Motorola Defy review: Motorola Defy

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent

Average User Rating

3.5 stars 15 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Appealing design;. Sharp display;. Tough exterior and screen;. Impressive smart-phone functions.

The Bad Ugly rubber port covers;. Camera performance could be better.

The Bottom Line The Motorola Defy brings smart-phone power to those who usually sacrifice features for resilience. It lacks Android 2.2 and its processor could be faster, but as an entry-level device, it deserves a sizeable fan base.

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Dust-resistant, waterproof and tougher than a pair of particularly old boots, the rugged Motorola Defy is capable of withstanding almost anything you can throw at it. Refreshingly, this toughness doesn't come at the cost of functionality, although the relatively weak processor and lack of Android 2.2 do count against it.

The Motorola Defy is available on contract for around £25 per month. SIM-only prices start at around £300.

Beauty in strength

Gorgeous mobiles like the sultry HTC Desire HD and glamorous iPhone 4 may dazzle consumers with their sleek lines and glossy exteriors, but the rough-and-tumble nature of everyday life quickly dulls that perfect sheen, forcing users to spend additional cash on bulky cases and screen protectors. That isn't the case with Motorola's Defy, which proudly positions itself as a phone to last a lifetime.

As the name suggests, the Defy is all about resisting the trials and tribulations of general mobile use. We've all clumsily dropped a mobile at some point in our lives, and many of you reading this may also have experienced the unique horror of seeing your beloved handset plunge headfirst into a muddy puddle or rancid toilet bowl . The Defy laughs in the face of such perils.

This hardy device carries IP67 certification, which means it can be submerged in water of up to 1 metre deep for ten whole minutes. In addition to this, the phone is designed to resist the onslaught of dust and dirt, as well as sudden impact with harsh and unforgiving terra firma.

Built to last

With such an impressive degree of durability, you'd expect the Defy to be the size of a house, but its dimensions are disarmingly diminutive. Measuring just 107mm in length, it's a full centimetre shorter than the iPhone 4, yet it packs a larger 3.7-inch screen. This pin-sharp 480x854-pixel display dominates the front of the phone, and uses capacitive technology to register touch input. As such, you're guaranteed accuracy and responsiveness, as well as the ability to use multi-touch gestures, such as pinch-to-zoom.

In keeping with the rugged ethos of the Defy, its screen is fashioned out of super-resilient Gorilla Glass, designed to keep unsightly scratches at bay. It's not the first to boast such material -- and we highly doubt it would stand up to a direct hammer blow -- but we were incredibly impressed by the screen's ability to withstand assault from sharp objects. We took a knife to the screen -- purely in the interests of science, you understand -- to put it through its paces, and the Defy came away entirely unscathed.

The Gorilla Glass screen is one of the toughest we've seen, and is capable of repelling sharp objects (no mobile phones were harmed during the making of this review).

The prospect of being able to surf the Internet while soaking in the bath is undeniably enticing, and we're pleased to report the Defy makes this fantasy a reality -- at least to a certain extent. The phone had absolutely no issues with operating in a soaking wet environment, although it should be noted that moisture reduces the responsiveness of the capacitive display, so you may have issues formulating those tweets in the shower. Watching a movie or browsing clips on YouTube are more feasible pastimes to indulge in during bath time.

Water off a duck's back

The Defy's water-repellent powers are actually down to pretty straightforward rubber stoppers, which cover up the 3.5mm headphone jack and micro-USB port. These prevent liquid, dust and grime from invading the delicate innards of the device, but they also break the otherwise sleek lines of the casing, and make the Defy look a little ugly. The placement of the power button -- which is used to wake up the screen when it's in sleep mode -- is also rather ham-fisted, as it sits flush with the headphone rubber cover and is often hard to press.

As long as you keep those rubber port covers firmly closed, the Defy is quite happy to frolic in the wet stuff.

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Where to Buy

Motorola Defy

Part Number: CNETMotorola Defy

Typical Price: £300.00

See manufacturer website for availability.