The Motorola Defy has a 3.7in LCD screen, with a resolution of 480 x 854 pixels. It's nothing special, with it being a bit on the small side compared to the 4in models that are now so common, and its visually fairly unspectacular with middling viewing angles and colours and overall brightness that are somewhat muted. However, it's perfectly adequate and certainly on par with the majority of handsets you get at this price.
What's more, as well as being finished in tough Gorilla Glass, the actual display is noticeably recessed from the surface of the glass. While this is something that we normally dislike, as it creates noticeable internal reflections and makes the image feel less like it's on the surface you're touching, on a tough device it has the advantage that the screen can flex and take a knock without risk of damaging the display behind.
Below the screen are the four standard Android buttons, which are illuminated and touch sensitive. As ever, we'd prefer if one of these could activate the screen so a stretch to the top edge of the phone to tap the power button wasn't required, but being as this is a smaller phone, it's not a big issue. Otherwise the buttons are responsive and conveniently positioned.
Looking at the phone's interface, the speed upgrade from the Defy to the Defy isn't immediately noticeable (from what we recall of the Defy). There are perhaps fewer moments where the device stutters, and when there is a pause it's that bit shorter, but overall it still feels noticeably slower than current high-end handsets.
The difference wouldn't be so noticeable were the phone running a different OS, such as Windows Phone or iOS but Android (and particularly highly modified versions) tends to need a bit of performance overhead to feel sprightly and that is what this phone lacks.
What's more the Texas Instruments OMAP 3630 chip used on this phone, in combination with the Motorola Android implementation, is actually slower than other 1GHz, Android phones, such as the HTC Rhyme.
To demonstrate this difference in performance we ran a few benchmarks; RightWare BrowserMark, Sun Spider and the 3D test from Antutu. The former two are browser-based benchmarks, so are cross platform and software dependent so give a reflection of how speedy the whole system feels, while the latter is an Android only 3D benchmark app.
SunSpider revealed just how sluggish this phone feels at times with its 6908ms time being nearly double that of the HTC Rhyme and over three times that of dual-core handsets (lower is better). BrowserMark showed the Defy in a better light, though it still trailed the Rhyme with 33192 points compared to 45024. We didn't run Antutu when testing the HTC Rhyme but have a 1.5GHz HTC Sensation XL to hand and it scored 1190 compared to the Defy , which got 706 points. Considering the Sensation XL's faster processor this is actually a respectable score, again demonstrating that the underlying performance is there but that the software implementation is holding back some elements of the interface.
All told, though, despite some reservations, this remains an easy to use handset that gets the job done – just don't expect it to fly.