Motorola Backflip Android smartphone
Review Motorola's embrace of Android has certainly got the company's creative juices flowing. For the Backflip it has eschewed the traditional slide-out keyboard design and cooked up something altogether new.
Star turn? Motorola's Backflip
The name Backflip perfectly describes the new form factor. Hold the phone in landscape with the screen facing and you can flip the keyboard down from the back through 180 degrees until it ends up sitting below the screen. If that doesn't make sense Motorola has put together an explanatory video. You need have no worries about the large single hinge that connects the two parts of the handset. It's a very solid affair.
This rather funky design has three advantages. Firstly, the keyboard-mounted camera can be used for taking pictures in the conventional manner or as a webcam for self-portraits depending upon the keyboard's orientation.
Secondly you can sit the Backflip on a table and angle the screen to watch video which is good news if you plan on using your phone as a PMP. Set it to table-top mode and in standby a large clock appears making it a handy bedside timepiece.
Finally the back of the screen is home to a PC-like touch-pad called a BackTrak, that lets you scroll or pan about the screen without your fingers getting in the way. Selecting something is a simple matter of double-taping the pad. It's an interesting idea that I found easy to use after a little practice. Yet, it's as much a gimmick as a true advance in smartphone control.
Gapless Qwerty keyboard keeps out the crud
The powerfully backlit keyboard is nicely laid out with three rows of alpha-numeric keys partially surrounded by a range of handy shortcuts. The keys themselves though are rather flat and lifeless and have a shallow pitch making typing easy, if not exactly enjoyable. Potential damage resulting from the keyboard being constantly exposed to the elements is offset by the sturdy single-sheet design which leaves no gaps to let grit or dust in.
At this point, providing Android 1.5 is similar to selling a modern PC with Windows 98. It's Android without the ability to run the latest Maps, Gmail, Voice Actions, or any non-Google app with requirements beyond the very least sophisticated.
Separately from this, providing the upgrade to 2.1 for US customers but not anyone else is just disgusting. Don't get treated as a second class customer, don't put up with mutton being sold as lamb, don't buy it.
Nice phone, shame about the OS sums it up nicely
Yet another really nice phone from Motorola. There was a time when saying that would have raised a hollow laugh, but it's true, their hardware designers really are on form these days. That was why I bought a DEXT. But really, no software upgrades mean I've bought my last Motorola. I'm not going to get stung like that again. I'd rather have a nasty phone with an up-to-date OS than a well-designed and robust phone that won't run the apps I want to have.
Advice from someone who already owns a Motorola Android phone: don't buy this one. Sorry, I'd love to recommend what is almost certainly a good phone, but can't recommend a company that leaves its customers out in the cold like that.
Motorola made an update commitment
I bought a Backflip some 6 months ago. At that time and even now (!!) Motorola promised an update to Android 2.x for Q3 on its Western European web page for the Backflip. That was the reason I bought a phone with a very outdated Android 1.5 . In my view that update promise is a firm commitment.
The reception and transmission quality is not very good. With my old RAZR I could have a telephone conversation on places where the Backflip looses the connection.
Funny, this just killed the Moto Defy for me...
Was really thinking about NOT buying an iPhone upgrade, but buying the Defy when it comes out in a few weeks, as I sail and a waterproof phone would be a good thing...
But this treating non-US customers differentially is just shite, really. Totally unacceptable, regardless of reasoning (probably due to reseller/channel/carrier issues, I would guess). But in the end - I DON'T CARE - I will NOT be treated as a second-class citizen just due to the side of the Atlantic I live on. HP does it with their laptops, others do it - but Samsung seems to do it less, and Apple also seems to be pretty good at treating it's customers as global customers.
I'll get a waterproof case for my iPhone, thanks for playing Moto...
Nice design, poor performance/quality
I bought this phone right after it came out because it was the first Android phone available for AT&T (I really didn't want to get an iPhone). Initially I thought it was great (my previous phone was a Blackberry Pearl from work). However, since this was my first Android experience, I didn't have much to compare it to.
I like the keyboard flip out design. I have always been a much bigger fan of physical keyboards than virtual keyboards, and it seems like more and more Android phones are moving to virtual-only handsets. However, that's about the only thing that really stands out. It has poor video quality, a lackluster processor, and measly storage included. Oh, and it's still stuck on Android 1.5 (and based upon the Motorola timeline, no one knows when 2.1 will *actually* be released in the USA). I personally think they are still releasing it in the USA to avoid a class action lawsuit for falsely advertising that it was upgradeable to Android 2.0. This makes me question how the performance will be. The phone has been rooted recently, and the people that have done it have said good things, but I don't think I want to take the risk (I have to use the phone for work).
Personally, I'm looking at something in the Samsung Galaxy S series, such as the Captivate. My wife recently bought one and it's pretty nice. It has a lot nicer screen, it's much faster, and it already has Android 2.1.