The Motorola Flipout may not sound like anything out of the ordinary at first. It has a touchscreen, QWERTY keyboard and runs on the Android operating system, but it is slightly different to the handsets we’re used to seeing with these core features. It may have been overshadowed by the release of Motorola’s top end smartphones, but the Flipout’s time to shine has arrived and for it to show us exactly what that rotating display is all about. Does it turn heads for the right reasons?
The Motorola Flipout’s design is a breath of fresh air from the more common QWERTY slider. It’s a square shaped handset that fits in the palm of your hand at 67mm long and 67mm wide.
What makes this device stand out from the crowd is the QWERTY keyboard which is fitted to a hinge that flips out from underneath. It’s great fun to play with, but on a more serious note, we hope the hinge is strong enough to withstand plenty of use, even as a boredom buster! Motorola have done a good job with the QWERTY, as the five rows have decent sized keys, each of which are curved to add to the usability factor. It was a tad fiddly at first, but after a bit of practice we soon got the hang of things.
The Flipout is a little on the chunky side being 17mm thick, but that’s something we were prepared for with such a compact handset. On the plus side, it makes the device easy to keep hold of especially when the QWERTY is tucked away. Another pleasant surprise from the Flipout is the 2.8 inch QVGA capacitive touchscreen. The quality didn’t blow us away but it was very responsive which won us over in the end. The main menu icons are nicely spaced out too so you won’t need to sand your fingers down before you start using it!
Android 2.1 and Motoblur 1.5 are loaded up on the Motorola Flipout, and the manufacturer’s own UI has some decent features which are worth mentioning. Motoblur is clearly aimed at social networkers, who are spoilt for choice with a variety of different functions. The Flipout already has Facebook pre-installed and MySpace, showing Motoblur’s age. Twitter fans need not fret as you can, of course, download it from the Android Market. The Happenings widget takes social networking to the next level and streams all your updates directly to your homescreen. It may save you from having to open up each site individually, but heavy tweeters could end up weighing the Flipout down with this feature, especially if you follow a lot of users.
Android 2.1 may not be the best in the business but it powers along nicely underneath Motoblur and doesn’t skip on the important Google apps, including Gmail and Maps. Access to the Android Market is available directly from the handset too and there are 7 customisable homescreens, putting the Flipout’s small display to good use.
What else can it do?
- 3.1 megapixel camera with a digital zoom and video recording capabilities. It’s one of the Motorola Flipout’s weaker assets, especially with no flash. However, despite the Flipout being one of the cheaper smartphones on the market, the pictures are actually quite good.
- 3G with HSDPA and HSUPA, plus Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1
- 32GB microSD card slot
- Android’s WebKit browser. The 2.8 inch display might not provide the best browsing platform but the responsive touchscreen makes scrolling and zooming pain free.
- FM radio
- Music and video player
- CrystalTalk PLUS noise reduction
- 3.5mm headphone jack
The biggest negative we have about the Flipout is the keyboard hinge which may be fun to play with at first but the novelty is bound to wear off at some point. We’re not entirely convinced that it would last the duration of an 18 month contract, let alone anything longer. The flash-free camera is another downside but considering high-end tablets are also sporting 3 megapixel cameras, the Flipout hasn’t done too badly for itself.
Nobody’s perfect, but the Motorola Flipout brought a smile to our faces, exceeding our expectations in some of the most crucial departments. It’s an interesting alternative to the other touchscreen QWERTY’s on the market and the social network integration will make it a great choice for users who love to talk!