Posts Tagged ‘blur’

Guru Inspection: MOTO Backflip Review

March 7, 2010 3 comments

Finally AT&T has launched their first Android device. The device they decided to debut the Android OS is none other than the MOTO Backflip by Motorola. The Backflip has a very unique hardware design and is definitely a first of its kind. Does the MOTO Backflip pass the Guru inspection? Read on to find out and make sure you check out the unboxing video HERE.

So AT&T has finally released their first Android device, the MOTO Backflip. The Backflip runs Android 1.5 with Motorola’s customized Blur skin, sports a 5mp camera with video, full QWERTY keyboard, Wifi, GPS, and all of the other standard fixins you would expect from a modern smart phone. First impressions of the device are very positive. When I first saw pictures of the Backflip, I immediately thought it was going to feel cheap and plasticky, while it actually feels very good in the hand and has a little weight to it. This is the first Blur device I have used so it took a second to get my Blur account setup and my social networking sites added. It was a pretty straight forward process and it synced all the information rather quickly. I found while typing in passwords and user names from my different accounts, the keyboard was about average to use. Overall first impressions were pretty good, so what about the rest of the device?


The Backflip is a truly unique device when it comes to hardware. Motorola is known for their quality, and they do not disappoint with the MOTO Backflip. Although the design choice is odd, the Backflip feels solid and not at all cheap like I initially thought it would feel. The hinge is not spring-loaded, but it does have a very rigid feel when flipping it open and closed. The Backflip sports its keyboard on the actual back of the device and when flipped out, the screen and keyboard look like they would on a standard slider phone. Behind the screen, when flipped open, is a touch sensitive panel called “BACKTRACK” which lets you slide your finger over that to navigate versus using the touchscreen. I honestly do not like this at all and found it pretty difficult to use opposed to just using the touchscreen. Thankfully the BACKTRACK can be turned off in the settings menu. The keyboard is one full piece covered by a membrane and the buttons are nicely sized. The downside is that they do not very much tactile and when pressed down some of the top and bottom row buttons don’t “pop” back up like the ones in the middle. I found the keyboard to be better than what is found on the Droid, but not as good as the T-Mobile G1.

On the face of the Backflip you will find a 3.1 inch capacitive touchscreen with touch sensitive buttons underneath it. These buttons works rather well and offer nice haptic feedback when pressed. The screen has a slight amount of give to it and is not as solid feeling as the iPhone or Nexus One, but on par with most touchscreen phones. I have not found any issues with responsiveness, and although it is small, it works quite well. The Backflip’s screen resolution is 320×480 and is actually very bright despite being standard LCD and not OLED.

Check out the video for a quick look at the MOTO Backflip’s hardware:

The MOTO Backflip sports a 5mp camera with led flash and video. I did some test shots against the Nexus One and the flash is much brighter on the Backflip, but seems to not pick up as much color. Another nice thing for you Myspace/Facebook junkies, is that with the keyboard flipped out it is really easy to take self portraits. You can see your self in the view finder, so snagging those pics of you and the misses with someone famous (like the Gurus) is a very easy.

Here are some comparisons shots between the Nexus One’s 5mp camera and the Backflip’s 5mp camera:

Top – Nexus One, Bottom- Backflip

Top – Nexus One, Bottom- Backflip

Under the hood the MOTO Backflip is powered by a 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM7201a processor, which is the same processor as the G1, CLIQ, HTC Hero and many other Android devices. Internal memory is 256mb, but only 198mb was available to me out of the box. The Backflip comes with a 2GB micro SD card and is expandable up to 32GB. It’s all pretty standard compared to other devices on the market.

The Backflip gets its juice from a 1400 mah lion battery. In my testing I found the battery to be fairly good. With that said, that is not good enough. My Nexus One has a bigger screen, faster processor, same size battery, and it lasted as long as the Backflip. These findings just don’t add up when I used them pretty equally. My only explanation is that Blur is pulling from all of my social services and eating away battery in standby faster than a vanilla Android device in the same conditions.

The main question everyone wants answered is, does the weird backflip thingy actually work? The answer is yes it does and it is surprisingly useful. When flipped out all the way, the hinge positions the screen and keyboard just right for holding in two hands. The screen is angled slightly so it does not sit 100% flat and positions itself at a nice angle for viewing. When half way closed, the phone sits on a desk nicely and activates desktop mode which shows you the time, date and weather. All the information is displayed in a similar fashion to the Motorola Droid, but the Backflip does not need a cradle to do so. Watching movies or videos on the Backflip is really nice when in “desktop mode” since it can be positioned without having to hold it. The keyboard is recessed into the back of the phone so the buttons won’t actually touch the surface it is sitting on. Also since the keyboard is all one piece, I wouldn’t worry about dust, lint, and what not getting in between the keys. So although the Backflip is a very strange and unique, it is also functional and the hardware is rock solid.


Motorola has skinned stock Android 1.5 with their Blur interface, which is focused heavily on social networking. I won’t go into too much detail about Blur, as it has been out on the CLIQ for some time. What I will say is that Blur does skin the interface and give you 5 home screens versus Android’s standard 3, but it is not as deep as Sense UI. What I mean by that is, HTC went further into the OS and more customized with their skin. Is that a good or  bad thing? Android 1.5 is not going to win any awards for looks and Blur doesn’t do too much to help. I find Blur’s widgets to look very cluttered and they take up a lot of needless space. I understand Motorola wants you to use these widgets instead of opening an app to get your information, but the fact is the widgets aren’t as good as a full app, nor do they look as nice. Blur takes all of your contacts from your social networking sites and dumps them into one massive contacts list. You do have the ability to filter what you see and that is nice, but it still is a pain to manually go through and match you friends Twitter names to their contact profile. Facebook isn’t so bad as your friend’s name will likely match up with what you have in in your contacts list and Blur will pull their profile pictures for you. Another really nice feature of Blur is it stores your data on Motorola’s servers so if you lose your device you can, locate it, remote wipe it, and re-sync your information on a new device. It’s almost like Mobile Me, but comes at no additional cost.

Guru Inspection:

The MOTO Backflip is a good device with solid and unique hardware and an interface that is fun to use and nice on the eyes. With that said the Backflip has a very obvious target market, and tech geeks and phone obsessed folks are not that market. The screen is a little small for me and even though it is the same resolution as the Hero, G1, etc.., things don’t look as crisp on the display. I can’t even compare the screen of the Backflip to a Droid or Nexus One, it’s not a fair race at all. I have only used the Backflip for a short time, but I did not experience any massive slow down from the device. It is responsive and performs most tasks very quickly. It wont be able to handle 3D graphics as well as the Nexus One or Droid due to it’s older processor, but again, I don’t think it is aimed for that. The Backflip is a killer phone if all you need is to text, talk, use social networks on the go, and dabble slightly in 3rd party apps. So does the MOTO Backflip pass the Guru Inspection? Yes. Would The Boss Guru use one? No.

[UPDATE] I just dicovered via Engadget and confirmed on my own Backflip, you can not install non-market apps on the MOTO Backflip! Not good considering its an “open” OS. Major AT&T Fail on that one.

Check out more images below:


MOTO Backflip Unboxing Video

March 5, 2010 1 comment

The Gurus managed to snag a MOTO Backflip a couple days before its launch. We will be doing a full review here pretty soon, but to hold you over, take a look at the video and a couple pics below.