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Motorola's 300 phone tests not enough proof for ASA

defy

By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 9 Nov 2011 at 10:08

Motorola's claims that its Defy ruggedised handset was “life proof” have been shot down by the ads watchdog due to lack of evidence - despite the manufacturer running 300 tests.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling centres on adverts that showed the handset being dropped in a nightclub and splashed near a pool, alongside claims the Defy was “dance floor proof”, “splash proof” and “life proof”.

Yet some customers that bought the handset disagreed and complained to the ASA after their phones broke when they were dropped.

“Three complainants challenged whether the ads misleadingly exaggerated the durability of the mobile phone, because they had dropped their phones accidentally and the screens had cracked,” the ASA said in its case report.

We also noted, however, we had not seen any evidence that directly reflected the dropping scenario depicted in the ads

In response, Motorola said it believed the ads were not misleading and did not exaggerate the capability of the Defy, claiming the handset had been subjected to 300 drops during testing.

The tests showed a 1.5% probability of the product failing due to material damage, Motorola said, adding that of the 1.5% failure, only 0.1% was due to broken screens.

Evidence

In fact, the ASA agreed that the Defy was more rugged than most handsets, but ruled against the manufacturer because it couldn't provide evidence of drop tests that matched the video shown in the adverts.

“We considered viewers were not likely to interpret the ads as suggesting the product was entirely damage-resistant or that there would not sometimes be faulty handsets,” the authority said. “We also noted, however, we had not seen any evidence that directly reflected the dropping scenario depicted in the ads.

“Because we had not seen evidence that dropping the Defy from the height shown in the ads would not damage the phone, we concluded that the ads misleadingly exaggerated the performance of the product."

The ASA ruled that the ads must not be broadcast again in their current form and told Motorola to “ensure future ads did not misleadingly exaggerate the performance of products”.

Motorola said it was training staff to recognise and differentiate product abuse from accidental damage so that customers with a genuine fault received a repair or replacement in line with their product promise.

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User comments

When they say "rugged", Sonim XP3300 springs to my mind :-)
Anyway, I think only DEFY+ is truly IP67 certified, while older DEFY was just "matching up to"?

By Lomskij on 9 Nov 2011

Pretty Tough

We have a few guys using the Defy within our Mountain Rescue and Search Dog teams (including one strapped to a search dog!) and they have performed faultlessly (so far). For the price I don't think they can be beaten at the moment.

By Bassey1976 on 9 Nov 2011

3210 FTW

Being mini computers, it’s little wonder that modern smartphones don’t like being dropped. The toughest phone I ever owned was a Nokia 3210. I lost count of the number of times it was dropped on to hard surfaces, trodden on, rained on, had coffee dripped on it, chucked at the wall etc. What would usually happen is that the removable fascias would fly off (sometimes cracking), having taken the majority of the impact. It also survived being dropped in to a puddle and the kitchen sink, requiring only a couple of days on a radiator and the second time, a new battery. I think I’d still use it now if some bastard hadn’t stolen it. I know you can still buy them now but………that 3210 was the first phone I could afford to pay for myself. It just wouldn’t be the same.

By CrimsonAvenger on 9 Nov 2011

3210 FTW

Being mini computers, it’s little wonder that modern smartphones don’t like being dropped. The toughest phone I ever owned was a Nokia 3210. I lost count of the number of times it was dropped on to hard surfaces, trodden on, rained on, had coffee dripped on it, chucked at the wall etc. What would usually happen is that the removable fascias would fly off (sometimes cracking), having taken the majority of the impact. It also survived being dropped in to a puddle and the kitchen sink, requiring only a couple of days on a radiator and the second time, a new battery. I think I’d still use it now if some bastard hadn’t stolen it. I know you can still buy them now but………that 3210 was the first phone I could afford to pay for myself. It just wouldn’t be the same.

By CrimsonAvenger on 9 Nov 2011

Motorola's Handset

I worked of o2 year ago, one day in the office in Preston Brook motorola came with on the old orange handset which it class as “life proof” and we played five a side football with the handset and it looked like new

By asdaprice on 9 Nov 2011

Dodgy statistics

-- "300 drops during testing ... 1.5% probability of the product failing due to material damage" - So apparently 4.5 phones broke. OK that's reasonable rounding.

--"of the 1.5% failure, only 0.1% was due to broken screens" - so about 0.0045 screens broke. How does that work?

By bradype on 9 Nov 2011

I'm with

Bassey1976; we've issued Defys to our Civil Engineering guys and aside from a problem with the speaker on early handsets, they've been great. The Defy Plus is looking like excellent value too.

By nichomach0 on 9 Nov 2011

Dodgy statistics - and language, too

Note they say "product failing due to material damage".

I recently dropped my HTC Desire & the screen broke (it fell face down onto concrete), but the 'phone still worked.

So, I would guess they would say the 'product hasn't failed' - it's still fully operational, only the screen has suffered 'material damage'.
Just be careful you don't cut yourself and it's fine.

By greemble on 9 Nov 2011

Sorry, greemble

But given the stats they specifically account for broken screens as a product failure, i don't think that argument stands up in this case. Oh, and our guys have dropped Defys face down onto concrete. Without ill effect.

By nichomach0 on 9 Nov 2011

Sorry

*the stats they provide* specifically account for...

By nichomach0 on 9 Nov 2011

No Way!

I don't normally comment. I am a serial phone smasher. I don't look after them and phones are lucky to last 3 months (including old stype phones). My Defy has lasted a year faultlessly. It's been dropped everywhere onto concrete, thrown across a bar, into water. I don't see how they could make it better for that size

By amanu2 on 10 Nov 2011

It's all subjective

I view my phone as little more than an electronic tagging device so like amanu2 it doesn't get looked after. I have an iPhone 3G in a rubberized hard shell as it gets chucked about. I even left t on the roof of the car and drove off so it spent the day on the drive until I got home. Still it refuses to die!

Most people treat their phone with more care than their children. I have a friend who has one of those Landrover mobiles now that really is life proof.

By njm1404 on 10 Nov 2011

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