The Motorola Backflip is a flip phone with a full QWERTY keyboard, an innovative Backtrack touch navigation feature, and a 5 megapixel camera with 4X zoom.
It is currently the only Android OS-based smartphone available from AT&T Wireless, and is $100 with a new two-year contract.
DESIGN & BUILD
The Backflip has a very interesting design, and in some ways it succeeds. It's not a standard clamshell -- the screen flips around from behind the keyboard, which is always exposed. I like the reverse-flip nature of the design because it allows me to access the keyboard very quickly, but it feels strange in the hand because there isn't a smooth back of the phone.
This device is relatively narrow and tall, but very thick, so it's a little too fat to put into a pocket without creating an unsightly bulge.
When you flip the screen around, the Backtrack area behind the display is exposed. This is one of the coolest features of the phone; in essence it's a touchpad that helps you scroll through web pages, move from item to item in menus, etc. I really like the concept, though in practice I found that it was often slower to use the Backtrack navigation pad than to just use the arrow keys on the physical keyboard.
The Backflip has a 3.1-inch touchscreen display running at 480 x 320 resolution. It's not bad, but it isn't as bright and vibrant as some competing devices. The main issue seems to be that everything is somewhat pixelated, from text to photos.
It isn't a bad display by any means; I've probably just been spoiled by all of the OLED goodness on some of the devices I've reviewed recently.
Like many recent phones, however, you aren't going to be seeing much of anything on the Backflip if you're trying to use it outside in direct sunlight -- you'll have to shade the screen with your hand or try to find a bit of shade.
The keyboard is rather good, which surprised me. I thought at first that it would be difficult to use because there isn't much definition of or separation between the keys. The keys are large enough, though, that if I just "let go" of my suppositions and type, I'm able to go very fast and very accurately. The only slight concern is the small space bar, but I adjusted to that quickly.
The keys are backlit for use in low light situations, and the letters and symbols on the keys are very large and easy to read.
Despite its unusual design, the Backflip is fairly standard in many repects. When closed, the power button and headphone jack are on the top, while the volume and camera shutter buttons as well as the charge/sync port are on the right, The left side of the phone is the hinge for the keyboard, and there are no buttons or ports on the bottom edge of the phone.
The back is the QWERTY keyboard, as well as the camera lens and flash. The battery cover is on the back of the keyboard. The SIM card and the microSD slot are located in that back compartment, but thankfully neither one is actually underneath the battery.
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