Review – Motorola Defy+

Review – Motorola Defy+

Thanks to Clove UK for supplying us with the review unit. Purchase the Motorola Defy+ from Clove UK.

The Motorola Defy+ is an all weather-resistant phone by Motorola designed to appeal to those phone users who want a tough and rugged phone, without the shackles of a large phone and one which has been hit by and ugly stick on the way out of development. It’s meant to be water resistant, dust and shock proof and it’s helped by a gorilla glass screen which makes the phone literally scratch proof. The tough phone designed not to look like a tough phone, all the while running Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread.

Design/Hardware

 Upon seeing the phone you’ll be surprised that this is being catered as a ‘tough’ phone. It doesn’t look anything like the tough phone out there, fat and quite ugly (not to mention the fact they don’t look smart at all). Strangely enough though it’s also extremely light for a phone built to withstand a drop during your drunk nights out or a dunk in the water while you’re at the beach. The phone has dimensions of 107 x 59 x 13.4 mm, meaning that while it’s small it actually has quite a thick frame (13.4mm compared to 9.3mm of the iPhone 4S) which can be off putting to many people. Furthermore, it’s actually surprisingly light weighing in at 118g, a full 22 grams less than the iPhone 4S. That and it’s meant to be well built if it’s meant to be dust, scratch and shock proof, not to mention water resistant. Yet, we can’t get the feeling that the build quality and plastic build feels cheap, and we couldn’t help wondering if it would actually hold up well if we did a drop test (we didn’t of course). The screen is meant to have wet finger tracking so that if you have wet fingers the phone should still respond to you, but we found that to be only half true, as the phone reacted to water droplets as if it were being pressed and it was impossible to use at times (so no touch screen usage underwater).

Aside from that phone features a 1 GHz TI OMAP 3620 processor, a 3.7-inch Gorilla Glass LCD screen, 2GB on internal storage with a microSD slot expandable up to 32GB, 512MB of RAM, and a 5 megapixel camera with single flash on the back. Overall we felt while this phone came off as tough on paper, from personal feel it didn’t feel tough at all and we found it a little to fat for our liking. When compared to the industry’s top phones, it’s lacking in specs and it feels like the odd one out. It’s not ugly by any means, but there are much nicer looking phones out there, but they won’t be as durable. However when you compare it to the industry’s tough phones, the Motorola Defy+ takes top spot in that beauty contest by a clear margin, and it doesn’t hurt that the phone is quite light in the hands.

 Display

For a standard LCD screen, the display on the Defy+ is quite good. The screen itself is a 3.7-inch screen with a resolution of 480 x 854 (which translates to 265 PPI – Pixels Per Inch). The colours are as crisp as they can be for a standard LCD screen, and while it doesn’t hold a candle to AMOLED screens and Super LCD’s, we weren’t disappointed with the screen as such. While it didn’t particularly pop, the screen was vivid enough to enjoy using it and it didn’t hurt our eyes either.

While the screen is limited to the quality of the screen, Motorola have done a fairly decent job here in the build quality of the screen and it shows in the display (despite not being exceptionally high). We couldn’t really find major fault in the screen, and the inbuilt sensor didn’t affect the display majorly either (as in it wasn’t over sensitive). If we did have to pick something out, it’s that at times the screen did feel a little washed out in certain apps, but overall we never noticed any problems with the screen.

Camera

Let’s just say we weren’t impressed with the camera very much, especially in indoor shots. The camera is supposedly 5 megapixel, but we felt like we were using a 2 megapixel, with how grainy the pictures came out. At times we felt that we were using a front facing camera as opposed to a rear camera, such was the quality. Having no designated camera button on the phone made things harder as well since the phone didn’t seem to want to focus quickly (you have to tap the screen to focus and then take the picture) but that might have more to do with Android as opposed to the camera setup, but it all counts when it comes to the review. The camera was quite possibly the worst part of the phone in our honest opinion, at least from a distance. Even in strong light, the camera struggled to get the right colors and it seemed like the camera was unable to focus properly, leaving a slightly fuzzy and grainy image.

When taken up close however, the camera performed considerably better, but not enough to compare to other camera’s with a 5 megapixel. It seemed that unless there was strong light or good light at the very least outdoors, the camera struggles heavily. Certainly an unimpressive camera.

Strong, Medium and Low Light

  

 

Performance

It’s worth noting that performance wise, most phones that run Android on them (even Gingerbread) are prone to some performance issues, especially when they aren’t being powered by a dual core, which the Defy+ does not have. Hopefully that will all be fixed with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), but until then we have no choice but to compare this phone to the likes of the iPhone and Windows Phone in performance. The actual phone isn’t that that bad in the performance side of things, which is quite nice but the bloatware Motorola puts on here doesn’t help it’s cause.

In term’s of actual performance, the phone generally tends to lag when opening apps like the camera or Motoblur (to post Facebook and Twitter comments) and it can get a little frustrating, but they have certainly come a long way from the days of Android 2.1. For instance, the camera took nearly 7 seconds to open to a point where we could press the button to take a picture, which is disappointingly slow. Uninstalling a mass of apps did quicken the Camera start times, but not enough to be called a strong performer. What’s strange in this case is that we didn’t feel as disappointed with Third Party Apps like Angry Birds which took under 20 seconds to start (20 seconds is considered the maximum the app should take on a good performing phone). And of course, pressing and holding the home button allows you to quickly switch back to a previously opened app, and that app does open up within a few seconds.

I have to say the performance upgrades in Android 2.3 Gingerbread is quite good from older versions, but overall when you take the Defy+ and hold it to a iPhone 4S or any Windows Phone out there, it falls quite short in the speed and performance category, but it doesn’t fail in anyway. What you must realize is you are buying a average phone which performs slightly better than it is expected to, but won’t be uttered in the same breath as the Samsung Galaxy S 2, probably the best current Android device (that might always be due to Motorola’s Android skin).

Software

This is the first Gingerbread running (Android 2.3) phone that we’ve tested since Android 2.2 Froyo, so we were expecting some big things. Partially, it delivers with a huge performance boost over the previous version of Android and the new and updated UI looks nice as well. What we don’t like is Motorola’s stock Android skin (which you can obviously change being a Android device) because we feel it drags the phone’s Android UI down a little bit. We prefer what Samsung has done with their phones as compared to Motorola on the skin’s front but if you do happen to like Motorola’s stock skin then stick to it (very few of you will).

In terms of the actual software provided, Motorola likes to think you want a lot of rubbish apps on your phone from the get go. Start with uninstalling them first (trust us, you’ll thank us later). The Android search system itself is very nicely integrated, and if you’ve used Android before you get all the usual Facebook and Twitter contact integration, along with Skype now.

There’s not much more to add here but while Android itself has taken a nice change from the previous versions, it’s still not as pretty as Windows Phone or iOS. It’s also much more complicated which may turn off many users. Having said that, Android 4.0 looks very good and we’re excited for it to come to our shores, but we doubt the Defy+ will be receiving it’s Ice Cream Sandwich share anytime soon, if ever.

 

Battery Life

Android phones are notorious for their mismanagement of battery usage and are generally plagued with the phone’s battery running out very quickly. However, the Motorola Defy+ surprises us with some good usages, lasting up to 7 hours during talktime, and a bit less through heavy video and music playback which is expected. Obviously we might see over time that this number might deteriorate, but as far as battery usage goes it does fairly well.

It does even better with the screen off (standby), as it manages to last a good few days without the battery dipping dramatically. This is especially useful for those of you who prefer to have a long lasting battery life when you are not physically using it during the day, and you can expect not to have to charge the phone everyday if you don’t use the phone heavily.

Overall the Battery is surprisingly good for a Android device and if you get this device, you won’t be able to get 7 hours with Heavy usage on the phone, but medium usage will easily get you through the day without worrying that you didn’t bring a spare battery pack or charger with you.

Techin5 Review Score -Motorola Defy+
Design/Hardwarewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Not the most visually appealing phone on the market, and most certainly not the thinnest phone out there. Not crammed with High Tech Features either, but most users of this phone won't need those. Built to be a tough phone, and it can fill that role well
Displaywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Quite decent for a normal LCD screen, colours look crisp and bright enough for the average user
Camerawww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Possibly the worst feature in the phone, as seen in the sample pictures. We were quite disappointed with the Camera and while it did okay in full bright daylight, you won't always have that to take pictures
Performancewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The Software can very much get laggy at times, but is saved by the fact third party apps seem to work better than stock apps, strangely enough. 1GHz processor pushes it through
Softwarewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Motorola's Motoblur is quite poor, and brings the system down. Android itself is decent but doesn't stand up well to other platforms in terms of looks and the phone isn't helping either.
Battery Lifewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Surprisingly above average battery life, especially in standby time. Useful for those who want an Android phone with above battery life without rooting or buying an extra battery pack
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
While a score of 6.5 might make you think this phone is poor, that isn't the entire story. For the general population, this phone isn't up to the standards of the modern Super Smart Android Phone with Dual Core processors and high resolution screens. However, there is most definitely a market out there for those who want a tough smartphone which doesn't look half bad, and performs decently, and that phone is the Motorola Defy+, so don't take the score as it's face value. From our side of things though, the camera certainly needs improving and the performance needs to be bumped up and only then can we recommend it for everyone. Not a bad phone at it's price though, you could do a lot worse


Founder and Chief Editor of Techin5, currently based in Melbourne Australia. Has always had a deep appreciation of Technology and how it helps people, which led to the birth of Techin5. You can follow me on Twitter at @jubbing and on Instagram