Motorola Backflip

As Android reviewers and the hacking faithful are finding out this week, the Motorola Backflip on AT&T has been locked down a bit. Namely, you can't load apps from outside of the Android market. It's not just that the option is turned off, as it is by default on most (if not all) Android phones. It's that the option isn't even there on the backflip. [via MobileCrunch]

And so what?

The Backflip is a Motoblur device. That is, it's got an operating system that's heavily skinned for social network aggregation and isn't really meant to be a phone nerd's dream device. And if AT&T wants to take out an option that could potentially open up the phone to trouble, then so be it. I'm willing to bet that 95 percent of the people who buy the Backflip don't even know what sideloading is, let alone care to do it. So what if they can't load beta apps. You think they care about using the PDANet app that MobileCrunch uses as an example? If you're buying this phone, you're doing so because you want easy access to Twitter, Facebook and the like, and you want that crazy keyboard, and Android, and that's it.

So, yeah, AT&T took out some functionality. It's allowed to. (Oh, and by the way, it has nothing to do with the iPhone. At all.) If you need to sideload that badly, chances are you're not going to be buying this phone in the first place.

We never like seeing a carrier or manufacturer strip functionality from the phone. But to the typical Backflip (and Motoblur) user, it's a non-issue in this case.

Update: OK, except for when you take into account Engadget's interview with AT&T exec Ralph de la Vega a year ago. Oopsie, pal.

Update 2: Android and Me points out that you can sideload over ADB. Which proves our point even more.


Reader comments

AT&T locks down its first Android phone, the Backflip [and so what?]


Ah well it's a non-issue for me, and I think I have found a hack for it already.

Try downloading "Spare Parts" from the Android Market and see if that adds sideloading to the phone.

If not, one could always ask the creator of the utility to add it for a Backflip version of Spare Parts...

Anyone got one and wanna try it?


AT&T must have you all in stiches in the US is they do this to their phones.
this is likely to be a cheep phone so may have been bought by the the poor would be rooters who cannot afford an expensive handset

No one on here really cares. The only ATT user I can think of is Jeremy (moderator) and he's happy paying a crapload for EDGE.

I think it is primarily designed for people who just want a smartphone to work out of the box that is reasonably priced without too many bells and whistles.

Of course, now that we know that they have locked out sideloading one of us is bound to buy one to see if we can unlock that feature and then tell the world exactly how we did it.

Unfortunately I am in the UK so I cannot be the one to do it, but I can bet my last pound someone else in the States will...

"Spare Parts" is the first thing that I would try though. ;-)


I am more upset about the stupid Yahoo! search than the inability to install .apk packages.

Clearly AT&T plans to market this phone to 14 year old girls and senior citizens exclusively.


* * * paraody

Oh my gosh'xors you cant hax it? that's, leik, taking away our nineth amendement rites rite?? rite??

* * * end

Seriously though, I'm with you Phil. Who gives a crap if it has hacker friendly features. If you want that, take Sanjay's (Motorola) advice and go with an HTC device. Actually, go HTC in any case... that Legend sure looks nice.

Well, I disagree with your point. AT&T should give FULL android experience on their phone, their customers will have a bad taste of Android, when comparing to the iphone that AT&T sells at the same price. This is obviously an strategy by AT&T backed by Apple (REMEBER, Apple sells their iphone on at&t and next month iPad) with this CRIPPLED version of Android they are serving Apple (their golden eggs chicken).
This is VERY BAD for Android. I would never use AT&T, they are evidently SOLD to APPLE. This only show how bad they want to damage Android as Revenge, remember those Motorola Droid Ads by Verizon?, and is the SAME MOTOROLA the Backflip maker.

I agree, I think ATT is trying to do two things:
Showing they can be diverse by caring another smartphone other than a POS BB and iPhone
Sucking Apple's teets in hopes that they get another contract with them this summer to extend exclusivity. Once thats gone... I don't see them being able to stay in business, they're coverage and customer service is by far the worst overall than any other US carrier (of the top 4 at least)

The whole point of Android is that it is Open Source. PERIOD. If you don't want the phone to be open source, then put windows mobile on it. That's the big deal.

AT&T is getting 4 full Android phones in the near future. This Motoblur piece of crap shouldn't even be called an Android device. Motoblur sucks and is incredibly buggy.

Well, I'm an AT&T customer and reasonably happy. Why? They support standard GSM phones, I can use unlocked phones with them, and they have reasonable prepaid voice and data plans.

I don't know of any other provider that does that. T-Mobile doesn't have pre-paid data. Sprint, Verizon, and Virgin aren't GSM compatible. Sprint's phone offerings are a particular mess, with three incompatible systems.