AT&T includes only the essentials in the sales package: an AC adapter, a USB cable, and reference material. One accessory you probably won't have to get is a desktop dock. Opening the Backflip to a 90-degree angle sends the phone into media mode much like the Droid when it's docked into the multimedia station, so it will display the date and time, weather, and alarm clock. You can also launch a slideshow and have the Backflip act like a digital photo frame. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and home page.
Similar to the Cliq and the Motorola Devour, the Backflip uses Motoblur software, which helps merge contact information from various e-mail accounts and social networking sites, including Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Exchange, Twitter, and Picasa, into a master list. In addition, e-mails (aside from Gmail) are combined into a universal in-box and appointments are also combined into one calendar.
To help you distinguish between accounts, a small icon is displayed next to each message indicating which account it came from and calendar entries are color-coded. We had no problems syncing up our Exchange (via Outlook Web Access), Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook, and Twitter accounts to the Backflip. Gmail messages arrived almost instantaneously, though appointments took a few minutes to show up on the phone. Outlook messages were retrieved every 15 minutes, just as we programmed it to do.
Motoblur goes beyond contact management, though. It also offers various widgets that can be added to the phone's five home screens that show new status updates, messages, and other happenings. It's definitely overwhelming at first, but once you learn to customize it to your needs, it can be a great resource. You can read more about Motoblur in our full review of the Motorola Cliq.
Beyond Motoblur, the Backflip doesn't hold many surprises in the features department. In fact, it's a bit behind the times since it's only running Android 1.5, so you're not even getting some of the benefits of
For now, you get all the Android staples--Android Webkit HTML browser, Android Market, Amazon MP3 Store, Gmail, Google Talk, Google Maps, and YouTube. Interestingly, the default search engine on the Backflip is Yahoo instead of Google, and from what we could see, there's no way to change it back to Google. The QuickOffice suite allows you to view but not edit or create Microsoft Office documents.
As an AT&T phone, the Backflip also ships with a number of the carrier's services and other extras, including AT&T Music and Video, AT&T Navigator, AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots, AllSport GPS, Yellow Pages Mobile, and Mobile Banking. In addition, to quad-band world roaming, the Backflip features voice dialing, a speakerphone, noise reduction technology, and 3G support. The Backflip is also outfitted with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and aGPS.
For more of an entry-level phone, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the Backflip was equipped with a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash. Unfortunately, some of that enthusiasm faded when we saw how it performed. Not only was picture quality a bit hazy and washed out, there was also quite a bit of lag when starting the camera, and it also caused the phone to spontaneously reboot at one point during our testing period.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; WCDMA 950/1900/2100) Motorola Backflip in New York using AT&T service and call quality was mixed. On our end, we enjoyed crisp, clear audio with no trace of background noise or voice distortion, and we had no problem using an airline's voice-automated response system. Unfortunately, the same didn't hold true for our callers, as they reported static on their end but only during lulls in the conversation. Surprisingly, the speakerphone provided even better sound quality on both sides of the conversation. There was no hollowness to the calls and voices sounded rich and full. Friends also praised the speakerphone audio for being pristine. Finally, we had no problems pairing the Backflip with the Logitech Mobile Traveller and Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.
AT&T's 3G network provided reliable and speedy coverage throughout Manhattan. CNET's full site loaded in an impressive 19 seconds, while CNN and ESPN's mobile sites loaded in 8 seconds and 7 seconds, respectively. YouTube and AT&T Videos buffered in just a couple of seconds. YouTube video quality varied, but clips from AT&T Video were almost unwatchable since the picture was so murky. We had better luck with an MPEG4 movie trailer, as the image was smooth and we nearly fell out of our chair after hearing the blaring audio. The Backflip has one of the most powerful speakers we've ever heard on a phone, and we're not just talking volume. The sound is rich and full, not tinny, and it's the same whether you're listening through the phone or through a pair of headphones.
The Backflip is equipped with a 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7201A processor and it just doesn't have the stamina to keep up. The smartphone lagged and struggled at times with even the simplest tasks, such as switching screen orientation or merely pulling up an e-mail. As we mentioned earlier, the camera app also crashed our phone. Though we'd like to see Android 2.1 on this device, we're wondering if the Backflip can even handle it.
The Backflip ships with a 1400mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 6 hours and up to 13.5 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests we were able to get 6.75 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the Backflip has a digital SAR rating of 1.37 watts per kilogram.