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Motorola Defy review


A lovely screen and rugged design go hand-in-hand with a very reasonable price

Review Date: 3 Dec 2010

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: Free, on a £20.00 per month, 24 months contract.

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

4 stars out of 6

Daft names clearly aren't the preserve of desktop PC manufacturers, a fact proved by Motorola's latest handset. Ignore the moniker, however, and you'll find a gem of a smartphone underneath. Motorola's latest device sports a lovely 3.7in, 480 x 854 capacitive screen (a higher resolution than the giant HTC Desire HD no less), and squeezes in a lot more besides.

If that screen doesn't catch your eye, then the unusual design certainly will. With its exposed screwheads and grippy, light-plastic chassis, the Defy looks more like a rugged GPS than a modern smartphone. But it isn't just for looks.

Motorola claims the Defy is water, dust and scratch resistant, and it even sports an IP67 rating to prove it's been tested against dust and moisture ingress.

Motorola Defy

It certainly feels sturdy. The screen, just like the iPhone 4, is protected with impact- and scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, there's plenty of protection around the sides, flaps to prevent the audio and USB ports getting clogged with dust and dirt, plus a thin rubber seal around the perimeter of the battery compartment. It's nice to see a manufacturer focus not just on glitz and glamour, but on practicality for once.

Elsewhere, you'll find Android 2.1 in place, with a 2.2 update in the pipeline for early 2011, but performance is still decent. The Defy's 800MHz processor is a little down on the class-leaders, most of which sport 1GHz CPUs, but a BBC homepage load time of 13 seconds and a SunSpider JavaSript score of 16 seconds is far from slow.

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User comments


I have seen other reviews saying it has IP67 ruggedness status

By Sarcen on 3 Dec 2010

Android 2.2 and IP67

Did your review unit come with Android 2.2 installed?. According to the motorola android software upgrade page the defy is not due 2.2 until Q2 2011. Also the phone is IP67 rated.

By simoore2 on 3 Dec 2010

Android 2.2 and IP67

Did your review unit come with Android 2.2 installed?. According to the motorola android software upgrade page the defy is not due 2.2 until Q2 2011. Also the phone is IP67 rated.

By simoore2 on 3 Dec 2010

IP67, Android 2.2, Flash 10.1

Other reviews say IP67, but Motorola makes no such claim on their website. Neither do they claim Android 2.2, nor Flash 10.1 - only Flash Lite 3.
One looks to reviews and manuafacturer websites for clarity - sadly lacking with this product.

By martindaler on 3 Dec 2010

Are you SURE it was running Froyo Jon? I've been told not to expect it until late Q1 / early Q2 2011.

If you did manage to get your hands on a phone running it, that might explain the slight hesitation you found. It's almost certainly a very early test build.

By PaulOckenden on 3 Dec 2010

IP67 and Android 2.2 ...

Good point on the IP67 rating. I've made an amendment to the review.

As far as Android 2.2 goes, the handset we were supplied for the review did indeed have Froyo on board (and Flash 10.1) - I'm not making it up! And that hesitance, although noticeable, wasn't what I'd call serious.

However, there does appear to be some confusion over the general availability of Froyo on the Defy, so I'll double check with them and post an update here next week.

Reviews editor,
Jonathan Bray,
PC Pro.

By JonBray on 4 Dec 2010

I've had 5...

...delivered for users at work, all on 2.1. Performance is very good on them, however, I would argue at least as good as, say, the Desire, of which we have two in service. The screen is fantastic, build quality excellent, user interface very well laid out. In short I'd say that the absence of FroYo is definitely not a reason to avoid this one; it's a good phone.

By nichomach0 on 6 Dec 2010

A bit cheeky tho'

Whilst I have no doubt the overall review is still accurate, its a bit cheeky to supply with an OS that isn't currently shipping.

This is redolent of the bad old days of car tests where Jaguar (for example) allegedly supplied souped-up E-types for test....

By wittgenfrog on 6 Dec 2010

How does it compare with the Apple Deify?

Did you see what I did there?

By colsmith on 7 Dec 2010

Android version...

I've checked with Motorola and they've confirmed that the Defy is indeed currently on 2.1 and not 2.2 (I'll amend the review to that effect).

Just to clear up the confusion I've requested another review sample, which should be delivered very soon.

I'll post a further update here when it arrives and I've tested it again.

Jonathan Bray,
Reviews editor,
PC Pro.

By JonBray on 7 Dec 2010

Something to watch out for

Out of the 5 I had delivered, one has failed already with a goosed earpiece. This seems to be happening a fair bit:

By nichomach0 on 8 Dec 2010

Shame about the earpiece fault

I just passed details of this onto our guy who looks after mobile phones and PDAs for the entire local authority. Samsung B2100s are now the phone of choice for binmen and such like, the Defy could've been the standard for staff who need robust PDAs, but the earpiece problem is a complete showstopper for us. Roll on the Defy Mk.2!

By mspritch on 9 Dec 2010

@mspritch - Binmen get given mobile phones these days? Crikey! I wonder what the business case for that is?

(Not denigrating binmen in any way, BTW. Just can't see how their job requires the use of a company provided mobile. Probably says more about me, and what I know about how binmen work).

By PaulOckenden on 9 Dec 2010

My first new mobile in 10 years!

My Siemens SL45, which graced the 'A' List 10 years ago, has finally expired. This is as much a revelation now as that was then and with cashback and redemptions will be less than £12 a month over 18 months!

I've been paying close attention to various HTC, X1 and RIM devices over the last two years and this has finally made me open my wallet! A Windows 7 phone would have been sweet but this will take a 32GB microSD card and the Swype text-entry system is sublime.

The only grievance so far (and it is a big one) was that registering my Google account took days. There seems to be a bug that stops this process from working. The workaround is to use the You Tube widget with your Google details.
I can run the battery down in a day (it's just dropped into the amber zone) but that might be down to excessive You Tube and internet radio usage...

Thanks PC Pro for another sterling recommendation!

By Chris_C on 12 Dec 2010

Problems with this phone.

The "earspeaker" on the Motorola Defy appears to be extremely prone to stop working after a few days, the result being that you can't hear the person phoning you! I was about to order one when a search threw up this:
plagued-by-defective-speakers/ and this:
art=105&tstart=0. If you were about to get a Defy, please read these first. This appears to be not just an occasional phone but many hundreds and Motorola have no explanation, and there's no acknowledgement of a generic manufacturing fault. They are asking that customers send them in for repair. Can I suggest that a mention is added to the review so that readers are forewarned. It was a dealbreaker for me; I'm going for an HTC now.

By c_webb31 on 18 Dec 2010

thanks c_webb, was considering a Defy but bit concerned about the ear piece issue, in the comments on BGR some said

"If you look at the last 3 or 4 characters above where it says 'made in china' under the battery on the back of the phone, unless you have a BT something, BF something, or a blue dot, your phone may fail"

Might be worth checking.

By Deano on 16 Mar 2011

The Motorola Defy is NOT dust free!

I have had a Defy for about 6 months now and It is NOT dust free.

I have to remove the back and clean the dust out once a week to keep it dust free.

I do NOT believe claims that the Defy is water proof either and I'm not going to drop it down the toilet to find out either...

As you can see from others posts the Defy is NOT life proof as Motorola would like to have us believe.

On top of all that if you live in the UK you have to settle for Android 2.1 as Motorola has NOT released the update to Android 2.2.

I feel hoodwinked... Don’t believe the hype!!!

By sabaithaime on 29 Sep 2011

Don`t buy this phone

This and other reviews say that is fast (which is not), resistant to water (again, not so much), etc.

I say ths from expirience, I was also fooled with this review.

By Clemente97 on 2 May 2012

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