Motorola’s Android plans seem to consist of making as many different types of phones as possible, and it seems the company’s researchers have decided we’re pretty clumsy with our precious smartphones. The Motorola Defy is IP-tested to work through submersion, dust-filled environments and dropping onto concrete floors – ‘life resistance’ is how it’s been dubbed.
But beneath the rubberised exterior (including locking a battery cover to seal the innards and big rubber caps for the microUSB and 3.5mm headphone jacks) beats a Google heart – Android 2.1 to be exact.
In this Gingerbread age, that’s the not the best platform to be shipping with, as it means we miss out on using the phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, improved touchscreen performance and being able to store apps on an SD card.
However other features (like being able to share contacts and improved camera mode) are all added in from Motorola, as well as integrated social networking enhanced widgets (where you can resize and drag them over seven home screens).
Overall operation isn’t as slick as we would have liked though – the lag was palpable at times, and frequently the keyboard would struggle to keep up with our typing.
The rugged exterior does live up to its name though – despite feeling very light and a little bit cheap, the case didn’t break being dropped from shoulder height onto a pavement, the screen didn’t get scratched even with a lot of effort from a bunch of keys, and the Defy even carried on chugging when thrown in a glass of water.
Another decent idea from Motorola is the connected media player – things like a free lyrics provider and YouTube music video search are a great idea and make the phone seem a little more premium. However, they don’t always work – the YouTube music video search engine had very little choice, and the TuneWiki lyrics service is more of a gimmick than useful tool.
More importantly: sound quality was only average (although perfectly passable) and the video player really wasn’t up to scratch. From not playing a number of file types to starting some movies only to have them give up after a few minutes, it wasn’t a good advert for the Defy’s media player.
The contacts menu is confusing too – with the likes of the HTC Desire or Samsung Galaxy S it’s easy to link people up to Twitter and Facebook accounts, whereas on the Defy it’s a long, convoluted and inaccurate process, often with the person you’re looking for not available for a link and the Twitter username overwriting the person’s actual contact name.
Overall, the Motorola Defy is a confusing one. Its rugged nature is not inherent when you pick it up – people who want a phone for a workshop or building site might enjoy it, but that’s a pretty niche market. Things like the Car Dock, where you can quickly access navigation and music apps, are a nice touch, and the camera is swift and pretty decent too. But the lower-grade OS, slight lag during operation and very lightweight feel mean it’s going to be more out of necessity than desire that you pick up the Motorola Defy.