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Motorola Defy (2021) review

Introduction

After the touchscreen revolution swept the mobile world rugged phones are few and far between. When they do pop-up they typically have decidedly entry-level internals. Save for the likes of crazy expensive Samsung Galaxy S20 Tactical Edition and its limited availability Active predecessors you would inevitably have to deal with disappointing perforamnce if you wanted extra durability.

Which left a legitimate, even if not huge niche unserved. That would be people looking for a phone that you wouldn’t hate using, but that also would mind wouldn’t mind the occasional dip in water, mud or sand, a few drops here and some more extreme weather. Motorola claims to finally have a device for them as the Defy 2021 rolls in.

The Defy is a moderately priced phone with a decent if unspectacular specs sheet. It won’t survive a nuclear blast, but it can take a fair share of abuse and it will be easily available to the general public.

Motorola Defy (2021) specs at a glance:

  • Body: 169.8×78.2×10.9mm, 232g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus), plastic frame, plastic back; IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 35 mins), Drop-to-concrete resistance from up to 1.8 m, MIL-SPEC 810H compliant.
  • Display: 6.50″ IPS LCD, 720x1600px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 270ppi.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SM6115 Snapdragon 662 (11 nm): Octa-core (4×2.0 GHz Kryo 260 Gold & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 260 Silver); Adreno 610.
  • Memory: 64GB 4GB RAM; microSDXC (uses shared SIM slot).
  • OS/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, 1.12µm.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 1080p@30fps; Front camera: 1080p@30fps.
  • Battery: 5000mAh; Fast charging 20W.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (rear-mounted); NFC; FM radio; 3.5mm jack.

Again this is not exactly a cutting edge specs sheet even in the mid-range, but it doesn’t look like it comes from 2017 and that’s a success when it comes to rugged phones. The Snapdragon 662 is an okay 11nm chip, with features like Bluetooth 5.1, dual-band Wi-Fi ac and NFC. Its 4GB of RAM and Android 10 OS are much the same – not the best that kind of money can buy, but by no means a terrible disappointment. The 48MP Quad-Bayer main camera and 20W charging are more middle-of-the-road items, while the 5,000 mAh battery is actually among the bigger ones out there.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

On the rugged side of things, you get IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 35 mins), drop-to-concrete resistance from up to 1.8 m and MIL-SPEC 810H compliance. That’s enabled by the Motorola Defy 2021’s thick plastic shell – the kind of material you might find on the handle of a power tool. Will it scratch and scuff? Definitely, but it is meant to withstand that, all while offering ample grip, easy maintenance (it is meant to be cleaned with water and soap) and without adding too much weight to the phone. To top it all off – the front is covered with Gorilla Glass Victus, which is as good as protective glass surfaces currently get.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

The Defy 2021 is actually created by Bullitt Group Ltd for Motorola. The British-based company specializes in rugged phones, doing similar projects for many years now. It is responsible for CAT, as well as Land Rover phones so it seems like a good choice to handle the hardware of the phone as Motorola takes care of the software.

Unboxing

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

Motorola Defy (2021) review

You also get an incredibly thick and sturdy lanyard in the box. It has a soft, yet grippy texture to it – great for grabbing with gloves on and is slightly elastic. Its weakest point is probably the thin bit you are meant to hook onto the dedicated lanyard hole on the Motorola Defy, but even that looks like it can last a good while.

Design and materials

The Motorola Defy has a stand-out design, which is to be expected as there aren’t too many rugged phones around. Measuring 169.8 x 78.2 x 10.9 mm, it is chuckier than most smartphones out there but far from a brick or unwieldy. Its wide flat sides and extensive texturing make for a great, solid grip. It tips the scale at 232 grams – far from light but manageable.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

The Motorola Defy feels solid and dense. The textured back side is hard, yet slightly rubbery, fitting the intended use perfectly. Even though it has an “industrial” look to it, which is far from universally appealing, the back still manages to combine style with function quite successfully. Having grooves in the perpendicular directions is a good idea in terms of handling, while also offering a bit of “flare” to the surface. The lower right corner and its smooth finish provide a nifty design accent, as well. In fact, this is the only bit of the entire body that can be had in a different color if you go for the Forged Green color variant. Our unit is the plain Black one. The entire plastic shell is made to be washable with soap and disinfectants too, so don’t worry about dirt getting in the grooves.

Color options - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Color options - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Color options

The camera island on the back is circled by a small raised edge to protect it in case of drops, but also serves as a design accent.

We must also mention the massive lanyard hole on the bottom right corner of the Motorola Defy. It is nothing short of a blast from the past, but we can’t help but appreciate the extra thought, though, since this is the kind of extra leverage and convenience that can really come in handy while working out in the field.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

The front of the Motorola Defy looks quite outdated with its classical top and huge by modern standards bottom bezel. Again, part of the reason was probably achieving extra durability as slimmer bezels mean the front glass is easier to crack, but of course a larger part was just keeping the budget in check. On the other hand having the bottom of the display slightly higher up helps a bit with usability as you need to stretch you thumb less to reach the edge.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

Regardless of whether you appreciate the extra ergonomics, we feel like the bezels could have been utilized better. For instance, there is more than enough room to fit a stereo speaker setup on there. And while that might not fit in the budget or conceptually on the Defy, a notification LED would have been right down its alley without affecting the price significantly. The Motorola Defy has sort of a motion-triggered standby display, but there’s no reason while it couldn’t coexist with a notification LED.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

An even bigger gripe, however, has to be the fact that the selfie is mounted on a notch and cuts into the display. There is ample room for it in the full top bezel without disturbing the panel. At least the Gorilla Glass Victus surface on the front of the Defy feels great. Its oleophobic coating could be better, but other than that, we can’t complain.

Just to reiterate the durability up on offer with the Defy – you get IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 35 mins, thanks to a double-sealed housing). Then there’s includes salt mist resistant, though you should definitely wash off the salt as soon as possible, especially from the USB and 3.5mm ports. Drops to concrete resistance from up to 1.8 m are also not a problem and the phone can function from -30 to +75 degrees C for up to 30 minutes, as well as make it through category 4 vibrations.

Controls

The Motorola Defy has all of the basic controls covered and then some. Let’s go for a quick tour. The left-hand side is mostly empty, save for a SIM card tray. The hybrid tray can either house two nano-SIM cards or a nano-SIM and a microSD. There is a thick red gasket on there as part of the weatherproofing.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

On the opposite side – sits a textured, extra wide power button. It is nice to feel around and offers great tactile feedback. Alongside it are the far less tactile volume rocker and programmable button.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

The latter can set it to trigger a number of functions in software, but the main reason it is there and likely the way it is most often going to be mapped is as a talk button for a PPT service of some kind. Motorola offers its own baked-in, but you can download any other app too.

Programmable button - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Programmable button - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Programmable button - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Programmable button

The top of the Motorola Defy has the 3.5mm audio jack and a small hole for the secondary noise-cancelling microphone next to it.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

On the bottom – the main microphone, the Defy’s singular bottom-firing speaker and between those – a USB Type-C port. It is OTG-enabled and can do a maximum of 20W of charging.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

The Motorola Defy has a capacitive fingerprint reader in what is a traditional location for a Motorola – on the back, right below the cameras. The reader is always-on and is very accurate and speedy. However, the unlocking animation on the Defy is quite slow and long, for some reason, slowing down the actual unlock procedure.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

Of course, the fingerprint reader won’t do you much good while wearing gloves. For those situations, you can either opt for some sort of on-screen software unlock method, or more convenient-still facial recognition. It is just basic 2D facial recognition, nothing too fancy.

Biometrics and security - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Biometrics and security - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Biometrics and security - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Biometrics and security

6.5-inch IPS, 60Hz display

The Motorola Defy has a rather pedestrian display. It is a simple 6.5-inch IPS panel, with 720 x 1600-pixel resolution, which works out to about 270 ppi. It only does 60Hz and pixel response time is not particularly impressive either, with signs of ghosting when you scroll slowly. Kind of disappointing for a phone that costs over EUR300 these days as that sort of money can actually get you a high refresh rate FullHD AMOLED panel. However, we still need to take into consideration the specialized nature of the Motorola Defy here.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

The Motorola Defy 2021’s display doesn’t get overly bright, topping-out at 436 nits in our tests. That means that while not perfect in terms of outdoor visibility, it is still serviceable. And thanks to the rather deep black levels, contrast on the Motorola Defy is actually quite good when indoors.

Display test 100% brightness
Black,cd/m2 White,cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G (Max Auto) 0 846
Samsung Galaxy A32 (Max Auto) 0 814
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro (Max Auto) 0 725
Poco F3 (Max Auto) 0 716
Poco F3 (Max Auto) 0 716
Realme 8 (Max Auto) 0 657
Realme GT 5G (Max Auto) 0 650
Realme X7 Max 5G (Max Auto) 0 640
Poco M3 Pro 5G (Max Auto) 0.366 536 1464:1
Poco X3 Pro (Max Auto) 0.4 534 1335:1
Poco X3 Pro (Max Auto) 0.4 534 1335:1
Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G 0 514
Poco F3 0 511
Poco F3 0 511
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 5G (Max Auto) 0.275 492 1789:1
Motorola Moto G30 (Max Auto) 0.241 468 1942:1
Poco X3 Pro 0.327 458 1401:1
Realme 8 0 458
Poco X3 Pro 0.327 458 1401:1
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro 0 457
Realme GT 5G 0 443
Motorola Defy 0.23 436 1896:1
Realme X7 Max 5G 0 433
Poco M3 Pro 5G 0.28 413 1475:1
Motorola Moto G30 0.204 403 1975:1
Samsung Galaxy A32 0 393
Samsung Galaxy A22 5G 0.236 385 1631:1
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 5G 0.21 377 1795:1
Motorola Moto G50 0.199 362 1819:1

Color accuracy is not a strong suit on the Motorola Defy. There are a total of three color profiles to choose from – Saturated, Boosted and Natural. There is no white point adjustment or fine-tuning control beyond that.

Color profiles - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Color profiles - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Color profiles

All of the profiles appear to be aiming for the sRGB color space, but none of them quite manages to get there. Saturated mode is the default and it manages to reproduce a pretty balanced color palette overall – pretty accurate reds and a bit too saturated blues. Boosted doesn’t do much for the blues, but oddly, despite its name desaturates reds a bit. Natural comes closest, though it is still far from what could be considered accurate. Interestingly enough, the white point seems to be the biggest issue in this mode. If a temperature slider was included in the OS, we could probably warm things up a bit and actually get good color accuracy, but that’s not the case.

The Motorola Defy actually has the highest Widevine L1 DRM, which is great to see, but also kind of a waste, given the phone’s native 720p+ resolution. Netflix does successfully pick up the L1 certification, but only offers HD streaming. Anything more would be a waste.

Netflix playback support - Motorola Defy (2021) review
DRM info - Motorola Defy (2021) review
HDR support - Motorola Defy (2021) review
HDR support - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Netflix playback support • DRM info • HDR support

Interestingly enough, Netflix says that there is no HDR support available on the Motorola Defy and indeed, its specs don’t advertise any either. The panel in question is likely not capable of reproducing HDR even though on a software level, the phone does report HDR10 and HLG support.

Battery life

The Motorola Defy has a 5,000 mAh battery at its disposal, matching the Motorola Moto G30, which we recently reviewed. In fact, both phones also use the same Snapdragon 662 chipset and have pretty similar HD+, 6.5-inch displays. The G30 can do 90Hz, but we have already proven in the past that the jump up from 60Hz to 90Hz rarely puts a noticeable strain on the battery with modern panels. All of this suggests that the Motorola Defy should have pretty similar battery endurance to the Moto G30 and that is indeed the case.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSerDevice app. The endurance rating denotes how long the battery charge will last you if you use the device for an hour of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. More details can be found here.

Video test carried out in 60Hz refresh rate mode. Web browsing test done at the display’s highest refresh rate whenever possible. Refer to the respective reviews for specifics. To adjust the endurance rating formula to match your own usage patterns check out our all-time battery test results chart where you can also find all phones we’ve tested.

The Motorola Defy did great all around. It’s modem is super efficient during both standby and calls, pushing it over 43 hours in the latter category. That’s what you want to see from a phone that might often find itself away from mains power from prolonged periods of time. 16 hours or so in the two on-screen tests are also great. Overall, no complaints regarding battery life.

Charging speed

The Motorola Defy (2021) ships with a 20W charger in the box. It is a Quick Charge 3.0 unit, rated for 5V/3A, 10V/2A, and 12V/1.67A output. Once again – this is a familiar setup, just like what was included with the Moto G30.

Expectedly, charging speeds between the two devices are just as similar as their battery endurance numbers. The Motorola Defy does seem to top off a tad slower, but the variance is within margin of error. Starting from zero, the Motorola Defy gets up to 31% in 30 minutes and a full charge takes a bit over two and a half hours. Hardly record-breaking numbers, but still a bit better than many budget devise out there.

30min charging test (from 0%)

Higher is better

  • Poco F3
    67%
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    67%
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    65%
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 4G
    58%
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    50%
  • Poco X3 Pro
    50%
  • Motorola Moto G100
    37%
  • Poco M3 Pro 5G
    33%
  • Motorola Moto G30
    32%
  • Motorola Defy
    31%
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    25%
  • Poco M3
    25%
  • Motorola Moto G50
    23%
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    23%
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    20%

Time to full charge (from 0%)

Lower is better

  • Poco F3
    0:56h
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    1:03h
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 4G
    1:04h
  • Poco X3 Pro
    1:08h
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    1:13h
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    1:21h
  • Motorola Moto G100
    1:54h
  • Poco M3 Pro 5G
    2:00h
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    2:19h
  • Motorola Moto G30
    2:28h
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    2:29h
  • Poco M3
    2:30h
  • Motorola Defy
    2:33h
  • Motorola Moto G50
    2:35h
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    3:03h

Speaker test

The Motorola Defy has a single bottom-firing speaker at its disposal. Kind of disappointing, since a stereo setup can easily be had for this kind of money elsewhere. Even a hybrid stereo setup with the earpiece would have been appreciated. Just like the display, clearly compromises have been made to fit a rugged device within the price frame.

The speaker isn’t particularly loud, nor incredibly richly sounding. The Motorola Defy has an equalizer for the loudspeaker, called Audio effects. It is quite flexible and you can dial-in a sound profile of your liking, but it can’t do much to overcome the deficiencies of the speaker.

Audio effects equalizer - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Audio effects equalizer - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Audio effects equalizer - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Audio effects equalizer

We did try out the default balanced present and it managed to slightly improve frequency response in the lows, while also decreasing the maximum loudness a bit in the process. Not by much, though.

Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal “0db” flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.

Android 10 with some Moto flair on top

Right off the bat, the Motorola Defy (2021) ships with a slightly dated Android 10 OS. An update to Android 11 is apparently already in the works, but with Android 12 just around the corner the phone may never be fully up to speed. In typical Motorola fashion, the experience here clean and close to stock AOSP. Motorola has a host of various extras and value-added features sprinkled on top, but in a pretty non-obtrusive manner. The Defy doesn’t really get the full Moto feature set as seen on devices like the Moto G30 or G100. We’ll mention the particulars as they come, but one notable major omission is support for Motorola’s new “Ready For” platform. In fact, we didn’t manage to get any form of video output from the phone’s Type-C port.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

The majority of the proprietary features are housed within the Moto app. The first category is personalization allowing you to choose the icon shapes, the quick toggles appearance, the accent colors and the font. There is also a wide selection of wallpapers, the same ones you’d find in the Google Wallpapers app, plus some Moto-specific interactive ones.

Moto App - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Personalization - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Personalization - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Personalization - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Personalization - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Personalization - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Moto App • Personalization

Then come the gestures. The karate chop motion that turns on and off the flashlight is here, along with the twisting motion that launches the camera app. Both work even when the device is locked. The lift-to-unlock gesture works well with the face unlock as it unlocks the device as soon as you pick it up and look at the screen.

Referring back to the Moto G100, there are some omissions from this menu on the Motorola Defy (2021). Swipe-to-split seems to be one of them, as well as Power touch – the nifty shortcut menu that can be triggered by double-tapping the power button.

Gestures - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Gestures - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Gestures - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Gestures - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Gestures

Then there are Peek Display and Attentive Display. The former works as a second-best alternative to the Always-on display lighting up the screen when it detects motion that’s close to the phone or when you pick it up. Once you’ve received some kind of notification, you can tap on it and see the message itself and even interact with it from the lock screen. Attentive Display disables the screen timeout as long as there’s a face looking at the screen. Pretty useful when reading long articles, though depending on your setting you may scroll often enough for the screen not to lock anyway.

Display - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Display - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Display - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Display - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Display - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Display

The Moto Tips section is meant to house guides and instructions. While Android 10 doesn’t have nearly as many new features that might need explaining to the user as Android 11, there are still some interesting things to go over. Some highlights Motorola chose to go over are gesture navigation, dark mode and notification management, as well as the enhanced security features of Android 10. All of these come standard with the Android core. There is also the Family Link feature for parental controls.

Moto tips - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Moto tips - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Moto tips - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Moto tips - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Moto tips - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Moto tips - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Moto tips

The Motorola Defy lacks the battery saving feature of the Moto G30 that would learn your usual charging routine and then only charge the phone up to 80%, keep it there for as long as possible and top-up to 100% shortly before you are scheduled to unplug. It also can’t cap max battery charge to 80% if the phone detects that it has been charging for more than 3 days straight. Presumably those will be included when the Defy catches up to the G30 and gets Android 11.

Missing advanced battery charging features - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Missing advanced battery charging features

There is nothing too extravagant or out of place with the overall UI on the Motorola Defy beyond that. You pretty much get a clean AOSP experience all around.

Lockscreen - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Homescreen - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Folder view - Motorola Defy (2021) review
App drawer - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Notifications - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Quick toggles - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Lockscreen • Homescreen • Folder view • App drawer • Notifications • Quick toggles

All things considered on a software level the Defy (2021) is clearly a Motorola phone, with all of the specifics that stem from that pedigree. A clean, near-AOSP experience is a major draw for many users and the Defy delivers on that front. However, the elephant in the room is the outdated Android 10 version that ships with the phone. We feel that many of the advanced Moto features absent from the Motorola Defy might be related to the older ROM. Hopefully, once an Android 11 update drops, the Motorola Defy will get up to speed with its peers.

On the upside even in its current form everything works smoothly and even though the Snapdragon 662 is far from a powerhouse, the Motorola Defy breezes through everyday tasks with ease. Which leads us nicely to the performance section.

Synthetic benchmarks

The Motorola Defy is powered by the Snapdragon 662 chipset, a midrange piece of silicon introduced in 2020 and built on the 11nm process. It features an octa-core CPU in a 4+4 configuration with Kryo 260 Gold cores in the high-performance cluster (Cortex-A73-based) and Kryo 260 Silver ones (Cortex-A53-based) for less demanding tasks. The graphics department is handled by the Adreno 610 GPU.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

Unlike the G30 that gets the same chipset, the Motorola Defy comes in a single memory variant – 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage. The latter is expandable via microSD, though you do have to sacrifice one of your two SIM slots. It should be noted that the Moto G30 can be had with up to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

Let’s kick things off with GeekBench and some pure CPU numbers. There is no point in beating about the bush here, the Snapdragon 662 and consequently the Motorola Defy don’t really excell at computing power. You can easily get better performance at this price point, but then you’ll be losing all the ruggedness and that really misses the whole point of the phone.

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G100
    2860
  • Poco X3 Pro
    2574
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    1812
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 4G
    1796
  • Realme 8 5G
    1784
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    1780
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    1719
  • Realme 8
    1690
  • Realme 8 Pro
    1678
  • Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
    1673
  • Motorola Moto G50
    1620
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    1599
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S
    1576
  • Poco M3
    1398
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    1354
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    1277
  • Motorola Moto G30
    1265
  • Motorola Moto G10 Power
    1144
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    1034
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    495

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G100
    950
  • Poco X3 Pro
    735
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    641
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    569
  • Realme 8 5G
    569
  • Realme 8 Pro
    566
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    560
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 4G
    560
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    534
  • Realme 8
    533
  • Motorola Moto G50
    505
  • Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
    505
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S
    502
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    361
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    314
  • Poco M3
    308
  • Motorola Moto G30
    306
  • Motorola Moto G10 Power
    247
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    169
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    131

As far as positives go, it is great to see that the Motorola Defy is at least utilizing its Snapdragon 662 chipset fully, as evidenced by the similar results from the Motorola G30 and the Poco M3, also rocking the same chip. Also, the Snapdragon 662 has the Snapdragon 450, 460, as well as the MediaTek Helio P35 and for the most part, the G80 beat in CPU terms. Any higher-tier Qualcomm or MediaTek chip, like the entire Dimensity line, however, is significantly more potent in CPU terms.

The compound AnTuTu tells a very similar story.

AnTuTu 8

Higher is better

  • Poco F3
    631850
  • Motorola Moto G100
    556137
  • Poco X3 Pro
    453223
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    318672
  • Realme 8 5G
    302059
  • Realme 8
    298328
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    295442
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 4G
    290172
  • Realme 8 Pro
    286666
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    242155
  • Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
    226561
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    218788
  • Poco M3
    177904
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    177314
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    174332
  • Motorola Moto G30
    170968
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    107189
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    90811

AnTuTu 9

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G100
    681559
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    391770
  • Realme 8 5G
    361505
  • Realme 8
    357488
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S
    330909
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 4G
    294251
  • Motorola Moto G50
    286916
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    223188
  • Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
    222125
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    164592

The Adreno 610 is a pretty entry-level GPU as well. Once again, we can see the Motorola Defy make proper use of its available chipset and utilize it fully, but that’s about the only praise we can offer. Even in the easiest OpenGL ES 3.0 Manhattan test we still consistently run on review units, the Motorola Defy struggles to reach 20fps. That is at 1080p in off-screen mode.

GFX Manhattan ES 3.0 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G100
    128
  • Poco X3 Pro
    102
  • Motorola Moto G50
    65
  • Realme 8
    53
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    46
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 4G
    45
  • Realme 8 Pro
    43
  • Realme 8 5G
    38
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    32
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    24
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    24
  • Motorola Moto G30
    20
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    19
  • Poco M3
    19
  • Motorola Moto G10 Power
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    12
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    9.3

GFX Manhattan ES 3.0 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Poco X3 Pro
    93
  • Motorola Moto G100
    89
  • Realme 8
    48
  • Motorola Moto G50
    40
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 4G
    40
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    40
  • Realme 8 Pro
    38
  • Realme 8 5G
    35
  • Motorola Moto G30
    34
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    33
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    31
  • Motorola Moto G10 Power
    25
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    21
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    21
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    19
  • Poco M3
    17
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    16

The HD+ native resolution of the display on the Motorola Defy (2021) provides considerable advantage in terms of on-screen fps, meaning that even though it doesn’t have the most capable GPU it can still adequately drive the less demanding display.

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G100
    91
  • Poco X3 Pro
    75
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    34
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 4G
    33
  • Realme 8
    33
  • Motorola Moto G50
    29
  • Realme 8 Pro
    28
  • Realme 8 5G
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    24
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    17
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    15
  • Motorola Moto G30
    14
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    13
  • Poco M3
    13
  • Motorola Moto G10 Power
    9.5
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    7.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    6.1

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G100
    79
  • Poco X3 Pro
    67
  • Motorola Moto G50
    53
  • Realme 8 Pro
    31
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    30
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 4G
    29
  • Realme 8
    29
  • Motorola Moto G30
    26
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    25
  • Realme 8 5G
    22
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    21
  • Motorola Moto G10 Power
    19
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    12
  • Poco M3
    11

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G100
    56
  • Poco X3 Pro
    45
  • Realme 8
    20
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    19
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 4G
    19
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    19
  • Realme 8 Pro
    18
  • Motorola Moto G50
    16
  • Realme 8 5G
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    14
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    9.3
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    9.3
  • Motorola Moto G30
    7.3
  • Poco M3
    7.2
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    7
  • Motorola Moto G10 Power
    5.2
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    3.4
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    3.3

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G100
    47
  • Poco X3 Pro
    38
  • Motorola Moto G50
    27
  • Realme 8
    18
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 4G
    17
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    17
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    16
  • Realme 8 Pro
    16
  • Motorola Moto G30
    13
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    13
  • Realme 8 5G
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    12
  • Motorola Moto G10 Power
    9.2
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    8.1
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    7.9
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    6.1
  • Poco M3
    5.9
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    5

As usual, it is also worth noting that these are purposefully hard and artificial loads that are not representative of how an actual game engine behaves. Particularly a modern one. Mobile games tend to be highly optimized and run on a very wide range of hardware, in order to have the broadest user base possible. We had no issues running any number of casual to moderate games on the Motorola Defy.

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G100
    33
  • Poco X3 Pro
    27
  • Motorola Moto G50
    20
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    13
  • Realme 8 Pro
    11
  • Realme 8
    11
  • Motorola Moto G30
    8.7
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    8.5
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    7.8
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    5.3
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    4.4
  • Poco M3
    4.1
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    3.8
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    3.5

GFX Aztek ES 3.1 High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G100
    31
  • Poco X3 Pro
    26
  • Motorola Moto G50
    19
  • Realme 8
    12
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    11
  • Realme 8 Pro
    11
  • Motorola Moto G30
    9.1
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    8.8
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    8.4
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    5.6
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    5
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    4.6
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    3.5
  • Poco M3
    2.8

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G100
    23
  • Poco X3 Pro
    18
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    7.6
  • Realme 8
    7.5
  • Realme 8 Pro
    7.2
  • Motorola Moto G50
    6.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    5.1
  • Poco M3
    4.2
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    3.5
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    2.9
  • Motorola Moto G30
    2.8
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    2.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    1.2
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    1.1

GFX Aztek ES 3.1 High (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G100
    21
  • Poco X3 Pro
    17
  • Realme 8
    7.7
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    7.5
  • Realme 8 Pro
    7
  • Motorola Moto G50
    6.4
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    5.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    3.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    3.3
  • Motorola Moto G30
    2.8
  • Poco M3
    2.8
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    2.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    1.5
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    1.2

There seems to be no noticeable performance loss with using the Vulkan API either, which once again proves Motorola did a great job implementing and utilizing the Snapdragon 662 chipset all-around.

3DMark shows a lineup quite similar to that provided by AnTuTu for overall performance.

3DMark SSE ES 3.1 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    2801
  • Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
    2638
  • Realme 8
    2610
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    2391
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    1471
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    1323
  • Motorola Moto G30
    1185
  • Poco M3
    1175
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    1169
  • Motorola Moto G10 Power
    857
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    438
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    365

3DMark SSE Vulkan 1.0 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Realme 8
    2639
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    2617
  • Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
    2509
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    2257
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    1372
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    1371
  • Motorola Moto G30
    1142
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    1112
  • Poco M3
    1106
  • Motorola Moto G10 Power
    819
  • Samsung Galaxy A12
    612
  • Samsung Galaxy A02s
    489

3DMark Wild Life Vulkan 1.1 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G100
    4114
  • Poco X3 Pro
    3401
  • Realme 8
    1486
  • Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
    1185
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 4G
    1113
  • Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
    1104
  • Realme 8 5G
    1104
  • Realme 8 Pro
    1051
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
    686
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
    482
  • Motorola Moto G30
    389
  • Motorola Defy (2021)
    369
  • Poco M3
    368
  • Motorola Moto G10 Power
    254
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    113

As we established from the start the Motorola Defy (2021) doesn’t claim to be a great performer or a gaming powerhouse. All it aims to do is provide adequate day-to-day performance and the Snapdragon 662 does its job. That’s enough for it to fare excellently within the rugged phone realm.

48MP camera and a basic camera app

The Motorola Defy (2021) has a total of three cameras on the back, with arguably just one truly functional unit, while on the front it has a single 8MP cam. Nothing fancy or special, but solid in the context of rugged smartphones.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

The main 48MP snapper uses a Samsung ISOCELL GM1 (S5KGM1) sensor of 1/2″ size with 0.8um pixels. It is a fairly popular and widely used part, which is known to offer decent performance in the mid-range last year. However, it is a bit dated at this point with Samsung already having a GM2, with improvements to autofocus, among other things. Anyway, the Motorola Defy (2021) also has an f/1.8 lens and basic PDAF setup to work with and no OIS.

There is no ultrawide camera on the Motorola Defy (2021), which is something virtually every mid-range has these days, even if their quality is usually less than stellar.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

There are two 2MP, f/2.4 supplementary cameras alongside the main 48MP one. Both come courtesy of OmniVision and are part of the same OV02B family. The fixed-focus macro cam uses the color OV02B10 sensor, whereas the depth sensor has the OV02B1B monochrome variant. Those will barely contrbute anything to your photography with the Defy and are mostly there for marketing reasons.

The 8MP selfie camera uses a Samsung S5K4H7 sensor – 1/4″, 1.12um with fixed focus – about as basic an imager as you can find on a phone these days.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

You have a selector in settings that lets you choose between the 12MP recommended option (that much we get), the “high resolution” 48MP mode and space-saving 8MP images. Switch from the default 4:3 aspect ratio to 16:9 or 20:9 yields a similar menu with the according lower resolutions.

Perplexing resolution options - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Perplexing resolution options - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Perplexing resolution options - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Perplexing resolution options - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Perplexing resolution options - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Perplexing resolution options - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Resolution options

It should be noted that the available settings options change if you open then with the selfie camera active. Some of these changes make more sense than others.

Camera settings menu - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Camera settings menu - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Camera settings menu - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Camera settings menu

Other than that, the main camera UI is well laid-out and functional. Most of the settings you are likely to change on the fly are on one side. We would have preferred to get a quick resolution or at least 48MP toggle her instead of say one for Active Photo, but that’s a bit nitpicky.

Main camera UI and modes - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Main camera UI and modes - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Main camera UI and modes - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Main camera UI and modes - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Main camera UI and modes - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Main camera UI and modes - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Main camera UI and modes

There is a mode selector next to the shutter. Unlike on the Moto G30, here it is not below the shutter key, which means less misclicks. The quick mode selection keeps track of the last additional mode you used and keeps that shortcut handy, which is neat.

There is a Pro mode on the Motorola Defy (2021) which can be used on both the main and the selfie cams and is surprisingly full-featured. You get manual focus (no peaking), white balance (2300 – 7500K), shutter speed (1/6000 – 32 seconds), ISO (100 – 3200) and exposure compensation (-2 – +2). There is also a real-time histogram, as well as the ability to capture RAW files, with or without an additional JPG.

Pro mode - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Pro mode - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Pro mode - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Pro mode - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Pro mode - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Pro mode - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Pro mode

Daylight image quality

Shots from the main camera in good lighting at the default 12MP resolution come out looking very decent. Obviously, this is a budget camera setup, with a slightly outdated sensor and we have to set our expectations accordingly. Once more, while the Motorola Defy (2021) comes short of similarly priced phones in terms of hardware, at least it makes good use of what it has.

Resolved detail is good and noise is kept well under control. Colors are a bit muted, but not too bad and while sharpening does cause a few halos it’s okay overall.

There is noticeable color fringing in finer patterns as would often happen in a Quad-Bayer sensors, although some have admitedly become better at handling it lately.

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2522s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2094s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2329s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2247s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2075s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2188s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera samples

Automatic HDR on the Motorola Defy works great weight, as evidenced by these shots with it forced off. The algorithm also did a great job kicking in at the right time.

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera samples, HDR OFF - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2456s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera samples, HDR OFF - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2029s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera samples, HDR OFF - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2169s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera samples, HDR OFF - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2208s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera samples, HDR OFF - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2057s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera samples, HDR OFF - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2171s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera samples, HDR OFF

You can shoot in the full 48MP unbinned resolution if you really wanted to, but we’d advise against it. The shots you get don’t really have enough extra detail over the 12MP ones to make it worth the larger size. And color fringing is even more prominent here. At least capture time is quite quick for 48MP shots, so there’s that.

Motorola Defy (2021): 48MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2500s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 48MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2112s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 48MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2208s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 48MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2228s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 48MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2057s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 48MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2150s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 48MP main camera samples

We did also try shooting in 8MP mode, since it was a prominent suggestion within the resolution settings. However the resulting files aren’t that much smaller in size, while sacrificing some fine detail, so we’d really suggest sticking with the recommended resolution.

Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2500s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2094s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2131s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2169s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2039s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP main camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2150s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP main camera samples

While there is no dedicated zoom camera on the Motorola Defy (2021), you can still pinch to zoom in digitally. We took at 2x, 5x and the maximum 8x, but obviously the results are rather poor with little detail and pretty bad oversharpening artefacts.

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera zoom samples: 2x - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/2039s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 5x - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/1916s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8x - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/1882s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 2x - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/1521s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 5x - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/1521s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8x - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/1619s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera zoom samples: 2x • 5x • 8x • 2x • 5x • 8x

You can do portrait shots with the main camera, which actually look decent. You might need a few shots to get one with an adequate subject separation and the blur application isn’t the smoothest around, but you can get a shot that looks good on social media.

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera portrait mode samples - f/1.7, ISO 151, 1/100s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera portrait mode samples - f/1.7, ISO 169, 1/100s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera portrait mode samples - f/1.7, ISO 167, 1/50s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera portrait mode samples - f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/1344s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera portrait mode samples

Even without a face in the frame portraits still work out. In fact, we feel like the subject detection is even a bit more consistent when there is no discernable face. However, subject separation for non-human subjects seems to be a bit worse, especially if your model has particularly long fur.

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera portrait mode samples - f/1.7, ISO 101, 1/50s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera portrait mode samples - f/1.7, ISO 176, 1/50s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera portrait mode samples - f/1.7, ISO 1466, 1/17s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera portrait mode samples - f/1.7, ISO 107, 1/100s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera portrait mode samples

That covers the 2MP depth sensor and its functions, its other 2MP sibling is meant for macro shots. Much to our surprise, these can look decent, if you put enough time and work into them. Sure, at just 2MP, detail is always going to be limited. However, there is still a decent amount of it captured and colors don’t look half bad either.

Despite its small size and limited pixel count, the OV02B10-based macro camera has autofocus, which is quite the rarity to see on such a macro shooter. Its range is limited and it that takes a lot of trial and error to get a proper shot out of, but it is possible. Still, this little 2MP cam is not a throwaway one, which is more than we can normally say for similar snappers.

Motorola Defy (2021): 2MP macro camera samples - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 2MP macro camera samples - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 2MP macro camera samples - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 2MP macro camera samples - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 2MP macro camera samples

The 8MP selfie cam captures okay photos, with one major flaw – narrow focal depth and poorly selected focal distance, which results in blurry shots more often than not. Other than that, there is a good amount of detail and colors look nice. Dynamic range is a bit limited, but that is to be expected from such a small sensor.

Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/472s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/385s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1274s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1769s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/355s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/951s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/600s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 438, 1/50s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 234, 1/50s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera samples

You can do portrait selfies, but results will range from poor to mediocre.

Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera portrait mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/488s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera portrait mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/516s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera portrait mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/349s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera portrait mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/371s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera portrait mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1297s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera portrait mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/934s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera portrait mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/352s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera portrait mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/870s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera portrait mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/959s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera portrait mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/673s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera portrait mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 291, 1/50s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera portrait mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 231, 1/50s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera portrait mode samples

Before we move on to video, we captured out standard set of posters with the Motorola Defy (2021) at both its default 12MP resolution, as well as 48MP. Feel free to pixel-peep away and compare to any other device in our vast photo compare database.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Motorola Defy (2021) against the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro and the Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro in our Photo compare tool

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

48MP: Motorola Defy (2021) against the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 and the Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro in our Photo compare tool

Video recording

The Motorola Defy (2021) can capture up to 1080p videos with both the main and selfie cameras. 16:9 is the default aspect ratio, but a “full-screen” 20:9 is also available. The selfie cam is limited to 30fps, whereas the main one can do 60fps. These videos, however, end up with the same bitrate (a bit over 20 Mbps) and size as 30fps ones, meaning that you get lower quality overall.

You don’t get a choice for video codecs, it’s just the standard AVC, plus stereo AAC streams inside a h.264 MP4 container. No issues with smoothness or frame dropping, just like you would expect from a decently modern chipset and its hardware video encoder and decoder.

Video quality from the main cam is decent for a budget phone, but largely unimpressive overall. Detail is on the lower side for 1080p, though hardly the biggest issue. That would probably be the limited dynamic range. You get both severely clipped highlights and crushed shadows. Colors are quite a bit more vibrant than with stills. Even a bit exaggerated. The sharpening algorithm also seems to be a bit heavy-handed.

To be fair, videos are not a total disaster, but just like many other aspects of the Motorola Defy, would be much more excusable and easier to swallow on a sub-EUR 200 device and seem a bit outrageous on an over EUR 300 one. That’s just the reality of rugged phones.

EIS is available on the Motorola Defy (2021) at the full 1080p resolution, but just for the main camera and not the selfie one. It does a decent job of smoothing out bigger shakes and bumps and doesn’t narrow the field of view too much. We did, however, notice a bit of focus-hunting when EIS is on, which is sometimes the case on budget phones.

Selfie videos look pretty good in terms of details. Colors are again a bit too saturated. The biggest issue here, however, is the limited dynamic range. Still, these clips are perfectly serviceable for video calling purposes.

Lastly, here is the Motorola Defy (2021) at 1080p in our extensive video compare database.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Motorola Defy (2021) against the Xiaomi Poco M3 Pro 5G and the Samsung Galaxy A22 5G in our Video compare tool

Low-light camera quality

The Motorola Defy (2021) struggles quite a bit in low-light conditions. In the default 12MP mode shots come out looking soft and often outright out of focus. The camera seems to have some trouble focusing in low light. Dynamic range is also poor and light sources are often blown out quite spectacularly.

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.7, ISO 891, 1/17s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.7, ISO 1556, 1/25s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.7, ISO 375, 1/25s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.7, ISO 1680, 1/17s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera low-light samples

Shooting in 48MP mode can help a bit with detail, but you still have to battle with the inconsistent focus.

Motorola Defy (2021): 48MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.7, ISO 853, 1/17s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 48MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.7, ISO 1363, 1/25s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 48MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.7, ISO 378, 1/25s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 48MP main camera low-light samples - f/1.7, ISO 1680, 1/17s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 48MP main camera low-light samples

The thing that really has the potential to save many of your shots is Night mode, which Motorola calls “Night Vision”. It has a profound effect on shots, brightening them up massively and also fixing both clipped highlights and crushed shadows in a noticeable way. It is still not perfect, but a whole lot better than shooting without it. Plus, it doesn’t take too long to capture a Night Vision still. Not too shabby, considering the processor inside the Motorola Defy (2021). Most of the processing tends to happen behind the scenes, after you have finished capturing, which is only even an issue if you want to immediately view the photo after. We definitely recommend using it.

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera Night Vision samples - f/1.7, ISO 700, 1/10s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera Night Vision samples - f/1.7, ISO 1234, 1/17s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera Night Vision samples - f/1.7, ISO 375, 1/25s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera Night Vision samples - f/1.7, ISO 1388, 1/8s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 12MP main camera Night Vision samples

Selfies look pretty bad in low-light. The 8MP camera is really struggling on multiple fronts. It is lacking in terms of dynamic range, and its images are generally a noisy mess. There’s no night mode for that one to lean on either.

Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera low-light samples - f/2.2, ISO 3872, 1/20s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera low-light samples - f/2.2, ISO 3840, 1/20s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera low-light samples - f/2.2, ISO 3328, 1/14s - Motorola Defy (2021) review
Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera low-light samples - f/2.2, ISO 3808, 1/14s - Motorola Defy (2021) review

Motorola Defy (2021): 8MP selfie camera low-light samples

Ending off on a slightly more-positive note, there is low-light video capture, which is serviceable. Not impressive in any way, but arguably better than low-light still in terms of overall quality.

Competition

If there is one thing the Motorola Defy (2021) has going for it, it has to be the particular combo of rugged design, mid-range price and adequate overall experience, which as we’ll see in a minute is virtually impossible to come by. While you can find smartphones with tough IP68, MIL-SPEC 810H, Gorilla Glass Victus body they are either quite pricey or notably underpowered. Throw in a few other things like the PPT programmable button and even the massive lanyard setup and what you end up with is a very particular tool, more so than just another smartphone.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

If you’ve read this far we’ll accept that the need for a rugged smartphone is a given. The most-powerful among those is the Samsung Galaxy S20 Tactical Edition, but that is over five times as expensive and even if you are willing to pay EUR 1,500 it’s not really available to end users.

Samsung does have other, more accessible and viable options, though, in the slightly-neglected, but still active Xcover line. There is the Xcover 5 from this year, but we would probably go for last year’s Xcover Pro instead, since it has more powerful hardware overall. With a 6.3-inch FHD+ LCD, an Exynos 9611 chipset, 25MP main and 8MP ultrawide cams it still costs more than the Defy and comes with a smaller 4,050 mAh battery. Perhaps the difference (if you can afford it in the first place) is worth it if you value a more modern One UI 3.0 and Android 11 over battery life.

The Nokia XR20 was only recently announced and at first glance comes very close to the Motorola Defy (2021), even adding a far more efficient and Snapdragon 480 chipset and 5G support. However at nearly twice the cost it will a hard one to justify

Ulefone has a few current rugged devices as well. The Armor 11 5G and 11T 5G are almost identical in most aspect, with the addition of a FLIR thermal camera on the latter, in place of the 20MP night vision cam on the former. Yet, even the cheaper of the duo costs over EUR 500, meaning they are far form direct rivals.

Samsung Galaxy Xcover Pro
Ulefone Armor 11T 5G
Ulefone Armor 8 Pro
Nokia XR20

Samsung Galaxy Xcover Pro • Ulefone Armor 11T 5G • Ulefone Armor 8 Pro • Nokia XR20

The Cat S62 Pro is another product of the Bullit group, but once more priced closer to the EUR 500 mark than the Defy.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

Verdict

So there you have it – the Motorola Defy (2021) is a decent looking and nicely tough phone with just above entry-level performance and lower mid-range price. And while you can find better performers in the niche you would still be paying a class above for it, pushing the overall spending significantly higher.

Obviously achieving all the ruggedness costs a lot in terms of extra materials and R&D expenditure so it’s not really fair to directly compare those phones to convential ones. In sort of the same way that we can’t complain a digger costs a whole lot more than a modern family saloon and is nowhere near as fast or well-equipped.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

Having said that, the Motorola Defy (2021) is actually a pretty compelling offer. For a little over EUR 300 you get a decent if basic smartphone experience. Which, for better or worse, is not a proposition any of its rivals matches.

Motorola Defy (2021) review

If you find yourself in need of a rugged phone, the Motorola Defy (2021) is worth a consideration, at the very least.

Pros

  • IP68 and MIL-STD-810H-compliant, Gorilla Glass Victus-equipped, reinforced internal PCB. Should function from -30 degrees C up to 75 degrees C for up to 30 minutes and survive category 4 vibration.
  • Rugged yet still decent looking design, with a lot of grip and comfortable to use with work gloves. Not too heavy, considering its size.
  • Dedicated programmable button, meant to be a PPT key, but can be anything else you want.
  • Great all-round battery life.
  • The Snapdragon 662 chipset is far from cutting edge, but still provides decent performance, in part helped by HD+ screen resolution.
  • Usable if unimpressive main camera

Cons

  • 720p 60Hz LCD is as basic as they come, brightness and color accuracy don’t impress either.
  • The otherwise clean and snappy Motorola software layer is still based on Android 10.
  • Uninspiring single bottom-firing speaker.
  • No ultrawide camera, mediocre low-light image quality.
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