back to article Motorola Defy Android smartphone

As the first rugged - well, semi-rugged - Android handset, the Defy's ability to survive mistreatment by careless party-goers is the central pitch of Motorola's advertising campaign but there is rather more to it than that. Motorola Defy Rough diamond? Motorola's Defy Let's start with the cost. The Defy is available from T …


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  1. Code Monkey
    Thumb Up

    Good review. Phone looks good, too

    That ticks quite a lot of my boxes (can take a knock, small-for-a-smartphone size, call quality, battery life), enough to forgive the less than bleeding edge OS. Certainly more boxes than my Desire.

    Hopefully an updated Defy 2 will be available at upgrade time.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Allen screws adornments provide a touch of machismo

    Or perhaps Torx.

  3. Zbig

    Torx - not Allen

    These are Torx screws, not Allen. Allen type ones have hexagonal indentation.

  4. Simon Barnes

    Good phone :)

    I have one of these, though my contract with T-Mobile is £10.41 pm with 100 free minutes and unlimited texts and web (I don't make many calls). This is my first smartphone and I think it excellent but at first I was only getting 24 hours on a charge which was frankly irritating!

  5. Jan 0 Silver badge

    I have to say

    How do you get a 16m screen in your pocket? Nowhere in the article does it say it rolls up!

  6. Andrew Macrobie

    Motoblur ?

    More like motobo**ocks.

    I bought one of these a couple of months ago for my partner to replace her HTC legend. While the device itself is absolutely great, no doubt about it; the motoblur software overlay is nothing short of horrific - particularly if coming from something with the sense overlay which does a significantly better job of aggregating all your messaging and social accounts.

    How motorola continue to make such a pigs ear of this is beyond me. I had a milestone on release and found it much easier to deal with (and comparatively as snappy to use despite the difference in MHz). The clue here ? No motoblur.

    I've took the tack of applying the "blurless" defy rom to the phone some weeks ago and installed launcherpro (as described in your article). Feels snappier generally now and the social networking overview is far easier to deal with. Plus of course, the author of launcherpro will probably have updated the shell several times before motorola finally release froyo for the defy...

  7. Righteously Indignant

    prepared to take Motorola at its word???

    The only slight disappointment is the absence of Froyo but I'm prepared to take Motorola at its word that an update will arrive before June 30th...

    They've been promising to update the Motorola Milestone to 2.2 for several 'quarters' now. After repeatedly failing to deliver in 2010 they now claim 'early Q1 2011' - which we are already a third of the way through... I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for an update on any Motorola phone. If Motorola can't update the Milestone - which is vanilla Android - what hope does the Defy have with MotoBlur on top?

    1. Kieran 2

      Froyo on the Milestone

      Yeah, I got bored of waiting and finally installed Cyanogenmod. There's quite f ew hoops to jump through, though, thanks to Motorola being dicks about the boot partition: but RSD lite 4.9 will allow you to install a vulnerable bootloader, followed by OpenRecovery 1.46 (installed from /sdcard/, which you then use immediately (as a reboot will cause the device to copy back the original bootloader) to install another zip of the cyanogenmod ROM.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      I love my Milestone, but the support is awful. I have a feeling that they will keep pushing the release date of Froyo back until they can just claim that support for the Milestone has ended. I am never buying Motorola again no matter how good the hardware

      1. Keyser Soze

        Double Agreed

        Still waiting, 5 months after the Motorola Droid got its update.

        Loved the milestone at the start, but have been waiting for Froyo for far too long. No help or support from motorola.

        Last motorola product ever!

  8. zero273

    I wouldn't hold my breath..

    ..for an update. Motorola builds excellent hardware, but they are either uncapable or unwilling to support their devices with software upgrades once they've sold them.

    My theory is that they believe people will go and buy a new phone if they don't upgrade. Which is actually true - I will buy a new phone, just not from Motorola. Ever again.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      It's not Motorola, it's the carrier

      Verizon has upgraded my Droid (US Milestone) to 2 different rollouts of 2.2 a couple months ago. At least in the US, T-Mobile has the rep of being the most "slacker" least-they-can-do carrier (worse than AT&T) and nobody I know would touch them.

      1. zero273

        Not a carrier issue

        It's true that Motorola has released an update for the Droid, but even if a carrier in Europe wanted to release an update (which they normally do, for once they are not the bad guys here), it would not be possible: Motorola does not provide it. Apparently it's being tested with the operators (although the upgrade for most Europeans does not come through an operator). They have promised an upgrade shortly after the Droid update, then for Q3 2011, Q4, now "early Q1 2011", which is over for about three days as well.

        Check out Motorola Europe's Facebook page - for every announcement, no matter what, they immediately get a veritable shitstorm of comments basically consisting of "where's my Milestone upgrade!".

        Which also shows why you should not use social media to communicate with your customers if your initial plans are to not give a f**k about them.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It isn't the carrier

        Outside of the U.S. the Milestone (Droid) was sold without being tied to a carrier. We have to wait for the updates directly from Motorola.

    2. Kevin Reader
      Paris Hilton

      Its been their business model for so long...

      The problem is that the "new feature" ==> new phone to sell and to buy has been the business model of these companies for so long. the daft thing is most of them make such small profit (per device), except for apple and its genius marketing, that they could probably make more by charging for an actual O/S upgrade! most phone users would surely pay £10-£20 for a _supported_ upgrade.

      Only HTC (and apple - shrug) seem to have recognised that the market is keen for updates AND that it breeds brand loyalty when people DO upgrade their hardware.

      Paris - cos even she knows when to stroke her fans and users and when to blow them off.

  9. Anonymous Coward



    "Motorola says it has plans to upgrade the Defy to 2.2 in the admittedly slightly vague sounding "Q2""

    "Has plans" my arse.

    Until the device prompts you to download the update it's all wind and piss.

    Speaking from bitter experience with Android-powered Motorola devices.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down


      2.1 is piss poor! there is no way I would buy this! and if the company pushing it things I'm fool enough to buy such an out of date product, I will steer clear of all thier products!

      Unfortunatly I fear that moto are not alone here. and that there is an inherant problem with updating android, I really think Google need to split it into three layers, OS layer, Manufacturer/Device layer (hardware drivers & customisations), and finally the service provider layer (though I'd never want that!) in such a way that the layers could be updated and changed indivividually without requiring the complex passing on that we have at present.

      Because I have a desire that I have had to re-rom myself to get updates (and as the operator screwed the phone with a customisation that can only be described as a rabid bull loose in an orange paint factory) I think the only way I will be buying a phone in the future is direct from google.. assuming that is that they are able to put out a couple of reasonable models, such as this hardware. Tis a shame, as the hardware here is good, its just the version and slomoto that are bad.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Simon Barnes

    Suspect that at £10/month tariff you probably didn't get a free phone (looks like available at arounfd £115 on this sort of tarrifs) ... but for a 100min/month tariff you can get a free phone @ £15/month.

    I'm like you and don't make many calls so 100min/month is easily enough for me and its good to see phones like this on tariffs which don't bundle gazziliions of minutes into a £30+ tariff.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Motorola 'updates' again

    I'm afraid it's the same old Motorola story again, ship with an ancient version of the OS and promise an update at some unspecified time in the future which never arrives.

    I'm a DEXT owner you see, and that's what they did for us.

    It's a nice phone to be sure, but as a Motorola owner I'd say only buy it if you're going to be happy with the OS that'll be on it at purchase because their upgrade promises aren't worth the screen pixels that make them up.

    Or make it easy for yourself and buy your Android phone from someone else.

  12. Curr946
    Thumb Up

    Defy. Great Handset

    I was reading your review, i found it to ring true with my experience of the handset. I have had it since UK launch. (November 2010) I would highly recommend it.

  13. Al Taylor

    Torx / Allen

    I've just noticed the screws in the press images don't actually look like the screws on my handset. Even under a magnifier the handset screws look like small Allens but as commented the ones in the side-on picture look more like Torx. Oh well, as long as they keep the two parts of the handset together...

  14. Hankster

    Excellent little phone - if you forget about the speaker problem

    The first batch of these was "blessed" with a speaker that died unexpectedly during the first month of use.

    Mine lasted for two weeks.

    Loved the phone, but Motorola's approach to handling the problem was less than perfect.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Speaker Problem

      Thats what happens if you play a vuvuzela sounds on your mobi... (square tooth waveform is gauranteed to destroy 90%* of speakers)

      *67% of statistics made up on the spot. (like this!) its the meaning thats importanrt not the number.

      1. blackworx


        Is that a cross between a square wave and a sawtooth? Never heard of it.

  15. TrickyRicky

    Not as tough as it makes out to be...

    I bought one (T-mobile £10/month - £115 upfront: 100mins) for my daughter for Xmas.

    Unfortunately she has already managed to craze the screen glass by dropping it (allegedly) from 'knee-height'. I suspect that there may also have been an element of forward motion as well... :(

    Now that its working OK I'm impressed with the screen quality and general zippiness (compared to my Wildfire).

    The new screen was a £40 repair.

  16. Jedibeeftrix

    "i've just bought one"

    so have I for the better half.

    it's a great phone and she loves it too. nice going particularly with the 9 month half-price redemption on the 18 month contract.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Kudos to the reviewer on installing launcher pro and not just saying "Motoblur is crap therefore this phone is crap".

    Being able to customise the phone to however you want is a big plus with android

  18. Andy Kay

    Android 2.1? New phone?

    Welcome to 2009!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My screens scratched already

    Ok - I was giving it deliberate abuse, not excessive mind.

    But if you buy a phone that makes these boasts you are bound to test it right ?

    1. Darryl


      I don't know. I think I'd prefer to test the display model at the local store for scratchproofiness instead of the one that I just bought.

      But that's just me

  20. Arnold Lieberman


    Or rather "nicker". 20 nicker in your pocket = a score, 20 knicker = score!

  21. Phil Endecott

    Shame about the software

    I have one of these. Summary: nice hardware, remarkably poor software.

    I ruined an almost-new iPhone 3GS by having it in my inside jacket pocket in the rain in 2009, so the idea of a more resilient phone was very appealing. I bought one when they first became available, in November 2010.

    I haven't tested the waterproofness (yet!). The screen is very nice; my only complaint about the hardware is that the buttons at the bottom are too easy to touch accidentally.

    But the software.... arrgghh.

    Motorola's "skin" is diabolical. It would be much better to just completely scrap it and have the raw Google version. To make things worse, they insist that you create a "motoblur account" before you can use the thing. And don't think you can create the account and then forget about it, because if you ever remove the SIM you'll be prompted to log in to your "motoblur account" before you can do anything. So don't forget the password - or use one that's tedious to type. And that's AS WELL as the gmail account that Google force you to create.

    Under that, it's Android - and frankly, I don't think much of that either. How did they manage to make a maps app where zooming in and out don't work properly? WTF? Really, all Android has to do is copy the good bits from Apple and not copy the bad bits - yet they fail to do so.

    And to top it all, I still haven't got mobile internet working yet. I bought this one from Carphone Warehouse and put in an O2 PAYG SIM that I had bought a few months previously for something else - and it didn't work, because O2 didn't recognise the device. Carphone Warehouse suggested that it was too new and I should just wait, which I have done, and now I get a different error message. I'll be paying them another visit soon. (If this were my only phone, I wouldn't have been so patient.)

    Motorola seem to have a good HW team, but the rest is an embarrassment. Perhaps they really should have been the ones to buy Palm.

  22. windywoo


    The specs mention 5 MP but that doesn't always equate to a good camera. Does this take nice snaps or fuzzy fugly stuff?

  23. heyrick Silver badge

    A few points about this phone

    Firstly, the music player looks nice. Mine is pretty tragic. It would appear that not only is Android different between manufacturers, but there's a third layer of abstraction with the provider. In my case, Orange. The "Connected Music Player" is poor, but it does Shoutcast - I listen to that a lot. I have installed WinAmp, but it doesn't do Shoutcast on 2.1.

    You got 720p to work? Perhaps that is the difference between Motoblur and without? I can *almost* get it working, but the picture is jittery. Maps, navigation, all that stuff is a delight to use. I know the great GoogleBot can track my every move when I have GPS on, but it's kinda cool to be driving down the road looking at your little arrow moving on the map (child at heart, and no, I'm not the driver...).

    The camera is pretty naff. It is fast and does all it is supposed to, but it seems like the pictures are too heavily compressed, so much that everything looks just a little bit blurry. But, then, it's a camera on a phone, not a dedicated pointy-clicky. It is useful to have handy.

    I must tell you a few things about Swype. Where's the dictionary? It doesn't integrate with the phone's user dictionary. It has no "learning" mode, instead words tapped in my hand will be accepted into the Swype dictionary (typos and all) when you press Space. You can remove things that get in the way ( i'll instead of I'll ) but there is no way to view/edit the dictionary, and there is no way to switch off its learning mode. When you're taking part in forums with code and part numbers, you really wish Swype wouldn't remember all this stuff. There's also a security implication - is it remembering passwords too?

    Voice quality to a landline is lovely. Voice quality to a mobile isn't. I find it echoey and - get this - when *I* am speaking, the other person is muted. WTF?

    The "Data Manager" sounds like a nice idea, but there is a fatal flaw. With the data manager on, the News app will not sync my RSS feeds (maybe 100K tops). Conversely, the email app will happily attempt to fetch a 10Mb attachment. Over the mobile network. With Data saving options enabled. Hasn't it heard of fetching headers? Well, I guess I am asking too much of an app that insists on sending everything base64 encoded!


    It isn't all bad. Battery life is acceptable. I don't know what is good and bad as my last phone was nowhere near this sophisticated. Let's just say if I forget to charge it one night, the world won't end. There is also a useful "Flight mode" to turn off all the radio comms, and a cute back door that you can engage Flight Mode and then turn WiFi on, making it a little mini-tablet thing. The display is lovely. I mean seriously nice. A clarity such that you can read the browser even when zoomed out to the smallest text size. The phone, in general, is fairly nippy in operation.

    I have serious complaints regarding the version of Android used, and also the lack of controls (script/cross-site/etc blocking), but much of this rests on Google's head, not Motorola. Even if a version 2.3 of Android appeared for the Defy tomorrow, would we get 2.4, 2.5? Why can't the operating system perform its own security updates? It is a real operating system in there, time we realised that.

    I picked the Defy from the ones available because it was solid looking and had a good display. My main criteria, as I don't use the phone part much, was to play music, to have a decent web browser that can work from WiFi, and something that can be a pocket-sized PDF datasheet library. On all three counts, it hits a home run.


    My advice, if you like reading, don't bother with the Kindle app. I don't know about in the UK, but here in France I think Kindle was "epic fail". There's scant mention of it at, and I get pointed to the American kindle store, where prices are in dollars, some free stuff isn't free here (why!?) and some things simply aren't available here. Such as a favourite childhood story "The Secret Garden". So instead go to Google market and look for an app called "Laputa" (wasn't that a Ghibli? Castle in the sky?). It is a free app to read free books. There are no new blockbusters, but there's loads of older stuff (including "The Secret Garden"), plus authors making their own releases. I'm currently reading an odd (e)book called "Tokyo Zero". I can lie in bed on my side with my Defy reading... It's quite relaxing.

    Summary: It isn't perfect, but I think I've found a new friend.

  24. Stehairyback


    Great phone but my ear piece bust after a month and so did many many other customers, check the forums and motorola's own web site. As for there customer services, i've got to say poor expect at least a 10 day repair schedule and i'm still out off pocket for posting, with no reply email.

  25. csuzw

    No chance of upgrade

    Motorola's history on Android updates is terrible. I have an XT720, it came out after 2.2 had been released. Initially it was advertised as having features of 2.2. It also had bugger all internal memory but again 2.2 would solve that issue. Issues posted on their support forums were repeatedly answered by saying you'll have to wait for 2.2. Then after finally putting up a schedule for 2.2 release on their site, they changed their mind and decided not to release 2.2 after all. Apparently the much older Milestone will be getting upgraded but that's been in the works for even longer. I don't think I could trust Motorola again with any product, certainly not if I was expecting some kind of future support.

  26. Ari_M
    Thumb Down

    Anyone read the Motoblur Ts & Cs?

    In short: all your base are belong to us.

    They basically own all your info and can do anything they like with it. No thanks. Otherwise a great phone, though.

  27. RollinPowell

    Great hardware but...

    I have the US version and it is fantastic hardware kneecapped by poor software development and corporate stupidity (similar tactics to a company that sounds like "sorny"). I can't say enough about how good the hardware has been, I love it but Motorola always puts out updates on the tuesday after never, regardless of what they say. At least their motoblur is pretty unobtrusive compared to some other OEM android crapware I've seen.


  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    great phone

    best phone i've had in a very long time.

    froyo has been available since late december.

    yes, motoblur is rubbish for most people but can easily be hidden by installing launcher pro etc.

    lots of official leaked froyo roms are appearing on XDA. in the latest blurred 2.34 -117 rom, motoblur is actually very smooth and fast. the 2.34-301 rom doesn't even ask for motoblur login and makes the phone so much better than the stock 2.1 blurred version most people will be using.

    anyone holding off buying the defy due to motorola's less than bad upgrade reputation should fear not.

  29. zosoin
    Black Helicopters

    The review omits the high values of SAR

    I recently got a XT5 with 2.1 and feel should have waited for this phone. Display is good!

    However, not a mention of the high SAR values ?;page

    1. blackworx


      Mumsnet is thattaway

  30. Curmudgeonly Old Fool

    Earpiece problems/bad service?

    Less than two months old and my Defy succumbed to the dreaded earpiece speaker failure. Been waiting nearly 4 weeks for it to be repaired. Absolute shambles. Motorola should have replaced faulty phones but, of course, they don't officially recognise that they have a problem. They have done untold damage to their reputation. When will manufacturers recognise that consumers will have more respect for them when they openly admit to their problems and put them right quickly. Beware, there may still be some faulty phones out there but you will never know because Motorola will not disclose which batches were affected.

    Great phone (despite Motoblur) piss poor customer support.

  31. Phoneseeker

    Support lets Motorola down?

    Thank God for you guys ............. I was almost taken in by the 'indestructible' tag of this new Defy phone. Crazy but it seems the phone is just like the bouncer at my usual nightclub - Hard Looking on the outside but full of rubbish on the inside !!!

    This is a big thank you to the reviewers for ensuring one doesn't go down the same Customer Service crap talk and fobbing off that these companies seem to spout at the first sign of a problem with their product. If your product doesn't have excellent support for issues that may arise then there's no need.

    And whilst I'm signing off I might as well stick my middle finger up at Motorola ............. All these years have passed and they are still sh***ing sheep whilst their competitiors have caught up and overtaken them. Shame on Motorola.

    Thec decision has been made - HTC DESIRE HD will be the one !!!!!!

  32. blackworx

    Just bought one

    I like it a lot.


    Not so much a problem with the 'phone here, but I've had no end of hassle with DLNA on W7, so copying media across has been a total faff. If you're not using the default W7 locations for your media then WMPnetworkSvc fucks up the permissions on your directories and you have to re-establish permissions for yourself to get write access to your own folders.

    The built-in DLNA app does NOT like massive directories. When you go into any location it wants to index everything (including subdirectories) so if like me you have tens of thousands of music files under one folder you can pretty much forget about ever getting to see what's in there. Going to start looking for alternatives.

    Another problem (which I doubt is exclusive to the Defy) is that, if you copy JPEGs across Android seems to want to ignore filenames and rely on EXIF tag data for presenting them. This is a problem if the tag it chooses (in my case camera make/model) is identical throughout all your files.

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