It’s What’s on the Outside that Counts

The Motorola Defy represents the resurrection of an 11-year-old ruggedised telephone sub-brand. 2010’s unique Defy used to be notable for its strangely demanding external, and this 2021 reboot remains true to that heritage.

Having partnered with British tough-phone specialist Bullitt Crew, the new Motorola Defy wraps entry-level smartphone parts in a military-spec (MIL-STD–810G) casing. With a 720p LCD show, a Snapdragon 662 CPU, a 48Mp primary digicam, and a 5000mAh battery, that is extra of a blunt software than a pointy software.

This type of specification would possibly appear slightly dear at £279/$279, however authentic smartphone toughness doesn’t come reasonable.

I’m going to be evaluating the Motorola Defy with some non-rugged choices at more than a few issues for context, however they’re now not actually the pageant right here. For a definite form of individual operating or taking part in in excessive bodily environments, the Motorola Defy supplies a extremely available model of ruggedness.

Design & Construct

  • 10.9mm
  • 232g
  • Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) casing

Whilst 2015’s Moto X Power and 2017’s Moto Z2 Power tried to include toughness into what have been, at the time, fashionable smartphone designs, the Motorola Defy makes no such concessions. It is a telephone that appears as demanding because it claims to be, with now not such a lot as a nod to the curvy-screened hole-punch camera-bearing brigade.

At 169.8 x 78.2mm, the Defy’s footprint is taller and wider than even supersized flagship telephones like the Sony Xperia 1 III, and at 232g it’s even heavier than the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely. It’s approach thicker than another common telephone you’re prone to come throughout at 10.9mm.

And sure, that latter size pertains to the frame moderately than the digicam module, which has if truth be told been recessed quite for higher coverage. If there’s one design characteristic that we’d like to peer carried over to extra mainstream telephones, it would properly be that.

Motorola Defy thermoplastic polyurethane

The true coverage comes from a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) outer casing, which is a subject matter that mainly fills the hole between rubbers and plastics. It’s robust, versatile, and completely now not horny to take a look at in anyway.

Motorola and Bullitt Crew has actually leaned into this rugged aesthetic, with pronounced rubberised ridges that support grip. They’ve additionally incorporated a heavy-duty lanyard, with corresponding integrated nook mounting, for added drop prevention. It will also be wiped clean with cleaning soap or sanitiser.

Different noteworthy exterior components come with a three.5mm headphone jack on the peak edge, and an old school however dependable rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. There’s additionally a programmable button on the top-right edge, which may also be set to a walkie-talkie-like ‘push to speak’ serve as the use of Motorola’s Mototalk app.

Rugged options

  • MIL-STD–810G qualified
  • Drop-proof to at least one.8m
  • IP68

The Motorola Defy actually can rise up to a clattering. Although it’s mentioned to be drop-proof as much as 1.8m, I used to be inspired to drop the telephone from 1.2m as a part of my checking out procedure. That is supposed to duplicate a drop from a motorbike, but it surely’s additionally kind of the peak the general public will dangle their telephone at when strolling about.

Motorola Defy lanyard

I did what used to be have been informed (albeit with an almighty involuntary wince) onto a concrete slab. Positive sufficient, the telephone emerged in complete operating order, with just a mild scuff on the load-bearing nook to turn for it.

I needn’t have nervous, given that the Motorola Defy has attained a US navy MIL-STD–810G specification. This comes to being put via a chain of torture assessments that comes to publicity to thermal shocks, low and high temperature extremes, tumble and vibration assessments, in addition to salt mist stipulations.

It’s now not simply the out of doors of the telephone that’s demanding both. Motorola and Bullitt have grew to become their aim to the telephone’s modest internals as properly, with a structurally strengthened published circuit board (PCB) lending progressed stress.

It more than likely doesn’t want pronouncing given all of the above, however the Defy may be IP68 qualified. It’s absolutely mud, sand and water-resistant as much as 1.5m for 35mins. No longer an extraordinary spec for a smartphone nowadays, however unquestionably unusual in a sub-£500 tool.

Plus, the Defy is going additional. I used to be inspired to matter the telephone to repeated spills of 58°C brewed espresso. Slightly than waste just right espresso, I boiled a temperature-controlled kettle to round 60°C and poured a number of prolonged glugs of the scorching liquid onto the telephone, each back and front. After a handy guide a rough towelling off, the quite toasty Defy labored completely.

Motorola Defy rugged case

Certainly, working at excessive temperatures is any other of the Defy’s giant claims. Motorola says that it will probably face up to a variance of between -25°C (–13°F) and 75°C (167°F) for as much as half-hour, which is easily out of doors standard smartphone parameters.

Display screen

  • 6.5in, LCD
  • 720p HD+
  • Corning Gorilla Glass Victus

As somebody who’s ever dropped a telephone ahead of will know, it’s the show that’s the vulnerable level. To that finish, the Defy is fronted via 0.7mm-thick Corning Gorilla Glass Victus which, like the digicam module, has been recessed for additonal coverage.

Simply to reiterate, there wasn’t such a lot as a scratch on the display screen after I intentionally despatched the Defy for a tumble onto concrete. It is a decidedly high-grade element.

There’s a reason why I’ve endured the ruggedised chat into the show phase… There actually isn’t all that a lot to mention for it another way.

You’re taking a look at a 6.5in LCD show. That’s if truth be told relatively giant for a rugged telephone, however nobody’s going to get eager about a fundamental LCD panel when there are £300 telephones with OLED monitors in the market. This one doesn’t get particularly vivid both, which is just a little of a bind in a telephone that’s supposedly provided for an open air existence.

However the actual kicker is a solution of simply 1600×720, aka 720p, aka HD+. I’ve complained about one of these solution in sub-£200 telephones ahead of, so bet what I take into consideration it in a £280 handset. Each the CAT S62 Professional and the Doogee S88 Professional cross Complete HD+, so it’s now not a rugged telephone factor both.

Motorola Defy screen

Including to this low-end vibe is a bog-standard 60Hz refresh price. Once more, it isn’t unusual to seek out 90- or 120Hz shows in reasonable telephones, despite the fact that this isn’t a spec that you’d essentially go along with strengthened handsets like this.

In all this, I would like to keep in mind that the reasonable use case state of affairs for the Motorola Defy goes to range very much to that of, say, the Poco F3 with its FHD+ 120Hz AMOLED. The Defy is obviously supposed for energetic varieties who want so that you can do the fundamentals in inhospitable environments, so there isn’t prone to be numerous Netflix-and-chilling going on right here.

To that finish, the show does its task slightly properly. Whilst movement feels slightly laggy, colors are slightly correct, and the loss of pixels isn’t readily obvious when navigating via house monitors and menus. Load up a internet web page or open Google Footage, alternatively, and the ones thumbnail photographs and smaller fonts are an actual eyesore.

Specifications & Efficiency

  • Snapdragon 662
  • 4/64GB
  • Restricted to 4G

At the possibility of sounding reductive, it feels suspiciously like Motorola passed Bullitt Crew the growing older Moto G9 Play and informed it to construct a tank out of it, like some roughly smartphone Robocop.

I say this as a result of the core specifications are equivalent. I’ve mentioned the show, and I’ll cross on to discuss the digicam and battery, however the Defy’s Snapdragon 662 CPU and 4GB RAM allotment also are precisely the similar.

Unsurprisingly, this results in entry-level efficiency throughout the board. A mean Geekbench 5 multi-core rating of 1401 falls properly underneath the in a similar way priced Realme 8 Professional and the OnePlus Nord CE 5G.

It’s a equivalent tale in the GPU stakes, with GFX Bench take a look at rankings that quantity to between 3 and 11 frames according to 2nd in the back of either one of the ones aforementioned opponents. See all the rankings underneath.

Humble processors are a typical incidence in the rugged telephone sphere, despite the fact that. The aforementioned CAT S62 Professional lays on a fair older and slower model of this chip in the Snapdragon 660, whilst the Doogee S88 Professional is going with the a lot much less mainstream Mediatek Helio P70.

Gaming on the Defy isn’t a whole write-off, but it surely’s nonetheless one in all the poorest performers you’re prone to to find for this kind of cash. PUBG defaults to Easy/Medium Body Fee, which is sort of the naked minimal environment, and it runs simply adequately at this environment. You’ll get a greater gaming revel in out of the £200 Poco X3 NFC, which says all of it actually.

Whilst normal efficiency is completely advantageous, you will have to be beneath no phantasm the place the finances has been spent. It may well be demanding, however like its rugged brothers, the Defy ain’t so good or rapid on its toes.

64GB of inner garage appears greater than slightly weedy, too, given that rugged and finances opponents alike have began providing 128GB. You do get a microSDXC card slot, alternatively.

In any case, there’s no 5G connectivity right here. In the case of {hardware} compromises, that is each the least hard and the least sudden, as including such community readiness takes up a fair share of an affordable telephone’s {hardware} finances.


  • 48Mp primary sensor
  • 2Mp intensity & macro
  • 8Mp selfie digicam

I am not lifeless positive on each closing element used, however the Motorola Defy’s digicam additionally appears suspiciously very similar to the Moto G9 Play’s.

It’s led via a slightly competent 48Mp large sensor, whilst calling the two back-up sensors ‘bare-bones’ could be an underestimation. There’s no ultra-wide and no telephoto sensor right here, just a pair of 2Mp sensors protecting macro and intensity tasks so do not get too thinking about the glance of a triple digicam array.

Motorola Defy camera

That 48Mp primary digicam isn’t horrible, however you will have anticipated extra for the cash and that pixel depend. I discovered that I used to be in a position to take slightly even-toned pictures in just right herbal lights. And even if stepping right into a well-lit cafe at round lunchtime, the shot seemed slightly balanced. Simply don’t cross pixel peeping, otherwise you’ll discover a global of fuzziness.

Evening pictures are extremely grainy and vague, with Motorola opting to artificially brighten at the expense of readability. Those are the roughly low mild pictures that promise a lot with apparently on-point thumbnails, best to will let you down badly whilst you blow them up on a bigger show.

Nonetheless, for those who’re the roughly one who principally perspectives their pictures again on the tool you took them on, they’ll glance beautiful just right on that 720p display screen.

Motorola Defy camera test

The remainder of the Motorola Defy’s digicam choices are a write-off. 2Mp macro pictures merely are hardly ever value the effort in our collective Tech Guide revel in, and that’s unquestionably true right here. Simply getting as shut as you’ll be able to (which remains to be slightly shut) with the primary sensor yields a lot richer pictures.

In the meantime, the 8Mp selfie digicam reduces faces to a blurry mush, and the selfie portrait mode eats into edge main points with a peculiar smudged halo impact.

Battery Lifestyles & Charging

  • 5000mAh battery
  • 2-day existence
  • 20W charging

There’s little need being as demanding as a tank if you’ll be able to’t get via the day on a unmarried price. Fortunately, whilst the Motorola Defy’s 5000mAh battery doesn’t hit Moto G9 Energy ranges of splendour, it’s greater than as much as the task.

It’s just right for a protracted day of heavy utilization with various room to spare, and there’s authentic attainable for a complete two days for those who’re now not hitting the media too arduous. And if anything else I’ve mentioned to this point has registered, you’ll respect that you actually shouldn’t be.

The PCMark battery take a look at yielded a very good rating of 17 hours 27 mins. To put that in context, the Poco F3 scored 14 hours 24 mins, and the Realme 8 Professional scored 12 hours 51 mins. After all, with a dim 720p show, the Defy used to be at all times prone to be an influence sipper moderately than sucker.

Motorola Defy

Charging is relatively gradual from its 20W charger. We’re now not taking a look at disgracefully gradual speeds for the cash, as with the Sony Xperia 10 III’s snail-like 7.5W energy brick. However 0 to 32% in half-hour isn’t specifically spectacular both.

The usage of the ones non-rugged contemporaries for comparability as soon as once more, the Poco F3 gets you to 72% in the similar time, whilst the Realme 8 Professional will cross all the approach as much as 82%.


  • Inventory Android 10
  • Moto apps
  • Promise of Android 11 in 2021

The Motorola Defy launches with Android 10, which feels just a little bizarre when stablemates equivalent to the Moto G50 and Moto G10 are delivery with Android 11.

Sure, the Defy additionally ships with a assured improve to Android 11 in Autumn 2021, in addition to two years of safety patches. But it surely’s any other signal that beneath its demanding external, the Defy lags properly in the back of the fashionable mainstream.

Motorola Defy software

On the plus facet, this can be a just about unadulterated take on Google’s working machine. It’s the Motorola strategy to depart properly by myself, aside from a handful of considerate additions stashed away in the Moto app.

Moto Movements are specifically helpful, enabling you to do such things as karate cutting to turn on the flashlight, or double-twisting as well up the digicam. Another way, this can be a Google-led revel in, with inventory Google apps taking on all the core purposes, and no unnecessary duplication.

Value & Availability

The Motorola Defy is going on sale in Ecu and Latin American markets over the coming months. It’s indexed as ‘coming quickly’ on the legit Motorola Rugged website online.

It’s priced at £279/€329, which feels like some huge cash given the Defy’s inner similarity to the £160 Moto G9 Play. On the other hand, it’s if truth be told relatively reasonable for a rugged telephone.

Our present top-pick inside this specialist class is the CAT S62 Professional (additionally made via Bullitt Crew), and it prices £599 while providing inferior efficiency, albeit with a awesome characteristic set somewhere else. Our peak price decide, the Doogee S88 Professional, prices about the similar as the Defy, however has its personal inner obstacles.

Test our chart of the best possible rugged telephones for all the choices.

That is the place you actually want to read about your wishes and priorities. Until you’re spending a great deal of time in a bodily difficult surroundings, the Motorola Defy – or any rugged telephone for that subject – more than likely isn’t for you.

For round £300 you’ll be able to purchase the good Poco F3 with its a long way awesome show, efficiency, and digicam. Or the OnePlus Nord CE 5G, which provides 5G to the combine. After all, neither of the ones telephones would stroll clear of a tumble down concrete stairs with slightly a scratch to turn for it.

Motorola Defy phone


The Motorola Defy is one in all the maximum approachable rugged telephones we’ve ever used. Its £279 ticket is reassuringly low, but it will probably rise up to extremes of have an effect on, temperature, and immersion that few telephones can fit.

Battery existence may be exemplary, and Motorola’s mild take on Android is particularly welcome in one of these no-nonsense package deal.

On the other hand, serious compromises had been made to hit that mix of value and ruggedness. The Motorola Defy is undeniably gradual, and its 720p LCD show is a low-res sadness. The digicam machine, in the meantime, is terribly restricted.

For those who’re anyone who needs the final toughness with the minimal of fuss at the lowest imaginable value, you’ll fight to do higher than the relaunched Motorola Defy.


Motorola Defy: Specifications

  • Android 10
  • 6.5in, HD+, LCD, 60Hz, flat show
  • Rear-mounted fingerprint sensor
  • Gorilla Glass Victus (entrance)
  • MIL SPEC 810H, IP68, TPU outer casing, strengthened PCB
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 SoC
  • 64GB garage, microSDXC slot
  • 48Mp, f/1.8 primary digicam
  • 2Mp, f/2.4 macro digicam
  • 2Mp, f/2.4 intensity digicam
  • As much as 1080p @ 30fps rear video
  • 8Mp, f/2.2 front-facing digicam
  • Mono speaker
  • Twin-SIM
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 5000mAh battery
  • 20W rapid charging
  • 169.8 x 78.2 x 10.9mm
  • 232g
  • Release colors: Black & Cast Inexperienced

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