In a world where smartphones are getting bigger and bigger, one company decided to go against the grain and launch what it claims to be the smallest 4G smartphone. Meet Mony Mint – small in size, but promises to replace your phone fully, while saving you a few bucks.
The phone eventually starts with Android Pie, though our early pre-release device ran the highly dated Android Marshmallow 6.0. That does not stop us from doing a quick review because this phone is more about size than offering the latest and greatest Android features. And it’s not like Android 9.0 is up to date anyway.
Mony Mint specs:
- Body: 89.5 x 45.5 x 11.5 mm, 75 g; Colour Black.
- Screen: 3 “LCD, 480x854px resolution, 16: 9 aspect ratio, 270ppi.
- Chipset: Mediatek MT6735: Quad-core CPU (4×1.3 GHz Cortex-A53); Mali T720 GPU.
- Memory: 32 GB storage, 3 GB RAM, no micro SD space.
- OS / software: Android 9 (announced).
- Cameras: Head: 13 MP; Cover: VGA.
- Video recording: Rear camera: 480p, EIS; Front camera: 480p.
- Battery: 1250mAh.
- Various: USB-C port, dual micro-SIM slot.
Mony Mint is currently available for $ 99 to various early backers, albeit crowdfunding platforms, but the official retail price will be $ 150.
It’s cheaper than Palm, a name that rings a bell and under which TCL brought its own little phone two years ago.
There is only one storage option here – 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage space, of course without a space for microSD cards. We do not see anyone downloading huge 4K videos on this phone or using their camera too much, so the limited space should not be a big issue.
Interestingly, the card tray has room for two micro-SIM cards (and not nano), which is an impressive feat alone.
The screen resolution can be only 480p, but the touch screen is decently responsive, and even those with bigger fingers can write decently, if not necessarily quickly. Now let’s get deeper into the smartphone’s core experience.
Design and size
The phone may be smaller in height and width, but is nowhere near as thin as modern devices. It is 11 mm thick with an extra half millimeter to the camera bump. There is an on / off button on the right side and the volume keys on the left and a USB-C port just between the two speaker grilles at the bottom.
However, they are primarily for aesthetics – the actual speaker is in the earpiece, and it is quite loud for such a tight package. The overall design is reminiscent of an Apple device, especially with the shiny metallic edge around the phone.
Reproductions of the phone may mislead someone that it is an iPhone 4, and Mony does not even shy away from the similarities, saying that the coin was inspired by Steve Jobs and is a tribute to the late Apple co-founder.
The first question that comes to mind when people see the phone is “Why”. Why is it so small? Well, Mony says that it is “the ultimate answer to any situation where it is inconvenient to use a heavy, expensive primary phone”.
One of these scenarios, Mint claims, is while driving. We have an avid runner in our team who has just returned from the Skyrunning World Series in the Italian Alps, so of course we asked him to throw some expertise on the matter.
Mint is really super easy to carry around for outdoor fitness activities. Its size and weight can make you forget that you even have a smartphone on you. Our device is still under development, but we are pretty sure that when it starts sending with the right operating system, it can track rides and bike rides just like any other smartphone with GPS.
There is one drawback to the whole fitness activity situation – if you want to change a track, text someone or do something that requires the least attention, stop for the moment and concentrate on the small screen. It would ruin personal records and disrupt momentum and kill the whole sporting mood.
The size of the phone is extra convenient during business trips. We often have large bags for a laptop, a charger, cables, documents, occasional hand cleaning, glasses and lots of other accessories. Having a great smartphone in this mess is a drawback, but with Mony Mint at least this one is avoided.
Hardware and performance
The Mediatek MT6735 chipset is seven years old at this time and as such from a power plant that can be found these days. It does the job of letting you control an email or calendar app, play videos in 1080p, and connect to Wi-Fi and 4G networks. Wi-Fi only works on the 802.11n standard, while Bluetooth is limited to 4.0.
There’s a reason the specs are so casual – more powerful hardware requires a larger battery, and we can not have that in this candy bar on a phone. There is also no room for four cameras despite what the design on the back might suggest. There is only one shooter with a 13MP sensor; the other circles just mimic actual camera lenses. The forward-facing camera has an eerie VGA (0.3MP) sensor.
Because the device comes without the final operating system, we are unable to perform our laboratory tests, including our tailored endurance assessment of battery life. On paper, the power cell is 1,250 mAh, which gives 72 hours of life on a single charge, which of course is only possible if the phone is in standby all the time with the data connection turned off. So again with the phone certainly not meant for gaming, heavy browsing or multimedia consumption, it may just last for a day of ease of use – a few calls, the occasional text and maybe an email or two.
In theory, heavy games like Asphalt 8 and Real Racing 3 can run, but the device quickly overheats to the point of being uncomfortable to handle. Therefore, we suggest that you just do not bother.
The biggest advantage of the Mony Mint may be its size, but it quickly becomes a disadvantage when you first try to run actual apps, and start running on the small screen. Small buttons on the screen can practically not be clicked, and if there is a small ad on a normal screen, it takes up half of the screen, making it impossible to close.
Mony Mint is a nice gadget that would be a great talking point if you are tired of conversations about the weather. But picking one up for actual use is a little more complicated. There’s a good reason why phones are getting bigger these days and why the iPhone 12 mini flopped – our modern digital lifestyle just needs a big screen, a powerful chipset and a big battery.
However, the small size makes it the ideal tool for certain use cases – mostly when you need to disconnect, but will still be available in case of an emergency.
It’s a great device to take an evening out when you really want to connect with your friends instead of spending half the time scrolling through social media feeds. Or to run out when you really do not intend to use the phone beyond accepting emergency calls.
It can also be good to go to the beach where its very low price means that even if you damage it, there will not be as bad a loss.
If any of it sounds like you, it might be worth paying the Mony Mint kickstarter page a visit.