NPR logo Blur, Backflip And Devour: A Motorola Story

Gadgets & Apps

Blur, Backflip And Devour: A Motorola Story

Motorola embraces social media with Verizon's Devour ($149.99) and ATT's Backflip ($99.99) mobile devices, each available with two year voice and data contracts.. Screenshot/ hide caption

toggle caption

Motorola embraces social media with Verizon's Devour ($149.99) and ATT's Backflip ($99.99) mobile devices, each available with two year voice and data contracts..


One company, two phones, at least one epic name: the Motorola Devour from Verizon and ATT's Motorola Backflip.

Each of these phones is quirky: the Devour is a beast. The interface is reminiscent of Droid, but heftier at 5.89 oz and a tad thicker.  By contrast, the Backflip is lighter and slightly shorter, but its hinged keyboard is odd. Why? It is always exposed, rather than flipping closed.  It gives it the appearance of being broken, because intuitively, you want to fold the phone with the screen and keyboard protected inwardly.

On the screen's back side is a trackpad that can be used to navigate the screen. Its placement is innovative and brings to mind a gaming controller. The Devour's trackpad is more conventional. And based on my use, functions better; granted it is somewhat useless considering a person could also use the touch screen directly above the trackpad. I liked it, though, because I could grip the phone in my left hand without triggering the touch screen - as happened when using the Backflip.

Deceptively, considering the initial impression of size disparity, the two boast the same display size: 3.1 in.  The on-screen keyboard and touch capability makes use of the traditional keyboards a matter of preference rather than necessity.  Each has a QWERTY keyboard, differing in small ways. The Backflip has more special keys, including directional arrows while the Devour's sliding keyboard opts for a dedicated row of numbers and fewer extra characters on the primary keys.

Both the Devour and Backflip make a big deal out of the Motorola blur, a system that streams all of a user's posts, Tweets, feeds and contacts together in real time. It's a slick presentation that integrates social media into the mobile experience. It also predates Microsoft's Kin.

While other phones I've used can run Facebook and Twitter, their clients paled in comparison to MotoBlur's keen focus. Once connected, the home screen showcases the user's latest status, happenings and messages. But does either of the Motorola phones have an edge over the other?

Engadget's Chris Ziegler summarizes his strong feelings about Motorola Blur: "For folks who feel the need to be ultra-connected (that is, beyond the mere email and voice that most of us old-timers consider to constitute 'ultra-connected') at all hours of the day and night, this is certainly one way to make it happen."

I must be one of these folks he's talking about, because if anything were to tempt me away from my current phone, it would be superior apps and browser support — of which, MotoBlur has both.  The optional integration of services with MotoBlur allows for one-stop surfing at the swipe of a hand.  The Backflip's touch reaction was sluggish, but as a whole, both phones performed speedily.

The two phones are on competing services, so at the end of the day, it isn't an "either, or" question.  Yet, despite ATT's heavy pushing for the Backflip, I would have to choose Motorola's other phone: the Devour.  It's so enticing I could gobble it up.