You know how some cellphones open up horizontally like a little laptop, screen on top, QWERTY keyboard on the bottom? Motorola has turned this kind of phone inside out with the aptly-named Backflip, likely to be one of a handful of non-iPhone smartphones AT&T will start selling later this year.
In its natural position, the Backflip screen is exposed like a candybar phone. The rear of the clamshell is a black blank QWERTY keyboard that sort of looks like a textured grip. To text, you flip the screen around 90-plus degrees and the QWERTY characters light up. This sounds bass akwards, but it seems to work.
So you don't smudge-up the 3.1-inch LCD, there's a laptop-like touchpad behind the screen. You can scroll around by rubbing your finger on it and double-tap on links to open them up. The touchpad was a mite too sensitive and took a bit of getting used to, but it does keep your fingers off the screen.
You can flip the screen up around 45 degrees and sit the phone on a tabletop on the keyboard and you get a clock radio or picture viewer. You need a separate dock to accomplish this with the Droid.
Technically Backflip is an Android 1.5 phone with 5 home panels and Motorola's message aggregating Blur software. It's got a 5 MP camera with an LED flash mounted on the rear/keyboard. The keyboard itself has four rows of keys, but the dedicated line is symbols, not numbers. You'll get a hardy 6 hours of talk time when the Backflip goes on sale around March.