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CES: Two minutes with the Motorola Backflip

January 7, 2010 |  6:30 am

DSC01955 We only got a couple of minutes to play with Motorola's most recent phone based on Google's mobile operating system since the Droid. But we think it was long enough to realize that "this is not the droid you're looking for." (Excuse the tired "Star Wars" reference.)

It was surprising to be handed a brand new Android phone at Digital Experience, an event during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, that was running an operating system more outdated than the previous device Motorola had released.

Unlike the Droid, which comes with Android 2, the Backflip uses version 1.5. This is done to accommodate Motorola Blur, a hyper-Twitter, Facebook-obsessed feature that was built on top of Android's older framework and is incompatible with version 2.0.

Though, buzz around the show indicates that the device will eventually support the newest 2.1 version of the Android operating system.

If you can get past the outdated software, you'll notice that Motorola has done some really unusual things with this device. On the back of the phone is a laptop-like trackpad that lets you scroll around the phone's interface, which the company is calling the Backtrack.

Flip the phone open, and you have a keyboard that's much larger and much nicer than the Droid's. But it has its own drawbacks. Like the Droid, there's a lack of depth for feeling around the keys. You need to press an alternate button to access certain functions -- like numbers. When will keyboard makers learn that we need to type numbers?

The Backflip has a cool feature that, when flipped open part-way, displays an alarm clock -- similar to placing a Droid in the nightstand dock (sold separately). But that little treat wasn't enough to wow the crowds that were constantly buzzing around Google's booth situated several feet away, hoping for a chance to play with the new Nexus One.

-- Mark Milian

Photo credit: Mark Milian / Los Angeles Times