Mar 08 AT 1:14 PM Taylor Wimberly 139 Comments

AT&T: The most crippled Android experience

We try to be fair to every handset, but the are some we just can’t help but make fun of. Everyone thought Verizon was going to cripple Android, but they became friends with Google and offered the full Android experience.

AT&T is in bed with Apple and has gone to extreme measures to make sure their first Android phone, the Motorola Backflip, was under-powered and locked down. We already knew about the lack of Google search and today another limitation has surfaced.

The Backflip has no option to install applications from unknown sources (aka non-Market applications). This is important to note because every Android phone (that I know of) has included this as a default option of the Android OS.

Maybe it was done to “protect” the users, but this blocks the install of apps purchased on alternative markets and beta apps like Swype. Developers will also be unable to easily load and test their apps on the device before they release them.

Basically, AT&T is offering the same locked-in market experience that iPhone users get to enjoy put up with.

To add insult to injury, customers are also not allowed to remove the dozen or so AT&T apps that come preloaded with the device (bloatware). Android phones already struggle with limited storage space and having the carrier dictate which ones are installed on a user’s phone is a disappointment.

So to recap the AT&T Backflip:

  1. Outdated Android 1.5 with Motoblur
  2. No Google search (replaced by Yahoo)
  3. Unable to remove AT&T bloatware apps
  4. Cannot install non-market apps

Let us hope that AT&T offers a more open experience on their future devices, because this is not the Android that we know and love.

Updated: Added some quotes of Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility from Engadget’s 2009 interview. Classic!

“We like the Android as an operating system on its own, but we want to make sure that we have, and customers have the option, to put applications on that device that are not just Google applications. And we want to give customers the choice of other applications on that device, not just the same Google applications.”Ralph de la VegaCEO of AT&T Mobility

Update 2: Someone over at xda-developers already posted the hack to get around the non-market apps block. It’s is actually not a hack. Users just need to download the Android SDK and run a few console commands. Tether away.

Source: XDA-developers

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • Ian Wheat

    Wow. That’s all I have to say…. just, wow.
    No unknown sources *really* cuts people down. You probably won’t even be able to install from .apk files you have backed up on an SD card or in your own email.

  • http://Website wootroot

    Woow. Thanks for this article Taylor. Its a good think this article wasnt written later in the month, i’d of thought it was April Fools because of how absurd the details of this phone are. I think ill take a trip to a ATT store to see how ATT reps justify this phone as a good buy.

    • http://Website Murad Kheraj

      Let me know what you find out. I’m interested to see what their justification is.

      This information makes me glad that I’m on T-Mobile with my Nexus One :)

  • Zacqary Adam Green

    This is actually really, really bad. How many of the AT&T customers buying the Backflip are going to have any idea that this isn’t what Android is like on any other carrier? Probably not many. In fact, it’s likely that it will only be bought by people who don’t read tech blogs.

    And it’ll leave a bad taste in their mouth.

    • mvv_hyd

      May be that’s their plan.. to provide underpowered/obsolete Android devices to the customer so that they hate Android platform and spread the word around. You know, when you can’t beat it, just get into politics. I know it’s extreme.. but, I can’t think of any other reason why would they do this with their very first Android device

    • http://Website melgross

      ONLY people who don’t read tech blogs? You mean almost everybody?

  • Tenkely

    Do you think AT&T will realize this and try to not cripple their next Android phone or will they just continue on this path?

    • Taylor Wimberly

      What do you mean realize this? They did it on purpose. No other Motorola or Android phones are like this.

    • http://Website George Anderson

      As long as they have the iPhone as their baby, I think they’ll continue to cripple Android.
      I went into an at&t store last month and was questioning the reps about when an Android phone would be released. They had no idea but were quick to try to sell me an iPhone.
      Here’s a quote:
      “Most people that come in here just get the iPhone if we don’t have what they are looking for.”
      Why not continue to offer *crap* instead of something the customer may want. Keeps their iPhone sales high.

      • anakin78z

        But I don’t see how Motorola would go along with that. Unless they have no control over their own phones and really want to be on AT&T. And while I’m sure the iFone is making a lot of money for AT&T, I thought Apple takes a big chunk of that, and in theory, AT&T would be better off selling other phones which have a bigger profit margin for them.
        Just speculating…

  • http://Website George Anderson

    As an at&t customer, I have to say this saddens me. I wish at&t wasn’t “in bed” with Apple. It seriously limits customer choices.
    I have been *patiently* waiting for an android phone on at&t and am utterly disgusted with their first “offering.”

    Unfortunately, at&t is the best service provider in my area and I am stuck with them. Hopefully, Google can go ahead and release the Nexus One with at&t bands…

    • Tony Bullard

      I use an unlocked G1 on AT&T. Yeah, Edge is slow, but I don’t use web a lot when I’m on the go. But when I do need it, it’s good enough. It’s a compromise, but hey, it’s better than a locked down Backflip.

    • http://Website Ermac

      Yeah, and then they’ll lock that down too, how does no live wallpapers sound? Did u read what Vega said? They removed most google apps so that ppl can get the apps they want??? Is he stupid? Its a smartphone, (That’s been dumbed down to boot) if u want windows apps, GET A WINMO PHONE!!!!! If u want Android apps, GET AN ANDROID DEVICE. That phone contradicted his statement “We like the Android as an operating system on its own but we want to make sure that we have, and customers have the option, to put applications on that device that are not just Google applications. And we want to give customers the choice of other applications on that device not just the same Google applications.” then the backflip says ” well why the hell am I locked from installing apps from unknown sources?”

    • http://Website Name (required)

      Most people don’t know but you can buy an unlocked device on (canada) and use it on ATT.

      Telus phones in Canada use 850/1900 HSDPA.


      Telus HTC Hero or Motoroloa Milestone(Droid)!!!

    • http://Website Chuck
  • http://Website Mark T

    Having dealt with ATT for my Palm Treo, I am not surprised that they did their troglodyte best to “protect” the network. What a bunch of maroons (spelling is correct).

  • http://Website plaztikrhino

    Honestly, this comes as no surprise since we are talking about AT&T. Could you imagine how they would Jack up a badass phone like the Nexus One. AT&T will continue to suckle on the teet of Apple for as long as it can. Proud to say I would never support that company.

  • robojerk

    I might be incorrect in my thinking here, but why can’t Google or someone else just release a GSM phone here in the US?

    I mean all you need is a SIM card to get on the AT&T network right? Why does AT&T or any carrier for that matter get to dictate what phones get to go on their networks? The status quo seems to suggest that AT&T will do anything to keep Apple happy so we as consumers lose.

    • http://Website drksilenc

      LOL seriously have you heard of tmobile? they have like 5 android phones now ALL GSM its just applet&t that doesnt have them

      • robojerk

        I know T-Mobile makes GSM phones but too bad they’re locked on the t-mobile network

        I mean why do these networks have suck an iron grasp over the network. Why can’t I just buy an unlocked GSM phone, pop in a SIM from any GSM network and go on my merry way. If a company did that in the states they could sell phones compatible on 2 networks (T-Mobile and AT&T) and it would really open up the markets for consumers to choose the best products for them instead of what the networks allow.

        • http://Website Matt

          You can buy a GSM phone and use it on either network. The limitation is that current radio chipsets do not cover both the T-Mobile and the AT&T 3G bands. As such, you will have Edge on the other network.

          I left AT&T after seeing what they did to my beautiful E71x. You just call them up, explain that you are going overseas, and get the unlock command for your phone. After that it can work on any network.

          I am now on T-Mobile, and while I don’t have 3G any more, it is a lot cheaper and is almost completely free of dropped calls.

          Anyway, just switch to t-mobile.
          (1) They do not cripple their phones
          (2) If you want an unbranded phone, you can buy it and get a discounted contract-less plan.

        • http://Website VinceInSeattle

          This is where the FCC needs to step in with a simple rule: All cell phones sold in the US must be fully compatible with at least two carriers. Also carriers can’t arbitrarily lock out phones or do anything else that would interfere with the operation of that rule. This would allow the contract/subsidy structure to continue, but at least would create a better market for second-hand phones and a competitive market for non-subsidy phone service after a customer’s contract runs out. I assume phones would either be GSM/T-Mobile & ATT or CDMA/Verizon & Sprint.

  • http://Website charrion

    But wait, there’s more! Since this is a Motorola phone it very likely has the bootloader locked and digitally signed so you can’t root it or run custom roms (like the Milestone in Europe and Canada).

    • http://Website Unimaginative

      Ahh, ya beat me to it Charrion! As a Milestone owner I have a funny feeling for all non-Google Experience phones, as just about every phone maker is either stuck in the last decade or looks at Android as just an iPhone alternative and directly replicate the experience.

      • http://Website drksilenc

        and this is why apple is suing htc… the only company that you can load custom roms on and its the best android experience on the market by a large portion… have a hero which was voted the best smartphone of the year for last year and it kicks a$$ even moto said if you want to customize go to htc…
        if htc keeps rolling out high end android phones and later in the year starts rollin out win7 phones at the rate they are now the apple cult will have a rival on there hands and not just a copy like the fan boys like to call it… htc had a touchscreen smartphone out wayyy before the iCr ap and it was better in my opinion

  • http://Website mjv

    What does this spell for the future of the Dell Mini 5? Part of the intrigue in that device is the huge potential for truly useful applications beyond the typical iPhone-like games and etailer interfaces.

    Has there been any word about the Mini 5 coming to a network other than AT&T?

    (And as a current iPhone user, I can’t speak poorly enough about the AT&T experience.)

    • Taylor Wimberly

      Yes Dell said there would be another version of the Mini 5 with support for T-Mobile. No official announcements though.

      We might find out more next week when we talk with Dell at SXSW.

    • http://Website DroidOwner

      Adding on to your comment, what about these phones?

      Sony xperia X10
      HTC Desire/Incredible or something like taht
      and all the other android phones?

      I said on the AT&T facebook page that I would switch once my contract is finished.. but with at&t screwing around with the phones, I don’t think so. ATT IS BASICALLY AN APPLE FANBOY AND THEY THINK THEY CAN SCREW UP ANDROID. APPLE PROBABLY BRIBED THEM LOL

  • http://Website Zak Jones!

    AT&T FTL!

    • http://Website manly man


  • http://Website Nick

    It must stink for the Motorola devs who worked on the hardware only to have it crippled by the carrier. Wonder if this would hurt Motorola’s brand as well.

    • http://Website charrion

      I personally hope it does hurt Motorola tremendously after pulling that signed bootloader crap with the Milestone. Everyone in the states is having a love-in with Moto because of the Droid while the rest of us are firing up the torches and pitchforks.

      I think the U.S. needs to see Motorola’s true colours when it comes to Android.

      • Sal_The_Tiller

        While I do agree that the crap moto pulled with the milestone is nonsense, we in the U.S. can’t relate. Sure, motoblur is actually closer to motoblows, but the DROID is a fantastic device, and there’s no trouble installing new ROMs or rooting or generally effing with the software. So basically moto’s “true colors” in the U.S. are very respectable.

        Aside: can’t the EU put the smackdown on moto for this milestone nonsense? IIRC, it’s illegal for phones sold in the EU to be locked like that. I could be wrong, and IANAL, but that’s my understanding.

    • http://Website Jim

      Motorola is just as guilty as AT&T when it comes to screwing with Android. Have you seen Motoblur? That’s completely Motorola and as nothing to do with AT&T. Motoblur is on the Devour(Verizon) and the CLIQ(T-MOBILE). Motorola is hurting the android platform too. The only device they got right was the Droid and even that is ugly.

  • Apphacker

    Yes I can’t install apps from the web because according to the Motorola Support guy “due to carrier restrictions” the untrusted source option is not available in the app settings. I am returning my phone. :(

  • http://Website Vladimir Kelman

    Completely useless device. The only hope for AT&T (provided they really want to sell these phones, which I doubt) is to sell some to totally unaware people. I would try to make this understanding as widely known as possible.

  • http://Website anonymous

    Isn’t it a sign of Android’s success and openness that you can bundle Yahoo with it instead of Google? I honestly don’t see the problem with allowing the carriers choice for their default, if anything it’s a problem with Android that you can’t easily change this without rooting it.

    And to be fair, is there *any* phone that’ll let me uninstall the calculator application without rooting it? Or even T-Mobile’s IM program or Swype on their phones? All carriers are bundling software, and without access to the /system partition these are non-removable.

    Non-market apps really is a valid complaint though. :/ Does it allow development over usb?

    • vkelman


      It would be [barely] OK, if AT&T allow for easy deletion of its bloatware and installation of apps from unknown sources,a s well as replacement of a default search.

      • Clark Wimberly

        Agreed, it’s the openness of Android that allows this to happen but then they go a lock it all down which sort of defeats the purpose of it being open.

        • http://Website manly man


  • http://Website Jack

    Should number three have said “Uninstallable AT&T bloatware apps”?

    Seems it should have said “Ununinstallable AT&T bloatware apps”

  • http://Website Justin

    Better off just buying a used G1 off ebay and putting on Cyan’s ROM. Much better experience.

  • Phone Freek

    What a fucking joke. Fuck you and your irrelevant out of touch boss!

  • http://Website moosefist

    You can use ADB to install unauthorized apps

    • http://Website drksilenc

      its locked to where you cant u cant even access the bootloader to do that on this device… so you cant get adbshell to work

      • http://Website charrion

        That’s what I thought. If the backflop can’t be rooted, what good is ADB? Besides, I wonder if debug mode has been disabled on the backflop too. I can’t imagine them shutting the door on unknown sources only to leave the window wide open for ADB.

        • Anton Spaans

          If AT&T would disable the debug option, then developer could never test their apps on this phone. This would mean that tons of app would not be supported for the Backflip.

          Also, someone could write a little program that includes ADB that would allow consumers to easily install ‘non-trusted’ apps from their PC. Put this program on the web, get the word out and you’d have an option to easily by-pass Android Market. You don’t need an entire SDK for ADB.

  • http://Website nithin jino

    I bet people are mad because pirating apps will be harder.

  • http://Website George Anderson

    Just figured out what at&t stands for apple, through & through.

  • http://Website sriracha

    The fact that at+t is offering this crippled phone has nothing to do with the iPhone, and nothing to do with at+t’s relationship with Apple. To suggest that at+t would try to offer a crappy android experience in order to hurt android is just crazy.

    There’s one pretty simple reason that at+t is doing this: at+t’s management are some of the most aggressively stupid cretins on the planet. Seriously – that’s it. They’re just dumb, dumb motherfuckers. These dudes really think that their ability to control handset software is more important than meeting customers’ needs. Just take a look at the crap that comes out of Ralph de la Vega’s mouth; you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone more disdainful of his own customers.

    • Clark Wimberly

      At least year’s CTIA Ralph talked about smart phones users as if they were criminals for using so many resources.

      He probably is just mad they took away his feature phone. WHY ARE THESE BUTTONS ON THE SCREEN SO LITTLE?

  • Brian Douglas Hayes

    Like the Yahoo search issue, I think you guys are making a big deal out of nothing. AT&T sells phones on contract, and they’re obligated to support these phones for at least the length of the contract.

    If I was a provider, I’m not so sure I’d want to be spending money on support when dealing with unauthorized apps that can–let’s face it–brick a phone, in the worst case. At least with the Android Market there’s a little bit of accountability and protection.

    Quite frankly, I’m pretty sure AT&T is mostly concerned about tethering apps and/or “mobile hotspot” apps that could suck a lot of bandwidth out of their network, making the experience for everyone pretty miserable.

    As this is their first Android phone, it sounds to me like they’re just being cautious. I’m not really a fan of AT&T but I can’t blame them.

    • http://Website MP

      No other carrier seemed to have that problem. Can’t blame AT&T? Really? No app can brick the phone.

      • Brian Douglas Hayes

        My point is that AT&T has been known for these kinds of shenanigans already, so it’s not exactly a shock that they’re locking users into the “official” source for apps.

        If I was an AT&T customer, I’d be more upset about the pre-installed apps that can’t be deleted. But, for what it’s worth, T-Mobile did that to my G1. If someone has a way to remove AmazonMP3 and the IM app without rooting or wiping whole thing, let me know.

        And yes, a bad app could do plenty of damage (in theory, anyway). Okay, maybe not exactly “brick” the phone, but a poorly coded or malicious app could hose the OS.

        • http://Website Cesar Trevino

          Wow, when’s the last time you heard about a non-market app giving people problems?

          Amazon MP3 and IM apps are part of Android itself. T-Mobile didn’t put them there, Google did.

          There’s absolutely no reason to even suggest AT&T did this for anything but underpowering, what IMHO is, the Android OS

          • http://Website Cesar

            what IMHO is the best OS,*

          • Brian Douglas Hayes

            Apparently Android fanboys are ignorant enough to think we’re immune to malware? All I’m saying is that there absolutely is a risk (small as it may be) when you open the door to third-party sources. That’s one of the reasons the option is disabled by default.

            Now, before you write it off as overly-cautious tinfoil hat crap, I do think it’s only a matter of time before mobile devices become a target market for hackers, phishers, and scammers. Jailbreaking has already shown this:

            Serious question: How many of you have installed an app outside of the Android Market?

            I installed the Evernote beta, and I think maybe some other game demo a while back. That’s it, and I could have definitely lived without both. The game sucked (since I don’t have it any more) and Evernote was so crashy I wasn’t really excited when the full version hit the Market. Again, I really don’t think the lack of outside app sources is a dealbreaker.

          • http://Website drksilenc

            hate to break it to you brian… anyone smart enough to root there phone in android prior to the 1 click method thats out now has a complete backup of there device in more than 1 location… i get malware ok reformat. all my contacts are stored in my gmail and on a piece of backup software so no big loss and one thing this does is limit custom os’s like fresh and mocado which bring the platform to its peak… this is the cool person’s winmo i ran winmo for the past 3 years prior to my hero and i never had a stock rom on it for more than the first month of ownership and sure there were some bad one’s but for the most part they were all leagues better than stock os’s

          • Dave H.

            It would be naive to think that 100% of nonmarket apps wouldn’t cause problems with an Android phone. Caution should not be dismissed so quickly.

            However, it’s a shame that at&t isn’t letting people download apps from untrusted sources *at all*, versus simply disabling the option out-of-the-box like other Android phones.

          • anakin78z

            @Brian I’ve installed quite a few non market apps.
            The people most at risk are the people who most likely don’t know how to install those apps anyway, so I don’t see it as much of an issue. By them removing the option entirely, they’re flat-out calling everyone dumb shits, and if I wanted to be called that, I’d have an iphone.

        • http://Website MP

          It is for those who aren’t complete idiots. No other carrier had this problem, yet AT&T “is just being cautious and has done nothing wrong.” Ridiculous.

          As for non-market app downloads, I’ve downloaded plenty of betas including things like MLB at Bat. Considering you’re tinfoil attitude, I’m surprised you’ve even downloaded one.

          No app has shown to do anything close to brick an Android phone, on the Market or off. Why don’t you read the article you linked too. It has nothing to do with a rouge app?

          Maybe you’re better off with an iPhone, but don’t Jailbreak it or it could become just as scary.

          • http://Website Brian Douglas Hayes

            Where did I say that AT&T didn’t do anything wrong? And of course the article doesn’t talk about a “rogue app”, I brought it up in the context of jailbreaking/rooting. You wanted articles specifically talking about rogue apps on Android? Okay, here:

            Want more info? Look up 09Droid, a person/group that put out a bunch of phishing apps–disguised as banking apps–some of which even made it on the Android Market for a short while before getting pulled. They’re gone now, thanks to an quick and efficient moderation system on the Market, but they’re still out there on the web.

          • http://Website MP


            Idiots entering personal info on a phishing app is not anything close to malware. Does your anti-virus go off when you get a phishing e-mail from “” Does it do any harm to your OS?

            Try again.

    • http://Website Tool

      Tool. Shill.
      Get serious. If your irrelevant analysis had any value. it would hold true for Verizon, and they didn’t feel the need to cripple the droid.

      • http://Website Drew

        Geez, lay off this guy. He’s actually completely right in so many aspects. And your comment, calling him an idiot? If you actually knew what you were talking about, Verizon didn’t cripple the DROID because Verizon didn’t write the software for it. The DROID is a Google Experience device, hence Google handles the OS. The only part Verizon (at least to my understanding) has any part in is adding Verizon-specific apps like Visual Voicemail and VCast and all that jazz.

        Brian, you were 100% on target to ask if anyone was suprised of this coming from AT&T, cause I sure wasn’t. But, AT&T obviously worked out something with Motorola for them to replace the search provider on the phone. I don’t know…maybe it’s me, but if they REALLY wanted to “cripple” Android, wouldn’t they have just avoided the platform altogether? I mean as many complaints come from AT&T’s service, they are still the #2 carrier in the US and leaving Android out completely would leave that many more people out of the Android loop. They used 1.5 just to put users on AT&T Nav??? By that logic, T-Mobile and Sprint are just as guilty of this same crime. They included Android 1.5 (CLIQ, XT, Hero, Moment) just to force you into using TelNav. They just conveniently forgot to disable your ability to search for “navigation” in the marketplace.

        I’m interested to see what happens to this huge conspiracy theory once the Dell Mini comes out. To the best of my knowledge, there’s no indication that there will be any “crippling” there but it may be too early to tell.

        P.S. I’m not defending AT&T’s actions, but as I stated on another article, to me the fact that this can be done just shows the immense power of Android. Maybe Yahoo! can come out with their own custom Android UI and really shake up the market. God, I love capitalism!

  • Sean Riley

    Yay for Verizon finally not being the most ridiculous locked down carrier.

    I used to be so jealous of people on AT&T.

  • NookSurfer

    Which phone do you think the salesperson at At&T would be pushing to sell?

    • http://Website DroidOwner

      Hmm….. Let me guess….

      Spokesperson: How about this outdated windows mobile 4 phone?

      Customer: What about the iPhone and the Backflip?

      Spokesperson: No, they just suck.

      Customer: Doesn’t the cruddy phone your trying to sell me suck?

      Spokesperson: The Backflip has Yahoo search (points finger gun in head) and doesn’t allow any non-Market apps. Also, we have At&T apps that will eat up your RAM and screw your phone for life. Other than that, its great!

      Customer: Do you think I am that #$%$#%$ dumb?

  • http://Website Hamranhansenhansen

    > AT&T is in bed with Apple

    No, I think you have this backwards.

    AT&T doesn’t do anything voluntarily for Apple. Apple did not give the iPhone to AT&T until AT&T met many user experience demands. Just one example is the time-wasting greeting you hear on voicemail (“to page this person …”) was removed from the iPhone at Apple’s request yet still appeared on all other AT&T phones.

    If it was possible for AT&T to monkey with the iPhone and still sell it, they would monkey with the iPhone. They would happily sell it with an outdated OS and all kinds of crapware. They’re a phone carrier. What do they know about phones? Nothing. They sell contracts.

    So the reason this Android phone got monkeyed with is simply that Motorola does not have the clout with AT&T that Apple has. Motorola did not say “if you don’t keep your hands off this, we won’t sell it to you.”

    From the beginning, Apple was willing to go way, way out of their way and make a proprietary Verizon phone for the US if AT&T didn’t promise not to monkey with iPhone.

    So, again, you have it backwards. Carriers monkeying with the handset is the default. The fact that Apple is willing to exclude carriers who don’t leave the user experience alone is why iPhone has not been monkeyed with. iPhone is not to blame for the problems with this Motorola phone. Try blaming Motorola.

    > Basically, AT&T is offering the same locked-in
    > market experience that iPhone users get to
    > put up with.

    It must seem weird to you that so many people buy and love their iPhones if you think that is the case. But it is not.

    The reality is that, although iPhone is less open than a Mac/PC, it is actually much more open than phones that came before it. iPhone was the first phone with a desktop class HTML5 browser that can run any Web app in the world, and it even features GPU accelerated graphics and access to hardware that other browsers lack. You can ignore the native app platform and still run hundreds of thousands of apps. iPhone always has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, whereas when it shipped, it was typical on Verizon to have the Wi-Fi stripped out. iPhone is always GSM standard, whereas other phones often lock you to a specific carrier with proprietary networking. iPhone has an open source Unix core OS, OpenGL graphics, and the Web browser core is open source and is used in Palm, Nokia, Android, and in Google Chrome. Before iPhone, phone apps were typically baby Java apps you could only download from your carrier, but iPhone has 2 desktop-class app platforms: one native, proprietary, managed app platform written in C, and one Web, unmanaged, open app platform written in HTML5. Either one is better than the phone apps that came before it. Both together gives you a yin yang of apps, you can choose which one you want to use, and developers can choose which one they want to deploy to. Nobody is locked into managed apps, there is a completely separate unmanaged app platform on iPhone that predates the App Store and which uses a totally open API.

    People love their managed iPhone App Store apps precisely because they are managed, you can install and use them as easy as music or movies. There is zero chance of malware. 3 or 4 malwares have been demoed for iPhone at hacker conferences but could not be deployed to the user base because they could not pass Apple approvals. At the same time, Android Market has deployed malware. That has already happened.

    When you consider that Google rejects about 10% of the Web from its Search index (Apple only rejects about 1% of iPhone apps), many people think Google is letting Android down by not managing the native apps. People expect Web apps to be at-your-own-risk, but they want native apps to have a higher standard. Especially businesses, especially consumers.

    So I think it’s great that you love your Android phone, but please remember that iPhone users have been well surveyed, and they love their iPhones even more than Android users. So please, try to stop talking about iPhone. Just don’t even say “iPhone”. Especially do not blame iPhone for problems with Android. It has nothing to do with Android except that it contributed its browser core.

    • http://Website Fanfoot

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      Wow, not all the people on the internet are stupid cretins. I guess that’s encouraging?

    • anakin78z

      Sure, it’s open and great, until it stifles innovation and competition. The Google Voice debacle was a good example of Apple limiting what the user can do, for no good reason. There are also no alternative browsers available, nor are there many tools which we enjoy on Android, and other people enjoy on their platforms of choice.
      There might be lots of fun toys in the walled garden, but it’s still a walled garden.

  • http://Website I love my Email

    This will KILL any hope of ATT capturing or retaining anyone who wants to use Android devices in their business or enterprise.

    Installing TouchDown, the only REAL Exchange sync solution for Android is handled via a web install or across the network and settings applied via a share location. Are they really going to tell enterprise custoemrs “go and have all 500 of your users download the app from the market and then manually type in this product key….”?????


  • http://Website shaneaus

    I am sick to my stomach! I just had to renew my two son’s contracts (on our family account) with ATT to get them new phones. Then I hear about the BackFLOP – ATT CRIPPLED and CRAPWARE LOADED POS. I knew the Backflip would be a subpar phone with a stupid form factor. But, to hear that ATT shoved their big hot dog up the Backside of the Backflop as well…. Makes you wonder what their going to stick up the backside of any other DECENT Android device they might have the misfortune to get their hands on!

    I have been an ATT customer for 15 YEARS. They have the BEST rural cell phone reception of any carrier in my County. I pay a premium for good cell service. I have been loyal to that as many times my co-workers use my phone to make calls. But, this…..

    Looks like I’ll be trying to talk my wife into leaving ATT as well. I would rather have a great phone that I can use for many purposes than have a POS that all I can do is talk on…

    Please don’t even suggest I get an Iphone! I have denounced anything “I” related since ITunes placed DRM’s on my 6000 song music collection I spent eight months ripping, normalizing, and converting from my collection of CD’s (back when I was single and had the time on my slow computer). They WILL NEVER GET ANY KIND OF BUSINESS FROM ME – EVER! I also happen to HATE the GUI.

    • http://Website Michael

      iTunes placed DRM on the songs that you ripped from your CDs? Huh…. I suppose that’d make you the ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD to have that happen to them, given that the acceptable method for removing DRM from songs bought from the iTunes store is, um, BURN THEM TO A CD AND RIP THEM AGAIN.

      Hate the iPhone if you want, that’s your prerogative. But, Hamranhansenhansen is the only one here to get this right: AT&T would have done this with the iPhone if Apple had allowed them. AT&T is the only one to blame here.

      Sorry to hear that you face losing the good cellular coverage you currently have. Of course, you could just keep the phone you have that works and hope that someone with more pull than Motorola makes an Android phone for AT&T, and keeps AT&T from crippling it.

      • http://Website drksilenc

        no cause it happend to me to and alot of people as well thats why i had to re rip it in windows media player instead of failtunes…

        • Sal_The_Tiller

          No, it didn’t.

          Actually, WMP is the one that puts DRM on ripped CDs. Now, you may have been confused, say, if you tried to put your ripped songs on an MP3 player, because iTunes rips to AAC (Apple Audio Container, IIRC) wich is unsupported by most things. But I promisee you that there was no DRM on the files.

  • http://Website JustFlorin

    Call me naive, i am new to the whole android world…but couldn’t a software upgrade unlock all these ‘crippled’ features?

    I hear a lot of talks about rooting, again, couldnt the 2.1 update thats down the street make this possible?

    • http://Website Fanfoot

      Unlike the iPhone, where Apple pushes out updates over the internet, Android devices are updated over the air by the carrier. And the carrier decides when or if to upgrade them. Many 1.6 Android devices will NEVER be upgraded to 2.0 or above. There are also some technical reasons some phones can’t be upgraded, since later releases required more RAM etc. You simply can’t ASSUME that any given Android device will be upgraded. You have to ask, and watch and see what that carrier does with the Android phones they offer.

  • http://Website shaneaus

    @JustFlorin – that is not the issue here.
    First – a software update is put out by the Carrier. So, if ATT went through all the effort to crappify the Backflop’s ROM…. They will Crappify the updated ROM for the device as well.

    Secondly – There are so many people that have no idea how to root a phone or are unwilling to do so due to warranty/insurance concerns. Less than 10% of users root their phones. For the 90% that don’t…. They will ALL have a crappy Android experience with ATT. Which, creates all sorts of issues.

    The crappy point here is ATT is Crapping on Android!

  • http://Website g1-and-only

    1.5 is there to stop google maps nav and force you to use at&t maps or telenav

  • Dharmabhum

    Grats AT&T. You just failed at Android. And in so many ways all at once!

  • http://Website MacofNiagara

    My AT&T contract is up next month. I planned on lining up all providers and determining which would give me the best android & family plan.

    AT&T just made my job easier. Horrible.
    The main reason I like android is choice.
    Locked into Yahoo – ugh
    Locked into Moto – Ugh
    Locked into AT&T apps – Ugh
    No out of market apps – Damn

    Any one of those would give me second thought about going with AT&T. All of them together is amazingly bad, and as mentioned makes my decision list shorter by one.


    just seen a commercial for the backflip, can’t find it on youtube yet but it starts out with luke willson trying to make a basket but has to do with march maddness

  • krazytrixxxsta

    sound like att is in league with apple to stop android by giving it a bad name

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  • http://Website Larry

    All the negative stuff, really? You are missing the point of this phone. It is, to me, better than the 3GS and only $99.00

    It’s not that locked down – please. Non market stuff not a huge deal and there are workarounds.

    Hardware keyboard is the best I have ever used.

    Backgrounding, Widgets, etc etc etc. I could go on.

    This is a good, solid device.

  • http://Website Drago

    It seems that there are many candidates among people who have already bought the phone to go and join the following facebook group.
    It is for people to voice their dissatisfaction with at&t crippling the Backflip. If you would like to join, please do.

  • http://Website Benny

    AT&T just looking to lock in what customers of theirs who DO try this phone to get a bad exp.
    Then they will talk DOWN about Android and they and their friends will jump back or too the iPhone.
    Just AT&T protecting their devil’s lock on the iPhone, by handing out an inferior phone with the Android OS.

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  • http://Website tk

    What I can’t figure out is why is Google allowing this? As far as I know, while it lacks Google search, it still has their other apps like Gmail and Maps, so that means they had to get licensed from Google to use those… so it makes no sense to me why Google would allow their apps to be put on a phone this crippled and give them a bad name.

    • anakin78z

      There are 3 different versions or ‘models’ of android out there:
      ‘With Google’ phones deliver the ‘Google experience’, which means they come with stock android, nothing modified, including all google apps. Example phones are the Nexus One and the G1.
      The second variant includes all the google apps, but allows manufacturers to modify the android experience. Examples of this are HTC phones such as the Hero or Desire, which feature the Sense UI, and Motoblur phones, including the Backflip.
      Lastly, there’s plain Android without any google stuff on it. It’s free, and it used by some companies to make mids and such.

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  • http://Website Paul


    Don’t you listen to anyone! Backflip is awesome!

    1. Outdated Android 1.5 with Motoblur – update to 2.1 is under evaluation
    2. No Google search (replaced by Yahoo) – so? Open browser and use google!!!
    3. Unable to remove AT&T bloatware apps – not that many of them, simply don’t use them, remove shortcuts… In fact some of them are useful!!
    4. Cannot install non-market apps – Yes, you can!!!
    Follow this


    • http://Website Neil

      “Under evaluation” doesn’t mean it will ever happen.
      ‘update to 2.1 is under evaluation’ could, and probably does, mean that *whether to upgrade at all* is under evaluation.

      If they were just planning the schedule, they’d have said “schedule will be available soon” or “check back later” or something like that.

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  • http://Website ariel

    Guys — ever heard of a browser. You can access, or for that matter any other search engine. How is this any different then Opera or Firefox setting Google as the default search experience.

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  • http://Website jose

    Its slow its very slow it lags so much that when I type it can take up to 2 mins sometimes before I see what I typed the worst phone I have ever bought I hate it and I want my money back if there was an emergancy I would be screwed because I have to wait for the phone to load i should have got the iphone what a waste

  • http://Website patrick

    yeah. i’d have to agree. i switch phones about every 6 months for my job and this phone is pretty bad.

    I don’t really have anything to add after what’s been said above but the phone is slow, has glitches and sometimes even restarts. Android 1.5 overall is painfully slow compared to what’s out there and the fact that there still doesn’t seem to be an update for this phone says it all. how Motorola ever agreed to release this phone on AT&T is beyond me. Many people will just look at this phone and think that Moto handsets overall are crap. That’s really unfortunate.

    If you’re on AT&T best bet is to get an unlocked Nexus One. Not sure if the 3G will work then though


  • http://Website John

    I’m visiting Singapore later this month and thinking of buying an HTC Desire. I know that I’ll lose 3G, but then again I’m cheap and rely on wi-fi rather than a data connection. My AT&T service is about to offer me deals on equipment upgrades. I like HTC. A lot. I also hate bloatware.


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  • http://Website Adianette

    Definitivamente el Motorola backflip de att No sirve. Pena me da q pague por el y att no se hizo responsable tuve q conseguir en la calle un i phone en lo q consigo otro android en la calle también x q la única solución d ellos al dar la queja del backflip es – para q t cubra la garantía debes cambiarlo por otro igual. Lo cambie pero tiene los mismos defectos graba números con otros nombres y no contesta llamadas y hace cosas como si viniera desprogramado d fabrica. Al menos puedo escribirlo aquí para desahogarme! Gracias

  • http://Website zac

    wow screw att and apple

  • Thermostatic Shower

    reading tech blogs to keep me updated on technology is what i do daily. i am a tech addict ;~,

  • The Lounge

    guys…i still confuse what the best android………

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  • Shannon Zervas

    Good information. Now that is what I really like. Hope everyone is having a great day!

  • Daily Health Tips

    AT&T just looking to lock in what customers of theirs who DO try this phone to get a bad exp.
    Then they will talk DOWN about Android and they and their friends will jump back or too the iPhone. Btw this is good information. Now that is what I really like. Hope everyone is having a great day..

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  • Fritz

    At&t is the worst when it comes to android phones (especially if your unlucky enough to have there pre paid go phone service), They constantly offer android phones that have no adobe flash capability (witch pretty much kills the idea of going to at&t for me), Loaded with bloatware, Bad service contracts where the consumer pays a lot for very little.
    The only thing that is decent is the service area and that’s about all and even that wont sway me to go to there service, The only way i would even consider going to at&t is when they finally get there heads out of there you know what and offer better android phones with flash capability!

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    古典 ロイ·ã‚ªãƒ¼ãƒ“ソンは彼のステージ上の人格の中に彼のサングラスをかけていた1960年代半ばに開始して、元ロックスターの一人だった人々に愛されているブランド!?おしゃれ女子200人が今季NO.1トレンドに選んだ「ペプラム」って何?ラコステ アウター一緒に素早くカットを支援するために把握する。 少数ナイキShoxはマーケティングは王である 今日では、Webサイトやお店はエアーマックスのカスタムを販売するために作成されているラコステ スニーカー メンズアディダススニーカーシューズ確認することは非常に重要です。 ビデオレビューを含め


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  • norensettem

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