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Motorola AT&T Product Reviews

High Technology Product Reviews | Trends and News | Motorola AT&T Product Reviews
Think all those new touch screen smartphones look too much alike? Motorola has finally hit on a fun new formula with the Flipout, a nifty pivoting square with a highly usable keyboard and (given the phone's small size) a large LCD. You'll pay for the Flipout's originality, as it has one near-fatal flaw and several smaller ones. But it's much more compelling than the bizarre Motorola Backflip ($49.99, 2 stars).

Specifications
Service Provider
AT&T
Screen Size
2.8 inches
Screen Details
320-by-240-pixel, 65K-color TFT LCD capactive touch screen
Camera
Yes
Network
GSM, UMTS
Bands
850, 900, 1800, 1900
High-Speed Data
GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA
Processor Speed
720 MHz
Design, Call Quality, and Hardware
The Motorola Flipout is surprisingly small, if a bit thick. It measures 2.6 by 2.6 by 0.7 inches (HWD) and weighs 4.2 ounces. It's made of silver and black high-impact plastic. A thin metal plate sits behind the slide-up front panel. Holding the Flipout to my ear took a little getting used to; it's an oddball shape, and not the most comfortable. Typing on the five-row QWERTY keyboard was very enjoyable, thanks to the roomy keys and near-perfect spacing. But those with larger hands may want something bigger.

The 2.8-inch LCD offers a disappointing 320-by-240-pixel resolution, the same as the Motorola Charm ($49.99, 2.5 stars). The odd (for Android) resolution means that entire swaths of Android Market apps aren't available for this phone; most of our standard benchmarks weren't there, for example. It also makes fonts look fuzzy and instinct, and it means you'll be scrolling through the UI much more often than with other Android devices.

The Flipout is a quad-band EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) and dual-band HSPA 7.2 (850/1900 MHz) device, meaning that it hits 3G data speeds on AT&T's network here and 2G speeds overseas. It also features 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. Like many recent Motorola devices, the Flipout is a stellar voice phone. Calls sounded loud, clear, and punchy in both directions. External noise rejection wasn't great; one caller asked if I was outside, even though there was little wind or other background noise. Reception was solid.

Calls sounded clear through an Aliph Jawbone Icon ($99, 4 stars) Bluetooth headset. The Nuance-powered voice dialing worked fine over Bluetooth; always a good thing on an Android phone. The speakerphone sounded a little tinny, but it was loud enough for use outdoors. Battery life was disappointing at just 3 hours and 44 minutes of talk time.

The 720 MHz TI OMAP3410 processor features a Cortex-A8 core and a PowerVR SGX GPU. Since the Flipout isn't pushing many pixels, it felt pretty fast in operation. Currently, it runs the newer Android 2.1 out of the box; Motorola has already promised a 2.2 update in the future. That said, my unit didn't feel particularly well finished. It only charged when the microUSB adapter was plugged in just so. Another time, after failing to play a WMA music file (which is fine, since it's a lesser-used format), the Flipout popped up a "Sorry, the player does not support this type of audio file" banner that wouldn't close. The banner floated over the home screen, main menu, and every other app; a hard reset finally cleared it.

Apps, Multimedia, and Conclusions
Motorola has fashioned the Flipout as another Blur device. It's for social network buffs, not geeks or hardcore Android users. Blur lays down a heavy UI skin that integrates Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace updates, along with new music players and an enhanced camera app (more on the latter below). AT&T has also done its part to screw up the Flipout by saddling it with plenty of non-removable bloatware. Some of it, like Where, signs you up for extra monthly fees before you can try it out. You also can't sideload apps, because AT&T locked the Flipout to Android Market apps only. Many regular users just looking for a solid messaging device will be fine with the Flipout, but true Android enthusiasts should choose something else.

The standard-size 3.5mm headphone jack is a boon for music lovers. There's 128MB of internal memory; Motorola throws in a 2GB memory card, and my 16GB SanDisk card worked fine in the side-mounted slot. Music tracks sounded full and clear over Motorola S9-HD ($129.99, 3.5 stars) Bluetooth headphones. The stock music player was easy to use. Standalone WMV, MP4, and 3GP videos played smoothly in full screen mode, with clear stereo Bluetooth audio; even audio through the phone's speaker was surprisingly loud. But colors were a bit flat, and the low screen resolution made everything look pixelated.

The 3-megapixel camera supports geo-tagging but lacks auto-focus, and there's no flash. It features some basic on-board editing tools, including crop, rotate, borders, and a few enhancement tools. Test photos looked overly warm and pink outdoors and in bright indoor rooms; overall light balance and focus were fine. Photos in darker rooms had more natural coloration and a modest amount of noise. Recorded videos were a disappointment. They had decent light balance but muted color, and maxed out at just 352-by-288-pixel resolution and 12 frames per second.

AT&T arguably has the best smartphone lineup at the moment. While it lacks a big-screen mega-phone like the Motorola Droid X, it does have the Apple iPhone 4, as well as the Samsung Captivate, the HTC Aria, the Palm Pre Plus, three Windows Phone 7s and numerous BlackBerrys. With the Flipout, you're almost guaranteed to start some chatter among your friends. But you're also giving up a lot with the swivel design. If the Flipout had a much higher-res screen and an aluminum body, it could have competed at the high-end. As it stands, it's a cute smartphone with one nifty trick, and that's about it.

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