Hello Moto DEFY! How dey body?

So I did it.

Motorola Defy JKE

I bought this Motorola DEFY mobile phone today. It’s my first Android device and I am still to find out if I can get along with its operating system, the available apps and the user interface. I’ve picked this model (and not the HTC Desire / HTC Desire HD / Samsung S / Nexus S, etc.) for the following reasons:

  1. It is dustproof and water & scratch resistant. There are various videos on YouTube that document how this phone still works after (and while) being submerged in water and other fluids. Try this with an iPhone :-)
  2. It was recommended to me by my mate Adrian who has 10 (!) of these and uses them for a scientific (geologic) project. Of course, if I could afford it, I would probably also long for a Nexus S (like Adrian) because of the availability of a pure and fresh Android 2.3+. The Motorola DEFY currently runs on Android 2.1 with its own (lame) skin MOTOBLUR. Android 2.2 still needs to be rolled out in this region for this phone, and it is uncertain whether it will ever make it to 2.3. Of course there are unofficial releases, but Motorola only allows signed bootloaders. F*** Y**, Motorola. Not good. Android is open. You’re not. Why?
  3. It was also recommended to me by fellow blogger @bobbes who’s a Linux guy and showed me his DEFY earlier last week.
  4. It is affordable and has a very good price-performance ratio. This is an average device with an average camera. My old Nokia N95 (ex 2007) has a better camera. I’ve paid 265 EUR (this is a refurbished/like-new piece of hardware!).
  5. Android! Because I needed a change. As a Win/Linux user, iTunes is a pain in the ass. Else, I still love my iPhone on iOS 3.1.2. The iPhone is very slow on the browser, though, and urgently required an upgrade. I am not really sure if Android will make me as happy as iOS did, but I’ll never know unless I try.
  6. 480×854 pixel screen size. For an operating system, where app compatibility also depends on the pixel resolution of the target device, this is a welcome screen resolution.
  7. I’ve always kept & treated my phones & gadgets in a good way, never had a broken screen so far, but it just feels good to know that any sweat on the display (holding the phone next to your ear) will not result in a water damage. Given how fragile these phones are on the inside, this DEFY hopefully defies all water attacks :-)
  8. It’s smaller than my iPhone, faster and will presumably also run a bit longer. This argument about exchangable batteries….in all honesty, I think no one really needs that in reality. And for those moments you really need it, you won’t have a fully charged spare battery in your pocket. I usually carry a bag with chargers and spare batteries for all my phones in my laptop bag. During all these years, I’ve only used them twice. Once in Kenya, and once in Germany on the train (only to realize that the cheap MadeInChina spare batteries drained too fast).
  9. It has a good GPS chipset. My iPhone Classic doesn’t have GPS. My Nokia N95 has GPS, albeit a very weak one that needs to be hardware hacked one day (extending the antenna, that is).
  10. It has a microSD card. This alone is reason enough to drop the iPhone (where I used Dropbox for non-multimedia files).
  11. It has two microphones that “intelligently amplify your voice and filter out background noise”. This is supposed to be a modern standard (worked fine on my E72), but my iPhone Classic didn’t have this and I sometimes missed it. I don’t like to use my iPhone as a telephone, prefer Nokias when it comes to pure telephone functionality because of the improved acoustics. Estonimoja (with his beloved 6210) and Mentalacrobatic(s) (with his love for the 6230) will certrainly agree on this.
  12. As a hardware guy, I checked Youtube for “disassembly defy” and found this video. Going by the main PCB and the plastic cover, this phone is very similar to good Nokia phones. You’ll notice the difference while opening up iPhones or HTCs – which are much more fragile and consist of many small cables and parts directly printed on these copper cables. This obviously is a business decision and sometimes the cause for failures (that you won’t have with such single-board phones, imo). In other words: good built quality needs to be based on something.
  13. This being an iP67 phone, my assumption is that it will continue to live despite any stupid Motorola bootloader policies. In other words: while this phone has something that makes it unique (the water/dust proof thing), other current Android devices may only be short lived and soon dropped by many users for the prospect of using better hardware. I think this Motorola Defy will stay with us for a long time, similar to the Siemens ME45 or the recent Nokia 3720.

What I miss is a docking station, and/or the USB socket at the bottom of the device. I’ll have to open the flap that covers the USB port (on the left side of the device, see pics), which is a bit annoying. The iPhone (or the HTC Desire) clearly wins here. Obviously, there’s no perfect phone out there.

Oh, and you can buy this mobile phone holder (yeah, simu holdaaaaa!! :-):



…. which will probably attract Enduro-fanatics like Bwana Whiteafrican or Bwana Mzeecedric who need tough gear for their motorbikes.

This mobile phone holder for bicyles and motorbikes is available via bikertech.de – the above image is (C) by them. The guy who runs bikertech.de builds these holders one by one, they are all hand made and can be adjusted to any specific requirements. Love it! In fact, seeing this pic finally nailed it for me. I can’t imagine using an iPhone in an Otterbox case (which are awesome, see their review from my Nokia E72) on such a holder. But the DEFY? Of course!

Anyways. I know the DEFY won’t be the ultimate phone, and probably also not be my last one. If it proves to be as reliable & versatile as the iPhone Classic, I’ll be more than glad.

UPDATE: After receiving this phone, checking out Android, installing a lot of apps and slowly understanding what makes Android so special, I realized that the simplified car menu (see bikertech image above for an example) that gives you access to basic functionality is VERY nice and convenient.

Author: jke

Hi, I am an engineer who freelances in water & sanitation-related IT projects at Saniblog.org. You'll also find me on Twitter @jke and Instagram.

5 thoughts on “Hello Moto DEFY! How dey body?”

  1. Haha, grad Eure Tweets gesehen. Ja das Teil ist gut, vor allem nach dem ewig langsamen iPhone Classic bieten sich hier ganz andere Möglichkeiten.

    Wenn man vom iPhone kommt, ist man sicherlich etwas verwöhnt und bevorzugt es möglichst einfach, aber ich hab jetzt auch erstmal nur Apps installiert (ist heute erst gekommen!), Motoblur deaktiviert (läuft trotzdem noch im Hintergrund), schwarzen Hintergrund und diesen ganzen Kladderadatsch von den homescreens gelöscht. Ich muss jetzt eigentlich mal auf 2.5.1 updaten, das Teil hat noch 2.2.1 drauf (beides Android 2.1). Oder gleich Froyo. Taste mich langsam vor, aber erster Eindruck ist schon mal sehr gut.

    Erste Aktion war übrigens das Aufbringen einer matten Folie, bei der man die Fingerabdrücke nicht sieht: http://jke.posterous.com/the-secret-to-fingerprint-free-screens – kostet ca. 4,- EUR bei eBay.

  2. found your review :-)

    things that are holding me back are Android 2.1 and the Motoblur stuff and the fact that you can’t bypass it.

    the phone itself sounds great.

    i was thinking of getting the Nexus S but it is very pricey.

  3. Nchenga,
    Adrian just got his Nexus S and will certainly tell us about it. What I dislike is the missing microSD slot on the Nexus S, else it seems to be a great phone.

    The Defy is a great piece of hardware, tough materials. Hardware-wise, only the microUSB cover sucks – needs to be removed every time I charge it. And it has sensor buttons, which isn’t bad, but some Android characterics can only be done via the on/off button (see mobile-review.com, imo still best review of the device).

    Software-wise you can flash to a less motoblured version, but I guess you already know that. I am on “2.5.1”, which is said to be the latest release with Motoblur and an Android 2.1. Afaik, there’s a UK and a Polish version of 2.2 available atm, even without Motoblur.
    Motoblur isn’t as obtrusive as it probably used to be with previous Motorola phones, but I am not using it. Some motoblur processes are still runing in the background even though I don’t have a motoblur account.

    You know it is my first Android device, so I still have to learn a lot and I am of course missing my push notifications via Twitter. I’ve set Tweetdeck to check for @-mentions every 15 minutes, but this sucks. Yesterday evening I realized that this would probably be solved with Android 2.2, so now I am trying to figure out how to flash the phone asap.

    Bottom line is: even with Motoblur and only 2.1, this phone is a great deal for 265€. For me it’s one of those phones that I saw and instantly liked.

    p.s.: http://www.mobiflip.de/2010/11/was-genau-ist-eigentlich-motorola-motoblur/

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