Monday 29 June 2015

Motorola FLIPOUT and Nokia X5-01 (2010)

Announced June 2010

These days, almost every smartphone looks the same. But five years ago this month both Nokia and Motorola were experimenting with square smartphones with physical keyboards.

Motorola's take on the idea was the Motorola FLIPOUT, an Android smartphone with a little 2.8" 320 x 240 pixel display and a QWERTY keyboard that rotated out. Measuring 67 x 67 mm, the FLIPOUT was almost perfectly square apart from the rounded edges. Although it was a fully-featured Android device with GPS, 3.5G and WiFi, the small screen must have been severely limiting, and physical keyboards have since gone the way of the Dodo on most smartphones.

The quirky FLIPOUT was a bit of a flop at the time, but if this esoteric design appeals to you then new ones can still be had for less than €200 with used ones in various conditions coming in at about €70 or less.

In the same month, Nokia announced the Nokia X5-01 slider phone which wasn't as square as the Motorola and featured a 2.4" screen with the same resolution as the FLIPOUT. Unlike the Motorola, the X5-01 was a Symbian device. Symbian was a operating system much more suited to smaller displays, and overall specifications were very similar to its rival except the X5-01 lacked WiFi but had a better camera.

Unusual Nokia devices are always collectible, but the rareness of the Nokia X5-01 makes it very hard to obtain.

In the end, smartphones with tiny screens fell out of favour and on-screen keyboards such as SwiftKey and Swype meant that most people didn't want an actual keyboard. But perhaps the time is right for manufacturers to experiment with different form factors again?

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