Motorola Defy Review

by Reads (32,209)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Service, Warranty & Support
    • 7
    • Ease of Use
    • 9
    • Design
    • 10
    • Performance
    • 9
    • Value
    • 9
    • Total Score:
    • 8.80
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


  • Pros

    • Extra durable and water resistant
    • Very good display
    • Snappy performance
  • Cons

    • Slightly disappointing camera
    • Some connectivity issues

Quick Take

The Defy has a cool but not-too-funky design, a great display, and can take just about anything I can dish out in the way of dust and splashes.

The Motorola Defy from T-Mobile is water and dust resistant, designed to keep up with even the most active of users. It offers Android OS 2.1, a 5 megapixel camera, and advanced MOTOBLUR for easy setup and access to social networking sites.

The Defy is currently available for $100 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year T-Mobile service contract.


The Defy is one cool-looking phone. Even though it’s mostly black, it has some unique features: the white band all around the sides of the device, the seven screws that secure the case and give the phone extra water resistance, and the fully covered ports.

Motorola Defy from T-MobileIt is also a petite powerhouse, measuring 4.2-inches tall, 2.3-inches wide, and 0.53-inches thick. That’s shorter than the iPhone 4, though a bit thicker.

I really like how it feels in my hand; the sides curve sharply away from the screen, so the Defy doesn’t feel as thick or as wide as it measures. It should fit in the smallest of pockets and definitely won’t weigh you down.

The materials are all plastic, as is the norm these days, but the Defy has a nice finish. It isn’t ultra slick or slippery (which thankfully means no fingerprints) but is still rather smooth to the touch. It feels soft and just a little velvety, but not overly so. It tends to stay in your hand on its own, so you shouldn’t have to grip it too hard to make sure it doesn’t take a tumble.

Of course the Defy is designed to be a “life resistant” device, and it certainly lived up to that, at least in my experience. I didn’t perform any crazy extreme tests on it, but I didn’t handle the Defy with kid gloves either. That means that it didn’t get put into a case, and I didn’t take much care when I tossed it into my bag. I used it outside in the rain with no problems at all, and splashed it a few times just to see what would happen.

I’m glad to report that it still looks as good and works as good now as it did when I got it almost a month ago now, so this is definitely one defiant little device that will probably be able to handle whatever you dish out — so long as you don’t go too crazy.

The display on this phone, a 3.7-inch FWVGA (854 X 480) touchscreen, is absolutely gorgeous. It’s bright, sharp, and ultra-clear, with a level of detail that you’ll notice immediately.

It works well inside and out, even on sunny days, though of course the screen is a bit harder to read outside in direct sunlight.

The display is topped with Gorilla Glass for extra scratch resistance, and so far I don’t see any scratches at all, even though I haven’t been particularly careful with the Defy. This may be the first electronic device that doesn’t absolutely need a screen protector, which is great — screen protectors can be difficult to install and tend to reduce the overall screen clarity. If you’re a worrier who just can’t stand the thought of a scratch on the display, you may still want the extra protection, but for the rank and file it seems that won’t be necessary.

Motorola Defy from T-MobileKeyboard
The Motorola Defy doesn’t have a physical keyboard, instead relying on a virtual keyboard.

The Swype keyboard is on by default, and once you get the hang of it you can enter text very, very fast by swiping your finger along the screen instead of by tapping on each key individually. If the device isn’t sure what you meant to enter, you are presented with a list of options from which to choose.

You can also turn off Swype if you don’t like it, but after a little practice you just might be surprised at how fast you can enter text if you stick with it.

Other Buttons & Controls
The buttons on this phone aren’t too obvious; since the Defy is water and dust resistant every port and access point is covered with a small flip around rubber cover.

The headphone jack and power button are on the top edge of the phone, and the volume control button is on the right. The charge/sync port is on the left side of the phone, and those are the only buttons aside from the usual menu/home/back/search buttons on the front of the device, under the display.

The SIM card slot and the microSD card slot are both located on the back of the device, underneath the battery. The back cover is easy to remove, though it works a little differently than most phones. There’s a switch at the bottom of the cover that you have to slide in order to release the back cover. That switch keeps it sealed extra tight so that water is much less likely to enter the battery compartment.



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