Motorola Defy The Ideal Outdoors Phone? First Impressions

I’ve been, for lack of a better word, loyal to both Nokia and Vodafone over nearly ten years. Actually, lazy would probably be a more fitting adjective in this case. The problems that my last Nokia phones have given me from flaky hardware (rarely lasting 12 months into 24 month contracts) to dodgy softwarare that would sometimes update via the PC and other occasions refuse. The N97 i’ve been using broke down in stages, failing to vibrate after 8 months and slowly degenerating to a failing earpiece and finally to refusing to work if the keypad is opened. Not to mention the software being slow and buggy (even after a lot of clearing out). It was only after i’d pondered this move a while that I remembered that my very first mobile way back when was a motorola flip brick with extractable aerial so it was more of the return of the prodigal son than Judas.

Now when I saw the Motorola Defy, I decided that my prayers were answered. A rugged phone, running Android with good looks and enough power to run what i need. Not only that, but it’s available free on a reasonably low monthly contract. When Voda’s website became flaky and refused to function properly to upgrade me, I’d had enough. On searching I found that both Orange and T-Mobile provide a 3g network in my home town (Voda does not) and allow you to use each other’s networks in order to call and text. This will (according to the maps) allow me to use the phone in much more of Snowdonia, especially Beddgelert that I know has a good Orange signal and Capel Curig for T-Mobile. For £25 a month, I even managed to get unlimited internet into the bargain.

The Motorola Defy is both water resistant and scratch-proof with a screen of toughened Gorilla Glass. There are images online of the phone in a glass, well the pic above is as close as you’ll get from me. I took it on a 14k run today in the rain, it happened to fit into what had previously been useless little pockets on my running top, that are suddenly most useful and propitious pockets. There’s a replaceable battery, by which I mean you can just pop one in without having to unscrew the whole phone – which for long trips is an essential feature for me. An addedd bonus is that the charger is the same as my previous phone, so that’s handy. I’m ready to go all Android – jumping in with both feet – with the phone and Asus Transfomer netbook taking care of all my mobile computing needs. Will they shine or will I suffer? Will updating a site such as this be practical, considering that I do very little technical work beyond cropping and resizing images?

It took me awhile to get started, as you would on any new device and operating system, and after one factory reset as Android Market refused to work it was a breeze to get everything set up. in the 48 hour’s I’ve had it, I’ve put the following esential apps on: Spotify, Acrobat Reader and Viewranger Free that works using Open Street Maps. I’ll put the full version on once I decide wether to put all my maps on the phone or on my soon to arrive netbook. I also went a bit wild on Android Market and decided to test out all the outdoor apps without realising how many there were! So I’ve also got more than 10 running apps on there with a full review of all the apps coming soon…

The biggest disappointment I have, and it’s a biggy, is that iPlayer doesn’t work on it. It’s down to Motorola not pulling their finger out and failing to install the latest version of the Android OS on there (this phone is 2.1, you’d expect 2.2 with 2.3 the ‘latest’). There’s an update due and is only just rolling out in the States after months of delay… Ho hum… Of course, I could always upgrade it myself, but that’s waay too risky just to get some telly. The camera is a bit fiddly as well, not having a shutter button, but that’s small fry as I tend to beleive in using a camera to take proper pics and a mobile only as a last option.

Full review of the Motorola Defy, as in being used under the conditions you’d expect and not just unboxing and taking some pics and thinking, oooo, that’s a nice phone. A couple of trips in Snowdonia, followed by a week long trip in Knoydart should see how this baby performs along with battery life and so on.

Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader.
Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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