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Motorola FLIPOUT Flips Out, Sports Android 2.1 With Enhanced MotoBLUR

Motorola’s leaky, boxy smartphone dubbed the FLIPOUT has finally been given an official unveiling, and dare we say that it looks really good!

The mini-mobile still manages to pack in a 2.8-inch touch display, 512MB of inbuilt memory and a 3-megapixel camera, as well as all manner of connectivity goodness in the form of  3G, aGPS (meaning full Google Maps Navigation to stay on the straight and narrow) and Wi-Fi.

That being said, the Motorola FLIPOUT still has the cool factor by coming in a variety of vibrant colours and looks pegged for an affordable price point upon its release this quarter.

Adding to the phone’s novel form factor and rotating five row keyboard is the presence of Android 2.1, with the latest version of Google’s mobile OS enabling Motorola to make some changes to their custom MotoBLUR interface.

A step up from the original interface that debuted on the Motorola DEXT, this upgrade sees tweaks to the ‘Happenings’ social networking widget (including support for one click retweets and corporate e-mail), as well as promising a tastier web browsing experience.

Check out the videos below to get an idea for what’s in store with the Motorola FLIPOUT, and check out the full Motorola FLIPOUT specifications here.

Motorola FLIPOUT: Boxy Android Blower Revealed!

US manufacturer Motorola can certainly no longer be accused of resting on one form factor, leaking a new folding QWERTY handset with a great line in social networking dubbed the FLIPOUT.

The Motorola FLIPOUT runs on the latest version of Android (2.1), and rocks the socially-aware MOTOBLUR interface that debuted on the Orange-exclusive DEXT last year. Status updates and alerts from your fave networking sites filter directly onto the home screen, mingling with Android Market apps and shortcuts seamlessly.

The boxy form factor and selection of colourways is sure to attract the fashion forward set, with the FLIPOUT also managing to sneak a flippy four row keyboard and tiny d-pad onto its square frame.

Features are decent – a 2.8-inch touch display, 3-megpaixel camera and 700Mhz processor sees the FLIPOUT handle things capably – although connectivity does take a dip as 3G and Wi-Fi will not be featured.

Expected to land in mid-June in Brazil according to Gizmodo out there, the prepay price is touted to be around €310 (£266). Let’s hope that we see Motorola FLIPOUT deals spin over to other parts of the globe, this quirky caller looks too good to miss out on!

UPDATE: With Android and Me grabbing the very same angular images and claiming an AT&T June release in the US, there’s hope for the FLIPOUT coming to the UK!

Motorola DEXT Receives Software Update, Android 2.1 Upgrade Now ‘Under Evaluation’?

The Motororla DEXT has seen a new software update to version 1.3.20 roll out over the lest few weeks, apparently clearing up a myriad of issues that affected even the most core functionality of the US manufacturer’s first socially savvy Android phone.

From battery life improvement to faster GPS performance and SIM card management, the improvements are many to this Orange-exclusive device. It does seem that Motorola has noticed almost every shortfall in the DEXT, with support for more media formats, better stability and touchscreen responsiveness tune-ups also in the offing.

The most interesting however, was the claim that call handling was improved, enabling the Motorola DEXT to “consistently notify you when a new call is coming in – reducing missed call notifications”.

Call me old-fashioned, but the need for a phone to let me know when people are calling is right up there on my list of priorities, so this fix is more than welcome…

1.3.20 attempts to make up for the gap between the latest Android software and the 1.6 build that the DEXT continues to languish on, by bringing updates to Google applications including Mail, Maps and the Market.

With a recent price drop making Motorola DEXT deals cheaper than ever (free handset with 200 minutes and unlimited texts for £20 per month), it is still one of the more appealing and affordable Android phones on the market.

In related news it seems like this update might be the closest that the DEXT ever gets to sampling the delights of Android 2.1, if a leaked Motorola update schedule is anything to go by…

Whilst the Motorola MILESTONE / DROID is currently receiving a roll out ‘in stages’ of the latest build, the CLIQ (the US name for the DEXT) and the contorting QWERTY form of the BACKFLIP will be getting upgraded to Android’s newest version (2.1) in Q2 and Q3 respectively. The Motorola DEXT is marked as ‘under evaluation’ in Europe and Latin America, however, as is the affordable DEVOUR.

Despite Motorola’s Facebook fan page proclamations that the DEXT would eventually get 2.1, it seems not all Android phones are created equal…

Sources: TechEye , The Unwired

MWC 2010: Motorola Booth Tour – All A MotoBLUR

We are all pleasantly surprised at Motorola’s return to relevance in the mobile game, betting the farm on taking the Android OS close to their bosom and coming back with a bold bunch of phones, as well as decent customisation with the MotoBLUR interface.

Whilst we hear that the US manufacturer might have already been tapped up to make the next Google phone in the form of the Shadow, but we were focussed on the present at Mobile World Congress and Motorola certainly had some decent phones to show.

Whilst the idea to offer a stream of instant messages, tweets and status updates directly to a handset’s homescreen or widget might have been refined (and rinsed) by the competition, but MotoBLUR still offers the original ‘phone with social skills’ experience on Android.

The Motorola DEXT was present and correct, a forerunner that lacked a bit of flair in execution and build quality, but still served as a great proof of concept that Android widgets could perform equally as well as blanket customisation to Google’s operating system.

Building on that social networking heritage was the Motorola BACKFLIP, seeing its first European airing here at Mobile World Congress.

The idea takes the experience from the DEXT’s slider to a reverse-hinged clamshell device, adding a touchpad behind the display for unobscured scrolling.

A gentle tap on the pad serves as a click, whilst the keyboard and build quality have both been tightened up significantly.

The insanely quirky form factor and novel touch method of the Backflip may not be copied by the rest, but certainly demonstrated Motorola’s individuality yet again.

The Motorola QUENCH presents yet another form factor – the single candybar – for use with the MotoBLUR social synching service, chucking out the QWERTY keyboard and offering a responsive touchpad at the bottom of the device.

Specifications are largely the same as for the original DEXT, with a 3.1-inch display, Android 1.5, 3G and HSDPA. Browsing is a bit better than expected, with multi-touch support and YouTube integration.

A 5-megapixel auto-focus camera is also carried over, this time with the addition of an LED flash.

Rounding out the selection was a few handsets (such as the Motocubo, below) that have only seen release in the far flung corners of the globe, but show Motorola’s insight and innovation in the form factor of hardware.

What was most immediate about Motorola’s stand at this year’s Mobile World Congress was the difference that twelve months has made for the company. Last year, there was barely a single handset on display, and a focus on enterprise solutions and audio cancelling technology.

This year was a vibrant display of Android handsets, a proud demonstration of a calculated risk in Android that has paid off a little, if not in spades.

With the recent news that the business will split into two separate entities, perhaps this new found freedom will see Motorola’s mobile division return to those halcyon RAZR phone days. Their turn out at MWC was certainly a good start.

MWC 2010: Motorola QUENCH – Tasty Tablet Satisfies MotoBLUR Desires

Whilst the world and his wife (well, Sony Ericsson and Toshiba) has become addicted to sticking QWERTY keyboards to their handsets, Motorola has decided to take theirs away from the DEXT, resulting in the lozenge-shaped loveliness of the QUENCH.

The Motorola QUENCH (also dubbed the CLIQ XT in America) is the manufacturer’s latest Android handset, marking the return of the social networking savvy MotoBLUR interface that skipped the MILESTONE on the way to market. Too manly for it, perhaps?

MotoBLUR is a selection of widgets enabling a constant stream of status updates, mail and messages from sites including Facebook, Twitter and Gmail to appear directly on the homescreen.

The tablet-shaped QUENCH may lack a keyboard, but more than makes up for this QWERTY deficiency with a wealth of input methods.

Navigation is handled by with a touch pad in the centre of the device (where was this on the DROID?), making short work of surfing websites and showing off the blur-free scrolling on the rich 3.1-inch display. Adobe Flash Lite enhances the browsing experience further still.

Typing is already a cinch thanks to predictive text, but is made easier still with the addition of Swype. This novel user input method enables users to glide from one virtual button to the next at lightning pace, and makes for quick and easy messaging.

The feature is a great asset on the QUENCH, and the memories of the DEXT’s keyboard are banished after a couple of tries of this innovative alternative.

The camera is no slouch with a 5 megapixel lens and an LED flash, Wi-Fi and GPS are included out of the box and the QUENCH benefits from all of the usual Google-flavoured connectivity perks of running Android (Cupcake, in this case).

The Motorola QUENCH is destined to satiate the thirst of European Android fans in Q1 of this year, with pricing yet to be disclosed.

Motorola Milestone Confirmed To Receive ‘Eclair’ Android Update “In The Next Two Months”, DEXT Too

Motorola Europe has just reiterated the good word out of CES, that both the new Motorola Milestone and socially-savvy DEXT will both be receiving updates to the current v2.1 ‘Eclair’ build of Android in due course.

Not only that, but the interim tweak to Google’s operating system that U.S. DROID fans are currently enjoying is also on the way to our (and German) shores, according to Motorola Europe’s Facebook fan page:

“Attention Android lovers. The 2.01 update is on its way for all Milestone users. The Android 2.1 upgrade for Milestone is also on its way and will be ready in the next 2 months. We can confirm that DEXT will get the Android 2.1 upgrade as well.”

Between this and a recent announcement that Vodafone’s HTC Magic will see Sense -  namely the slick user interface seen on the Hero – it’s great to see manufacturers giving support to Android early adopters and new converts alike.

Source: The Unwired

CES ’10: Motorola BACKFLIP Bounces Onto Android Scene

Following on from the success of backing Android with the DEXT/CLIQ and the DROID/MILESTONE (what is it with these split personality UK/US naming conventions?), the recently announced Motorola BACKFLIP marks the American manufacturer’s third handset running on Google’s mobile operating system.

Sporting the MOTOBLUR customisation that debuted on the DEXT, social network syncing is also the order of the day on the BACKFLIP. Facebook updates, recent tweets and messages are all fed into a customisable home screen, with the ability to add RSS widgets for news and gossip.

The BACKFLIP’s allure is in the form however, with a 3.1-inch screen and a full QWERTY keyboard nestled behind it on a swiveling hinge. This keyboard doubles as a stand for the BACKFLIP, as the flexible phone can then be placed on a table for use as a mobile media player or even a digital picture frame.

Behind that keyboard is the most interesting feature – a trackpad on the reverse of the keyboard that allows swiping and navigation of menus without obscuring or touching the screen itself.

Specs-wise, it seems very similar to the DEXT with a 5-megapixel camera, microSD card support, A-GPS and wi-fi connectivity, albeit in a slightly slimmer and more assured body.

The device runs on Android version 1.5, meaning that the graphical whizzbangery witnessed on the DROID and recently revealed Nexus One will not be making the leap just yet, but Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha has assured that both this device and the DEXT will see an update to v2.1 in the future.

UPDATE: Catch live pictures of the BACKFLIP in the flesh, up on Pocket-Lint!

Social Networking on Mobiles: Esoteric or Essential?

motorola-DEXT-2Time was once that talking and texting were more than sufficient functionality for a mobile phone.

The fact that mobile phones could keep people connected irrespective of time and place made them the social networking tool.

No more notes left on the fridge, no more answerphone messages or waiting by payphones, the mobile as a primary means of communication was a turning point that increased people’s voracious appetite for instant gratification.

The downside of this is that now everyone has to know what was going on, all of the time. Which is fine, because everyone else is only too happy to broadcast the minutiae of their daily lives from the comfort of a computer.

More erudite than text, more vivid than picture messages, these sites serve as mini-blogs where thoughts, feelings, rants and regaling of tall tales became commonplace.

All the while mobile phones have been missing out, out of step with the explosion of social sites. Up until recently, attempts to take social networking mobile have been little more than a paltry logo in a phone menu serving as a bookmark, with the use of a mobile-optimised site painfully unintuitive to use upon its languid arrival.

Whether these sites actually serve a purpose is moot. People are inextricably linked to them, their Wall acting as a meeting point, their homepage reflecting personality and acting as a virtual pinboard for all their photos, messages and moods. The need to maintain these with more frequency was overwhelming, and only recently has mobile truly stepped up to fill that void.

The shift has only gathered pace now that cutting-edge mobile phone tech has become a mass market commodity. 3G connectivity is now a necessity rather than a luxury, as are full QWERTY keyboards. The fact that Samsung has managed to sell over 9 million units of their Tocco Lite in a mere six months (and 3 million of the Genio Touch in two months) is a stark sign that touch screen phones are no longer the preserve of CEOs and ardent early adopters.

The initial wave of social networking on mobile seemed to embrace the concept of ‘push’, not in the sense of the instant forwarding of mail, but rather in the nature of beaming out alerts and updates with the mobile phone acting as a beacon to the world.

Little more than text windows, these light servings of social media at least enabled access to the core functionality of a site, without the drain that the profusion of images, Farmville updates and sheep throwing usually faced with when logging onto Facebook. Log in, look at the status updates of others, add a new one of your own, log off. Simple.

Despite seeming like the latest bandwagon to jump on, the latest phones have shifted from a push service to one of ‘pull’, drawing information from a variety of social networking hubs to populate a handset full of unique personal information.

Handsets like the Palm Pre, Motorola DEXT and the forthcoming Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 all ‘pull’ data from these sites (once given permission) effortlessly, adding contact names and images to phone numbers, drawing status updates and alerts to present them in full view. The latter two operate on Google’s Android operating system, a platform engineered to make the most of the mobile web. Novel additions like tracks listened to on and recent tweets truly add a vibracy and level of interaction with contacts that has never been seen before.

This idea of pulling data from social networking sites has managed to transcend the mobile phone entirely with offerings like Vodafone 360, termed as an internet service that brings phone, email, chat and social network contacts together in one place.

Debuting on their Linux-driven Samsung 360 H1 and 360 M1 phones, Vodafone 360 is designed as being able to exist independently of a particular mobile or manufacturer, acting as a separate entity to keep friends connected (and using data, presumably) on their network.

With plans to serve 360 up as an application for iPhone when the coveted device arrives onto the carrier in early 2010, Vodafone realises that the value and longevity this kind of additional service can extend far beyond shilling a particular handset and in fact become a reason to join their network over another.

Whilst far from a novelty prior to Apple’s device, mobile applications where somewhat of a dark art until the iPhone became an alluring proof of concept for the casual observer, whilst their App Store gave a prominent shop window for these wares to be displayed. Many of these apps piggyback on the fun side of social networking sites, enabling multiple status updates or grouping of content to be done with ease.

Naturally the world’s manufacturers have followed suit, causing dedicated social applications to be created for practically every phone platform, and literally hundreds of third party solutions for micro-blogging and the like.

Sony Ericsson phones like the Yari have Facebook functionality built into the device, enabling a rich and vivid user experience directly from the homepage. A stream of the latest status updates from friends and presented directly onto the home screen, and a single press enables a response, with the ability to add status updates and reply to Inbox messages without missing a beat.

This is the instant gratification users have been clamouring for, that seamless integration of social networking into core functionality, rather than lip service and laggy web apps that do little to enhance the online experience.

INQ1The INQ1 from 3 is a revolutionary handset, not only in the degree of connectivity between on- and offline content, pooling of contact information from social networking sites, but also offering instant messaging over Windows Live and VoIP calls over Skype, all in an eminently affordable phone.

Treating social networking and internet connectivity as integral functionality rather than a marketer’s bullet point, the INQ1 was rightly recognised as a landmark device, and put the meagre offerings from many supposedly smart phones to shame.

With the new INQ Mini 3G, they have added support for today’s trending topic – Twitter – whilst giving the phone itself a much needed reboot in the style stakes. The micro-blogging service currently has the pulses racing of the social elite, and it is a natural fit for mobiles to dip into the world of hashtags and retweets.

Having said that, the value of Twitter as a real-time news service cannot be ignored, as breaking events from the Hudson River plane crash to the Balloon Boy saga have been documented in up-to-the-minute 140 character glory on mobiles.

The brevity and constraints of Twitter are enablers to get messages out there with a minimum of fluff, rather than the destroyer of the English language that school professors make it out to be.

The portable nature of a mobile phone combined with the ubiquity and connective tissue of social media sites are finally realising the potential of everyone becoming a news source, first on the scene whether a raging inferno or an underground rave.

Everyone always online regardless of location, with the ability to exchange pictures, jokes and occasionally useful information makes the current age of mobile phone the most exciting since the heady days of extendable aerials and Snake.

Mobile phones have certainly caught up with social networking, and it is up to the sites to pick up the slack. Video streaming, geo-targeting nearby friends Google-Latitude style, multi-player gaming – there is so much more that the medium can offer when unshackled from the constraints of a desktop computer.

When the current crop of networking site adopt the added functionality that a mobile phone can bring, rather than making Facebook a bit more phone-sized, only then might it become essential in our daily lives.

iPhone Now Accounts For 40% Of Mobile Browsing

For those unsure of just how much the iPhone (and iPod Touch) is shaping the mobile web, the latest AdMobs Metrics Report has the handset claiming 40% of global traffic in August, eclipsing Symbian to become the number one platform and seeing a 7% increase in market share over the last 6 months.

Accounting for more than half of usage in the US and 67% of mobile browsing in Western Europe, the iPhone OS is dominating the landscape due in no small part to the ease of use, and the popularity of the sleek web-ready device.

Android makes significant headway by capturing 6% of European traffic and 7% worldwide, a figure that is sure to increase once more third party crowd pleasers like the Samsung Galaxy, Motorola DEXT and LG’s Google-powered device gather traction in the market.

RIM and BlackBerry phones may corner the market in mobile mail, but browsing is still in its infancy with an 8% global share.

Emerging markets and those depending on character support still opt for Nokia however, with Asia and Africa hugely with the Finnish phone maker’s Symbian operating system accounting for 85 and 93% of traffic accordingly.

The salient point is that Apple’s device, the very one that is hindering the adoption of YouTube HD and desktop quality phone browsing by opting out of full Flash 10.1 support, is the one still driving the lion’s share of mobile traffic.

Perhaps the entire reason that the iPhone is so popular is that it doesn’t offer full fat browsing, rather offering a perfectly distilled mobile experience offer access to what we really need in an instant…

Do we want desktop browsing on our mobile, complete with the painful load times due to intermittent 3G reception that the outside world brings?

Source: Mobile Monday

Motorola DEXT Reviewed, “A Promising Start”

Motorola Dext

The Motorola DEXT, an Android-packing handset that marks a return for the troubled American manufacturer, has been favourably received in a review on CNET UK.

Flora Graham is positive about the socially geared smartphone in their Motorola DEXT review, marking out the merged contact lists and access to the Android Market as being impressive, as well as a strong feature set with a 5 MP camera, 2GB memory card and 3G connectivity.

The DEXT is far from perfect however, with the slide-out QWERTY keyboard proving cramped, an underwhelming build quality and a design that generally lacks finesse.

All in all the Motorola DEXT seems to be a rare case of substance over style, with widgets that enhance the Android experience and a slick touch screen experience balancing out the icky keyboard and disappointing call functionality.

A rating of 8.0 seems to suggest that the DEXT is a more than capable device for day-to-day use and is a good choice that they would “be happy to be caught typing on”.

Motorola DEXT deals for the Orange-exclusive device are now on the site, with the handset available for free on an 18 month, 600 minutes and 3000 texts deal for £25.