Motorola Defy review

Motorola's latest Android smartphone is comparatively inexpensive, but is it still worth buying an Android 2.1 handset when 2.2 models are available for around the same price? Read on to find out.

IT Pro Verdict

There's plenty to like about Motorola's Defy – the screen is fantastic, it's compact and light and the unobtrusive toughened exterior should help it last. Even if you don't need the MotoBlur social networking aggregation, Motorola's other software tweaks, such as the improved keyboard, help make Android 2.1 feel more up to date. The phone can feel slightly sluggish though and the WiFi problems are worrying.Nevertheless, the Defy is still good value on a contract. Our favourite budget Android handset is still the Acer Liquid Metal. Although its customised Android interface is arguably more convoluted, it feels more responsive due to its faster processor and it comes with Android 2.2. It's not currently available on contract though and costs around £50 more than the Defy when purchased SIM-free.

Motorola describes the Defy as 'Lifeproof'. It's certified to Ingress Protection standard IP67, which means it can be immersed in water to one metre and, thanks to sealed ports and a sealed battery cover, won't let any dust in. Its screen is also made of scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, as found on the iPhone 4.

This is no military-spec ruggedised brick, though. At 59 x 107 x 13 mm, the Defy is shorter than an iPhone 4, and at 118g, it's 19g lighter. It's chunky but it's not a bad-looking phone, with a rubber back that's comfortable to hold and a black gloss screen surround. Although the model shown in our photos is black and white, an all-black version is more commonly available.

There are touch-sensitive shortcut buttons for the main menu, homescreen, go back and search we prefer hardware buttons, as they're harder to press accidentally. The screen is beautiful, especially considering this is a budget handset. At 480 x 854 pixels, it has a slightly higher resolution than even the HTC Desire Z. It's bright and sharp with vibrant colours, although the glass screen tends to attract smeary fingerprints.

The Defy runs Android 2.1. Since 2.3 has just been launched, this is looking increasingly long in the tooth. Motorola claims there will be an upgrade in the first quarter of 2011, but until then you'll miss out on features such as Flash Player and superior Exchange support, including security features such as remote wipe.

Nonetheless, there are some welcome additions to the standard OS. Chief among these is Motoblur, which pulls updates from all your social networks Twitter, Facebook, Bebo, MySpace etc into one app.