Motorola Defy (2021) Review

Motorola Defy (2021) Review

an introduction

After the touch screen revolution has swept the mobile world, rugged phones are few and far between. When they do popups, they are usually on the inside entry level. Save the likes of the insanely expensive Samsung Galaxy S20 Tactical Edition and its limited availability of its active predecessors that you’ll inevitably have to deal with disappointing performance if you want added durability.

Which left a legitimate, even if not huge, niche unserved. These will be the guys looking for a phone you don’t hate using, but that also won’t mind the occasional dip in water, mud or sand, a few drops here and some more inclement weather. Motorola claims to finally have a device of its own as Defy 2021 kicks off.

The Defy is a moderately priced phone with a good if unremarkable spec sheet. It won’t survive a nuclear explosion, but it can take its fair share of abuse and will be readily available to the general public.

Motorola Defy (2021) specs at a glance:

  • Body: 169.8 x 78.2 x 10.9 mm, 232 grams; Glass front (Gorilla Victus Glass), plastic frame, plastic back; IP68 dust / water resistance (up to 1.5 meters for 35 minutes), concrete drop resistance to 1.8 meters, MIL-SPEC 810H compliant.
  • Screen: 6.50 inch IPS LCD, resolution 720 x 1600 pixels, aspect ratio 20: 9, 270 ppi.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SM6115 Snapdragon 662 (11nm): Octa-core (4×2.0 GHz Kryo 260 Gold & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 260 Silver); Adreno 610.
  • Memory: 64 GB RAM 4 GB; microSDXC (uses a shared SIM slot).
  • Operating System/Software: Android 10.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main) : 48 MP, f / 1.8, PDAF; Macro : 2 MP, f/2.4, AF; Depth : 2 MP, f / 2.4.
  • Front camera: 8 MP, f / 2.2, 1.12 μm.
  • Video capture: Rear camera : 1080p at 30fps; Front camera : 1080p @ 30fps.
  • Battery: 5000 mAh. 20W fast charging.
  • misc: fingerprint reader (rear); NFC; FM radio; 3.5 mm jack.

Again, this isn’t quite a high-end spec sheet even in the mid-range, but it doesn’t seem to come from 2017 and that’s a hit when it comes to rugged phones. Snapdragon 662 is a good 11nm chip, with features like Bluetooth 5.1, dual-band Wi-Fi ac and NFC. The 4GB of RAM and Android 10 are pretty much the same – not the best this kind of money can buy, but by no means a huge disappointment. The 48MP main camera is Quad-Bayer and 20W charging is more than half way through, while the 5,000mAh battery is actually among the biggest out there.

On the rugged side of things, you get IP68 dust/water resistance (up to 1.5m for 35 minutes), drop resistance to concrete up to 1.8m and MIL-SPEC 810H compliance. This is enabled by the Motorola Defy 2021’s thick plastic casing — the kind of material you might find on a power tool handle. Will it scratch and scuff? Sure, but it’s meant to put up with that, with a wide grip, easy maintenance (it’s supposed to clean up with soap and water) and without adding a lot of weight to the phone. Moreover, the front is covered with Gorilla Glass Victus, which is just as good as the currently protective glass surfaces.

Defy 2021 was actually built by Bullitt Group Ltd for Motorola. The British-based company specializes in rugged phones, and has been doing similar projects for many years now. It’s responsible for CAT, as well as Land Rover phones, so it seems like a good option for handling phone hardware as Motorola takes care of the software.


The Motorola Defy ships in a fairly standard cardboard box. You can get a USB Type A to Type C cable that plugs into the MOTOROLA MC-202 20W charger. This device uses Quick Charge 3.0 and is rated for output 5V@3A, 10V@2A and 12V@1.67A.

You also get an incredibly thick and durable rope in the box. It’s soft to the touch yet flexible – great to hold on to gloves and a little flexible. Its weakest point is probably the thin part you’re supposed to attach to the Motorola Defy’s custom lanyard slot, but even that looks like it could last a good while.


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