My old Fido hiptop still holds the record for the longest-surviving handset at my side — almost two years, if my math is right. From its companion desktop login to the $20 CAD/month unlimited data that came with it, the hiptop (aka the T-Mobile Sidekick in other parts of the world) was like nothing I had ever seen… in 2005, at least.
So you can imagine how excited I was to hear about the $100 (!) Mobiflip — despite the conspicuous absence of Danger’s back-end. So has Mobilicity managed to bring the hiptop/Sidekick back from the dead, or is the Mobiflip merely a shadow of its former self? Let’s find out…
Just like my beloved hiptop of old, the Mobiflip’s antenna resides in the plastic around the display — unlike my hiptop, however, the display is offset to the right. It’s not really an issue once you’re focused on the screen, but it’s not exactly a triumph of design, either.
Despite their odd shape and kitschy font the keypad buttons are almost perfect for hammering out IMs & texts with your thumbs. And though you’d think that the eight controls on either side of the keypad would be confusing as hell, they very quickly become second nature.
Sharp deemed it necessary to include a sticker on the back of the unit with instructions on how to open the battery cover. Instructions on how to close it would have been better, as the cover is so loose that pulling the Mobiflip out of the supplied foam pouch will yank it clean off.
Unless I’m doing it wrong?
You’d be forgiven for missing the two shoulder buttons on the top panel of the device; they’re used as shortcuts for, among other things, the speakerphone and camera shutter. On my hiptop they could also be used as gaming controls but alas, the Mobiflip comes with only one game.
In the hand the Mobiflip is terrible, as the display switches to portrait mode, um… never. But in two hands it’s extremely easy to hold and use. The hardware buttons serve the same functions system-wide, and if you find the trackball too slow to move the cursor around the screen, the speaker on the left doubles as a four-way controller that tracks faster.
Coming up in part two, a look at the Mobiflip’s 3.2 megapixel camera…