The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

« Previous Post | Technology Home | Next Post »

AT&T to launch its first Android phone: Motorola Backflip

February 18, 2010 | 11:29 am

Motorola-backflipGoogle will start playing on Apple's turf next month. AT&T, the exclusive carrier of Apple's iPhone in the U.S., will release the Motorola Backflip, the telecom's first smart phone running Google's Android operating system, on March 7.

We spent a couple of minutes playing with the Motorola Backflip at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and weren't impressed.

It runs an outdated version of Android, and unlike Motorola's Droid on Verizon, the Backflip probably won't see a software upgrade any time soon. That's because of a proprietary software Motorola has built on top of Android.

Luckily for future Backflip owners (and for the Motorola Cliq on T-Mobile), that software is actually kind of cool.

Motorola-backflip-backMotoblur mashes all of your contacts' various profiles on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace into one address book. It backs up the contact list to the cloud for recovery. And it places updates from your social networks onto the phone's home screen -- perfect for those with tech ADD.

However, many of the capabilities -- cloud backup, more unified profiles and social widgets -- have been integrated into version 2 of Android. After spending some time with Google's Nexus One (available on T-Mobile and soon on Verizon), the Backflip feels lacking.

Technically, the Backflip is on par. The processor isn't as fast as that of the Droid or Nexus One, but the Backflip has a nice 3-inch screen and a 5-megapixel camera with a flash and is compatible with AT&T's HSPA 7.2 3G network -- meaning its Internet connection is relatively speedy.

The Backflip costs $199 with a two-year contract and comes with a $100 mail-in rebate from AT&T.

It's a competitively priced phone with plenty of gimmicks. Like, see all of these tweets flying across the screen? Oooh! Look, there's a track pad on the back. Like a laptop! And it flips open. Get it? Backflip! Ha!

-- Mark Milian

Photo credit: Mark Milian / Los Angeles Times