Motorola FLIPOUT Review
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini leading the way along-side the more practical X10 mini Pro, now, hot on Sony Ericsson’s heels comes the quirkier still Motorola FLIPOUT. With a 2.8 inch capacitive touch-screen and a QWERTY physical keyboard underneath, the phone seems to compete most directly with the X10 mini Pro, a handset aimed at the messaging-centric market which we really enjoyed here at PhoneArena. So let’s take a closer look at the Motorola FLIPOUT and see how it does when compared with this, and other handsets on the market.
When the Motorola FLIPOUT is sitting in front of us, it looks more like a chunky make-up compact than a phone. With a twist-out form-factor reminiscent of the Nokia 7705, while small overall, it’s a little on the thick side at 17mm. Even though it’s all but a millimeter thicker than the X10 mini and the same thickness as the X10 mini Pro, its cube design takes up more space in the hand (and pocket). While the HTC Wildfire holds the crown for the slimmest in this range at 12mm, as far as novelty goes, the Motorola FLIPOUT wins out thanks to its unusual, arguably cool design.
You can compare the Motorola FLIPOUT with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
On the front of the device is the landscape 2.8-inch capacitive TFT touch-screen with a resolution of 320x240 pixels. Below it are three capacitive Android buttons, with the phone speaker above the screen and a small Motorola insignia to the left. There is a volume rocker on the top side of the Motorola FLIPOUT, a 3.5 mm headphone jack and the power/lock button on the right hand side, and a micro USB port at the bottom. The back of the phone houses a 3.1 megapixel camera, a self-portrait mirror and the loudspeaker. The back panel can also be interchanged with another color, our unit came with both a semi-matte black and a metallic green back panel. While with some phones, interchangeable panels are a bit unnecessary, the back-panel covers over 50% of the phone, therefore changing it results in a big impact to the Motorola FLIPOUT’s overall look and feel.
The screen on the Motorola FLIPOUT is predominantly functional. Sporting a 2.8 inch capacitive TFT display, it is slightly larger than that of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini / mini pro, though at the same resolution of 320x240, not quite as sharp. The screen delivers a decent viewing experience for most tasks, with adjustable brightness for good performance in sunlight as well as pretty good, albeit not great angles of view. Videos and photos viewed on the screen won’t blow your mind, with colours looking a touch dull and lackluster resolution. While this would unlikely be the main function of the FLIPOUT’s target user, a better display would have been nice. Despite this, the device’s form-factor lends itself very well to messaging and organizing, so for this purpose, the screen is perfectly suited.
Remove the back-panel to reveal a microSDHC card slot. It isn’t located under the battery, therefore a memory-card can be changed with the phone powered on, however, it is on the side of the device underneath the back-panel, therefore the panel has to be removed to access it.
The first few times we flipped out the screen, it was any-body's guess where the hinge was and which way the screen would flip. Unlike the Nokia 7705, there’s no gaping hole in the corner of the device to indicate this. As it stands, the hinge is located on the bottom right hand corner of the screen, which doesn't feel totally natural at first.. The phone's screen stays in landscape orientation open or closed, delivering a consistent user experience.
Once open, the Motorola FLIPOUT’s five row QWERTY keyboard is exposed with a four-way d-pad in the bottom left. Keys illuminate well when used and are clearly marked. There are also handy keyboard shortcuts (such as copy and paste) which use the capacitive menu button in place of Ctrl or ‘Apple’ on a PC or Mac. Keys are sufficiently raised, slightly matted and facilitate decent typing speeds. While our thumbs may have cramped with heavy typing, for most day to day emails and texts, using this keyboard should be ideal. Android’s on-screen keyboard is also present, and despite the screen size, is very usable, however, it doesn’t compete with a physical keyboard for extended use.
The phone feels solid and well put together. The keyboard panel is markedly heavier than the screen panel, which is great when typing as it sits well in the hand and there is no danger of it being top-heavy. The spring mechanism is also reassuringly solid, with opening and closing the device providing a satisfying recoil.
All in all, opinions on the Motorola FLIPOUT’s design will be subjective, but we quite enjoyed the novelty of its look and feel, as its quirkiness was also coupled with usability.