Motorola Defy Android smartphone

Motorola Defy review: Motorola's latest smartphone is the first Android handset to be dust, water and scratch resistant

Motorola Defy
  • Motorola Defy
  • Motorola Defy
  • Motorola Defy
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Dust, water and scratch resistant
  • Lightweight and attractive design
  • Swype text-entry

Cons

  • Text is a little small
  • Display feels sticky
  • Touch-sensitive menu keys

Bottom Line

Motorola deserves plenty of credit for producing an Android smartphone that's rugged but still has an attractive design. The Motorola Defy may not be the fastest Android smartphone on the market, but we recommend it for active users; it is also excellent value for money.

Would you buy this?

Motorola Defy: Software

The Motorola Defy runs the 2.1 (Èclair) version of Google's Android operating system. Motorola has stated the Defy will be upgraded to 2.2 (Froyo) early in 2011, and the company has incorporated a number of Froyo features into the current software. The Defy comes with a lite version of Adobe Flash, and also has the ability to act as a wireless hotspot, two features normally reserved to Android smartphones running Froyo.

The Defy also comes with the latest version of Motorola's MotoBlur service. Motoblur is a widget-based interface that combines multiple social networking and communications accounts (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LastFM, e-mail, Picasa, Photobucket and Yahoo Mail). You'll need to create a MotoBlur account to use the service, but it's free and all content and data is pushed live to the handset. Motoblur also provides excellent security features including the ability to automatically wipe the handset when it is lost or stolen, and the automatic back up of content over-the-air.

Motorola Defy review

The Motorola Defy comes with Motoblur, a widget-based interface with a big emphasis on social networking. The Motoblur service also offers enhanced security features such as remote wipe.

We like the idea of Motoblur, but the execution of the service on previous smartphones was far from perfect. Thankfully, some of the flaws we encountered with the early version of MotoBlur have been corrected. You can now choose to only display contacts with phone numbers (rather than lumping them together with all your Facebook and Twitter contacts in the address book), and home screen widgets can be resized, which we found very handy. The widgets we found enticing included "happenings", which lets you can see at a glance updates from all connected social-networking services, and airplane mode, Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi quick toggles. We also liked the sticky note widget, which allows you to save a quick post-it style note on the home screen.

The Motorola Defy also features Swype text entry with the on-screen keyboard. Swype allows you to slide your fingers over the letters you want to type in a single motion, letting the software work out the word you're trying to write. Though it sounds awkward, Swype is very easy to pick up and surprisingly accurate. As with most on-screen keyboards, the software will learn as you type and add words you use regularly to its database.

The Motorola Defy is not as fast or smooth to use as more expensive competitors like the HTC Desire HD; while we wouldn't describe the Defy as slow, swiping through home screens and using multitouch gestures tends to have a 'sticky' feel. The large display is reasonably good for Web browsing, and multitouch means you can pinch in and out to zoom. Pages load and render quickly, though the browser is not as responsive on Flash-heavy pages.

The Motorola Defy has a few handy applications preloaded, including Quickoffice, Media Share (for playing video and music through a DLNA-compatible television) and task, battery and data managers. Its media player is a notch above most other Android phones — the "connected music player" automatically finds album art and lyrics from the Internet for any tracks in your library, while a "song identification" feature, similar to the app Shazam, is also included.

Motorola Defy review

The Motorola Defy comes with Swype text entry, allowing you to slide your fingers over the letters you want to type in a single motion, and letting the software work out the word you're trying to write.

The Motorola Defy has a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and a single LED flash, which also doubles as a video recorder. We loved the fact you can use the volume keys as zoom buttons, and the ability to swipe through scene and effect settings is a nice touch, though we missed having a physical camera button.

The Motorola has 2GB of internal memory, along with a microSD card slot for extra storage. Motorola includes a 2GB microSD card in the sales package. Battery life is about standard for an Android smartphone; it will need a charge every night with constant use, but light users may be able to go almost two days without a recharge.

The Motorola Defy is available exclusively through Telstra in Australia for three months from 30 November and is rated as a BlueTick phone, meaning it provides superior coverage in regional and rural areas of Australia. It can be purchased for $0 on Telstra's $49 cap, which provides $400 worth of calls and text and 1GB of data per month.

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