The Motorola Defy is touted as a full-featured smartphone that, according to Motorola, “is designed to handle everything that life throws your way.” The phone is scratch and water resistant as well as dust proof, and comes in a tough housing. According to a Motorola SA spokesperson, the device is available from all operators for a price of around R4,000.
Design and build quality
The front of the Motorola Defy is dominated by the 3.7” FWVGA, Gorilla Glass, multi-touch display with some space cleared at the top and bottom for the earpiece and capacitive buttons respectively (from left to right: menu, home, back and search).
On the bottom of the left side is the microUSB port for charging/data transfers while at the top of the right side you’ll find the volume rocker. On top is the 3.5mm headphone port with the power button right next to it.
All of the ports are covered by rubber flaps and around the edges you can see the screw-in points for where the front and the body meet.
The back cover is a stiff piece of soft-touch plastic that clips in manually. Some may find it bothersome that it’s manual, where others might prefer it as it means that you can get to the battery without struggling too much. It should be noted that while a person can get to the battery, the cover is on quite securely and shouldn’t come off via dropkick.
All in all, the exterior looks and feels secure and sturdy – something that can’t be said of many smartphones.
Internally it features a Cortex-A8 CPU clocked at 800MHz with a TI OMAP 3610 chipset along with all the bells and sensors that you’d expect.
On the rear is a 5 megapixel camera with an LED flash.
Display and responsiveness
While the Gorilla Glass screen on the Motorola Defy is built to take some punishment, we decided not to test it as much as others have, as we’d rather not explain why our demo unit was returned as exhibits 1 to 42.
The screen was very responsive to touches, but the colours were very washed out.
The phone itself was quite nippy when scrolling between screens as well as moving between and launching applications. It also performed admirably during an afternoon session of Angry Birds with barely a hiccough.
The back-facing 5MP camera is good, though it’s nothing to get excited about. We’ve seen worse, but we’ve certainly seen better, so we’d place it firmly in the ‘competent’ range.
Sadly there’s no physical hardware release button, which means it’s impossible to take underwater shots. It’s probably for the best as the phone is designed to be water-resistant (i.e. it survives accidental journeys into a pool or other sometimes unsanitary places) and should not be considered for deep-sea diving trips.
Sound and call quality
Sound quality was good from both the front earpiece and rear speaker. We’re happy to say that conversations were clear on both ends, though we are unsure what the quality is like underwater.
We were quite astounded at how long the 1540mAh battery could go without charging. With mild use it managed well into the third day and we’re sure that it could comfortably make a day with heavy use and have some juice left over.
The Defy has a Battery Manager with Performance, Smart and Battery Saver modes. We left it on the default (Smart), though you could probably squeeze more uptime from the phone by putting it on the Battery Saver mode if required.
How resistant is it really?
With water resistance being one of the unique features of the Motorola Defy, we had to test how well it held up.
We held it under a tap, submerged it in a basin and carefully placed it in a glass or two of water and it survived and came out cleaner than ever.
While we still wouldn’t recommend that you knowingly take it swimming, it’s good to know that it won’t fry with exposure to water.
On the softer side of things there’s nothing too horrible for words, but there’s also very little that stood out.
Our unit was running Android 2.1 (Éclair) update 1, which is a bit of a slap in the face considering that 2.2 (Froyo) has been available for about 10 months already.
The Defy also features Motorola’s own Motoblur user interface with its own set of widgets. While there’s nothing overtly wrong with Motobur, it doesn’t bring anything particularly useful to the party. The widgets also aren’t much to look at and there are better alternatives available in the Android Market.
The Defy is not without its share of pesky bugs. At one point the lockscreen disappeared which was fixed by a reboot, though shortly after that the phone rebooted again for no apparent reason.
However, the Defy does have some features that aren’t standard in Android 2.1 devices, namely DLNA; Internet tethering; and Mobile Hotspot functionality.
It comes with Swype pre-installed as well as a hand-writing recognition input method and a multi-touch QWERTY keyboard. The latter is better than the stock 2.1 keyboard, but is not as good as the new keyboard in 2.3 (Gingerbread).
The Motorola Defy is as tough as a smartphone can get right now, and it does so without sacrificing performance or making itself feel like a cumbersome brick.
It’s not the king of performance in terms of processing or graphical power (especially not with the dual-cores on the horizon), but it’s no slouch either.
The Motorola Defy is a good mid-range device and if you’re prone to dropping your phone or misplacing your phone in damp areas, then this might be right up your alley.
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