Motorola Defy

The Motorola Defy (MB 525)

Red Bull Mobile launched in South Africa on the 25th March with two contract options available one for R150 per month and the other for R250 per month. (Detailed info) Both these contracts currently offer the best value for money mobile contracts available in South Africa.

On the R250 per month contract there are two phones available – the RBM HD and the Motorola MB 525. We originally tried to review them both in one article, this failed terribly. So, here is part two of two of our Red Bull Mobile reviews. [Part One: Review of the RBM HD]

Defy a South African company best known for manufacturing fridges, washing machines and tumble dryers. I suppose this is why Red Bull Mobile are calling the new Motorola by its unsexy name, the MB 525. Because it sounds prettier I will be referring to it as the Defy.

Build Quality

It doesn’t really matter what the Defy is called really, it matters what it does. What the Defy does is impressive. It is a rugged phone without looking or feeling like one, that is impressive. Anyone who can remember the rugged Nokia’s of old will share this view with me. They were huge, rubbery, ugly and very very heavy. Also, they weren’t even that rugged, especially when compared to what the Defy can withstand.

The screen is made from Guerilla Glass, that can take some serious knocks before it shatters, it also feels smoother to the touch than plastic or hardened glass. A smooth-to-the-touch non-slip plastic surrounds the Defy and the bezel is a shiny plastic and shiny is good. Here is the kicker though; the Defy can be submerged up to 1 meter under water, which will inevitably lead to one thing – shower sexting.

Motorola are very proud of the Defy, calling it the “dance floor proof phone” saying that it can handle being dropped on the dance floor and having various colourfull drinks spilt on it. I tested these claims of ruggedness (which one can only do when the phone is not yours) and Motorola aren’t pulling the wool. The Defy can withstand some serious falls without denting or even scratching and after recording some video underwater in the pool; I was convinced that it could handle a double Red Bull and Vodka being spilt on it.


All of Red Bull Mobiles cellphone offerings, but one, come with Google’s Android operating system. The one that doesn’t, the Nokia 5230, should be avoided like the plague, as it’s old and outdated. The Defy comes with Android 2.1, which is somewhat behind the times as Android is currently on version 2.3. The differences are minor but enough that it makes a difference.

The reason Motorola give for the Defy running 2.1 and not 2.3 is it takes time to update their MotoBlur custom interface to run on the latest version of Android. This is the same reason why most HTC’s and Sony Ericsson’s are also still running Android 2.1 and 2.2. This is okay with me as MotoBlur makes the Defy a pleasure to use. Android is a slightly rough operating system when compared to iOS on the iPhones and OS 6 on the BlackBerry’s and MotoBlur soothes the rough edges. It gives the Motorola a custom home screen with custom widgets that are resizable, it has a slightly improved menu system, better calendar and contact management, a car dock interface, a WiFi hotspot app, a custom media interface and some other small enhancements.

The Defy comes preloaded with some cool apps from Red Bull Mobile (which, to be honest, I don’t really use all that often) and a Swype keyboard. The Swype keyboard is pretty awesome, instead of tapping on the character you want you swipe your finger from character to character of your word and using some hardcore math, Swype works out what word you want. Amazingly it gets it right almost always. Once you become accustomed to Swype a normal keyboard feels silly, it’s that good.


As the Defy is waterproof we came to the conclusion that shower sexting is inevitable, so you’ll be happy to know that the Defy sports a rather decent 5 Megapixel camera. It handles low light rather well, certainly better than the RBM HD, and records video in 720p HD. As you get 100 MMS’s per month on the Red Bull Mobile 200 contract I imagine that this will prove very useful. (Motorola might not want to take this phone back… just saying)

If your chosen sexting partner has a Defy as well you’ll be able to view the racy pictures on an awesome screen. It is of a very high resolution which makes it about as sharp as the iPhone (which is saying something). It also makes typing easier as you get more information when looking at the screen at a glance. That said, it is not as big as some people will like. The competition the RBM HD, has a screen that is 0.5inches bigger, but it is not as sharp. This leaves it up to personal preference – a sharp screen versus a big screen. Personally, I feel that the Motorola’s screen is a perfect size as it keeps the device small. That said, I have friends (surprise!) one bought the Motorola and the other the RBM HD both love their screen size.

The Defy is not without its flaws, I found it to be a little sluggish. Not enough to get on my nerves but it would have been awesome if Motorola stuck a slightly more powerful processor in it. Looking at reliability, I know of two people who have had to swap their Motorola’s because either they kept on freezing or (and this is the strangest problem I have ever come across) the screen did not display orange. Seriously. Apparently Cell C was more than obliging in swapping out the broken devices and their replacements are now as right as rain.

Would I buy it?

Yes, the Motorola outshines the RBM HD in almost every aspect. It also requires little customization; it comes with all the apps, widgets and personalization tools you would need. While on the RBM HD, to make do all the things you expect from a smartphone you would have to download a custom home screen and spend $5 on a media player.

To conclude, If you are looking at getting the Red Bull Mobile 200 contract you would be wise to get the Motorola, it is a more polished better built device.

Part One: Review of the RBM HD

Brendon AmbroseManaging Editor | About Me – Scared of: Clowns, spiders and Hilary Clinton; Dream Wing Man: Jacob Zuma; Started Writing Tech: 2005 for; Favorite cereal: Frosties; Find me on: Twitter & Facebook