's no other secret, prefered reasoning behind it people. And frankly it makes sense, The Droid line has it's own style (kevlar, killer battery [MAXX], capacitive buttons, to name a few) and the Moto X will have it's own style (curved back and more curved body, on screen buttons,etc). If you are going to put out multiple phones you need to differentiate each with it's own style in order to sell them all.

  • Russell Sprague

    why the hardware nav buttons, aren't we over this yet?

  • me

    Finally a true mini!

    • dainhox

      Dragon

    • anon.yser

      it's funny that 4.3" is now classified as a small screen on a phone

  • Sahil Chaturvedi

    Why no on-screen navbar, moto? -_-

  • Freak4Dell

    I'm not sure how to feel about the new chip. It sounds great, but if Motorola acts like Samsung and doesn't release the proper documentation, this could be really hard to work on for developers. I gotta wonder if the X8 will power the X, too, since that was rumored to have all the different cores for different purposes. I do really like that they kept the size the same, though.

    • TynanDeRosa

      there's more to phones than custom roms. I've honestly been so happy with my Note 2, that when I tried cm10 I felt like I lost more than a gained. I have a feeling the new motorola's are going to be the same.

    • Ivan Myring

      Well they want to stop Devs. I mean, locking the boot loader is fairly normal but vzw and moto do it very securely

    • tharealoc

      Pretty sure the X8 is going to power the Moto X since the chip is made by Qualcomm as well

  • Arve Svendsen

    Notice how these new phones also only have 2 cpu's?

    I bet this is the same setup we will get with the Moto X!

  • Simon Belmont

    It's actually a dual-core. They make it sound like it's sort of like Samsung's execution of the Exynos Octacore by calling it Octocore.

    All ARM chips, since forever basically, have had separate "cores" for things, like the DSP chip, the modem, the ISP (imaging) chip, and of course the application chip. Either way, it explains the always-on microphone of the Moto X.

  • antifud

    so is it a removable case or are people again stuck without wireless charging options?

  • I’mRight

    So.. 3 phones today and then another one in a week? Thats old HTC on steroids. I don't get it.

  • Ivan Myring

    Well going on this logic, the note 3 will have "14 cores"

    • Android_Wins_Big_Time

      Or 16. Exynos 5 Octa-Dual or something similar.

  • tharealoc

    So in theory, the X8 is what we can expect to be powering the Moto X....

    • psychoace

      Yup, would probably explain the always on Google Now feature with the low power core and cpu dedicated to language. I'm sure that is how they are doing it on these phones.

  • harmsi

    SD card slot?
    Limited storage would really destroy this dream phone.

  • dave

    Wish they kept the usb on the side. Loved the kevlar on the back of the razr M too, made it stand out from the crowd and felt nice to hold. I take it there's no memory card support?

  • GazaIan

    What's with the perspective in that photo... the phone is as long as his thumb

  • Peter__Principle

    Hardware nav buttons killed it. Nice try, fellas. Also, that battery is far too small to not be removable. I'll burn through it in 6 hours easy. So much for Android being the OS for power users.