Motorola BACKFLIP review: Back and forth

GSMArena team, 18 March 2010.
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Tiny retail package

The moderately-sized retail box does well to cover the basics. A charger is supplied, along with a microUSB cable to use with it, or connect to a computer. There is also a one-piece headset which isn't your only option though since the BACKFLIP has a 3.5 mm jack.

There is also a 2GB microSD card bundled with the BACKFLIP. Don’t go looking for it in the box though – it’s already inserted into the device and ready to use.

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The BACKFLIP retail package

Motorola BACKFLIP 360-degree spin

At 108 x 53 x 15.3 mm the Motorola BACKFLIP is obviously not the smallest QWERTY smartphone out there but still reasonably compact. The front of it looks very much like the iPhone but we guess this is the least likely of all phones to be blamed of being a copycat.

The hinge is solid, allowing still a smooth and effortless folding motion. In its open position the screen is not absolutely level with the keyboard, but has a slight tilt for comfortable viewing. The whole setup is secure and easy to use. The keyboard is spacious and offers quite a number of handy shortcuts.

It’s interesting that there’s an automatic desk mode. When you open the flip to a certain extent, the screen automatically rotates in landscape mode and displays a special standby screen with a large clock. There’s even a convenient option of starting an image slideshow from this standby screen.

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The BACKFLIP compared with the Apple iPhone 3G

The BACKFLIP weighs 133 grams and it feels just perfect. The lower deck (keyboard) accounts for much of this weight allowing a secure hold when typing.

Design and construction

It’s pretty much the folding communicator form factor but not in the buttoned-down style of business devices. The Motorola BACKFLIP is keen to flaunt its buttons and that’s what makes it unusual. The outward facing keyboard may be too eccentric but we still think the BACKFLIP will connect with its target audience.

The Motorola BACKFLIP packs a 3.1” capacitive touchscreen with 320x480 pixel resolution. The size and the resolution are OK, but we’re not impressed with the colors and sunlight legibility.

The BACKFLIP’s display is 256K-color capable but, due to Android OS 1.5 restrictions, the effective colors are 65K. Banding is quite prominent.

Upgrading to later Android versions with support for 256 000 colors will possibly resolve this issue. Unfortunately nothing can fix the poor sunlight performance.

On a positive note, the capacitive touchscreen is very responsive.

When you unfold the keyboard the UI automatically rotates to landscape mode.

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The BACKFLIP display is OK, but the sunlight legibility is poor

Below the display there are three capacitive controls, which are equally sensitive so the transition to and from the touchscreen is seamless. The touch-sensitive buttons have solid backlighting and nice haptic feedback.

Apart from a dedicated Search key, the typical Android buttons are on hand – Back, Menu and Home. The Search key is placed on the QWERTY keyboard.

The earpiece is centrally placed above the display, a subtle Motorola logo and a proximity sensor on each side.

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The three keys below the display are touch-sensitive too • the earpiece on top

The left side of the Motorola BACKFLIP features no controls – it’s where the hinge is. By contrast, the right side is quite corwded – there’s the volume rocker, microUSB port and the shutter key.

The microUSB port has no protective cap over it. Instead, there’s a green LED enclosing the actual connector, which emits light when you plug the charging or data cable. It also blinks to alert when the battery charge drops below 15%.

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The microUSB port has a status LED

On top we find the power/screen-lock key and the 3.5 mm audio jack.

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The power key is right next to the 3.5mm audio jack • the bottom side is empty

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