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CNET First Look
Motorola BackflipAs AT&T's first Android phone, the Motorola Backflip offers a unique design but it's rather lackluster in the features and performance department. It's a decent choice if you're upgrading from a feature phone, but anyone looking for speed and power should...
[ Background Music ] >> Bonnie Cha: Hey everyone I'm Bonnie Cha Senior Editor at CNET.com and today I've got your first look at the Motorola Backflip from AT&T. This is AT&Ts first Google Android device and it'll be available starting March 7th for 99.99 with a 2 year contract. We actually first saw the Backflip at CES 2010 where it won our best of CES award in the cell phones and Smartphone's category because of its unique design. From the front it doesn't look too crazy. You've got a 3.8 inch HVGA touch screen here. It's for the most part clear but it doesn't quite have the brightness and sharpness of some of the other devices we've seen lately. It's also on the smaller side so it's kind of a strain on the eyes when you're reading emails or websites. Below the display you've got 3 touch sensitive controls that let you bring up the menu, go home, or go back to the previous item, all pretty standard design but then you turn it around and you'll see that the QWERTY keyboard is actually the back of the device. The keyboard flips out so it sits beneath the display and it's definitely a different way to approach the flip design since most of the time the keyboard is on the inside. The layout works and the keyboard is pretty spacious and easy to use but I'm a little worried that it's gonna get scuffed up just from having it on the outside. Motorola says that it's tough enough to handle all the exposure but I'm really curious to see what it's gonna look like after a few months of use. So if the keyboard is on the outside what's on the inside of the phone? Well on one side here you've got the speaker and battery compartment and on the other side you've got something called the back track. This is essentially a track pad that you can use to scroll through your pictures, home screen panels and lists. The idea is that it gives you an unobstructed view of the screen since your hands are out of the way but personally I don't find that a huge problem, I think that's the point of having a touch screen in the first place. But the back track works just fine as an alternative and sometimes I found it smoother and faster than using the touch screen, seemed a little temperamental at times. One other cool thing about the Backflip is that when you open it to a 90 degree angle it goes into table top mode where you can see the date, time and weather and you can also launch a slide show and have it act as a digital photo frame. Unfortunately, the design is really the most exciting about the Backflip. The Smartphone is running the older Android 1.5 so you're not even getting some of the benefits of Android 1.6. Moto says it will be upgradable to 2.1 but they didn't give us a timeframe of when that might go out so for now you're just getting basic Android staples like Android market, etube, Gmail, Google Talk and Google Maps. What's interesting though is that AT&T replaced Google search with Yahoo search both on the home screen widget and in the browser. The Backflip isn't technically a Google experience phone so AT&T can customize it all at once but I think that's kind of a kick in the pants for Google that they went with Yahoo. You also do get a bunch of other AT&T services on here as well including AT&T music and video, AT&T navigator and yellow pages mobile. It's also running MOTOBLUR software which merges information from your various email accounts and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail exchange, Yahoo and it also includes home screen widgets that stream news status updates, messages, RSS news feeds and more. Aside from the older OS the biggest problem with Backflip is that it's really laggy. It was sluggish to perform even simple tasks like bringing up an email or switching screen orientation. The camera app is really slow and it even caused our device to reboot at one point during our testing. It's definitely not the strongest start for AT&T on the Android phone but they do have 4 more devices planned for the first half of 2010 so hopefully those will fare better. For not the Backflip is ok if you're just making the jump from a feature phone to your first Smartphone but if you're after serious power I'd say I'd hold off. I'm Bonnie Cha and this has been your first look at the Motorola Backflip for AT&T.