The Motorola Defy surprised us more than we'd expected it to. We'd had a few issues with the Dext, the original MotoBlur handset so that even though we liked it, it didn't sparkle.
The Defy is being presented as a tough handset with good social media links, and we agree on both counts. While the hardware design isn't enough to generate gasps of awe it is solid, and the Gorilla Glass screen will come into its own in time rather than on day one, as the handset gets dropped and knocked around.
But it is the media capability that shines out, with the connected music player an unsung hero.
That all isn't to say we don't have issues, of course. But Motorola is getting back to something like its sparkling past form with the Defy.
The screen is superb. It's very responsive to the finger and the resolution nice and high so that video and web browsing in particular are a pleasure.
MotoBlur works really well after you've spent the time linking contacts. Though we do think some people might find it a case of overkill.
The media player is wonderful. We love the connected features, and adore the idea of bundling online radio and FM radio, music playback, lyric search and video search for tunes currently playing in one place. It's a really clever of piece of joined-up multimedia thinking.
The battery life seems better than we'd have expected for such a connected handset, though it's getting very difficult to be definitive about this because different users will use their phones in different ways. For us, though, a day's average usage was not a problem.
Android 2.1 should not have been used. Android 2.2 should have. It's that simple.
There's no smart dialler. For such a social networking-aware handset, this seems odd. Yes, it's easy to drop into contacts and find people, but missing out the smart dialler seems like a simple oversight.
The camera is really not up to scratch. We've seen much better five-megapixel cameras, and for video shooting to be stuck at 640 x 480 max resolution feels very out of touch.
There isn't enough on board memory, and the microSD card sits under the battery where it is not easy to get at.
It is hard not to like the Motorola Defy, but not necessarily for the reasons Motorola wants us to. MotoBlur's good, and we like the Twitter and Facebook integration, and we're happy to be able to bring contacts in from these – and other – sources.
But having to manually link lots of contacts is a real pain, and for some users the range of ways they can get into social networking data might just be too overwhelming.
We're pleased about the rugged nature of the phone too. The covered headset slot probably won't stay covered for long, because you'll remove the rubber protector in frustration fairly quickly (although you compromise the dust and water resistance).
But the water proof nature and tough screen are welcome features and the general build doesn't suffer for them.
However, in the end it's the music and video capability that really wowed us. The ease with which various elements link together, the cleverness of joining FM and internet radio via a single screen, easy tune lookup, lyrics provision, and the ability to look for videos of the current track while it's playing are all great stuff.
Still, we'd like a better camera, and we really wanted the microSD card slot to be more accessible and for there to be more on-board storage.