Also on the back is a 5 megapixel camera with an accompanying LED flash. There isn’t, however, a shutter button so you have to use onscreen controls. Performance of the camera is okay with it loading in a couple of seconds, focussing near instantly in good lighting, and managing a couple of shots every three seconds. Results are okay with a reasonable amount of detail and decent colour reproduction but as always we’re really only talking about shots that would be acceptable for having a laugh with friends. Also, in dark conditions, despite the flash, things can get pretty blurry and high ISO noise is very noticeable. Also, as always, we’d prefer to see a Xenon flash.
Despite only having VGA video you get a surprisingly watchable clip from the video camera on this phone. Unlike some Android phones, the exposure adjusts nice and smoothly and the footage is generally more than watchable.
When it comes to the Defy’s software, we had been lead to believe Motorola was ditching the customised version of Android it called MotoBlur. However, with this phone it’s back with a bang.
With Android 2.3 only just released, you won’t be surprised to hear this phone isn’t running it, however you may be a bit miffed to learn it’s in fact only running a modified version of 2.1. This means you miss out on an improved UI (though of course Motorola has modified this anyway), Exchange support with remote wipe and calendars, better camera and gallery apps, and improved performance, all of which come with 2.2. However, while all these tweaks do add up, the Defy still feels very capable and reasonably speedy too.
Under the bonnet there’s an 800Mhz TI OMAP3610 processor and 512MB RAM, neither of which are class leading components but nonetheless this phone feels responsive. It’s certainly not up there with the fastest phones with just a slight hint of stutter as you navigate between pages on the homescreen or scroll through lists, but by using a minimum of widgets (as I prefer to) it’s more than enough to get by.
As to those modifications, Motorola has changed the default shortcuts at the bottom of the screen with the Dialler, App list, and Contacts available from left to right. An annoyingly fixed number of homescreens are on offer with three either side of the default central screen. Each screen is clearly marked by an increasing number of dots from the centre outwards.
Motorola has developed a whole host of widgets to fill your homescreens with. Most notable are the simple slider switches for quickly turning On/Off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and Airplane mode, and the social networking panel. The latter provides a panel that fills about a quarter of the screen and shows a live stream from your social networks. The concept is nothing new but it’s nicely done and allows you to actually interact with the information by replying to updates or posting on your friends’ wall. You can also add multiple panels, each with a different social network, or just use a single panel for all your networks.
Motorola has also added the Swipe keyboard as the default option. This one finger input method allows you to slide one finger around the keyboard in a single motion per word, vaguely aiming at the right letters that make up the word. The software then does the rest, interpreting what you were trying to spell out, and adding the word (along with a following space) for you. It’s an amazing input method that those who find onscreen keyboards a bit fiddly will greatly appreciate. If you prefer a standard qwerty keyboard the one on offer here is also pretty good, if a bit more prone to mistakes than the best out there.