All too infrequently do we see true innovation in the technology industry. More often than not the vast majority of the products we see are variations on a theme. That's why when something like Motorola's Flipout comes along, even if it doesn't revolutionise the world around us, we have to applaud the company for trying.
The Flipout is a slider smartphone running Google's Android operating system (OS) but rather than a traditional up and down slider, it uses a rotating motion to reveal its keyboard. The design allows the phone to be very square, making for a large keyboard while maintaining a small overall footprint, with the compromise being a small screen. The question is, does it work?
The design is an intriguing combination of utilitarian and sleek. The square stance (67 x 67mm) and thicker than average bulk (17mm) give it the former characteristics while a sheer glass front, brushed metal back to the screen, and some coloured backplates represent the latter. It's definitely an acquired look overall but we rather like it.
As we've come to expect from Motorola, build quality is superb with both the aforementioned glass and metal giving out a sturdy impression along with the plastic build of the main body showing no signs of creaking of flexing. The single hinge around which the phone slides also feels immensely strong with no give whatsoever. It also slides smoothly and snaps into place once you pass a certain point, making it really easy to operate. Although there's a bit of a learning curve to opening the device and not have it fly out your hand, you soon get the hang of it.
Underneath the screen are the trio of standard navigation buttons you get on Android devices; Menu, Home and Back. The rest of the phone's features are fairly standard as well with a headphone jack up top (if a phone that opens in the manner of this one can really have a top) along with the power button, a volume control on the left, microUSB on the right and a camera on the back.
The camera is rather poor though, with it capturing only 3.1-megapixels, lacking autofocus and a flash. However, it does at least have a self portrait mirror, which is an oft-overlooked useful extra.
Under the battery cover, as well as the 1130mAh battery there's a microSD slot for adding extra storage. There's a 2GB card included, with just 150MB of onboard storage, so you'll probably want to grab a larger card if you plan on filling your phone with music, videos, photos and apps.