Motorola Shows Off Backflip Smartphone

Michelle Maisto covers mobile devices, Android and Apple for eWEEK and is also a food writer.

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Motorola has added to its Android portfolio after introducing the Backflip phone that slides open and back, revealing a QWERTY keyboard

Motorola has introduced the Android-running Backflip smartphone, which features a flip design so that users have the option of a QWERTY keyboard or video display.

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At a glance the Backflip appears almost iPhone-like thanks to 3.1-inch, 320 by 480 TFT display. But take another look and the device opens up – the screen sliding up to reveal a QWERTY keyboard, and then continuing backward toward a 45-degree-ish angle that enables the phone to prop itself up for hands-free video watching. Or as a – albeit pricey – bedside clock.

The Backflip gets Motorola’s content-aggregating MotoBlur feature, which it describes as “the first and only solution to sync contacts, posts, messages, photos and much more – from sources such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Gmail, work and personal email, and LastFM – and automatically deliver them to the home screen.” The idea is to focus on content, not its method of delivery.

MotoBlur is also on the Cliq, from T-Mobile – but was left off the iPhone-rivaling Droid, on the Verizon Wireless network.

“Since introducing our first Motoblur-based device, we’ve remained focused on differentiating the Android experience and bringing it to new carrier partners around the globe,” said Sanjay Jha, co-CEO of Motorola, in a statement. “Backflip maximises the multi-tasking and multi-functional potential of Motoblur with its unique design elements, making it as smart as it is social.”

Unique to the Backflip is a feature called Backtrack, a touchpanel on the back side of the phone that lets users scroll without covering up what it is – websites, emails, etc. – that they’re looking at.

The Backflip will ship with Android 1.5, but Phonescoop reports that it will eventually be updated to 2.1. Shipping worldwide, it supports WCDMA 850/1900/2100, GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 7.2Mbps, EDGE Class 12, GPRS Class 12 and a-GPS.

There’s 3G and WiFi connectivity, a 5-megapixel camera with flash, a full HTML browser, support for MMS, SMS, various corporate and personal email accounts, as well as music and video files. It comes with 2GB of memory, which can be expanded to 32GB. And, of course, users have access to Google’s Android Market, which now houses more than 18,000 applications.

Motorola also offers users online access to their devices, enabling them to wipe the device, should it be, heaven forbid, lost or stolen, as well as locate the device. With a user name and password, data can also be restored.

The Backflip will arrive in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia in the beginning of the first quarter of 2010.