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Motorola DEFY+ Review
Motorola’s first try at rugged smartphones was the IP67 certified DEFY and now they’ve launched its successor, the DEFY+. It’s got the same form factor, but the internals seem to have been modified. This one sports a faster processor and a newer version of the operating system, Android Gingerbread. Does that mean that the DEFY+ can take lifeproof to the next level and is a worthy successor to the original DEFY? Let’s have a look.
Bringing rugged back
Design and Build Quality
The DEFY+ is a carbon copy of its predecessor. There are no added curves, screws, or connectors and the design and build is just the same. Well, why change it if you’ve perfected the design, right? This also means that the phone comes with the IP67 certification.
Working in a jar filled with soda
Ingress Protection 67 means that it’s dust resistant and water resistant up to 1 metre for 30 minutes. Also, with the Corning Gorilla Glass donning the exterior, it has a scratch resistant screen. We put the DEFY + to its limits so head over to the video below to check that out.
Motorola Defy+ against the elements
The top consists of the headphone jack slot and the power button whilst the microUSB slot is located to the left underneath a rubberised air-tight flap. The back consists of a metallised lock that protects your internals from the harsh environments you intend to use the phone in. The 5 MP shooter and single LED flash is located at the back along with the microphone. The second microphone is located at the bottom of the device so active noise cancellation is present. On opening the back cover, you’ll see that there is a dedicated wall-like structure that helps provide a second protection layer to the 1700 mAh battery, the SIM card and the microSD card. This also means that the microSD card is not hot swappable. On the front we have the 3.7-inch screen with four capacitive buttons below it and proximity and ambient light sensors above it. A notification LED has been included next to the two sensors.
Air tight connectors
In our underwater test, water didn’t seep in through any of the connectors or via the back panel. The internals were completely protected against any kind of contact with liquid and that’s definitely noteworthy. It’s a rough and jagged looking phone that will surely last longer than your average Android device. To some, it may even pass off as rather crude, with the industrial looking design, but it’s got a certain brutal and masculine feeling that makes it stand out from the bunch of plasticy Android phones out there. This one’s built like a tank and it’s built to last.
The DEFY+ has a 1GHz Cortex A8 processor, upgraded by a few notches from the 800MHz of the original DEFY. Also, there’s 512 MB of RAM onboard. The interface on the Plus sports the same boxy look that we’re used to seeing in the MOTOBLUR UI. Different-sized icons don the homescreen and you can resize them as per your liking. Social Networking integration is done quite well and besides the usual Twitter, Facebook, and mail accounts; it can sync a whole load of stuff and display it on the home screen itself.
Motorola could have done better with the display. With so many colours on the screen and with a rather ‘low’ maximum brightness, the screen appears dull and washed out. Better colour saturations and brightness levels could have definitely made it a lot more appealing.
Coming back to the interface, navigation through the various menus and applications is quick and the phone doesn’t show a hint of slowing down even with a lot of applications running in the background.
The different keyboards
We put the phone through a couple of synthetic benchmarks and the results were quite average. It got a rating of 2445 in AnTuTu and a single thread MFLOPS score of 16.358 in Linpack. The multithread test got a score of 15.545.
The Connected Music Player that we saw in the Fire and the Fire XT makes an appearance on the DEFY+ as well. It’s integrated with SHOUTcast Radio, a lyric search function and a song identifier. TuneWiki is present as well, and if you’re on an unlimited data plan, the connected music player can prove to be quite useful. The audio formats supported are MP3, WAV, WMA and AAC+ and video formats include MP4, WMV, H.263 and H.264. With the range of software available in the market, this can’t really be termed as a limitation. We tried playing back a few 720p videos on the large 3.7 inch screen via third party apps and they played without any stutter. Also, the speaker is loud enough for personal viewing. However, there aren’t any enhancements or equalizer settings in the stock player so you’ll have to make do with what you get.
Music player interface
The audio quality is superb even with an average pair of headphones. We didn’t get any headphones with our review unit and we tested the music with our Koss test headphones. No matter what the background noise levels are you’ll be able to hear your music loud and clear as the phone has some pretty powerful audio drivers. Also, it’s not just loud, the audio has just the right amount of bass and treble and is top notch. The music playback section is definitely one of the strong points of the DEFY+.
It’s a quad band phone and has all the basic connectivity options covered. Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and EDR, Wi-Fi ‘n’, DLNA, and 3G HSDPA at 7.2 Mbps and HSUPA at 2 Mbps. In call quality is loud and the voice via the loudspeaker is audible enough. After our underwater test, in-call voice audibility took a major beating, but that was just for a matter of fifteen odd minutes. After that, the phone was back again and working great.
GPS has been included as well and it works pretty quick, especially with the inbuilt cardio app. Loading web pages on the flash-enabled browser is quick and there’s very little lag or stuttering when you’re panning through extremely image heavy sites. The Media share and DLNA apps enable users to wirelessly stream data via their home network and Motorola have got a modified app for mobile hotspot as well, that allows users to manage and view the connected devices and select timeout intervals during periods of inactivity.
The phone comes with a few pre-installed applications. The first one is Zinio, which keeps you up to date with its worldwide magazine content. Next is the Car Dock application, which is quite helpful if you want quick access to your content on the phone while driving. Once you start the app, relatively big icons appear on the screen and the entire interface consists of large buttons that’ll help you easily navigate when you’re on the move. It also supports voice actions as well, and it worked quite well during our voice synthesis tests. It’s a well thought out application. For example, the interface changes colours depending upon the time of the day, so, you’ll have bright orange icons if you’re using the application at night. The Car Dock app also allows users to place their own application instead of the present ones for calling, music and voice search.
Motorola has pre-installed a cardio trainer app that keeps a track and logs all your workout scores and results and can be linked via Bluetooth to a heart monitor instrument to keep a track of your heart rate.
3.7 inch screen with Corning Gorilla Glass
The phone is strapped with a 5 megapixel autofocus camera with a single LED flash. Outdoor images are pretty good, but even slightly low light indoor shots will require flash. Images do tend to lose a little colour sometimes but details are captured quite well. The camera interface is slightly modified from the earlier phones and effects and settings open up in a new sub menu. Overall, the camera quality is just above average but the DEFY+ could learn a thing or two from the Xperia Active we reviewed earlier.
We tried a bit of underwater testing and though the camera tries focusing on the image, there’s no way you can get to click a snap because it doesn’t support wet finger tracking and there’s no dedicated shutter button.
Colours appear dull
The only downer in this section is the lack of 720p recording. The DEFY plus has a 1GHz processor and it seems like Motorola has simply overlooked this part of the phone. Obviously, with all the custom ROMs available on the Internet, the phone can get 720p recording, but our review is based on what Motorola has provided, and hence its absence is definitely a drawback. As part of the other video modes, there’s slow motion and fast motion video capture as well.
safety mechanisms at the back
Equipped with a 1700 mAh battery, we were pretty sure the DEFY+ would impress in this section, and it did exactly that. On normal usage, the phone will easily last you over a day, with automatic brightness settings turned ON. In our Tech2 loop test the phone lasted for two and a half hours of calling, four hours of audio, two hours of streaming over Wi-Fi, two hours of streaming over EDGE and two and a half hours of video. That makes it a total of 13 hours of non-stop usage, which is brilliantly impressive. The video test lasted for 9 hours and 20 minutes on automatic brightness before the battery died. The DEFY+ does an excellent job in terms of battery life.
From a few different angles
The Motorola DEFY+ is priced at Rs. 19,490 (MRP) and Rs. 17,990 (MOP) which keeps it in the same price bracket of the Xperia Active. Besides the 720p limitation and relatively less vivid display, the DEFY+ covers all departments pretty well. It's a rugged phone and the build quality is second to none. Drop it, wet it, scratch it, and it will still survive. All in all the Motorola DEFY+ is a good buy. However, we’re not too sure if it’s going to overly impress users of the original DEFY as it’s just a minor upgrade in terms of processing power.
But is this phone better than the Xperia Active we recently reviewed? The only way to know for sure is to pit them against each other. So, stay tuned for our grudge match.