Opinion on the Motorola FLIPOUT with MOTOBLUR, announced last week, varied from "it's distinctive" to "it's just plain ugly", but after a hands-on fondle this morning we're beginning to change our mind. The relatively low resolution, QVGA display is still disappointing, but the palm-sized form factor has a lot of appeal in the plastic. Meanwhile the spring-loaded rotating display is surprisingly tactile – and feels pretty sturdy, too – while the QWERTY keyboard is in fact very usable.
We were able to peck out rapid SMS and email messages with only a few minutes familiarisation, and thanks to the narrow chassis it's also possible to type one-handed (albeit at a slower pace). The touchscreen was responsive and MOTOBLUR snicks through its widgets reasonably quickly.
Motorola told us that the FLIPOUT is the latest result of their attempt to slim down physical QWERTY Android phones, following on from the slide-out CLIQ/DEXT and the unusual BACKFLIP. It's certainly smaller than both those handsets, as you can see from the comparison shots in the gallery below, but the keyboard is still surprisingly good. Expect it to arrive on Orange UK imminently; no word on a launch anywhere else at this stage.