Motorola Atrix: Good to hold, great to work on

The Motorola Atrix 4G packs in speed and high-end features into a sleek design. It features a dual-core processor and a sharp qHD display with a 5-megapixel camera and a 4-inch screen. It also makes security quick and easy with fingerprint recognition facility, requiring no code to remember and the use of just one hand! There is complete social app and Google integration and the smart phone also acts as a USB memory stick!

And if this has arisen your curiosity enough to want to browse through the entire phone package, feature-by-feature… we have pulled found something perfect for you on!

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.

The Hardware: 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.

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.

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. 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. 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.

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.

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 may 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.

The Software: 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. 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. 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.

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!

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