A guest review by David from Farmer’s Weekly Magazine.
Are you an active, outdoorsy type? Ready, on any given weekend morning, to suddenly ascend the Matterhorn by goat, hang-glide across an active volcano or dive for rare crustacia 100ft down in the Aegean?
Then don’t buy Motorola’s new semi-rugged smartphone, the Defy. You’ll almost certainly break it, drown it, incinerate it or cause it some other unpleasantness that breaks animal welfare rules.
If, on the other hand, you lead a moderately active lifestyle (or just live in an unusually damp or dusty house) buying this phone could be a good move. Why? Well, for a start, it’s the only smartphone that is waterproof and dustproof.
There are some limitations to the Defy’s water-repelling abilities. A little note in the box reminds you to make sure the rubbery plastic bungs in the charger and mini USB sockets are firmly in place first, otherwise the warranty is void.
The bungs don’t look that substantial, either, so I suspect that this is really a semi-waterproof phone in much the same way that the Titanic was a semi-waterproof cruise liner. Still, that’s a lot better than an iPhone 4, which has a Persian cat-like aversion to water.
Other rugged touches? Like many phones it has a toughened Gorillaglass screen that should help repel scratches. More importantly, it doesn’t have that beautiful-but-don’t-you-dare-drop-it feel of an iPhone or some of the other smartphones.
It’s certainly a cinch to use, too. The screen size is smaller than an HTC Desire but not far off an iPhone, so it’s fine. Expanding and shrinking text is done quickly and even a longish web-browsing session isn’t too painful.
The keyboard is onscreen and works quickly and nicely. As with other keypads of this type, if you have fingers the size of Herta frankfurters or if your fingertips are particularly gnarled (farmers, deep-sea fishermen and dry-stone wallers take note) you may well find this kind of keypad teeth-gnashingly frustrating.
The Defy comes with built-in GPS, too. Nothing unusual there, maybe, but it will also give you a list of directions on how to get from A to B, whether you’re walking/biking or going by car.
To get it to turn into a fully-fledged satnav (complete with mid-Atlantic voice directions) should mean splashing a bit if cash on an Android Market app. However mine did it without going near an app – maybe that was because the phone was loaned direct from Motorola.
Talking of operating systems, the Defy has Android 2.1. Not quite as thrillingly ultra-modern as Android 2.2, but you’ll no-doubt soon be able to download the newer version.
Other stuff? A good-quality music player, very decent 5mp camera, 2GB card as standard, usual gadgets and widgets that you can move around the screen to your heart’s content. And it’ll run off your home wifi, keeping those pesky data charges down.
Price at £270 or so SIM-free is definitely lower than most smartphones. Not all networks have it on their listings, though. 02, for instance, said they don’t stock Motorola phones.
Summary: a pretty well-stocked phone at a lower price than many of its ilk. Doesn’t have the snazzy operating system of an iPhone or the heavyweight build quality of an HTC Desire. But it’s slim, relatively light and does pretty much everything surprisingly well. Just keep those bungs tight…
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