Summary

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7/10

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Motorola Flipout - Screen, Keyboard and Interface

As already hinted at, the screen on this phone isn't its forte with it measuring just 2.8in and packing in a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. As such this isn't the sort of phone you'll likely want to spend hours gaming or watching videos on – playing Angry Birds, for instance, resulted in your hardly being able to see what you were doing. However, within the confines of a small screen, it holds up reasonably well. It's an LCD panel, so doesn't have quite the level of contrast, colour saturation or limitless viewing angles of an AMOLED display but it's reasonably sharp, produces natural colours and is generally easy on the eye, and ultimately is par for the course on these smaller smartphones.

With the phone closed you can operate it completely by touchscreen, which works very well. It supports multi-touch for performing gestures, such as pinch-to-zoom, and thanks to the glass finish feels great underneath your fingers. For most uses the screen size doesn't feel overly limiting, though inevitably it does mean a degree of extra scrolling and zooming. Probably where this limitation is felt most acutely, is the onscreen keyboard. It's absolutely fine in terms of layout and responsiveness but it's just a bit small. Of course, this is where the slideout keyboard comes in.

The physical keyboard on this phone is, if memory serves, unique in its proportions. The square handset design means that the keys can be much taller than normal, which combined with ample width and a rough domed finish makes them very easy to distinguish and type at speed on. The layout is also excellent so with just a few moments practice you should be up to speed, and with full backlighting there should be no problems in the dark. In this day and age, the directional-pad is a bit of a throwback but it's a sometimes useful addition that takes nothing away from the handset.

One consequence of the phone's landscape oriented screen is the slightly peculiar interface layout. Running Android 2.1, you'd expect to see the App Launcher, dialler, and contacts icons run along the bottom of the screen but instead they're in a column on the right. While slightly odd, this does make sense as it allows for a more usable space on the home screen to fill with widgets and shortcuts.

Talking of widgets, Motorola has fairly heavily tweaked the look and feel of the phone with its Motoblur interface. This includes a load of social networking integration which can be accessed through a number of widgets. You can have Facebook feeds or Twitter messages beamed straight to your desktop and tapping them will take you through to an interface that lets you reply or post a comment.

General social networking messaging is integrated into the Messaging app as well, along with texts and emails, so you have a one stop shop for viewing all your goings on (though as usual the Gmail account is kept separate). As well as messaging, there's Happenings which brings together friend's updates into one place.

You also get all this information tied into the main contacts list, so you can tap on a friend's picture and see what they've been up to and what you last said to each other on every form of messaging. It's all easy to use and setup, with just a couple of usernames and passwords required.

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