The Motorola Flipout is an intriguing little phone that folds up to a tiny square when it’s Qwerty keypad is tucked away. It runs on Android 2.1 and has a 3-megapixel camera. We took the Flipout out on the town to see what else it had to offer.
What we like
The Motorola Flipout is a sturdy little beast. It feels weighty and the hinge mechanism snaps into place with a reassuring click.
We were worried that due to it’s size, typing on the Flipout’s Qwerty keypad would be an issue but thankfully it wasn’t. We also appreciated that the Flipout includes a virtual keyboard which springs into life whenever the handset is folded up. You can start typing a message on the hard Qwerty, close the Flipout and finish off the message using the on-screen keys and vice versa.
When the Flipout is shut and you’re browsing the web, Facebook or the Android Market, the acceleometer switches the screen orientation between portrait and landscape. This is really useful because sometimes you’ll want to view things like Facebook news feeds and Market search results in portrait mode and then revert to landscape when you want to type a message.
The 3-megapixel camera features the Kodak ‘Perfect Touch’ auto enhancing tool which automatically optimises the brightness and contrast of your pictures. You can choose to add this effect after taking a picture and the Flipout asks whether you want to save an image with the effect on or not.
It’s very easy to assign pictures as your wallpaper and to your contacts. When you’re assigning a picture there’s a crop tool you can use to select a certain area of your picture; e.g. big panoramas for the wallpapers and close-up mugshots of your friends for the contacts. As you can see in the picture below, we took a picture of our beloved eBoy poster and set a cropped section of it as our background.
There weren’t any headphones included with our review model but the Motorola Flipout has a 3.5mm audio jack so we were able to plug in our own Sennheisers and test out the music player. We’re happy to report that the sound quality of the default Android music player is great. There were no problems with levels, everything was clearly distinguishable on all of the tracks we played and there was no distortion even with the volume turned all the way up.
The music player comes with a TuneWiki plug in, which finds lyrics for the songs you’re listening to and displays them, karaoke machine style, at the bottom of the screen. This is a nice touch, but we found that not all of the words were spot on. If you want to you can sign up for a TuneWiki account through the music player app to submit your own corrections to lyrics. Alternatively you can just disable this in the settings if you find the idea of it annoying.
What we don’t like
Being able to switch between the actual Qwerty pad and an on-screen one is cool although it does come with a rather obvious drawback - the screen size means that the virtual keyboard takes up a good percentage of the display. This is a particularly evident when texting or messaging someone back on Facebook; you’re typing into a very small window and so it’s easy to miss things like typos as the page scrolls up.
Speaking of Facebook we really like the idea of social networking aggregation on paper but in practice we’ve found it time and again to be not so hot. Motoblur on the Motorola Flipout is no exception.
When you scroll through your contacts list you get the whole whack - your numbers, email addresses, your friends on Facebook, everyone you’re following on Twitter... the kitchen sink, etc. We know that you can email, update and tweet on phones these days but when you’re just trying to give your friend a call, having to scroll past hundreds of email addresses, Facebook and Twitter profile is a drag.
There’s a search option and the ability to create a new list of your own to store phone numbers on but we found it frustrating that the Flipout made it difficult for you to use it for it’s primary purpose, i.e. to call people on. When you’re setting up the Flipout for the first time you’re asked if you want to set up a Motoblur account - we’d advise skipping this part of the set up process.
On calls to both landlines and mobiles we found that conversations were loud enough to cut through noisy traffic but the call quality wasn’t crystal clear. It wasn’t so bad that conversations were impossible, it’s just that with the pair of noise-cancelling mics mounted on the back we hoped that the call quality would be a bit clearer.
The screen has a lower resolution that what we’ve seen on the likes of the Motorola Milestone. This means that web pages, pictures, album art and everything has a pixellated edge to it. You also don’t get an accurate impression of the quality of the pictures you’ve taken on the camera until you upload them. So you could have taken what you thought was a really good picture when in fact it’s a bit blurry and out of focus, and vice versa.
The 3.1-megapixel camera is better than some we’ve seen but it isn’t amazing. While we appreciated the Kodak ‘Perfect Touch’ feature we found that the lack of a flash puzzling. Also the positioning of the lens of the back of the phone makes it easy for you to accidentally cover it with a finger or thumb.
The Motorola Flipout is a very cool little phone with a solid build and an easy to use keypad. The screen resolution could be higher though and the lack of a flash lets the camera down.