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Motorola Defy - Is it Really as Rugged as it is Smart?
The Motorola Defy is designed to offer the regular smartphone user just a little bit more than standard mobile functionality. Goodness knows we’ve got far too many choices for that genre as it is with plenty more on the way. So as of just know, while the Defy can be your average mid-to-high end Android smartphone it’s slightly rugged shell gives it a wee bit of an edge over the competition. I’ve already give you a quick rundown on the device in the preview here, but here’s a closer look.
I’m not going to go into too much detail here since I’ve already done so in the preview. What I’d like to state here, for the record, is that after prolonged use, I found the overall design quite comfortable especially since it’s quite light weight at just 118g. Button and port placement is optimum for accessibility and that’s another plus.
Notice the tightly put together shell
Since the device is designed to be water and dust resistant to an extent as well as a bit sturdy what with its 3.7-inch (480 x 854 pixel resolution) Gorilla Glass encased display and hard plastic shell, I put it to work to prove its mettle. It stood up to quite a few hard knocks at drops from 5-6 feet, there was not even a hint of a scratch on the device. I tried a few scrapes with a slightly sharp object on the display and that too proved unsuccessful in making a mark on the display.
Totally immersed and still getting calls
Obviously I could not test its dust resistance but I did dunk it in glass of water and a foot deep bucket and made a few calls to it and even let the music play. The results were not all I hoped for. Water tends to seep in through the camera/LED flash gap as well as through the locking system of the rear panel. This is definitely not a good thing and to be honest, I was a little afraid to actually plug in a charger but when I did, after a few hours of course, no explosion. When I unplugged the gaskets protecting the USB and 3.5mm handsfree sockets I noticed a fair amount of dampness on the insides of these areas as well. Even after a thorough wipe down water still seemed to be oozing out of the cracks for at least an hour later. The rear panel has a division which is designed to keep the water out of the battery compartment though.
Gorilla Glass encased hi-res display
In conclusion, accidentally spilling water on the handset might still be a cause for a bit of worry for a little while but nothing to stay too worked up about. All other functions seemed to be quite unaffected even after.
Features and Performance
Like I said in the preview, MOTOBLUR is a good looking UI and has its perks but on the whole I found it cumbersome to use. I had quite a few issues with the phone book to start off with. While it did take a while setting up my various accounts, the device refused to let me sync my Facebook account with the phone book until I had reset the handset at least three times. Like all Android devices, it gives you the option of what accounts to view but didn’t let the phone book display my FB contacts or sync them with my Google data. It also seemed like there were two versions of the phone book, one that didn’t give me options to edit and control data within and the other with full access. The UI also seemed a bit sluggish and buggy so I decided to get rid of it and simply installed Launcher Pro which proved to be a much better option. I still however found a few other bugs, like how insanely long it would take to delete even four text messages.
MOTOBLUR, Colorful but lacks a certain something
What’s upsetting is that Motorola has launched yet another handset that’s running on Android 2.1 out of the box with no mention of an update to Froyo. Thankfully the 2GB of on board storage allows for quite a bit of apps to be downloaded without having space issues. Swype is preloaded, making typing a seamless and speedy task. The Defy’s 800MHz Cortex-A8 processor does make it faster than the MILETSONE but the UI still has a few kinks. For instance, after hanging up from a call the ‘time on call’ indicator would remain on screen for at least 5-6 seconds, not allow me access to any functions. The UI is definitely smoother than the MILESTONE’s, save for the few minor bugs.
Call quality was great almost all the time. With dual mics for active noise cancellation, rest assured you’ll hear everything clearly and so will whoever is on the other end.
Unfortunately the Defy does not support DivX or XviD video file playback but a quick fix would be to simply download Rock Player Lite (free) to make up for that. The good news is the processor allows you to play even larger resolution files quite seamlessly on that player. Music quality is great. Tones are refined and well balanced. The player will also automatically download album art where applicable. Another annoyance about the UI is that the EQ settings for the player are only available in the handset settings menu. You can’t access them through the player's interface. The FM radio worked out just fine too.
EQ Settings for the player, great audio
This player also comes with access to SoundHound for music recognition and TuneWiki for all kinds of data on your favourite artist or song. You can also watch music videos right from the player via YouTube of GoTV channels.
The Defy supports 3G connectivity but lacks a forward facing camera, making video calling a problem. For now EDGE/GPRS works just fine. It features a 3G Mobile Hotspot app that allows you to create a Wi-Fi hotspot for other Wi-Fi savvy devices in the vicinity. All of this on Android 2.1. With Wi-Fi, DLNA is also provided. Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and USB 2.0 make up for the rest of the connectivity solutions.
Flash support even on Eclair
Adobe Flash is supported even on 2.1 - you’ll have no issues with browsing. Motorola’s Phone Portal and Media Share apps for syncing with your PC's media contest and for file transfer are also included.
Although the handset comes with GPS and A-GPS support, Motorola has not deemed it fit to include MotoNav for mapping on the device. It would have been worth a slight hike in price considering it would most likely be Free for Life like it was with the MILESTONE. For now you’ll have to settle for Google Maps Navigation and Places for what to do and where to do it.
A Data Saver feature in the settings allows you to see just how much data is being consumed on the memory and helps optimise your space. There’s also a battery manager for keeping your battery usage in check. A root Folder app is also pre-loaded so you can access your memory card files if required. All other basic mobile handset amenities are present and accounted for. From Social Networking and chatting to QuickOffice for work, a voice dialer, text-to-speech and a calendar to sync with your Google and FB accounts.
Plenty of handy widgets
A 5MP camera with an LED flash are strapped onto the Defy. It’s not unlike the MILESTONE’s and offers a variety of scene modes, Effects and Geotagging. It lacks White Balance and more importantly even 720p video recording. Image quality is a non-issue. Photos in native resolution always seemed to appear quite dull even when taken in bright sunlight or in a brightly lit room there also seemed to be a bit of a problem with focus in certain areas.
The 1540mAh battery should have been good for at least 6 hours plus of talk time but the Defy averaged in at about 5 hours and 20 minutes which is not bad either. On a single charge, with battery saver in play and a task killer app on board, you’ll be good for two days. Without either, you’d be lucky to get that. It’s not something that you need be too concerned with however, but I did notice that Wi-Fi seemed to suck the life out of the battery unusually faster than with most other handsets.
Water does get into the gaps
The Bottom Line
With a price tag of Rs. 18,990 (MOP), the Motorola Defy is a very well priced smartphone that unfortunately doesn't deliver too well on all fronts. The UI may not be to everyone’s liking and perhaps the bugs could be attributed to an issue with this particular test device. It's no doubt sturdy and does manage to keep most of the elements at bay. Camera quality is an issue and it's a little hard to get past that. It's a great handset with plenty of features but dealing with its various minor quirks, if they are indeed universal to the handset itself, could get a bit cumbersome for some. For me, they were definitely an issue.