AT&T Flips The Android Switch on March 7

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AT&T finally joins the Android party on March 7, with the introduction of Motorola’s Backflip handset. I caught up with the Backflip at Motorola’s CES press event and it’s definitely unique — on the backside is a trackpad like sensor, allowing for navigation and interaction without touching the display. That aside, the Backflip compares closer to the lower-end or mid-range of Android phones in terms of hardware specs, which explains the $99 price after a $100 mail-in rebate.

The 3.1″ inch capacitive touch display offers HVGA, or 320 x 480 resolution, which is typical for phones at this price. Put another way: aside from the unique navigation method, this device is similar to the Cliq that was outed last October. Backflip comes with Android 1.5 out of the box, but at the press event, Motorola announced that the OS would be upgradable. Motorola’s product page now indicates that Android 2.1 is a possibility, which is excellent — there’s a huge difference between 1.5 and 2.1. Other highlights include an included 2 GB microSD, 5 megapixel camera, support for 7.2 Mbps HSPA where available, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Motorola’s MOTOBLUR interface.

AT&T says the Backflip is the first of five Android devices due out before mid-year, so the party is just getting started. The question is: will you flip for a Backflip or wait it out for another Android device on AT&T? At first, I thought that going with such a device was a mistake, but after consideration, it might be a smart choice. At this price-point, the BackFlip is a good way for AT&T to introduce its customers to Android. I’m thinking of the first-time smartphone buyers here that don’t want to spend $200 or more for a device that’s far more advanced than the feature phone they’ve been carrying.

 

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