Motorola DEFY review: Drag and drop

GSMArena team, 10 December 2010.
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Eclair with MOTOBLUR filling

The DEFY comes with Android 2.1 Eclair and Motorola’s social-networking engine, MOTOBLUR. A few differences and minor functional and visual upgrades is what sets it apart from previous Moto-blurred droids.

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Android 2.1 user interface • the dots for quick jumping through the homescreens

Before we go into details, here’s a video of the Motorola DEFY and the MOTOBLUR interface.

Motorola have kept the cornerstone of Android – the homescreen – but they’ve laced it with social networking integration. This is done mostly through widgets, so if you’ve used Android before you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

There are seven homescreen panes so you have plenty of room for widgets. When scrolling the homescreens, dots appear on the top of the screen to assist navigation, though there’s no thumbnail overview.

A few handy shortcuts are available through the Home key – a single tap brings you to the center screen and if you’re already there, it launches the main menu. A double tap can launch an app – which one you can choose from the settings (browser, camera, etc.).

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The homescreen inhabitants: widgets shortcuts, content shortcuts and folders

Shortcuts and folders have been part of the Android homescreen from the very start.

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The widgets

Widgets are the bread and butter of the homescreen. And Motorola have worked some of their mojo to add excellent social networking and make the widgets resizable. Tap and hold on a widget and four handles will appear in the corners – you can drag them to resize the widget, which will change its appearance to fit the new size.

For example, the Date and Time widget can be expanded to show a clock and a calendar or shrunk to time and date or even all the way down to just a clock. With this much flexibility, you can take the most out of what initially seems like a small and limiting screen.

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Sizing up the Date and Time widget

The typical Google widgets are missing – you get the ones from MOTOBLUR instead. But you can be sure, they are more than enough. There are Social and Status widgets, Messages, Quick Contacts, Weather, Radio Switches, RSS Reader, Connected Player controls, Sticky Notes and various application shortcuts.

The Weather widget shows the forecast for a pre-selected city. It can be expanded to show highs and lows in addition to the weather icon.

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The weather widget • the RRS reader

The Sticky Notes widget allows you to put some notes in different colors on the homescreens.

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The Sticky Notes widget

You can assign single or double quick contacts. The single ones are as simple as a contact photo (you tap to email, text or call), while the doubles contain two shortcut buttons below the picture. There is an option for one-touch dialing too (it will ask you the first time when you tap on the quick contact).

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The quick contacts

Social widgets have a dedicated chapter coming up, while the rest of them are pretty much standard. It’s worth repeating perhaps that all of the widgets can be resized.

The notification area is intact. It shows status info about battery, signal strength and others such as Bluetooth or missed events.

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The notification area is one of Android's key assets • The task switcher • the lockscreen

To bring up the task switcher on the Motorola DEFY you press and hold the Home key, just like on any other Android phone. The task switcher is a shortcut to access six of the most recently used apps, but it’s not a task manager per se.

In fact, Android automatically opens and closes applications. When resources start to run out, it might close a currently inactive app but it will restore it back to just how you left it. It's more like the system puts the app into hibernation instead of closing it.

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