Here, we review one of the very few smartphones that boldly claims any degree of weather protection. What’s more, specially toughened glass, a Kevlar body and plastic-plugged sockets mean bulky hardcases aren’t required with the Motorola Defy – definitely good news for cyclists.
From a cyclist’s point of view, the Defy’s big selling point is its self-proclaimed scratch and water resistance. While the word ‘resistance’ is open to a host of interpretations, we found little evidence of scratching on the patented Gorilla Glass screen.
The phone survived outings in several light showers, though the touchscreen doesn’t work quite so well when damp. The rubber plugs on the charging and earphone sockets were useful, and the Kevlar casing showed no damage at all after several drops onto hard surfaces.
In prolonged, heavier wet weather, a dry bag might be handy insurance, and would certainly make the touchscreen easier to use.
While lower resolution than that of the iPhone 4, the Defy’s display is still readable in bright sunshine, albeit with a little effort. In size terms though, the Defy’s display just pips the iPhone’s, enabling you to cram in that little bit more of a map.
The Defy is fully functional in BioLogic’s Dry Bag for smartphones
On modern, GPS-enabled smartphones, it’s now standard to find a system known as A-GPS (‘A’ for Assisted). This means phone signal is used to help get a positional fix if GPS signal is weak.
This usually means impressive performance – the Defy got a quick fix outside, only marginally more slowly than the iPhone, though it took a little longer indoors and wasn’t always able to get an accurate location there, whereas the iPhone was.
Once you get used to which commands are on-screen and which use one of the four touch-sensitive buttons at the bottom of the phone, the Defy is fairly simple to use. And if you’re a fan of Google’s varoius services, Android phones interface with them all easily.
Battery life with GPS
GPS battery life was roughly on a par with the iPhone 4, at about five hours. The big plus point, though, is that you can swap in spare batteries. The Defy comes with a 1500mAh battery but we found non-Motorola ones up to 3500mAh, and the slightly upgraded Defy+ has a 1700mAh battery.
With battery replacement an option, on-bike charging seems unnecessary. Charging from empty to full from the mains took a little over two hours for the factory-installed battery.
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It should be noted that, while we’ve given the recommended retail prices for the Motorola Defy, costs can vary hugely depending on online discounts and service provider contracts.