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Review: Motorola Backflip

Just recently my beloved Nokia e66 passed away in a freak water related accident (read: it fell in the loo). I was far enough through my contract that I was able to update to the Backflip. I'd been looking at Android mobile phones for a while now to see if I could find one that would be suitable for what I do and the Backflip looked like it fit the bill. I want a phone that does the following:

  • email
  • texting
  • simple games
  • WiFi
  • good application support

The Backflip specs didn't fill me with excitement initially but it does have something I really like - a full QWERTY keyboard. Although the onscreen keyboard of the device is pretty good and the screen is big enough I can drive it easily, I like the tactile feedback of real keys. My iPhone drives me crazy periodically with typing difficulties and so the Backflip came into it's own with this.

Prior to purchasing the Backflip I noted that there were quite a few reviews out there that paid out on the phone for it's lack of application support - that it wasn't able to deploy 3rd party apps and you were restricted to Motorola applications that work with it's specialised user interface called MotoBlur. I found this to be inaccurate and that you are able to install 3rd party apps, without any fancy hacking or anything else. The number of apps available is immense and certainly as large as the Apple iTunes store. Motoblur is a specialised interface designed by Motorola and it is this which is currently holding the Backflip at Android 1.5. Apparently in the next quarter it's designed to be upgraded to Android 2.1.

The phone is very usable - as both a phone (!) and as a mobile email/texting device. I don't use Facebook or Twitter or MySpace so I don't have all the feeds coming in - but that's what this device is geared for. It's supposed to be able to keep you up to date with all the trivia of your friends' lives and so forth. For me, that just makes life more complex and kills your battery! After a full days use of email/text and voice calls, I still have 70% battery life at the end of the day. Given that the Backflip as a USB port it's easy to charge it from laptop or desktop PCs. I like the flip of the keyboard too - it's a nice little keyboard to use and provides reasonable tactile feedback. The screen flip works well too and the screen itself is bright and easy to read.

Although the phone is sometimes a bit slow to do things this is generally because I'll leave a lot of apps open. The memory management is pretty good though and sorts itself out relatively quickly. I use a task management app to clean the RAM up periodically and get it working happily again.

As a phone, the speaker is clear and it generally has good reception. It's a light phone and it's comfortable on the ear when I'm in a call. Even one call lasting 45 minutes didn't leave me with a numb ear as sometimes happens with my iPhone.

All in all I find the Backflip to be a good phone and I'm happy to have it. I'm very much looking forward to the upgrade to Android 2.1 which should be soon.


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