Atrix 4G

The Motorola Atrix 4G is the latest high-end Android phone on AT&T's HSPA+ network, bringing a dual-core Tegra 2 powerhouse and Moto's unique WebTop experience along for the ride.  Since its announcement at CES in January, people have been excited to see what Motorola can bring to the table, and I was just as excited to have some time with the Atrix and the laptop dock.

That's not to say the experience was perfect -- they never are.  I'll share what I learned during my time with the Atrix, and hopefully it will give you a fair idea of what to expect with this one.  Join me after the break.

As we always try to do here at Android Central, as soon as we get the gear we turn it on to make sure it works, then fire up the camera.  This allows you to see our first impressions as we stumble our way through a new device.  The Atrix is no exception, so have a look at the video of my initial reaction to the phone and the laptop dock.


YouTube link for mobile viewing

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video can really tell a story.  I admit I was a little disappointed with WebTop mode through the laptop dock when I first tried it.  Not that it was unbearble, but I had such high expectations.  We'll talk more about that a little later. 

The Hardware

overview

The hardware on the Atrix is the real star of the show.  It's packing a dual-core Tegra 2 processor, a full gigabyte of RAM, front facing camera, and everything else people on AT&T have been waiting for.  The full specifications are:

  • NVIDIA's dual-core Tegra 2 processor, clocked in at 1 GHz
  • 1024 MB of system RAM
  • 16382 MB (16GB) internal storage
  • microSD card slot (up to 32 GB size card)
  • 4-inch capacitive touchscreen at 540x960 (qHD) resolution
  • 5 MP rear camera with 720p video capture and dual LED flash, VGA (0.3 MP) front-facing camera
  • Android 2.2.1
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, AGPS, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • 1930 mAh battery
  • GSM 850, 900, 1800, 1900, UMTS 850, 1900, 2100 and 14.4 Mbit/s HSDPA / 2.0 Mbit/s HSUPA * radios

*Technically the Atrix 4G's hardware supports full HSDPA/HSUPA, but this is currently disabled by AT&T.  Look here for more detail.

So the hardware is nothing to sneeze at.  It's by far the most powerful smartphone hardware we've ever seen.  But exactly how is it packaged up?  The phone is a mixture of plastic with a Gorilla Glass screen.  The screen is glossy plastic with no coating, but the way the battery door wraps around it feels very solid.  You'll see what I mean in the pictures that follow.  It is a total fingerprint magnet though -- front and back. 

The front of the phone is your standard black slab, with capacitive buttons and a cutout for the earpiece.  The buttons are silkscreened and have the same order as the Droid X and Droid 2 models -- menu-home-back-search.  It looks like Motorola has decided on a button order, let's hope they stick to it.  At the very bottom edge is a microphone, and beside the earpiece is the VGA front-facing camera, tucked safely away under the same sheet of Gorilla glass that covers the entire face of the phone.

Atrix 4G - 03  Atrix 4G -04

Atrix 4G - 05  Atrix 4G - 06

On the rear of the phone is the 5 MP camera with its dual flash setup, a small (but surprisingly loud and clear) external speaker grill, a second noise-canceling microphone, and the power button/fingerprint scanner combo.  The power button placement and arrangement takes some getting used to, but in the end it works great.  Now that I'm back to my personal phone, I find myself missing it.  On top next to the power switch is a 3.5 mm headphone jack, which is good and solid without being too deep.  You'll appreciate that if you use wired headphones, either by choice or because you broke your Bluetooth MotoRokr set.  I fall into the later category.

On the phone's left edge are the USB and HDMI port.  Shout out to Motorola here -- the connectors are rock solid, with little to no wiggle on either.  I wouldn't be afraid that things are going to break, as both the included cables (yes, Moto gives you a HDMI cable to call your own) and the dock connectors fit snugly and just right.  On the right side the volume rocker switch sits alone, being in a good position for easy use, but entirely too small and aggravating as all get out.  If you frequently use the volume switch, you'll probably get used to it, but I sure didn't.  Yes, nit-picky, but important to many -- including myself.

Atrix 4G -- power switch  Headphone jack

volume rocker  connection ports

Under the battery door everything fits nicely, is easy to get to, and feels very well made.  We shouldn't be surprised here -- Motorola makes quality phones, and the Atrix is no exception.  The only gripe I can find is the battery door itself.  The material is thin, flexible plastic.  The way the battery door wraps around the corners of the phone you don't notice this while it's on, but I was a little worried the first time I removed it that I would break it.  I didn't, and maybe I am worried over nothing, but it seems out of place on an otherwise rugged feeling piece of hardware.

battery door  SIM card

battery 1  battery 2

How does all this perform?  Let's start with the benchmarks. 

YouTube link for mobile viewing

A few things here.  While Android can run on dual-core hardware, things are far from optimized.  Other than the multitouch test (which we'll discuss in a moment) everything you see is subject to change.  I was very impressed with the display and motion during all the graphics tests.  An enjoyable experience doesn't always translate into numbers, and the video from both the Nenamark tests and the graphics portions of the Quadrant test is by far the best I've ever seen.  It's fluid, there is no stutter or choppiness, and frankly there's no way to explain it other than to say it makes you feel that you're not looking at a smartphone while it's running.  It's desktop computer quality graphics performance on a four inch screen.  The PowerVR chips may give you better numbers, but on Android they don't look nearly as nice.  Sign me up for the first SAMOLED+/Tegra 2 smartphone right now.

Now let's talk about the multitouch test.  The touch input sensor on the Atrix 4G only accepts two input points.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  One finger, two fingers.

Other than a few games, this isn't going to make much of a difference -- for now.  The way things change so fast in Android I worry that more than two input points may soon become the norm for gestures and on-screen controls.  If so, the Atrix will never be able to use them.  It seems strange to me to use this hardware on a phone so future proof.  I'm sure Motorola has a reason to use the digitizer hardware they did, and I hate to second guess them, but it seems like an odd omission.

As with most Motorola products, the radios all work great.  WiFi and Bluetooth connect quickly and have a solid signal, and my headset was able to access the phonebook without issue.  The cellular radios work well, aside from the AT&T "4G" issues.  Calls sound very good, and for voice services the noise canceling microphone set-up does it's job.  GPS and navigation worked without a hitch.  The external speaker, both for playing media and using as a speakerphone is second to none.  Hello Moto.

Battery life, on the other hand, was pretty abysmal.  Even with the beefy 1930 mAh battery I could not make it through the day without running to a charger -- and a Motorola-branded charger at that.  Yes, Motorola once again is forcing you to use their battery charger and USB cable to charge the phone, despite it being microUSB. Whatever little tweaks that made have nullified the standard. Bad, Moto. Bad.

The processor also runs hot.  While downloading the SD card content for Dungeon Defenders First Wave, or the initial sync of my Google and Blur accounts, the bottom half of the phone got uncomfortably warm.  I think there is a correlation here, and am hoping that once updated to a version of Android that properly supports the Tegra 2 hardware both these will become a non-issue.

The hardware really shines when you enter the Tegra Zone.  Load an optimized Tegra 2 game from NVIDIA's area of the Market, and have a blast.  Luckily, my favorite game has a great Tegra 2 version -- Fruit Ninja THD.  It's a noticeable upgrade from the "normal" version, features very intense graphics and textures, has at least a million more pieces of fruit on the screen at once, more and better visuals, and pulls it off with nary a stutter -- until the OS gets involved.  If a notification comes in while playing, things stop for a second or two, you hear the sound, then go right back where you left off at full speed.  Again, I blame Android itself for this -- the OS just doesn't fully use the power under the hood. 

Tegra Zone

Dungeon Defenders

Fruit Ninja THD

The Software

The Homescreens

The Atrix 4G comes chock full 'o Blur.  We're not going to spend too much time talking about Blur -- you either like it, or you don't.  I'm in the latter camp since I used it.  I signed up and created a Blur account with my real information, using my Google contacts, Facebook and Twitter account, and wish I hadn't.  Contacts get duplicated, contact notes get corrupted, and a total mess that takes the best part of a day to repair is the result.  The widgets in Blur are very nice, and I happened to like the color scheme and layout, but the performance hit and the general mess makes me understand all the Blur hate a little better.  Of course you can use a third party launcher, but all that really does is hide what's going on behind the scenes.  Blur's tentacles reach deep, and it's going to take a while to get rid of most of it.  When we see a dual-core optimized version of Blur, we may all fall in love with it, and in the meantime we can be happy that it's not Bing.

ADW Launcher  About

There are a few things I like about the software as well.  The battery manager and data delivery settings are a nice touch, and work as advertised.  It's a bit confusing if you forget and reach for your phone during the "off" hours, but once you have it set up to suit your needs, both are a welcome addition.  And the fingerprint scanner may be a gimmick more than anything, but it's very cool and really is a handy way to unlock your phone once you remember that it's there.  I tried a few tricks to bypass it, and none worked, so I'll call it secure enough for the average user.

Battery manager  Data delivery

Fingerprint scanner

HDMI out and the Motorola Entertainment Center software work very well, and the images and video scale well to a television.  Motorola even includes an HDMI cable, which is a nice touch. Unfortunately there is no HDMI mirroring, so no big screen gaming is on the horizon anytime soon.

HDMI 1  HDMI 2

HDMI 3

AT&T has had their way with the software as well, and there are more than a few applications pre-loaded in your app drawer.  Nothing too invasive, but chances are there's something pre-loaded that you wish wasn't.  Here's the app drawer full monty from an unmodified Atrix, fresh out of the box.

app drawer 1  app drawer 2

If any of the above is just too much to handle, root the darn thing and be done with it.

The Camera

The camera gets its own section not because it's very bad or very good, but because such a fuss has been made across the Internet about it. In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with the camera on the Atrix.  It's not going to replace a good point-and-shoot setup, and it's certainly not the best camera we've ever seen on a cell phone, but it takes decent pictures and is easy to use.  For quick shots when carrying a camera isn't convenient, the Atrix will suit most needs.  The dual flash setup does wash out a little bit, but that's to be expected.  Warning -- these images open full size.

Atrix Camera 1  Atrix camera 2

Atrix camera 3  Atrix camera 5

I happened to be out on a very windy pre-Spring day, and was able to capture a few moments of footage in an empty, windy parking lot.  Yes, the microphone caught every gust.

 

YouTube link for mobile viewing

I also revisited my little office aquarium, to see how the camera handles bright vivid color and flashy movement.

YouTube link for mobile viewing

It's not award-winning, but you're not Ansel Adams or Steven Spielberg.  I don't buy into all the hate on the Atrix 4G's camera, and in my opinion, neither should you.

The Laptop Dock

Laptop dock

We were also sent a laptop dock for review purposes, and that's the part that got me a bit giddy inside.  Until I used it that is.  It's constructed very well, is light and portable at 2.4 pounds, is an absolutely awesome idea, but it's lacking in the performance department.  The unit features an 11.5-inch display, has a large battery that will even recharge your Atrix while docked, a big trackpad with two buttons, and two USB ports that support USB mice and flashdrives.

trackpad  USB ports

phone dock closed  phone dock open

docked  side view

To use the laptop dock, you place the phone in the cradle behind the screen of the laptop, and open it.  Webtop mode will automatically start (sometimes), and if not connected to WiFi will verify that you have a tethering account with AT&T.

The software is well thought out for the most part.  You have a file browser, built in media player, access to your phone functions and screen, and of course Firefox 3.6 for Linux.  You're able to install plugins for the browser, and Adobe Flash 10.1 is pre-loaded and works as advertised. 

windowed  Web browsing full screen

Extensions  Flash

browser version

All of this runs as an app inside Android, and even the Tegra 2 and gigabyte of RAM can't make up for that.  The interface gets sluggish, the media player won't (or can't) play in the background, and an incoming call renders everything just about unusable more than half the time.  Something also affects Android itself while it's running, and quite a few times I was forced to pull the battery because the phone wouldn't wake up when removed from the dock.

The good news is I'm pretty certain all this is software-related.  The hardware is done right, the premise is great on paper, but the Webtop application just isn't there yet.  I can envision a great future for this, and if you have geek juice instead of human blood in your veins it's really fun to explore and play with it.  But right now, you're better off spending your $300 to $500 on a standalone netbook and tether that to your phone.  And, yes, I'm bummed about that.

Hackability

The Atrix 4G has a locked and encrypted bootloader.  Motorola differentiates between what they consider developer devices like the OG Droid and the Xoom, and what they feel are consumer products.  Nothing we can say or do is going to change that, and chances are that the bootloader protection will never be broken.  Hello there Motorola Milestone.  I make no bones about the fact that I despise this policy, but it is not my decision to make.  Nor is it yours.

What is our decision is if we are going to let this affect our purchase of the Atrix.  Getting root access to the Atrix (as well as a root shell in Webtop) isn't hard, but your options are still limited without access to a custom recovery.  A quick look at the Droid X hacking forums will tell you that hacks and custom ROMs will come, but the pace will be slower and complete from-scratch builds of Android like MIUI or CyanogenMod may never happen.  Armed with that knowledge, make your choice and be happy with it.

Conclusion

Android isn't quite ready for the stellar hardware in the Atrix 4G.  It will be soon if what we're hearing about the "I" version of Android is true, but until then you'll have to be willing to put up with some random slowdowns and general weirdness every once in a while if you pick up the Atrix.  Only you can decide if that's worth it.  Then there's the bootloader issue to come to grips with if you're the hackery type. 

Applications that have been built to take advantage of the hardware, like my favorite Fruit Ninja THD, show what the hardware is capable of, and the Atrix handles them with ease.  I'm not blowing smoke here -- The Atrix runs the beefed-up versions of Dungeon Defenders and Fruit Ninja much better than the Nexus S runs the "lesser" versions in side-by-side tests.  For most people, that is enough to justify the wait for Motorola and AT&T to update to an improved version of Android that takes better advantage of the hardware -- we have already seen that with the Xoom, so it's coming.  Just know what you're getting yourself into from the start.

 
There are 51 comments

Bla1ze says:

Great review Jerry!

VCL says:

You say it is slow as hell but how can you say that when you are using it on a lousy Edge signal. Of course it will be slow. Not giving it a fair shot. I'm a T-Mobile customer so I'm not a fan boy from AT&T. If you are going to review the product do so under fair specs. You are wondering why Facebook isn't coming up fast, Living out in the boondocks with a poor signal might be your answer.

bkcberry says:

I'm at work, so I can't watch the video, but from the pictures it looks as though he's got an H+ signal (which is not edge), and possibly even wifi.

The slow part of this phone, according to every review i've read, is webtop mode.

VCL says:

Listening to the video he said right out he was on a very poor signal and was on Edge.

No, I said it was at the spot where it jumps back and forth. The video while the phone was docked shows I am connected to the HSDPA network. Watch the part where I open the cut the rope video to demo Flash. Network speeds were decent for this test. If things get busy, or if I move away from the window I will drop to Edge.

In any case, network speed is not the reason it takes 6 seconds for the facebook "app" to load, or why the fully loaded and rendered webpage scrolls in slow motion and is very choppy.

DaSpitter says:

Hey Jerry...probably not the right place for this question...but I really wanted to ask you two things. I loved your review and love the phone! I am sad about my bose headphones with mic that use a 3.5mm 3 ringed jack...(the 3rd being the mic) and I can't insert it into the phone. The guy at the store had the same issue trying to use a i*hone set of headphones that were wired....suggestions...ideas??

EDIT: I realized that you truly have to push a lot harder than I'd like to push them in...they work perfectly! NEVER MIND :-) :-)

Second, any idea about why the emoticons are missing in the stock android text message app? You can see then when you put them into the message but when you hit send they look like :-) instead of the android guy making a smiley face....any ideas?

Besides those two things....love the phone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Twitter is what is killing the batter life....it doubled my battery life guys...don't sync twitter!!!!!

Jonathan
jonathan_seymour@hotmail.com

Beenyweenies says:

He didn't say he was on Edge. He said he had a poor signal because he lives right on the edge of AT&T's 3G zone. The reviewer is smart enough to know that doing the entire review on EDGE network would have been utterly pointless and flame-worthy.

Either way, if internet speed was the issue, don't you think he would have shown its use under WIFI as well, just to be fair?

rippley05 says:

Excellent review! Locked bootloader and poor battery life makes it a huge loser for me tho, so I'll pass.

Hopefully the Android OS catches up to this hardware soon tho.. I can only imagine the potential.

BrianTufo says:

Great review but I didn't have any issues using MotoBlur accounts to set-up my contacts and such. Nothing duplicated and was an easy process for me.

Also not sure where you got bad battery life from all over I've been reading the exact opposite and have had the exact opposite experience. The battery life is quite good for me and a lot of other users (MUCH better than the Inspire 4G).

And NO I'm still NOT spam haha.

HackNet says:

You don't have to root the phone to get rid of at&t's bloatware. Just uninstall them from the application management menu. I did.

FSEMobius says:

OK first of all I'm not the guy that generally lambasts reviewers BUT I feel I have to on this one. Point one, MY PERSONAL Atrix DOES charge on any micro USB charger...I have an LG micro USB, and a two piece micro USB from my Focus and it charges on both...no fuss no delay...it charges...Second, I get AT LEAST a day on battery with heavy email, game, and internet use including a no fail 2 hour pandora session DAILY...I unplug around 5-6 AM and by 11 PM I usually have around 30-40%...the review is awesome, yes, and I agree with a lot of what was said but there are glaring issues with this review that should be edited...including the error above that says it has a plastic screen...I wish these blogs were edited better because now people will come into stores expecting a proprietary charging, poor battery life, plastic screened phone...not true AC

I have to agree. I'm sitting here, looking at my ATRIX 4G charging off of a Zip-Linq retractable cable connected to an XTG 4-USB-port generic brick, and wondering what you mean by Moto-only chargers and cables. I guess I'd better disconnect it and let the battery drain itself of all that non-Moto-authorized electricity?

I noticed that Exchange/Corporate Email defaults to push without even bringing up other options, and if you switch it to periodic delivery it improves battery life noticably. Also, it takes 2-3 charge/discharge cycles for the battery to reach its full potential, so those first cycles will appear as rotten battery life.

Also if you don't install Flow, which seems to use a similar "push" maintained connection, you'll be better off. I noticed an instant battery life drop when I put that on, and I'm thinking I don't need Facebook push notifications that badly.

One could just install JuiceDefender, but I don't like the little wait while the data connection is turned back on. It does seem to help if one is willing to put up with it though.

All in all, there are significant flaws in this review.

And I'm sitting here with several chargers from HTC, Samsung, LG and RIM that charge all my other phones just fine. This unit does not charge on AC power unless I use the included charging block/USB cable.

This is nothing new. The Droid X had the same issues where some phones will only charge with Motorola chargers, or only accept Motorola batteries. I don't know why, I only know what happens here.

I realize it's only here-say and personal experience, but my company has a lot of Motorola Androids running around, mostly Droids, but a smattering of the AT&T junk as well (and one Atrix obviously). All of them are able to use 3rd party chargers and cables. I've never noticed the issue you've mentioned. I've never seen any other reviewer bring it up, nor heard it mentioned. I would like to suggest that you find out if your review unit was defective in some way.

clownfat says:

I too am able to charge my Atrix with third party chargers. I've used my iPhone little cube wall charger thingy to usb with my nokia mini usb cable to charge my phone multiple times. I've also used a third party 4 port usb wall charger with both the supplied usb cable and the nokia cable I have. Works like a charm.

I don't have this phone but I do have numerous Moto Android phones (not an X though) and have never had an issue charging them with Blackberry MicroUSB chargers (and vice versa). I did however run into an interesting thing with off brand batteries not charging in my moto battery charger (charged just fine in the phone). Are you by chance using a regular Moto battery or an off brand one (I have two that I thought were genuine Moto batteries that I got off of eBay but turned out to be fake... look exactly the same except the Moto logo. I have on the other hand had problems charging LG phones with Moto/BB chargers... they overheat and damage the battery.

snlu178 says:

Having owned the Atrix for nearly a month when you conclude:

"Android isn't quite ready for the stellar hardware in the Atrix 4G. It will be soon if what we're hearing about the "I" version of Android is true, but until then you'll have to be willing to put up with some random slowdowns and general weirdness every once in a while if you pick up the Atrix."

You are exactly right. Froyo is not built for this phone. It just makes it all feel generally weird and unnecessarily slow at times.

The hardware and software are just incompatible. Not to mention the NEED to root and remove all of the crazy motoBlur that runs in the background even if you dont have the widgets/launcher running.

good review

AusFest says:

Looks like I wasnt the only one impressed with the review. Bravo Jer!

theween04 says:

My atrix charges with my old captivate usb cables and chargers - I think your cable and charger were just duds. Also I have noticed pretty decent battery life, nothing compared to an iphone I used to have but not nearly as bad as the review said. But still good review overall.

lshuman says:

Very nice review!!!

justacoder says:

love the in-depth reviews here...

It is a great personal pleasure to let you know that the several million visitors to Mattters over the last year have selected your blog as one of their favorite blogs of 2010 (3rd on the Android channel!).

You can see your blog, along with the other contenders, on the Android channel at http://android.mattters.com.

P.S. We made a cute little '2010 Blogs that Mattter' award that you can pin up on your website if you like those sort of things (you can see it at http://android.mattters.com/awards).

Oh, and if for some reason or another you ever think your blog should be on a different channel, or even multiple channels, or perhaps none at all, (or you just want to chat!) just send me a quick email at michael@mattters.com.

All the best,
-Mike
http://mattters.com
Mattters - Follow Your Interests!

dan4patriots says:

"Yes, Motorola once again is forcing you to use their battery charger and USB cable to charge the phone,"- not true, i used my brothers samsung charger and it worked fine, other than that great review

ScubaNitrox says:

I got my Atrix about 3 weeks ago. I had the Samsung Captivate before and there are somethings that I miss on the Captivate. I thought that I would never say that. One of the things that I liked about the Captivate was: the pull down menu for wifi, bluetooth, gps, and auto-rotation. I know Jerry likes the sliders on the screens. I liked Samsung's news and weather widgets better. I liked the AMOLED screen; the Atrix screen is nice, but I like the Samsung better. The one Great thing about the Atrix is the GPS Works! I had 2 Captivates and both didn't work. I installed FROYO from Samsung on the Captivate and the phone seems to be as fast as the Atrix (Still didn't correct the GPS issue). I didn't run benchmarks to prove that, but to the eye it seemed just as responsive and while running apps. Upcoming complex apps may prove different.

Since then, I rooted my phone and installed Beautiful Widgets, Launcher Pro Plus and MailDroid Pro. I like my setup now. There are a few custom ROM's out there but I will wait for them to come out of beta or just wait for one that runs Gingerbread truly. The ones out now only have a Gingerbread look. All in all, I like the Atrix (I don't have the dock). I probably would have stuck with the Captivate if it wasn't the lack of support Samsung/ AT&T (I know there is and argument about who is to blame, I blame Samsung) and the ability to fix for me one of the basic smart phone features, The GPS. I like the Atrix and I am not disappointed that I bought it.

Dutchmasta says:

in the UI between the 2 devices you wont see a diff in speed cuz both the phones are plenty fast for sure... what the Tegra has over other processors like the snapdragon and hummingbird is the awesome GPU. gaming is the Tegra's strong point

Wishbon7 says:

thanks jerry. great reveiw.

eric6052 says:

Nice and thurough review Jerry, thanks for that. Im a Verizon customer with a Droid X so I can't say I will be buying an Atrix or even a Bionic. I bought the X as my first Android phone but it will be my last Motorola until gives up on the locked bootloaders. It rubs me the wrong way and to be honest Im no fan of Blur either.

Dutchmasta says:

very nice phone and great review... i still dont think I'm sold on android yet though. still waiting on my pre3!! the wait continues!

1414H77 says:

1. No problem charging my Atrix with other chargers- in fact I have not even taken the one in the box out, using chargers from an HTC phone, a Samsung Epic, etc.

2. After several days the battery really did begin to last a long time like the iphone 4.

3. I love the small form factor- just the perfect size.

4. I'm in one of the 10 or so AT&T cities with HSPA+ live with the backhaul supposedly in place. While the upload is capped, the download speeds seem to be improving, now getting up to 5 down. However, the 50th percentile time is normally around 3 to 3.5 so there is room for definite improvement there.

5. Screen- say it is a fingerprint magnet- no more to me than any other touchscreen.

6. This thing is fast and runs circles around and around my Samsung Epic 4G. However, WIMAX with Sprint, though, is still consistently much faster on the Atrix.

7. The Motoblur stock email exchange client is much, much better than other android phones or the ones with Sense from HTC. No need on the Atrix to get Touchdown or the similar.

2. Yes it takes a few days for a NiMh battery to expamnd to full battery life.

3. I played with this phone at Best Buy and must say I also like the size.

7. May want to watch your choice of wording here. Motoblur uses a complete replacement for the "stock" email client (as does HTC) but it is a better one yes. The word "stock" typically refers to stock android like the Moto Droid 1

jyar727 says:

uhh I use random microusb wires and $2 dollar car charger without a problem. you mention battery sucks but didnt mention wtf you did with it or if you gave it burn in time.

Your review neglects to point out the subpar screen. It may be qHD, but the quality is low. Considering how much of a smartphone is the screen itself and the experience involved with it, this should be a priority above most others and a defining attribute on how it compares with the competition, especially phones with identical hardware under the hood like the LG Optimus 2x but a far better screen.

And why would people complain about the camera? The obvious reason is they really do want to replace their point & shoot and considering this a trivial matter is ignorant of the current smartphone evolution and demands. Phones like the Galaxy S and iPhone 4 are superior to the Atrix in imaging, especially when it comes to video recording, and this is the Youtube and facebook generation. Not being able to even come close to last year's best phone cameras, the gap can only grow as newer dual-core offerings trickle in, with the Atrix setting the bar so low as the first one out.

Most current flagship phones will perform the same on the same Android OS, look like the same black slabs, and have generally the same battery life and expectations. The things that set them apart are the ones worth complaining about. This includes the SCREEN and the CAMERA at the least.

I think the screen and camera are both very good. Wish it recorded 1080p video, but I can live with 720p. I noted the camera has excellent response time, which some smartphones have trouble with.

And anyone holding the iPhone up as an imaging standard needs to share whatever they're drinking. :)

evaradar says:

Very in depth review. I bet it would have taken ages haha. I actually acquired the AT&T version from the US (I'm in Canada) and boy o boy it sure was different from Bell Canada's version which just came out today. Mainly installing apps from unknown sources onto your phone. Had to side load it.

Keep up the good work!

HackNet says:

The Atrix kind of reminds me of Crysis, when it was first released for the PC. It was a very high graphics demanding game which not too many PC's supported at that time. So, people ran out and bought the game and complained that it was slow after installing it on a single core PC.

Now its the same situation with the Atrix. People please be patient and as soon as a newer version of Android is released, the Atrix will function as it was designed to.

-Apple trolls are among us. They come to harvest from our Android World. lol

1337

Dave4321 says:

I would have liked a better evaluation of the screen. Does the higher resolution look much better. Does the pentile matrix afeect the screen for the worse in terms of colors, color banding, and text clarity?

Frankly, I look at the screen, and I would never had known it was PenTile if I hadn't already read it somewhere. It looks great, and I've installed the Nook app and stopped using my actual Nook.

nawoa says:

Damn, Motorola... I just don't get why manufacturers are so intent on ruining Android with all their monkey-written modifications. I was really thinking to get an Atrix, too. But no possibility of Cyanogenmod? The phone's value is cut in half, if not worse.

I've got an HTC Desire, it's still a pretty great phone but I though a faster CPU, larger screen, higher resolution, and bigger battery would be a worthy upgrade. But forget it... I'll wait for Ice Cream and see what's available then.

Dave4321 says:

You can just use launcher pro. It pretty much replaces blur.

It covers up blur but the Blur services are still running in the background.

This is why I went for the TBolt. Couldn't do another locked bootloader when the bio
nic comes to VZW.

rd_ac says:

Hi Jerry or anyone who knows about Motoblur: When creating the Motoblur account, do I have to give out PASSWORD for any of my gmail or social accounts? Basically are the passwords for your gmail/facebook etc accounts stored on Motorola's servers. Please reply because this is a big factor in deciding about Atrix.

Can you use gmail/facebook and sync your contacts etc without giving out the PASSWORD to MotoBlur (i.e., does the syncing have to happen thru MotoBlur).

Yes you do but I would not worry about it since that kind of info is generally encrypted in the database.

trevx says:

AC used to have quality thoughtful reviews. I mean its like no thought was put into this.. its so random.

How could you miss the
4-inch capacitive touchscreen at 540x960 (qHD) resolution.
At least a compare it.. go into depth.. I figured this was a pretty big deal in the phone.

kenotobar says:

so... for tegra 2 action... an lg 2x?

gdigenis says:

i have been using an unlocked att version on rogers in canada for a couple of weeks and i love it. i had read on xda that you can use titanium backup to freeze blur related apps, so during my initial setup i froze anything blur related that i could find. i am not sure if it really is because of this process or not, but my battery life is awesome. i am a heavy user, lots of calls over bluetooth, download many podcasts per day, lots of sms, 3 gmail accounts, web browsing, etc and i can easily get through a day. i always charge at night, but i find this phone to be much better than any android phone i have ever had and also better then my iphone 4.

andy957 says:

I remember when Motorola was the only game in town for cell phones - yes I had many, from the Startac to a bunch of others. I was wondering what happened to them as a cell phone company. I was told at Bell last night that they waited a long time to release the Atrix, so I hope it was worth it.

This is a very good, comprehensive review. I got my Atrix last night here in Toronto from Bell Mobility. Will play with it for the 14 days/15 minute voice trial period that we're allowed and decide afterwards whether to keep it or go back to my beloved BB. :)

So far I like the look, feel of it but haven't had a chance to put it through its paces yet.

I also have a Samsung Captivate (Galaxy S) on Rogers that is running Froyo as well, so it'll be interesting to compare the two.

BTW I did NOT choose to purchase the dock or laptop. I'm looking for a PHONE first and foremost. Everything else is the icing on the cake, IMHO.

Download:
Launcher pro
Juice defender
handcent sms

Unsync twitter/fb and your all set.

solar2011 says:

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Well once again At&t pulled a fast onc. Already have unlimited everything and was told I dont need anything else to purchase other than the phone and dock. Low and behold just as I was about the authorize payment the rep throws in. Oh and you must also have the tethering plan unless you want to just work with WIFI. Once again a last minute add on. I pay for unlimited so why not have it regardless if its on a dock. Im not tethering to another computer. Its a skelleton that allows a larger screen image. Tired of At@t's games..

planoman says:

I just picked up the Atrix this week after trying the Nexus S for a few weeks and the Captivate before that for a year. The Atrix is updated to Gingerbread and I really like it! It seems to work very well with the update as I have not seen any issues. The battery life is great and it does everything I need! Also having a GPS that actually works is awesome! Bought it outright so I still my upgrade!

I've had my Atrix since mid July. I hate this phone. Keyboard is completely worthless, battery life is non-existent, OS is quirky and, like all AT&T phones, call quality is not even a consideration. Someday maybe some nice Android engineer will consider the user. Sorry for not being a fan, but this thing is crap.