Normally when someone says a phone is rugged you're put in mind of something under-featured and bulky, and brightly coloured too. Motorola, however, has taken a different tack, modestly improving the resilience of a fairly typical touchscreen smarphone, making it water-resistant and more able to cope with the bumps and knocks of everyday life. The result is the Motorola Defy.
Available for £260 SIM free, it's modestly priced as well, so if you're the practical type that has avoided taking the smartphone plunge for fear of ending up with a £500 paperweight, this could be the perfect phone for you.
While the Motorola Defy doesn't totally give up its styling to the gods of ruggedness, there are a few nods here and there. Torx-head bolts clamp the side sections to the rest of the chassis while secure rubber flaps cover the headphone and microUSB sockets. Otherwise, it's a fairly generic looking Android smartphone with matt black plastic back and black glossy screen surround.
The front looks great thanks to the single piece of glass that fills it and gives it a neat, uncluttered look. The display fills a large portion of this glass panel and below it sit four touch sensitive buttons (Menu, Home, Back, Search). The screen is made from Gorilla Glass, which is tougher than your average glass so should well resist scratches. Overall though, we're not entirely sure how well this phone would survive being dropped onto a hard surface. We dropped it a few times onto carpet and it was absolutely fine but we rather suspect a tarmac or concrete floor would result in the odd chip to the corner of the screen. At least it won't be the weight of the thing that pulls it out of your hand as at only 119g it's decidedly light for this type of phone.
The display itself is an LCD panel measuring 3.7in that has a resolution of 480 x 854 pixels. It's wonderfully sharp and detailed and produces pretty good colours, though it can't quite match the saturation and contrast of AMOLED displays. Viewing angles are also very good, though again not quite up there with AMOLED alternatives.
As to its ability to keep out water, we held the phone under a running tap for a few minutes and it survived intact. Again, we're sure if you really tortured it by grinding it into boggy ground for 20 minutes, it would probably look a bit worse for wear, with that mud working its way into the earpiece and such like. However, should it fall out a pocket while you're at a muddy festival or careening around some bike trails, it will be good as new after a quick run under the cold (or hot) tap.
To keep out water, as well as the plugs for the external sockets, the back plate is held on considerably more securely than your typical phone. Slide the reassuringly stiff lock across and the plate pings upwards, revealing that it has a pronounced curve to it. This curve forces the back plate down onto the rubber lips that run round the edge of the battery compartment, wherein access is gained to the 1500mAh battery, SIM slot and microSD slot, which comes occupied by a 2GB card.