Motorola’s Defy+ brings an interesting twist to the smartphone in that it is a ruggedised handset, certified as IP67 compliant. IP67 is one of a number of internationally designated ratings which codify the degree to which devices can withstand shocks and traumas. Any device that is IP67 rated is as secure against any ingress of dust and as able to withstand immersion in up to 1 metre of water for 30 minutes.
The Defy+ shares its IP67 rating with the original DEFY which appeared about a year ago. The shell of the DEFY+ is unchanged from that of its predecessor, with rubber covers for the two ports (microUSB on the left edge and headphones connector on the top edge) the most obvious feature. The backplate is held in place by a sliding lock, and the microSD card slot which can be used to boost the 1GB of internal storage is lodged under the battery.
The Gorilla Glass screen is scratch-resistant. Motorola has built all this without having to bulk the chassis out much. The DEFY+ measures a fairly standard 107x59 x13.4mm and weighs 118g.
The 1GHz TI Omap processor isn’t dual-core but is perfectly adequate. Motorola’s Android skin provides seven home screens and adds a range of applications and widgets to the standards which come with Android 2.3. Among the additions are some social media tools for Twitter and Facebook, support for DLNA media sharing. Car Dock, an alternative user interface for use when driving, offers just six large onscreen icons at any one time and connects you to contacts, navigation, music and calling facilities as well as allowing for little customisation.
The most impressive of the Motorola-specific apps is undoubtedly the music app which integrates connected and local features. The FM radio, local music and video are joined by features like YouTube searches, lyric finding from within the music playback window, and song identification courtesy of SoundHound - a popular inclusion and one we remember fondly from previous Motorola handsets. But nonetheless it is an enticing extra for music fans.
Overall the Motorola Defy impresses. The rugged features don’t bring it to industrial standards but might provide some extra solidity in everyday work or leisure use, there are some nice software extras, and the handset is a good size for one-handed use.
Review from 24/11/11
By Ross Catanzariti @ PC World Australia
In late 2010, Motorola released the world's first rugged Android smartphone, the Motorola Defy. Fast forward almost 12 months later and the company has brought to market the Motorola Defy+ (Plus), an upgraded version of the original Defy. Though its new £239 price point is certainly attractive, we don't feel the Defy+ offers enough improvements over the original.
- Motorola Defy review
- Just how waterproof is the Motorola Defy?
Motorola Defy+: Design and display
All you need to know about the design of the Defy+ can be found in the review of the original Defy. That's because the Defy+ is virtually identical to the original model. It has the same 3.7in touchscreen and an identical ruggedised body, though the screws around the sides, the power button, the volume controls, and the slider that opens the rear battery cover are now coloured silver rather than gloss black. The touchscreen is again coated in Gorilla glass and although its clear, the Defy+'s display does lack the vibrancy and brightness of some of its competitors.
Normally we'd be disappointed with an identical look and feel considering the original Defy is nearly a year old. However, the Defy was an original and refreshing design that hasn't aged all that badly, so the Defy+ still manages to stand out amongst newer competitors. This is made easier by the fact there is next to no competition in the ruggedised space. Curved edges make the Defy+ comfortable to hold and use and the phone is also light and easy to pocket.
The phone isn't completely waterproof but its water resistant up to one metre and is also dust resistant, too. Like the original, you'll need to make sure the plastic flaps covering both the headphone jack and the micro-USB port are closed before you attempt to dip the phone in water; both are a little annoying to open, but effectively seal the ports from leaking water when correctly closed.
Motorola Defy+: Software and performance
Motorola says the Defy+ has a faster processor and upgraded software, which should therefore result in better performance. Though Motorola has made a few nice tweaks to its Motoblur software, we didn't notice a huge increase in performance. We still encountered many times where the phone felt slow and sluggish, and this often occurred during basic tasks such as scrolling through home screens, or opening the camera app.
Motorola's Motoblur software is still mandatory on the Defy+ — as soon as you switch on the phone you're prompted to enter your Motoblur account details or create an account if you don't have an existing one. To be fair, Motoblur does offer some excellent security features such as the ability to automatically wipe the handset when it is lost or stolen. However, its widget-based interface remains cluttered and confusing and there is effectively no way to use the phone without a Motoblur account.
There are a few new features that do make the user experience slightly more positive. You can now sort the app menu by all, recent or downloaded apps (just like you can on the Motorola RAZR) and the three shortcut icons on the home screen dock are customisable. There is also the option to create home screen "profiles" so you could effectively set screens for work, home and weekend: the three default options. Sadly, you can't remove home screens if you don't want to use them — you're stuck with the default seven.
The Motorola Defy+ once again includes Swype text entry with the on-screen keyboard. Swype allows you to slide your fingers over the letters you want to type in a single motion, letting the software work out the word you're trying to write. Though it sounds awkward, Swype is very easy to pick up and surprisingly accurate. As with most on-screen keyboards, the software will learn as you type and add words you use regularly to its database.
The Motorola Defy+ has a few handy applications preloaded including Quickoffice, Media Share (for playing video and music through a DLNA-compatible television). There's also a file manager and a cardio trainer app that will log workout activity using the GPS and a pedometer. The Defy+ has a unique media player — it will automatically find album art and lyrics from the Internet for any tracks in your library, while a "song identification" feature, similar to the app Shazam, is also included.
Motorola Defy+: Camera, battery life and availability
The Motorola Defy+ has the same a 5-megapixel camera as its predecessor. It has autofocus, a single LED flash, and doubles as a video recorder. We loved the fact you can use the volume keys as zoom buttons, and the ability to swipe through scene and effect settings is a nice touch. However, we really missed a physical camera button and there is no front-facing camera for video calling. The LED flash does nothing for low-light photography either, so photos captured at night are of poor quality. Photos can be stored on the Defy+'s 2GB of internal memory, or the 2GB microSD card that Motorola includes in the Australian sales package.
Motorola has equipped the Defy+ with a bigger battery than its predecessor — 1700mAh compared to 1540mAh. This should theoretically mean a noticeable increase in battery life but we didn't notice a huge improvement. You'll more than likely need to charge the Defy+ every night with regular use, so its no better or worse than the majority of Android phones on the market.
Perhaps the best thing about the Motorola Defy+ is its price: it's available for just £239 outright from Telstra stores. This makes it excellent value for money, especially considering it's the only ruggedised Android phone available on the market.
The Motorola Defy+ remains the only option if you want an Android phone that will resist the elements. We love the fact is is water and dust resistant, but Motorola's Motoblur software remains mandatory and the Defy+ isn't as fast or user-friendly as it should be.