Motorola Moto X vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

Vs Paul Briden 14:05, 19 Aug 2013

Does Motorola's Moto X outgun the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini?

With the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, the Korean giant aims to offer a compact and more affordable device, but one which shares a few value-added features with its flagship namesake.

Motorola’s Moto X is approaching the smartphone sector from a new angle, one which offers carefully optimised hardware and software, unique ‘always on’ features and a wide array of customisation options to make the phone individual to the customer.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini: Key specs and features

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is barely any bigger than its predecessor (the Galaxy S3 Mini) at 124x61x8.9mm and weighing in at 107g, so it’s small, lightweight and easy to manage. However, Samsung has continued the same clever trick it has performed with a number of recent successor models: cramming a bigger display into more-or-less the same sized handset.

As a result, the Galaxy S4 Mini has a sizeable 4.3-inch display panel, a size that not such a long time ago would have been considered anything but ‘Mini’, but still contained in a relatively small bodyshell. It’s a Super AMOLED touch display with a 960x540 pixel resolution at 256 pixels-per-inch (ppi). The display is non-Pentile so it’s actually nice and sharp, as well as being bright and colourful with great contrast.

The processor is a lower spec than Samsung’s flagship but with a new generation dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chip clocked at 1.7GHz and 1.5GB of RAM it’s certainly no slouch and the Adreno 305 graphics processor is also sure to help.

As the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean software, Samsung’s TouchWiz UI and the processor chip are all so well optimised, in normal operation you could be forgiven for thinking it has a much higher-grade set of hardware inside. It’s quite snappy and you won’t find much, if any, lag when jumping between homescreens, opening apps or multitasking and the experience is very similar to higher-end Samsung phones.

In terms of added functionality, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini offers the same Air Gesture and Air View controls, Smart Scroll, Smart Stay and Smart Pause, and Group Play functionality has other recent Samsung models.

Onboard storage is 8GB with 5GB being available to the user and there’s support for microSD cards up to 64GB. Connectivity includes 4G LTE, HSPA+ 3G, GPS, Wi-Fi (Direct and Hotspot), DLNA, Bluetooth and microUSB. The battery pack is rated at 1,900mAh and is removable, so you can hot-swap a new one on the go.

The primary camera is an 8-megapixel setup with an LED flash, HDR, panoramic capture, face detection and voice activation. It’ll capture video at 1080p and there’s a 1.9-megapixel front-facing secondary.

Motorola Moto X: Key specs and features

The Motorola Moto X has a larger screen than its rival at 4.7-inches but still uses AMOLED technology (though not Super AMOLED) with a higher 1280x720 pixel resolution at 312ppi. Visuals have good clarity and colour depth.

Motorola’s design hasn’t focused on creating a compact device but it really isn’t much bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. The display bezel is very narrow and the rear panel is nicely contoured to look good and fit comfortably in the hand. It looks very sharp, but in a unique twist much of the final look is down to you, as you have a wide range of customisation options when you buy the phone.

You can choose either a white or black front fascia while the rear panel has options not only for a huge array of colours but also textures and designs, such as a wood effect. The trim, which includes the physical buttons and camera bezel, can also be coloured from a varied selection. As well as this, you can pick a custom wallpaper, power-on message and handset case.

The processor is a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro clocked at 1.7GHz and paired with an Adreno 320 GPU. Motorola has kept the RAM high at 2GB. Storage options include 16GB or 32GB onboard and no microSD.

Performance wise things are pretty much as you might expect, while the spec is lower than many rival options it’s still more than capable for the vast majority of Google Play content and in terms of general option things are well-optimised enough that you’d think it was a higher-end phone.

The Moto X also has a few additional tricks up its sleeve, it features a dedicated, low-power, dual-core processor directly linked to an array of sensors. The idea here is that it it’s always ticking over in the background even when asleep, but doesn’t drain the power as a result and it can immediately respond to certain things from the sleep state.

What sort of things? Well Google Now integration is a big part of the device, allowing you to take notes, conduct searches and set reminders through voice control. The Always On functionality means you can do this immediately without having to press a button, just say ‘OK Google Now...’

The 10-megpaixel ‘Clear Pixel’ camera is designed to allow in more light than your average 8-megapixel setup to produce clearer, more detailed images and 1080p video. It features an LED flash, panoramic mode and HDR while a 2-megapixel front-facing secondary can conduct video calls and also capture 1080p video.

You’ve got your usual range of connectivity options with 4G LTE, HSPA+ 3G, microUSB, Wi-Fi (with Hotspot), DLNA, Bluetooth, NFC and GPS, while the battery is a fairly sizeable 2,200mAh unit.

Direct spec comparison: Shootout

Device Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini Motorola Moto X
Dimensions 124.6x61.3x8.9mm, 107g 129.3x65.3x10.4mm, 130g
Display 4.3-inch Super AMOLED,960x540 pixels, 256ppi 4.7-inch AMOLED,1280x720 pixels,312ppi
Camera 8-megapixel, LED flash, 1080p video 10-megapixel Clear Pixel,LED flash,1080p video
Storage 8GB 16GB/32GB
Processor, RAM, Graphics 1.7GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, 1.5GB RAM,Adreno 305 GPU 1.7GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, 2GB RAM,Adreno 320 GPU
Operating System Android 4.2.2 iAndroid 4.2.2
UI TouchWiz N/A
Connectivity Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB, DLNA, Wi-Fi,Wi-Fi Direct,Wi-Fi Hotspot, 4G, GPS Bluetooth,microUSB,Wi-Fi,Wi-Fi Hotspot,GPS,4G
Battery 1,900mAh 2,200mAh

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