Motorola DEFY +
Review compliments of Tracy and Matt's Blog.
The Motorola Defy returns with a with a stuck on the end but that is not the only new thing about it as it now features Android 2.3 Gingerbread, the brand new version of Motoblur and a 1 GHz Ti OMAP processor yet it is still comes to IP67 standards: the benchmark of all phones that claim to be tough.
The "tough phone" market may be a small one but for those who need a phone that they can "accidentally" drop into a cup of tea, use in a sandstorm or survive when it falls out of your pocket along with having all of the expected traits of a smartphone, the Defy might be perfect.
So is this a worthy successor to the Defy? Are the improvements good enough to make you want upgrade? Or would you just wish it wasn't water-resistant so you could break it? Read on to find out!
The 10 Second Review:
- Device: Motorola Defy
- Price: Around £200 excluding VAT - Around £250 including VAT
- Summary: A mid-range rugged handset that has most of the traits of a high end smartphone
- Best of: Waterproof, dustproof, screen quality, Motoblur
- Worst of: Build quality issues, unresponsive side of screen, camera
What is in the box?
- Motorola Defy
- UK 3-Pin USB Adaptor
- USB to Micro-USB cable
- Warrenty info
- Saftery info
- Getting started guide
Check out James's unboxing video of the Motorola Defy below.
On the top of the handset you have the power button and the flap covering the 3.5mm headphone jack whereas the bottom is completely bare. On the left there is only the Micro-USB port which also is covered by the water resistant flap and on the right hand side you have the volume up-down rocker. The back houses the 5 MP camera, LED flash and latch to lift the battery compartment and on the front you have the screen, the 4 capacitive Android buttons and the ear speaker.
My first impression of the Motorola Defy , truthfully, was that it was quite small because I have become adjusted to larger phones of screen sizes 4 inches and above but after I got over the size thing, the second thing I realised is that the Defy really hasn't changed much atheistically from whence it came. Both versions have the same size screen at 3.7 inches, the same style and the same weight, however when it comes to what is inside, the Defy comes leaps and bounds ahead from the original.
The Defy has a 1GHz processor that despite not being dual-core like many of the current crop of smartphones is rather snappy and it powers the Defy smoothly, quickly and mostly without lag; But that might be down to the software. More on that later.
The quadrant scores are acceptable at 1536 for a single-core 1GHz processor, beating a Nexus One with Android 2.2 but remember that quadrant scores are just a benchmark and do not accurately represent how a phone performs in day to day use.
The screen on the phone is one of the best I've seen on a non-high-end smartphone. The colours are really bright and vibrant, the blacks are deep and the resolution at 480 x 854 is perfect for the 3.7 inch screen on the Defy but in my hands, I do feel like it is to small but I think that is only because recently I have been playing around with 4.3 inch phones above. The screen is also very responsive thanks to the capacitive nature of the screen, however, towards the edges of the screen, it refuses to pick up the input from my fingers. I am unsure if this is by design because of the "tough phone" nature of the handset or if it is just another build quality issue.
In keeping with the tough phone mantra, the Defy 's screen is made out of Corning's Gorilla Glass technology that for those unfamiliar with it, make nicks, scratches and cracks a thing of the past. I really do believe that it is one of the best new developments in mobile phones for a long time and it gives me reassurance that I won't scratch my phone to death.
The Motorola Defy is running the latest version of Android for smartphones, Android 2.3 Gingerbread with the latest version of Motorola's Android skin named Motoblur over the top.
Having recently used the previous version of Motoblur on the Motorola Atrix, I can safely say that the gingerbread version of this skin is a much needed improvement on the rather slow previous version. I also feel that this new version is much more good looking as there is less intense reds coming over from the Droid line in the US and much easier to use.
When transferring between the homescreens (you can use up to 7) there is some minor lag but I have only found this when I moved quickly between the homescreens; Most of the time it is very smooth. The new version of Motoblur also brings a minor redesign to the homescreens mainly there being placeholders for 3 apps of your choosing plus the app drawer button rather than the phone icon, app drawer and contacts of past.
There is also a new and improved app drawer but like the homescreens, this is also just a minor update. It still functions as the location for all of the installed apps on the device.
The notification remains unchanged from vanilla Android 2.3 Gingerbread aside from a slight colour change from white to dark blue.
The settings are where you can adjust almost everything about the handset and this has also gone under the knife with a colour change from grey to white from vanilla Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
The dialler has gone under a slight makeover as well from vanilla Android 2.3 with a colour change to blue and the addition of the predictive dialling feature that we have seen on most of the recent Android handsets.
As with all Motoblur handsets, the Defy comes with some rather nice widgets from Motorola but what makes them interesting is that you can resize them to whatever size and shape you wish them to be whether it be from a single space or an entire homescreen.
The Motorola Defy comes stock with the standard Android email client that I find easy to use, has plenty of features for all of you email addicts out there and it supports Microsoft Exchange, Hotmail and any other IMAP or POP3 email provider.
However if you use Gmail like me, I do urge you to download the Gmail specific client from the Android market as it offers a much better experience for us Gmail lovers.
A good or bad text entry can either make or break a smartphone and I am delighted to report that the standard keyboard found on the Defy is one of the best stock keyboards I have used. The keys are a good size, the tactile feedback is very good and the sounds produced when you start typing are rather pleasant to the ears but could get slightly annoying if you are typing out a very long email on this device.
As I mentioned earlier, the outside of the screen is unresponsive and this is most notable when you are typing because most of the key on the edges of the screen don't work but like I said earlier, I am not sure if it is a build quality issue or not.
In other news, the name of the keyboard is the "Multi-Touch Keyboard" but this creates a false pretense. Just like the keyboard on theMotorola Atrix, this keyboard seems to stick on certain letters for around a half a second when going at full throttle, throwing you off rhythm as the letters do not appear in the text box. Then, they emerge just after you stop typing for some unknown reason, making it near impossible to type at any good rate. As for auto-correct, all I can say is that it is present I haven't had any horror stories to report and seems to work well. Nothing else I can report.
As usual, the landscape variant is practically identical to the portait one, aside from the obvious fact that the keys are bigger.
The Internet browser on Android 2.2 and 2.3 handsets is probably one of the best mobile browsers you can get right now. It is fast, the scrolling is smooth but when it comes to Adobe Flash, the device does bog down but notably, not as much as some other Android devices I have used in the past.
There is also a landscape view and a text re-flow view so you have many options for viewing your favourite websites.
The Motorola Defy is the first Android handset I have used that comes pre-installed with the new Android market and I have to say, I like it! I prefer the more square design to it and you seems to be able to navigate around the app much faster than the old market.
The Defy comes with the YouTube app that is exactly the same as any other Android device. You can browse through videos in a number of different categories such as most popular, discussed and most featured. You can also navigate to specific YouTube channels or videos by using the search bar. In terms of video quality, you can either choose between HQ (which is the default when viewing videos on Wi-Fi) and standard quality (which is the default when viewing videos on 3G) but they do playback smoothly most of the time on both of the Internet connection types.
The camera on the Defy is truthfully not that good. The colours are pretty dull, the focusing takes quite a while and I can only recommend that you use the camera on the Defy if you have no other camera available. But I guess this quality is to be expected from a phone that has been specifically designed for being rugged and not for taking photos.
Anyway check the photos out below and decide for yourself.
Arguably the main attraction of this phone is how it can withstand even the most arduous of conditions that some might face on a day to day in their particular line of work and I am pleased to report that in all of the tests I threw at it (that is metaphorically and physically by the way) it came out unscathed and good as new.
I first tried the drop test: holding it from when my arms were down by my side above a hard wood floor to simulate the phone falling or slipping while holding it. After hearing quite a thud when it hit the floor, I was first slightly nervous but upon closer inspection the heavy duty construction and Gorilla Glass stopped it from being damaged in any way.
Afterwards I tried the scratch test: placing the Defy in a pocket with some keys and then I ran around, jumped up and down and tried to simulate an everyday situation in where your phone might get scratched. But as you would expect with Gorilla Glass, the screen came out in the exact same condition as it went it: unscathed!
The next test I tried was the dust test. I should note that you will need the flaps that cover the Micro-USB port, the battery cover and the 3.5 mm headphone jack will need to be closed so that the dust doesn't get into the inside of the device and screw everything up. Anyway I just happened to have a power drill and some spare plaster, so holding the Defy underneath, I turned the drill onto full power and watched the fine particles fall on to the Defy and when I had covered it mostly in dust I went onto the next test: water.
Keeping the flaps closed tight, I placed the handset in a sink filled halfway full of water and placed it in for 10 seconds, washing away the dust and when I removed the handset, everything was still working perfectly!
All in all I do feel like it is a good phone but as it is with so many of the recently released Android phones, they are being aimed at a certain niche market and the Motorola Defy is no exception.
There is no denying that it is a good phone: the build quality is solid, the software is much improved from the previous Defy and the internals receive a nice boost as well. But truthfully I can only recommend this handset if you need the toughness aspect of it because there are other handsets that achieve the same things with better features, better software and better hardware for less or around the same price.
As for any upgraders, I managed to use the original Defy for a few days alongside the Defy and there is hardly any difference between them aside from the new Motoblur skin and the better internals. It just didn't smash it's predecessor out of the water.