For Internet, the built-in Android browser opens to AT&T's Yahoo page by default, but a trip to the browser settings can change this. Bookmarks, tabbed browsing, and pinch-to-zoom are de rigueur, and there's also support for Adobe Flash Lite.
The Flipside is adept at communications. E-mail is one of Android's most compelling draws, and the Flipside makes use of it with Microsoft Exchange support. In addition, you can read e-mail from most Web mail (POP3) accounts, like Hotmail and Yahoo. There's an optional universal inbox that gathers together e-mail and communication from multiple sources, like Facebook and texting, in a single chronological stream. Some may like this approach, but we find that it quickly gets cluttered. Motoblur is a predominantly social tool, with built-in home screen widgets for reading and updating social networks. Yes, you'll find text and multimedia messaging, too, plus an IM module for chatting with AIM, Windows Live Messenger, or Yahoo Messenger. Additional chat apps are available in the Android Market.
The Flipside's 3-megapixel camera takes pictures in three resolutions. As with the square-shaped Motorola Flipout, the Flipside's editing options are limited to a panoramic mode, a digital zoom, and photo tagging (either custom or by location). Photos looked quite dull on their own, but the built-in Kodak Perfect Touch filter added the right jolt of color more often than not. Other editing features let you crop, rotate, flip, and resize. You can further adjust brightness and contrast and color levels, plus add color filters like sepia. Clip art, stamps, and frames are other on-camera customization options after you snap a shot. Like the camera, the camcorder offers three resolutions, but it has no other customization features. Your shooting time is limited by the available memory. The Flipside has 512MB of internal memory and comes with a 2GB microSD card preloaded in the phone.
If you're familiar with Android's stock music player, you'll immediately know your way around the Flipside's identical module. There are two kinds of music shuffles, support for album art, when available, and the ability to create organized playlists and playlists on the fly. We've never been blown away by it, but with a decent set of headphones, you can rock your tunes without incident. The subscription service AT&T Radio ($4.99 per month) gives you access to local radio and Last.fm, plus other content. However, you can use the FM Tuner for free. (Editors' note: Last.fm is a part of CBS Interactive, which publishes CNET Reviews.)
We tested the 3G, quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Motorola Flipside in San Francisco using AT&T's network. Motorola may have added its CrystalTalk Plus technology to the Flipside, but call quality was very poor on our end nonetheless. Although voice volume sounded fine, a persistent white noise settled over the duration of one call like a thick audio fog; it didn't dissipate when we hung up and called again. We heard a strong echo of our words in another call, as well as a delay that made conversations awkwardly plod along.
On their side, callers sometimes noticed background emptiness, but did not hear the echo we did.
Speakerphone volume was loud and clearer than the typical call. Voices did sound a tad hollow. Our friends said our voice volume cut in half when we turned on speakerphone, but our conversation sounded clear enough.
Motorola Flipside call quality sample
Internet worked well over AT&T's data network. Web sites like CNN's mobile site loaded with sharply rendered images in about 7 seconds.
The Flipside has a rated battery life of 6 hours of talk time and 15.5 days of standby time. According to our tests, it has a talk time of 3 hours and 27 minutes. FCC tests measured a digital SAR of 0.5 watt per kilogram.