Motorola Defy first impressions and hands-on

Motorola's rugged Defy passed under our noses earlier. We grabbed it with both hands and copped a good feel

From its Gorilla-glassed front to its hex-screw construction, Motorola's Defy defies the elements with sturdy construction and plenty of touchscreen smarts.

So, this is the Defy. And that's a 3.7in Gorilla glass screen that should take a good knock before it submits to spider-web cracking. There's no QWERTY here – just touchy goodness (albeit running Android 2.1) and this fascia is just the start of the Defy's defensive strategy. This one's pre-production, but we're told that wonky grommet on the side will be fixed before it lands in shops.

There's a heavy rubberised back that you could probably run off a squash court wall without doing too much damage. The camera (more on that later) is recessed to prevent scratching. And Motorola reckons you can leave this whole thing submerged in water for half an hour before you start getting into trouble. Good news for people in the habit of using their phones in the bath. Or at the beach. 

Just in case you thought those hex screws were just detailing in the plastic, you can sort of see they're the real deal in this close-up.

The Defy isn't without compromise – it runs Android 2.1, not the latest 2.2 (Froyo) version, only has 2GB of on-board storage and has an 800MHz processor, clocking a bit under the 1GHz we expect from current-generation hardware. But Motorola hasn't scrimped on the camera – a 5MP snapper with LED flash.

There's no evidence of it on this app screen, but we're assured that despite the Eclair-flavoured OS on the Defy, you will be able to use it as a wireless hotspot when it launches.

So, that's the Defy. Should you get one? First impressions: this may be the best smartphone available for rugged outdoorsy types or the plain clumsy. It may be arriving with an older version of Android than we'd like, but there's life in 2.1 yet, especially if Motorola delivers on its Wi-Fi hotspot promise. And at least it shouldn't put too much strain on that 800MHz processor.