The Motorola Defy runs Google’s Android OS 2.1 on an 800 MHz processor, and has MotoBlur, Motorola’s alternate version of the standard user interface that focuses on social networking.
I didn’t have to spend any time waiting for apps to load; the best word to describe the Defy’s performance would be “snappy.” Whether I was scrolling through my tweets or updating my calendar or just playing games to pass the time, apps load fast.
The Defy is extremely responsive, and sometimes even too responsive — occasionally the web page will scroll way past what I wanted to see because it is so sensitive to my input.
I had some signal problems inside my office; one call went straight to voice mail without ever ringing the phone, and I didn’t receive any notice of a missed call. I was able to place calls from my office, with acceptable voice quality.
When I went outside, where I had a much stronger signal, the voice quality greatly improved. One of my callers said that I was crystal clear, but very loud — and I assure you that I am not one of those folks who tends to shout into the phone.
The Defy can connect to T-Mobile’s 3G network, and it has Wi-Fi for when you want an even faster connection.
It also has Bluetooth, so you can use you favorite wireless headset.
All of Google’s usual Android OS apps are here, including Gmail, Calendar, and Contacts.
You’ll also find Quickoffice for all of your Word, Excel, and PowerPoint viewing needs, though strangely enough there is no way to view PDF documents. If you want to edit your Office files, you’ll have to upgrade to the full version of Quickoffice, which is not included with the device.
The Defy makes a decent device for business users, though it has more of of focus on consumers. Still, you can connect to a Microsoft Exchange server for corporate, and I’ve already mentioned the Office viewer. And it’s semi-rugged design could come in handy on the job site.
The Amazon MP3 and Kindle apps are preloaded, but no games are included, not even demos. But because this is an Google phone, the Android Market is close at hand. I downloaded several games to try out and found that all of them worked exactly as advertised, with very fast load times, gorgeous graphics, and excellent sound. The external speaker on the Defy is plenty powerful, producing very good sound quality even at higher volumes.
A music player is included on the Defy that can handle AAC, MP3, and other formats, and this device also comes with a video player.
One cool application that I’m just beginning to explore is the Family Room, which is designed to help families stay closer together with features such as email blasts and text blasts that go out to every contact pre-identified as a family member.
The Motorola Defy includes a 5-megapixel camera with digital zoom and LED flash.
My test photos turned out fairly well, but with a few exposure problems — there are blown out areas where the sun is shining through the trees. I obtained better results when shooting nearby objects and people rather than landscapes, though perhaps that is simply due to the fact that nearby shots are easier to compose while avoiding large variations in lighting conditions within a single frame.
One good point about the camera is that it takes photos quickly — some phones seem to take forever, so you can easily miss the shot. The volume buttons are also used as the telephoto/zoom control, which is much faster and easier than trying to tap on the screen while framing the shot.
There are two different navigation apps from which to choose: Google Maps and TeleNav. Google Maps worked the best for me, with local search and directions for driving, walking, cycling and taking mass transit.
When you first start TeleNav you are told that you are starting a free trial; if you don’t specifically cancel the service at the end of the trial period, you will be charged a $2.99 monthly access fee. The app works well for voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, so if you want a phone that doubles as an in-car GPS the Defy can definitely keep you on track and prevent you from being last.
My experience with the battery life on the Defy has been a very good one indeed; this seems to be one of those devices that just sips at the power rather than draining the battery practically before you can blink. I had no problem getting through the day, even with relatively heavy usage, and there was still plenty of charge left in the battery when I got home in the evening after my daily commute.
You can easily get 2-3 days out of this smartphone, and potentially more if coverage is good in your area. I wouldn’t suggest leaving the charger at home during your next short business trip, since it’s still a good idea to charge overnight just in case, but I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the battery in the Defy.