Stuck in the iPhone mindset, AT&T locks down apps on their first Android phone

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Our full review of the Motorola Backflip should be up in a few days, but a few words of wisdom in the mean time: Don’t buy it. Between its crazy form-factor and the hidden trackpad tucked on the back of the display, everything we took as merits at face value have devolved into novelties.

Worst of all, it seems AT&T has taken a page from their time with the iPhone that no one wanted them to take. Like the iPhone — but unlike any other Android handset we’ve seen — the Motorola Backflip can’t install applications from any sources beyond the official, on-handset application store.

By default, all Android handsets are soft-limited to installing applications solely from Google’s Android Market. If a user tries to install an app through the browser with a brand new handset, they’ll get an error message telling them that they’ll need to flip a switch in the configuration screen before they can download from “Unknown Sources”. Alas, this switch is no where to be found on the Backflip.

While it can be said that Android’s less-restrictive market should make this a non-issue, it doesn’t. Certain applications, like the paid-version of Junefabric’s PDANet tethering application, can only be installed through the browser. Other times, developers will want to release their applications in beta form to a limited number of users outside of the market — something which, as it stands, Backflip owners will be unable to partake in.

What do you think? Knowing that AT&T is trying their damnedest to play gatekeeper on Android, would you still buy a Backflip?

[Thanks John R.!]

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