Motorola Defy+

If you're looking for a phone that can survive your "Xtreme" lifestyle, then the Defy+ is at the top of its game. But it's a shame that this rugged exterior doesn't protect a better smartphone experience.


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As Motorola launches its second Defy, its second verse is same as the first, with tweaks to the software and a faster processor marking the major changes between the Defy+ and its precursor. But is this enough 12 months on?

Design

We're not kidding when we say that the Defy+ is physically the same phone as the original Defy. However, age has not wearied them, and this new design seems as fresh and unique in 2011 amongst the year's similar-looking touchscreen smartphones. The sturdy body feels as rugged as its IP67 rating suggests (indicating that its waterproof, dust proof and shock proof), with exposed screws and latches giving the Defy+ a nice, industrial feel.

Last year's Defy beside this year's Defy+: she hasn't updated her Twitter profile pic in 12 months?
(Credit: Motorola/CBSi)

The 3.7-inch display should be sufficient for most everyday smartphone use, though we do wish it was a bit brighter and more colourful. The viewing angles are fine, and the touchscreen works well, but it just looks a bit dark, even with the screen brightness pushed up.

Motorola covers the phone's two exposed ports with stiff plastic plugs, to keep water and grit out of the phone's sensitive bits. Under these port covers, you'll find a standard headphone socket and a micro-USB port, though no HDMI socket like the one you'll find on all other Motorola releases this year. Motorola positions the microSD card slot under the battery, which should keep it safe from water, but it means that you'll need to restart the phone if you want to change it.

User experience

We mentioned earlier that Motorola had tweaked the software between Defy releases, but we wanted to expand on this by saying that it has not tweaked it nearly enough. There are a few nice usability enhancements, but over all this is the same Motorola Android overlay that we saw on the Defy last year and the Atrix earlier this year, and the results in the user experience are disappointing. This system is still bogged down by the non-optional MotoBlur account-management system, and, even with the faster processor, the Defy's interface feels really sluggish. Beyond performance, though, the system looks drab, with its brown-coloured iconography and dully designed widgets.

There are a few nice usability tweaks worthy of a mention, though; changes that mark a shift in performance you'll see very soon in the much-updated Motorola software on the new Razr smartphone. The app drawer now has a Groups filter option, letting you see only apps that you have used recently, downloaded or categorised manually. We also like that Motorola continues to add a Swype keyboard option to its Android smartphones — there is still no faster way to accurately compose messages, in our opinion.

Camera

Last year's Defy packed a camera that we thought was worth talking about, taking photos in focus and with good colour reproduction and sharp detail. This year's effort is off the mark, however, with photos consistently showing soft focus, and the image sensor struggling with strong light sources and bleeding colour across images.

Colour bleeding around the restaurant's sign is something we saw too often when photographing strong light sources.
(Credit: CBSi)

Predictably, the Defy works well in optimal lighting conditions, like outdoors under strong natural light. This fits with Motorola's "Summer Proof" campaign, we suppose, but it will disappoint those of us who like to back up a hot day at the beach with a night out in bars and clubs. The Defy's camera will only passably capture these late-night adventures.

Under natural light, the Defy+ does a great job of seeing colours and shadows.
(Credit: CBSi)

The 5-megapixel camera will only capture in QVGA resolution, and the results will look pretty blocky and jerky on any device with a screen larger than a smartphone. It does have a slow-motion shooting mode, though, which would be a nice touch for the extreme sports types, except that the slow-motion effect further spoils the video it shoots.

Performance

As we touched on earlier, the performance of the Defy is the Achilles' Heel to its otherwise indestructible package (OK, not entirely indestructible). The phone's "life-proof" certification is a big plus for anyone looking for a rich smartphone experience with a safety net, but the trade off for tradies is the sticky-feeling user experience. Swiping between screens provokes a delayed reaction in the transition between screens, and opening core apps can sometimes take several seconds before they are usable. This will prove to be a vastly difference experience for anyone who has been using an iPhone.

Battery life is solid, though, with Motorola opting to go with a comparably generous 1700mAh battery, up about 10 per cent on last year's model. We managed to get a full day's use out of the Defy+, or a total of about 4 hours of web browsing. If you manage the battery's connectivity options, you could easily get two days or more between charges, depending on use.

Overall

Telstra's AU$299 outright pricing makes it hard for us to write the Defy+ off based on its average camera and sluggish performance, but it does have its work cut out for it with models like Samsung's Gio and LG's Optimus Spirit offering comparable performance at half the price. At the end of the day, though, your decision to buy this phone will hinge on your need to life proof, summer proof or stupid proof your phone, and for that purpose there is still no real competition.



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KenH1 posted a comment   

Oh boy, the time I had with this device! It was a blast! I bought it in December 2011 day 1 I opened it, going through the activate process.. "Sorry com.android has stopped responding and then the home screen itself crashed. I hard reset it as it was the only way to resurrect it. Another week later, boot loops. Then the phone app would crash when ever someone would call etc. I had had enough of it so I took it to Harvey Norman (where I bought it) and they sent it off to Motorola for "repairs" it came back and apparently it had been fixed but nope same problems so they sent it again and they didn't do anything against the third time, I asked if I could get a replacement and Motorola/Harvey Norman said no for no reason at all I then changed provider and got a new phone but I decided to open the phone and see what they claimed they had done and what's that? A wire from the proceser to a mosfet ha not been soldered at all and gee it works.. Motorola do not know what customer service is or a decent phone.... Makes a nice paperweight though!

Robobo
1
Rating
 

Robobo posted a review   
Australia

Yep mine is stuck in an OS loading loop, got it a few day ago and it only even kinda worked for about 3 days. It makes a silly noise every minute or so and is nonfunctional. No-one mentioned this problem in the reviews I read... so ****

DImi194
8
Rating
 

"A great phone, only a tad slow."

DImi194 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Life-proof, good size and nice screen and feel, battery.

The Bad:The slowish performance (Motoblur... except the locate and contacts functions).

A good phone, with a nice feel. The mdia player and interface is sleek, and Motoblur has some benifits. However, it's a little laggy, but the Motorola overlay is good for beginners and the battery is nice. A good phone for anyone who is a little uncordinated..... or just wants a solid performer. Once in apps, it works great.

 

JakeG2 posted a comment   

Motorola Defy Problems ;

* Cannot make/receive telephone calls or MMS messages when internet tethering (phone will disconnect randomly usually around the 5-8 second mark constantly)
* Hotspot will randomly lock up and not work, pauses for up to 5 mins at a time with no data throughput
* After turning off hotspot and wanting to use it again usually requires a restart of the telephone (which takes a long time)
* Songs will stop 3 minutes into play (cannot compete with a $10 MP3 player) no solutions work (removing things from the auto-end list etc etc and other placebo ideas)
* Phone will randomly reset and take a long time to restart
* Capacitive screen doesn't work when plugged into a charger (as though the power isn't regulated enough and interferes with the cheap detector circuit)
* Takes over one hour to charge on average yet the battery life is poor.
* Inbuilt music player is awful (repeats on random and other fundamental flaws) and crashes often mid song and has to be restarted
* Toggle GPS off sometimes doesn't work (even if showing 'off') the GPS will still report your location to software installed on the phone and the location indicator will also show activity.
* Alarms - Often turning off an alarm fails to register (not snooze but manually unchecking the desired alarm) and it will go off anyway.
* Phone will sometimes lose data connection (H/3G indicator) will vanish and no applications get a connection. This requires taking the battery off and waiting a few minutes.
* On the plus side - the screen is very clear, it's evident by the quality that the screen is not a Motorola product.

I've read ALL the placebo fixes 'try taking the memory card out for 2.8 seconds then press the power button, then remove all the programs from the auto-end list then face the handset towards the setting sun' etc etc.. all rubbish when actually tested over time.

swislang
3
Rating
 

"Not water resistant"

swislang posted a review   
Australia

The Good:you could shut down app's to save the battery

The Bad:it's sluggish; it not water resistant

water proof/resistant my arse. I had the phone for 8 months, I got it because it was supposed to be rugged, water and scratch resistant (and dustproof too). I put up with it's sluggish performance because of the above claims.This is what happen to my phone I went for a walk through cronulla for about 40mins I had placed my water resistant phone in the waist band of my shorts( no pockets in shorts), pulled phone out to use it and noticed condensation on the inside of the glass and the phone would not work. took it to a motorola repairer, who inform me that there was liquid damage to the phone and it would cost more to repair it then the phone is worth.They could not tell me how the liquid got in. I am now looking for a new phone for christmas/new year

 

Will1505 posted a comment   

Disappointing about having MotoBlur again, hopefully it is something google gets rid of.

Would like to see if the same speakers are in this one as to the original. The original had an issue where the load speaker would break, when i was at telstra we had about 50% of them coming back with the speaker issue.

Pretty good price for what you are getting though

 

Ramrunner posted a reply   
Australia

With regards to Motoblur, for a company I used to work at it WAS kind of cool being able to not only track where our tradies where at whenever we wanted, and kill the data off the phone if it was stolen/left in a taxi whatever. I agree it should be optional though.

As for issues with the phone, we had about 6 of them and EVERY SINGLE ONE went back for repair as the user was inaudable at the other end of the conversation. Not sure whether it is the same issue as described above or not. Apparently it was a "well known microphone" issue, yet Motorola did not recall the affected batches before sale to end users, we had to end all phones to NSW (we are in WA) at OUR cost and find spare phones for our users in the meantime then wait weeks (in one case 6 weeks as the repairer said there was nothing wrong and we had to send it back again because the issue was still there. Second time when the REALLY tested they found and repaired the fault).

Motorola lost a lot of reputation points with me over this fiasco. I indeed hope this model does not have the same issues.




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User Reviews / Comments  Motorola Defy+

  • KenH1

    KenH1

    "Oh boy, the time I had with this device! It was a blast! I bought it in December 2011 day 1 I opened it, going through the activate process.. "Sorry com.android has stopped responding and then the ..."

  • Robobo

    Robobo

    Rating1

    "Yep mine is stuck in an OS loading loop, got it a few day ago and it only even kinda worked for about 3 days. It makes a silly noise every minute or so and is nonfunctional. No-one mentioned this p..."

  • DImi194

    DImi194

    Rating8

    "A good phone, with a nice feel. The mdia player and interface is sleek, and Motoblur has some benifits. However, it's a little laggy, but the Motorola overlay is good for beginners and the battery ..."

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