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Motorola Defy Review: In Depth

The Good

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The Bad

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Motorola’s Defy is the supposedly ‘life-proof’ mobile. Its body comes wrapped in a protective rubberised coating and the 3.7-inch display is made of scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass. But what else is lurking beneath that tough exterior? We spent some time with the Motorola Defy in an effort to get to know it better.


What we like

Though we didn’t drop our Motorola Defy off of a 12-storey building or fire it out of a cannon, we were pleased to find that it lived up to its claims of being a tough little phone. Thanks to an ingenious sliding catch on the back, the battery cover remains locked into place. This means if you accidentally drop it on the floor the cover (and the battery) won’t go skidding across the place.

We also noted that the 3.5mm jack and micro USB cover come protected with little rubber plugs that stop any liquid or dust from getting in. So if you’re out with friends and someone spills a pint over it, chances are your Defy will emerge unscathed. We wish all phones could be as tough at the Motorola Defy.

The high-resolution edge-to-edge 3.7-inch display is both very nice to look at and responsive to the touch. Pictures taken on the 5-megapixel camera look pin sharp and typing texts and emails on the Motorola Defy is effortless. As well as a standard keyboard, the world-record breaking Swype also comes installed, if you’re that way inclined.

Thanks to a built-in tool in the Defy’s camera it’s easy to set pictures straight to the background of the phone. This, coupled with some basic camera effects like sepia, allows for easy wallpaper customisation on the go. Pictures taken on the camera at the highest resolution make for perfect backgrounds. This isn’t always the case with the cameras of some Android phones, so this is a nice plus.

A cornucopia of custom widgets is bolted on to the Defy’s seven homescreens. Among the most useful of these are the customisable contacts widgets. You can assign specific contacts to these, so you can easily call, text or email your favourites straight from one of the homescreens. If you have a top three or four people you call or text all the time you might find this handy.

When you set up your Motorola Defy for the first time you’ll need to register a Motoblur account (or sign in with an existing one). While this seems like a drag to do (and time consuming) it’s worth doing. When this is all set up you can log in to your My Motoblur account on your computer and use it to track your Defy if it ever gets lost.

This is similar to the service offered by htcsense.com, that’s available on the more expensive high-end HTC Desire HD and Desire Z phones. So it’s good to see a less pricey mid-range phone coming with similar functionality too.


What we don’t like

Not everyone will appreciate the ‘safety scissors’ approach Motorola has gone for, nor the bulky feel of the Defy. It might be able to withstand being dropped on the dancefloor (like in the TV ad) but are you going to want to be seen dancing with it in the first place?

The Defy is also a bit of a slow coach. Swiping left and right between homescreens is often jerky, especially if you’re moving to or from a screen where you’ve placed a lot of widgets or shortcuts. This was even with just a few apps installed and running in the background. So if you’re going to download lots of apps and have them all updating at once, things could slow to a crawl.

Browsing web pages, Facebook and Twitter feeds also isn’t quite as fast as we’d like and pinch to zoom actions feel sluggish. This is all in contrast to the sharp high res-ness of the 3.7-inch screen, making for a mixed experience.

We found call quality to greatly vary as well. Thankfully it was fine most of the time, but there were a few occasions where we had to block our other ear and really concentrate on what the other person was saying. Seeing as the Motorola Defy features Moto’s Crystal Talk Plus technology this is strange, so perhaps there were some problems with our review model.


Conclusion

The Motorola Defy is a resilient touchscreen phone with a great camera and access to the Android Market’s store of apps. However the slow performance detracts from the web browsing and social networking experience – something to consider if you want to read websites and check Facebook on the go.

Specification

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