Motorola FlipOut for AT&T – First Impressions

We just got back from demoing an onslaught of Android-based handsets from Motorola and there was one in particular I really wanted to get my hands on. The Motorola FLIPOUT might not be the most exciting device for people like you and myself who appreciate a good combination of braun and beauty, but Motorola’s not here to please just one crowd.

The FlipOut isn’t the performance beast you’d want to handle all of the heavy lifting of intense mobile computing, but the device also isn’t for the person that needs to do a lot of heavy lifting to begin with. And there are a lot of people that fit right into that category. For the sake of comparison, the Symbian operating system powers many low-powered, cost-efficient handsets around the world. Their platform isn’t number one because of how many smartphones Symbian is on, it’s because of how many feature phones it’s on. Most people who own a phone with Symbian aren’t even aware that it’s Symbian. This is the type of market penetration Motorola’s getting at with the FlipOut.

Affordability attracts a ludicrously large amount of people, and when Motorola shows those people what they can do with a phone that won’t break their bank, they’re hoping people are going to want to flock to that product. This is what the FlipOut is all about, and this is what Motorola’s overall strategy with Android is all about.

I digress, though, because these are supposed to be my impressions of the device. I sat down with the FlipOut for a decent amount of time today and while I wasn’t completely blown away, I was able to play out the age-old scenario of a teen or a light smartphone user who would pick this up to do their cliche bidding of texting, emailing, and web browsing.

The first thing I’m drawn to is the keyboard, of course. The phone flips out to reveal a full 5-row QWERTY keyboard for those who aren’t really keen on typing on a screen that small. (And the screen is small, indeed, clocking in at 2.8-inches with a QVGA resolution.) The keys had great track and feel, but were just a little too scrunched together for my taste (though this could be because I have hands the size of coconuts.) I had no problems with “clickability,” if you will, but it still wasn’t as fast as when I took it to the virtual keyboard (which I didn’t have many problems with considering how little room I had to work with.)

Backing Android 2.1 with MOTOBLUR (yes, Motorola’s still using MOTOBLUR despite their plans to eventually move away from it) is a very respectable TI OMAP processor (still not sure which one) clocked at 720 MHz and working in conjunction with a PowerVR SGX 530 GPU. This won’t “cut through the web like a circular saw through a banana,” but it’ll make for some pretty speedy activity when switching between apps, browsing the web, and typing to your heart’s content.

Motorola-FlipOut-Android-MotoBlur-official-2

One thing I was pretty disappointed with was the phone’s camera. I didn’t expect it to keep up with the likes of the Motorola DROID 2 or the Droid Pro, but I didn’t think the muddy quality it eventually ended up producing would bother me as much as it did. (Mind you, it’s only a 3-megapixel sensor but I’ve gotten better quality out of other devices with similar specs.) I wish I could say for sure what the problem is, though, because I couldn’t tell whether or not this was because of the low-resolution screen or the quality of the camera’s sensor. The only way for me to be sure would’ve been to export the images and take a look on my computer, but I didn’t have much time to do that. Even with giving the FlipOut the benefit of the doubt in this area, I didn’t walk away too satisfied.

Other than that, though, everything was business as usual. When you take away Android, MOTOBLUR, and all of the features you expect to make up any minimal Android handset these days, the FlipOut is a unique and fun communication tool that’ll catch on by virtue of its form-factor and “flipout” mechanism alone. And if that means getting more Android devices into more hands, then I’m all for the large pool of different and unique devices we’ve been so fortunate to enjoy these days.

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  • Dave

    I imagine the teenaged demographic they’re going for will be very understanding when they hear about or see a cool new app and then discover their phone can’t run it because it’s using a 10-month old version of Android that will never be updated (judging by Motorola’s track record so far). Yup, if there’s one thing teens are known for its patience and understanding.

  • Devon

    To be fair, how many apps require v2.2? Most apps coming out right now only require 2 or 2.1. While I agree that it is very annoying that Motorola has yet to release the update for my Backflip, as long as the device has 2.1 loaded on it then it should be able to handle most of the apps coming out. At least until android 3 comes out. remember that this phone is more for the casual/social user and not the power user who is going to be looking for all the latest apps. I would wager that the people this phone is being marketed to wouldn’t even miss the apps that require 2.2 or even know they exist. That being said, PLEASE UPDATE MY BACKFLIP MOTOROLA!

  • christian

    wierd ass low end phone

  • buckets-o-bots

    flip out with FlipOut

  • Mdroid

    CPU is Texas Instruments OMAP3410, originally clocked at 600MHz and overclocked to 720MHz by Motorola.
    http://developer.motorola.com/products/flipout-me511/
    OMAP3410 doesn’t have PowerVR SGX 530 graphics core:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Instruments_OMAP

  • bobbert

    people always assume teens want cheap shit like this. im a teen and al my friends and i that have android phones ahve evos, droids, etc and i have the g2. teens dont want shit like this, were not retarded. we know a good device when we see one

  • ♫Sav v♫

    this phone looks as stupid and as useless as the back-flip.Like honestly,nobody is going to buy it when there are way better phones at the same price.Its just a phone to take up shelf space and why doesn’t motorola understand that if nobody bought the back-flip,why would somebody but an even dumber looking phone??

    ♫♪♫♪HTC ALL THE WAY♫♪♫♪

  • JJFNIGHTS80

    GAY, GAY, GAY, GAY , GAY. I hate MOTOROLA! And I’m stuck on AT&T!

  • gltovar

    bobbert the reason it appeals to teens is the fact not every teen has parents with deep pockets or a job where they can afford a 200+ dollar phone with a 90 dollar a month fee.

  • bobbert

    @gltovar well then why doesnt it appeal to adults without deep pockets?

  • Roy

    moto shit, wake up people and stop giving this shower your money.

  • gltovar

    @bobbert because there is a generational divide when it comes to that technology. A lot of the 30+ year old people aren’t as connected (just statistically) as the younger generation, or care about the vast majority of the features the phones offer. (short of the iphone which is more of a brand awareness than feature use)

  • John Smith

    The Motorola Flip is an excellent quick messaging phone! One can find a cool deal for this phone here: http://mobile-store.dell.com/motorola-flip-out-for-at-t-8824.html

  • Emilie

    I have had this phone since Christmas and I’m not that impressed. It’s one of their first android phones and you can tell it crashes and awful lot and that has irritated me more than anything!