Motorola DEFY Review

Motorola's Android beginning on T-Mobile goes way back to the CLIQ which was launched well over a year ago and was consequently followed with the CLIQ XT last spring – with the CHARM being the most recent addition. In all honesty, those devices lacked the charisma and appeal characteristic to Verizon's line of DROID models. Now that we're heading into the busy fall season, Motorola is looking to grace T-Mobile's lineup with a handset that will encompass a special niche market to strikingly separate it from anything else previously seen. Even though it might pack some features that might appear as novel to some people, the Motorola DEFY MB525 has some interesting items hidden in tow that just might enable it to defy the odds.

The package contains:

  • Motorola DEFY
  • microUSB cable
  • Wall Charger
  • 3.5mm Stereo Headset
  • Start Guide
  • Terms & Conditions
  • 2GB microSD card


Positioned to be a rugged type of handset, it's actually the second Android to follow after the Motorola i1 for Sprint and Boost Mobile. However, it decides to follow a completely alternate path for its construction, as its exterior is mostly defined to resist water as opposed to drops. The two-tone hard plastic shell feels durable enough, but we'd suspect that it would still blemish under the most extreme conditions if it were dropped onto the hard pavement. Instead, it seems more capable of tackling water head on since the soft touch feel gives way to the illusion of it donning some kind of neoprene suit. In fact, it aids it in repelling dirt and smudges which ultimately keeps it looking clean all the time. The minimalistic design might make it seem quaint at first, but the screws outlining the sides of the handset will make you think otherwise. Additionally, it feels rather normal sized (0.53” thick) and in weight (4.16 oz) to make it feel well constructed all around. It sure ain't all that pretty, but when you're trying to beat the elements, it's more than justifiable.

You can compare the Motorola DEFY with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Easily one of the most surprising things to find on this rugged device is an equipped and detailed 3.7” TFT display which packs a resolution of 480 x 854 pixels – just like what we see on the DROID and DROID 2. It has a high enough pixel density to enable even the smallest of text to look sharp while also producing some lush and deep looking colors to make your eyes melt. Furthermore, it offers some great viewing angles to make it even radiate so magnificently even under the direct line of the sun. As for responsiveness, it manages to register all of our presses and swipes to the teeth without much fault. In keeping it safe from the external forces, it employs a gorilla glass display to combat against any baddies that might want to taint its luster.

Fittingly, we find the usual set of capacitive buttons directly below the display – these include the menu, home, back, and search keys. Although they're responsive to the touch, we still had a habit of accidentally pressing them since they're placed very close to the edge of the phone.

Since it's so careful about keeping water from entering its innards, the microUSB port is safely hidden away under a flap that makes sure there is an air tight feel. The same can be said about the 3.5mm headset jack on the top side which is plugged by a plastic cover. As for the volume rocker and dedicated power button, they're slightly raised to allow our fingers to distinctly feel them out while offering some solid feedback when pressed.

In the rear, we find a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash positioned in their usual spot as it also appears to be well protected. Towards the bottom edge of the rear panel, there is a small opening to reveal the area for the speakerphone. Finally, there is a latch which keeps the rear cover placed tightly onto the handset to keep out any debris or water from getting to the inside. Once it's removed, you'll have access to the SIM card slot, battery, and microSD card slot – the latter of which is hidden beneath the battery.

Anticipation began to cloud our minds as we thought about the affects of the handset coming into contact with water – even more if it were completely submerged. Surprisingly, water seemingly bounces off the handset and didn't necessarily stick as we poured some on it. While playing a song, we did notice that the audio is reduced in volume as soon as water came into contact with the earpiece. However, we were thoroughly impressed at how it handles in being completely submerged. Continuing to play a song, we dunked the handset completely under 2 inches of water. To our amazement, you can still faintly hear it dishing out tunes as it laid flat at the bottom – and we left it there for a good minute. Impressively, water dripped away so quickly that it made the handset look as if it were never dipped at all.

Motorola DEFY 360-degree View:



24. jwish unregistered

had this phone for about 2months and love it but it is extremley alow at times and likes to turn its self on and off at least three times in a row randonly alsi it freezes ALOT. and the keypad for texting is terrible to use specially for big fingers.

23. sparkle unregistered

I am disappointed with my Motorola Defy - it is hard to turn on- also the camera takes at least 3 or 4 presses to come on and stay on - it has a habit of going back to the main screen and so has to be pressed again to open up. And Google Speak is driving me nuts - it keeps coming up on the screen when I am trying to take a photo or do something else and has to be cancelled. Battery life is tiny compared to my other phones and coverage is also a disappointment.

22. iLiketoSuckmyOwndick unregistered


21. jdcoke3 unregistered

the call quality was acceptable. just make sure to dry the earpiece when touched with water lol

20. Darshan unregistered

I heard that the Defy has problems connecting to the net thro' wifi.Is it correct??I heard that it needs a G router for solving the problem.Please put some light on this issue(if really it is).

19. BobG unregistered

Agree with roliver. I too my phone back to the provider and got an HTC. The provider did not know about these restrictions and will be advising people from now on. Good luck Motorola.

18. roliver unregistered

Initial opinion was great as it was a compact phone with heaps of features. Sadly the feature promises did not meet what was advertised. The phone can only be enabled with a connection to Motoblur. Which means that if you put in a SIM the phone has to have access to the internet to grant access if you get a Motoblur a/c. This means that you are totally dependent on a Motoblur server somewhere to use your phone. Secondly it claims to be able to sync contacts. What they dont tell you is that you can only sync music, movies and photos directly from your PC. If you want to update contacts you need to save them in .csv form, upload them to a server on the internet then suck them onto your phone. Somehow someone thought this was ok to do. I took it back to my provider and got an HTC Desire which is brilliant.

16. greygolem unregistered

Best handset available in my books. Can hack the real world and still be a real smartphone. Anyone who dropped or got caught in the rain with a smartphone will know this. Anyone with a scratched to hell screen will know this. It also fits pockets well and gives decent screen real estate. It is by and far my favourite design of the smartphones. I'd love to see Motorola follow it up with a Dual Core Defy II with gingerbread on absolutely the same physical specs. Identical, Mr Motorola, Identical. Do not deviate, this is a ripper good design. Oh how sweet that would be.

15. sumit unregistered

will it be supporting flash 10.1 after upgrading to froyo 2.3??? thnx in advance.

17. Schmao

Posts: 365; Member since: Jul 05, 2009

There is no such thing as froyo 2.3. 2.3 is gingerbread. But if it gets 2.2 , which is froyo, then flash wil be supported.

14. venkat vijay unregistered

It is having excellent battery packup according to reviews, and from some sites i came to know that defy is getting 2.2 update by march end 11.

13. vineeth unregistered

It is released in india. its price is 18k I think its battery is very weak and also i dont think it will get a 2.2 update

12. maanojj unregistered

Has it released in india..?

11. sky_hammer unregistered

how will this compare with the upcoming casio android device coming out

10. morrison

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 15, 2011

i originally wanted the milestone 2 but good old t-mobile send out this phone then say they dont stock the milestone 2, anyway i played about with this phone and came to like it, well that was until 8 weeks after purchase the handset only works with calls on loudspeaker, pain in the ass now ive got to travel 15 miles to the shop to take it back to get fixed and in the mean time i'll have a complimentary brick of a phone from t-mob to use until its fixed

9. jseb unregistered

Hello, I've made a video of my defy underwater, let's see :

8. Pouj unregistered

Thanks a lot Phone Arena for this very good review I purchased this handset and I LOVE IT For the update to Android 2.2 on The Motorola Defy, see this link Thanks again Phone Arena

7. ric unregistered

I got this phone for two days. The call quality is very good for both. The review is wrong for weak earpiece - very loud if you set maximum volume.

6. Andrea unregistered

is 480p an hardware "problem" or software "problem" ?

5. Sharon unregistered

I agree that it would be nice to have 2.2 but to tell the truth I prefer 2.1 layout. I need a smaller sized phone and there aren't a lot of those on the market. The only comparable ones I know of are the HTC Gratia (Aria) and the LG Optimus 1? but the screen resolution on the HTC Gratia is only a little better than that of the HTC Wildfire and that is quite poor for displaying text. Having read most of the reviews on the Defy it seems a pretty all round phone and as long as it makes phone calls without dropping signal then its a thumbs up from me. Thanks for your in depth review it was very precise and clear and certainly answered any questions that I had thought of asking!

4. NIteWalker unregistered

This is the first review I've read mentioning poor call quality. Maybe the reviewer got a defective phone? I plan to get this though still. I need a rugged phone for workshop use.

3. KeepNTouch unregistered

I totally disagree with the in call quality of this review. I evaluated the phone in the store and yes I made a call and phone the quality to be very good to excellent.

2. aone unregistered

First of all THX for great review! But still something is bugging me- 3D performance of DEFY. Could you make a video of 3D games and post it? Would be nice to see how it handle games like Asphalt5 or NFS Shift. There was a lot of fuzz about DEFY packing PowerVR GPU and still we don't have any proof of that. Again big THX for review.

1. Thump3rDX17

Posts: 2160; Member since: May 10, 2010

it's a shame it wasn't graced with 2.2 especially since 2.2 is about to have a bargain bin sale with the news of Gingerbread around the corner.
  • Display 3.7 inches
    854 x 480 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP (Single camera)
  • Hardware TI OMAP3630, 0.5GB RAM
  • Storage 2GB, microSDHC
  • Battery 1540 mAh
  • OS Android 2.2

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