We were big fans of the original Motorola Defy. Sure it wasn't the most high-tech handset around but its simple design, modest size and waterproof/semi-rugged design made for a compelling combination. Now, a year on, the Defy is back with a faster processor and… well, that's it actually. Is this enough to warrant a change of name to the Defy+, and moreover is it reason enough to take the plunge?
In case you didn't quite catch it earlier, this phone really is identical to its predecessor. It sports the same modest 107 x 59 x 13.4 mm dimensions, 118g weight, 3.7in Gorilla Glass screen, black plastic body and exposed torx bolt heads round the edge – you know, cause that makes it look rugged. Only the finish of the battery cover has changed, from a plain matt black plastic to a soft touch plastic, and the Motorola symbol has dropped its 'Blur' suffix, giving a hint as to the reduced emphasis the company is putting on its branded customisation of Android.
While none of this sounds particularly exciting, there's definitely a sense of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". That said, while something like the Sony Ericsson Arc S can get away with being merely a faster version of its predecessor, it does so because that earlier phone only arrived six months ago. One year on and we would've liked to see a little more from the Defy . An AMOLED display, a larger screen, a slimmer design, a better camera; the list goes on. Nonetheless, for its £220 price, we wouldn't expect signficicantly more, even in this day and age.
The Defy+ achieves its water and dust proof credentials by utilising rubber flaps to cover all its ports, and of course being otherwise tightly sealed from the elements. Specifically it's rated to IP67 standard meaning it can survive being submerged in water up to a depth of one metre for 30 mins. So although it's probably safe for taking swimming, you'll have to be a mindful of not diving in or exploring the depths too much. More crucially it'll survive flying from your pocket and slapping into a muddy puddle, and even being stomped on a little, so labourers or adventurous types, or just the clumsy, will be well catered for.
One downside of the rubber flaps is that you have to constantly remove them when you want to charge your phone or listen to music using the headphone jack. Indeed if you're a commuter that wears headphones everyday, you may find the headphone flap fails sooner than you'd hope. What would be a really neat addition to a subsequent model would be a similar touch charging mechanism to that seen on the HTC Rhyme, thus saving you having to remove the sealing flap from the microUSB port every time you want to charge it.
Regardless, we put the phone through its watery paces and found it effortlessly coped with a bit of rough and tumble in the dirt and a wash and scrub up afterwards.
As well as the microUSB socket on the left edge and the headphone jack on the top is the power/screen lock button on the top and the volume rocker on the right edge. So you don't get a shutter button for the 5 megapixel camera that sits on the rear. This is another lamentable omission as, if this is a phone meant for rugged pursuits, it would make operating the camera much easier with gloves on. Neither do you get an HDMI socket for connecting the phone up to a TV, though on a handset of this size and type this is fully expected.
Slide the clasp on the backplate to one side and the sealed back plate pops up to reveal a removable 1,650mAh battery. This is a large battery for such a small phone so we've high hopes it will keep the device going for some time. You also get a microSD slot for adding up to 32GB of extra storage, with the phone arriving with a 2GB card installed.