Motorola Defy review on day two

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I received my Motorola Defy two days ago and have been stuffing around with it a bit so here are some initial thoughts.

On the whole its a nice phone. Its a physically slick looking phone and the build quality feels solid. I bought this phone mainly because it was the first rugged smartphone (aside from the Sonim phones which are fully bulletproof but you may as well have wrapped your phone inside a real brick). I have my doubts about the glass screen but I guess I will find out how strong Gorilla glass really is when I inevitably drop it. I have purchased a bunch of Vikuiti protectors from which should arrive soon. Glass is vulnerable to point forces so I'm hoping that a screen protector will help to diffuse such forces if for example I drop it face down on gravel.

There is one concern with build quality relating to the in-built speaker for regular voice calls. There is a thread on the Motorola forums about this but AFAICT the problem mostly affect units sold in Europe. I have not seen any instances of this affecting Australian sold units.

Some say that this is a slow phone. I think in this case context is everything. Compared to an iPhone 4 or Samsung Galaxy S I'm pretty sure the phone is sluggish. However as someone who has never owned a smartphone before I find the phone's performance totally acceptable. Scrolling can be jerky (I would guess its doing 10-20fps) and occasionally it pauses when I tap some menu items but on the whole these are not annoying to me.

The UI is certainly not as polished as the iPhone's. I think this is fundamentally a philosophical trade off. I own an iPad and some aspects of Apple's total control infuriate me - particularly their recent decision to change the hardware rotation lock to a completely useless mute switch with no option to revert the behaviour. The Android model OTOH seems to allow much greater flexibility but with flexibility comes inconsistency.

In the first few hours of tinkering I was seriously confused by the different apps & widgets available and how they related to each other. There are Motorola Widgets, Android Widgets, native phone apps(?) and then Android Market apps. There are multiple ways to get at each of these - via shortcuts on your home screens, via the app menu, or via Settings. There are 4 buttons (Menu, Home, Back, Search) which behave differently in different contexts and have multiple functions depending on whether you single tap, double tap, or tap and hold. In comparison the iPhone has just one button and a single listing of apps (and folders) and there are no widgets - everything is an app. I actually still don't know which UI components are introduced by MotoBlur vs Android but I also don't care as my phone is now setup and does everything I need it to.

The touchscreen is not as sensitive as the iPad's but its totally usable.

Battery life was a big concern. Having never owned a smartphone I was shocked when the battery's first two sessions lasted barely 15 hours and then 8 hours (I recharge at 5%). It turns out there was some (still unknown) application chewing power and after I reset the phone (power off/on) the battery life is much better - looks like it might be on track to last 3-4 days. Still, its a strange concept to have to rogue apps strangling the battery like that - it never happened on my ancient Siemens 2G phone. ;)

Overall I would recommend the Defy as a more-rugged-than-most-smartphones smartphone. Just keep in mind that this is based only on 2 days usage. :)

PS: Telstra are running several promotions which significantly reduce the cost of their mobiles. For example I end up paying $619 for my Defy including the service fees for 24 months. With $400 call credit and 1GB data per month I don't expect to pay another cent for the next 2 years.

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This page contains a single entry by goosmurf published on December 15, 2010 2:33 PM.

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