Review – Motorola Defy (MB525)

Motorola Defy (MB525) – Telstra 3G Network.

Android 2.2.2 with MotoBlur.

Score: 1/5 – Buy an iPhone instead.

This review is not going to be flattering to either Motorola or Android, as I find it difficult to know where the root cause of a problem lies (Android, or the specific implementation as delivered by Motorola) I’m going to lump them together, if I perceive the issue with the OS, I’ll say it as I see it.

This phone is my introduction to Android, chosen because of the proclamations of being “life proof”. I naturally assumed that it would be able to be robust and integrate well into my day to day life. What a mistake to make.

The defy does have some good points, the best feature of this phone is the screen. The pixels are nice and dense rendering crisp, clear, clean text and images. It’s useless in sunlight, especially the unlock screens (grey on grey) but indoors it’s pleasing to be able to read such crisp text in SMS’s and the like. Swype that comes default with the defy is also an awesome piece of software and would have to be the one “feature” of the Defy (actually any Android device) that I would love to take across to the iPhone when I eventually return.

The rubber seals making it life proof are nice when new, but now 2 months into ownership I can see where the one protecting the charge port is going to wear out in about 6 months due to the need to continually feed this phone with power! I use it with runkeeper to track my runs, it’s nice and light and being sealed (at the moment) is comforting when you’re doing a sweaty workout.

The battery life on this phone was awful, I found one of my many googling of my issues that if you tick the USB Debugging option (Settings -> Applications -> Development) that I could improve the battery life from ~18 hours to not quite 2 days. The biggest hog was init/home that seemed to be using vast quantities of CPU resources, the phone would on occasion get quite warm and chew through 20% of the battery for no apparent reason. It appears that ticking this option, causes the issue not to occur and is likely related to a Froyo bug that many other manufacturers have fixed, but Motorola in their wisdom are not fixing for the Defy.

Compatibility with SD Cards (supposedly ones that should work) is sorely lacking. I attempted to update to a Class10 32GB Lexar microSDHC card. This caused all sorts of issues on the defy, which googling indicated have been issues for other manufacturers and the Froyo release of Android, many of those manufacturers have released updates to their OS releases, Motorola have chosen at this stage not to.

I would like to point out that while I would love for Motorola to release a Gingerbread 2.3 (or even a ICS) update to the Defy, I would be equally happy with a fixed version of Froyo that resolves a lot of the issues I am and many other defy users are experiencing.

Other issues I have experienced is applications randomly crashing, aweful pauses for not determinable reason, swype becoming unusable to to what ever the root cause of the init high CPU usage is (this seems to be resolved with the ticking of USB Debugging – which of course now leaves me open to more security risks). I would not at this moment in time recommend an Android based phone.

I could potentially see myself being happy with a Google Nexus One, S or Prime, given that Google support their older phones with software updates and refreshes. They don’t install vast quantities of bloat on it. I would not recommend any other Android based phone, and will purchase outright an iPhone 4S to replace this device of hatred and pain.

If you’re tempted by a Motorola phone – I would recommend that you flee, they may be pleasantly designed, have some cool features, but their after sales support is non existent.

Telstra : You also have a lot to answer for – I’d like some support and back up here please getting my issue resolved. I would like you to also enable people to get rid of all the links and other apps that you put on the phone’s image. I like a nice clean neat view of my system. I had a look at the apps you put on there. Most don’t interest me, give me a way to clean them up please, it’s my phone after all.

The phone gets a 1/5 because it’s got decent reception and clear voice calls. The just plain awfulness to use and odd behaviour prevent it getting any more than that. I actually dread making an outbound call, or creating an SMS, it’s just painful to do. Receiving a call and responding to an SMS is easy to do and once you’re into the right app it does work.

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