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Mot flips out with new Android phone

Jan 7, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Motorola announced its third Android phone, featuring a reverse-flip QWERTY keyboard and Mot's MotoBlur UI. The Backflip is equipped with a 528MHz Qualcomm processor, and offers 2GB of memory, a 3.1-inch 480 x 320 touchscreen, WiFi, Bluetooth, aGPS, five-megapixel camera, and a “Backtrack” touchpanel on the back of the device.

With so many Android phones to choose from, any new phone — especially a modestly powered one like the Backflip — needs to have a gimmick. In the Backflip's case, it has at least three, and they all appear as if they might be useful.

First, the Backflip gets its name from its reverse-flip, tabletop mode design (see image below). As Michelle Maisto describes it in our sister publication, eWEEK, "The device opens up — the screen sliding up to reveal a QWERTY keyboard, and then continuing backward toward a 45-degree-ish angle that enables the phone to prop itself up for hands-free video watching. Or as a — albeit pricey — bedside clock."

Backflip, open
(Click to enlarge)

Another singular feature is a touch-panel located on the back side of the device called the Backtrack (see image below). This enables users to scroll through web pages, texts, emails, and news feeds without obscuring the screen with their fingers.

In addition, Motorola offers user access to their devices over the web, enabling them to erase all data in case the phone is lost or stolen. Users can also locate the device, says Motorola, apparently using GPS. The user name and password can also be restored remotely, says the company.

Backflip from rear, showing Backtrack touch-panel

The Backflip shares its MotoBlur UI with Motorola's first Android phone, the Cliq, which is available on T-Mobile, and many of the features are quite similar to the Cliq's. The 2.1 x 4.3 x 0.6-inch Backflip is a little smaller than the Cliq, and considerably more petite than the more advanced Droid by Motorola, available on Verizon Wireless.

Motorola did not mention potential carrier support, but with the HTC-manufactured, Google-branded Nexus One starring over at T-Mobile, Mot might be better off at Verizon where it would only need to compete with the HTC Hero-esqe Eris Droid. In addition, AT&T announced this week that it would offer a Motorola Android phone featuring MotoBlur in the coming months, in what was touted as an exclusive relationship.

The Backflip runs on a modest 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7200A processor, the same as that used by the HTC Hero. Equipped with a 2GB microSD card, the phone can handle cards of up to 32GB, says Motorola. The 3.1-inch 480 x 320 touchscreen is accompanied by a backlit QWERTY keyboard, and the aforementioned Backtrack panel.

Backflip showing its QWERTY personality

Running on WCDMA, GSM, HDSPA, and EDGE networks, the phone also provides 802.11b/g WiFi, as well as Bluetooth, and aGPS wireless capabilities. The five-megapixel camera offers continuous zoom, LED flash, autofocus, and image editing.

The MotoBlur UI layer works closely with a MotoBlur "push" web service, which streams integrated messaging and social networking update data to the user. This widget-happy interface integrates communications ranging from email to social networking activity, streaming together and syncing updates to contacts, posts, messages, photos, and data.

MotoBlur can pull from sources including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Gmail, as well as work and personal email, says the company. MotoBlur delivers these messages to the homescreen using a novel UI that combines thought balloon pop-up messages with the photos of the senders.

Backflip in portrait mode
(Click to enlarge)

Specifications listed for the Backflip are said to include:

  • Processor — Qualcomm MSM 7200A @ 528MHz
  • Memory — 2GB microSD card; supports up to 32GB cards
  • Display — 3.1-inch HVGA (480 x 320) 256k TFT touchscreen
  • Cellular — WCDMA 850/1900/2100, GSM 850/900/1800/1900; HSDPA 7.2 Mbps (category 7/8); EDGE Class 12; GPRS Class 12
  • WiFi — 802.11 b/g
  • Bluetooth — Stereo Bluetooth Class 2, v2.0
  • GPS — aGPS v2.0
  • USB — USB 2.0 (High Speed) microUSB
  • Camera — 5-megapixel with continuous zoom, LED flash, autofocus, image editing
  • Video formats — AAC, H.263, H.264, MP3, MPEG-4, WAV, MIDI, AAC+; 24fps capture
  • Other features:
    • Backlit QWERTY keyboard
    • Backtrack navigation tool
    • Buttons for volume, camera, back, home, lock
    • Keypad lock
    • Speakerphone
    • 3.5mm audio jack
  • Software highlights:
    • MotoBlur UI
    • Web browser
    • Email, IM, voice mail, messaging
    • Photo-sharing on MySpace, Photobucket, Picasa, Facebook
    • Google Maps, Talk, Gmail
    • YouTube
  • Battery — 1400 mAh lithium-ion; up to 5 hours and 50 minutes usage time; up to 13.5 days standby
  • Weight — 4.7 oz. (133 g)
  • Dimensions — 2.1 x 4.3 x 0.6 inches (53 x 108 x 15.3mm)
  • Operating system — Android 1.5 (upgradable to Android 2.x)

Stated Sanjay Jha, co-CEO of Motorola and CEO of Motorola Mobile Devices, "Backflip maximizes the multi-tasking and multi-functional potential of MotoBlur with its unique design elements, making it as smart as it is social."


The Backflip will be available in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia beginning in the first quarter, says Motorola. More information may be found here.

The eWEEK story on the Backflip may be found here.

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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