Phone Scoop

printed November 1, 2014
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Review: Motorola Defy

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The Motorola Defy is a sleek and -- dare I say -- elegant smartphone, a serious departure from the chunky and rubbery waterproof phones I’ve seen in the past. The phone has a glossy black face, with a matte black bezel and a black battery cover. In between there’s a band of matte white plastic. The phone reminds me of the Lotus Esprit that James Bond drove underwater in “For Your Eyes Only.”

The phone doesn’t shy away from it’s semi-rugged looks, with exposed screws and large, protruding rubber caps covering the ports. But you could easily hand it to an unsuspecting friend and shock them by dropping it into a deep puddle without fear. This is not a phone to use with work gloves on. It isn’t just the capacitive screen and touch buttons that would make gloves a problem. The buttons and port covers all around the phone are sized for normal fingers, not thick gloved hands.

The Defy feels very light in the hand. It’s almost half an ounce lighter than the Moto i1 or the Motorola Cliq XT. It fits easily in a pants pocket, and I even carried it in my front shirt pocket without stretching my collar too much.

The front of the phone looks like any standard Android touchscreen phone. It has the familiar four Android buttons, Menu, Home, Back and Search, in that order, under the screen. On the right you get a volume rocker that does not stick out enough from the phone, nor does the power / screen lock button up top. It’s too bad these buttons are shy, because the port covers stick way out, so it wouldn’t have looked silly to get some larger buttons on this phone.

Up top, you’ll find the 3.5mm headphone port, covered by a rubber plug attached to a thin strip of rubber. It felt sturdy enough to last through constant use. That plug is tough to pry open, which is for the best. On the left side you’ll find a stiff cover for the microUSB port. It pulls up slightly and swings away, and again, it feels sturdy enough to last. Both these ports must be completely sealed to ensure the water resistance of this phone.

As with all water resistant phones, the battery cover on the Defy needs a firm push to secure itself in place. It doesn’t feel tight until you slide the stiff lock at the bottom of the cover, which seals it in place. Once you have the phone sealed, the Defy is water resistant to one meter. You can completely submerge the phone with no trouble. This is not a military-grade seal, but it does offer the best protection against dust and moisture that you’ll find on a consumer device. I sat the phone in a bowl of water for twenty minutes, and it worked perfectly as soon as I removed it.

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