Motorola announces three new Android phones for AT&T

The onslaught of new Android smartphones continues, as Motorola has announced three new models that will soon be making their way to an AT&T store near you

The onslaught of new Android smartphones continues, as Motorola has announced three new models that will soon be making their way to an AT&T store near you. The new handsets -- the Motorola Bravo, Flipout, and Flipside -- all will be available in time for the holidays, at prices ranging from $80 to $130.

All three phones include Wi-Fi and 3G support, and a 3-megapixel camera. All three phones also will run Android version 2.1, which is (unfortunately) not the latest or greatest version of the Android OS. The newer version 2.2, which adds support for Adobe Flash among other enhancements, is already available on phones like Motorola's own Droid 2 and the Droid X.

In addition, all of Motorola's new phones will feature the Motorblur interface on top of the Android OS; Motoblur syncs information from a variety of sources, including your contacts, e-mail accounts, and social networks, and delivers it in a steady stream of updates. Motorola says its new phones will feature a "new and enhanced" version of Motoblur that will let users have more control over screen customization, as well as a better battery manager. It also is supposed to offer better handling of personal and corporate e-mail, as well as improved social networking features.

From there, however, Motorola's three new phones differ drastically. But do they offer enough features to compete in an increasingly crowded market? Let's examine the details of each phone to see how they compare.

Motorola Bravo

The $130 (with a new two-year service contract) Bravo is the highest-end device that Motorola announced on Tuesday. The Bravo will feature a 3.7-inch WVGA touchscreen; an 800-MHz processor; 3-megapixel camera with digital zoom and auto-focus; and DLNA support, which will allow you to stream multimedia content from the phone to compatible TVs and set-top boxes. Motorola says the Bravo will be available by "this holiday period" but did not specify a launch date.

The Bravo will likely compete with AT&T's high-end and mid-range Android phones, which include the $200 Samsung Captivate, the $150 Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, and the $130 HTC Aria. On paper, at least, the Bravo can't hold a candle to the Samsung Captivate, which boasts a 4-inch Super AMOLED display and a speedier processor. And Android shoppers looking for a less-expensive handset may find that the Bravo pales in comparison to the Xperia X10, which offers an 8.1-megapixel camera and a 4-inch screen. But the Bravo may be able to rival the HTC Aria; while the Aria is an attractive phone, its screen measures only 3.2-inches and its processor tops out at 600 MHz.

Motorola Flipside

Also coming in time for the holidays is the $100 Motorola Flipside. This phone features a 3.1-inch HVGA touchscreen and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard for easier typing. Motorola says that the front of the phone also offers a "laptop-like track pad" below the screen; this is designed to let you use the phone with one hand while keeping your fingers off the screen.

The Flipside will offer several features designed to please corporate IT departments, including support for Microsoft Exchange and full push e-mail, as well as remote wiping capabilities and password enforcement.

With its $100 price tag, the Flipside will likely appeal to businesses who might also consider the HTC Aria. Its 3.1-inch screen is on the small side, though, which could limit its appeal, as well as its ability to compete with high-end devices like the Samsung Captivate.

Motorola Flipout

At $80, the Flipout is the cheapest of Motorola's new phones, and will be one of AT&T's most affordable Android phones when it launches on October 17. It will also be one of the most unusual: the Flipout, which is already available overseas, features a square design, with a full QWERTY keyboard that pivots out from underneath the screen.

Its whimsical design may boost its appeal to a young audience, who also will appreciate the ability to switch between the sapphire and saffron-colored battery covers that ship with the phone. But its appeal will definitely be limited by its 2.8-inch screen. And while its $80 price is low, it's still more than the $50 AT&T is now charging for the Motorola Backflip, an Android phone with a similarly unusual design. The Backflip's keyboard flips over, placing it behind the touchscreen.

Motorola has designed some excellent Android phones, such as the original Droid and the newer Droid 2. What remains to be seen is whether these lower-end devices can find the same kind of success. What do you think about the prospects for the Bravo, Flipside, and Flipout?

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Liane Cassavoy

PC World (US online)
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