Motorola Backflip for AT&T unboxing and hands-on

We've just taken delivery of an AT&T-branded Motorola Backflip -- the carrier's very first Android device -- and we wanted to share with you our magical first moments putting the phone through its paces. Here's a quick rundown of our first impressions:

  • It feels solidly-built -- probably a notch better than the CLIQ. There's no wiggle or weirdness in the hinge whatsoever. Of course, we know from personal experience that "feels solidly-built" doesn't necessarily mean it is solidly-built, so the jury's still out on how it'll hold up with regular use, especially with the keyboard exposed full-time.

  • Opening and closing the phone isn't a natural one-handed operation, unless you're comfortable putting it at extreme risk of an unfortunate tumble.

  • It's laggy right out of the box, which doesn't bode well for usability once you load it up with your own apps. Of course, it uses exactly the same processor as the CLIQ, so that doesn't come as a surprise.

  • It's filled to the brim with pre-loaded AT&T stuff: AllSport GPS, AT&T Maps, AT&T Music (which takes the place of the standard Music app), AT&T Navigator, AT&T Wi-Fi Hotspots, Mobile Banking, MobiTV, MusicID, Where, and YPmobile. We strongly prefer the approach of offering a special branded Android Market portal where you can download your carrier's recommended apps.

  • Blur looks and feels the same as it does on the CLIQ, though the main Blur widgets -- Social Status, Messages, and Happenings -- have been moved one home screen left of the main one (we prefer this configuration anyhow).

  • Yahoo has replaced Google as the default search provider throughout the phone. It's crazy: the home screen widget, the browser, everything's been programmed to use Yahoo. We love us some irony, but golly, we'd prefer Google searches most of the time.

It spontaneously rebooted for us once in about an hour of use -- a concerning sign, particularly considering Motorola's inability to pump out a solid firmware for the CLIQ -- but we'll need a little more time with it. Want more right now? Follow the break for some more impressions, video, and a sample shot from the camera.%Gallery-86751%

  • Despite the low tactility brought about by the membrane design, we found the keyboard to be quite usable, possibly because each individual key is so big. Having the camera down there in the corner is odd, but it didn't get in our way -- and it's great for self-portraits.

  • Speaking of the camera, our initial impression is that it's better than the Droid and on par with the CLIQ (noticing a trend here?). There's no macro mode, but we didn't really need it for close-ups. You can see a sample below.

  • The screen is way too small; seeing a solid three-quarters of an inch of black space above it is a source of constant anger for us every time we look at it. That said, it feels exactly the same as the unit on the CLIQ -- not bad.

  • In our quick use, we didn't feel that the rear touchpad was adding any value -- we never felt like it was making anything "easier." Over time, though, we could see getting used to it and even growing fond of it.