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Motorola Brings Android to AT&T

How will an Android device fare head-to-head with Apple’s iPhone?
February 18, 2010

AT&T announced today that its first Android device, the Motorola Backflip, will be available on its network starting March 7. In January, AT&T announced big Android plans, promising five devices within the first half of this year.

The phone includes Motorola’s Motoblur interface, which integrates closely with a user’s social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. It also offers an interesting new feature called Backtrack, which uses an additional touch panel, accessible when the device is folded open, to allow users to scroll through websites without blocking the screen with their fingertips.

Motorola’s recent innovations to smart phone interfaces have been impressive, though my own use of Motoblur suggests that bugginess sometimes interrupts the overall good user experience. For example, the connection to my social networks periodically breaks, requiring me to reboot to fix the problem. Motorola is investing heavily in the interface, however–it even ran an ad for Motoblur during the Super Bowl.

It’s unclear how the Backflip will fare going head-to-head with the iPhone, but Motorola is probably glad to get another opportunity at making a big entry into the market. The momentum the company built with other recent Android phones, the Droid (Verizon) and the Cliq (T-Mobile), was damaged by Google’s introduction of the Nexus One.

With a two-year contract, the Backflip will cost $199.99, though AT&T is also offering a $100 rebate to sweeten the deal. With the rebate, this makes the Backflip’s price comparable to that of the iPhone 3G.

The video below shows several of the phone’s features, including Backtrack, in action.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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