Motorola Atrix Android smartphone

Motorola Atrix review: A fast and powerful Android smartphone that includes a few nifty features like a fingerprint reader

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Motorola Atrix
  • Motorola Atrix
  • Motorola Atrix
  • Motorola Atrix

Pros

  • Slick and fast user experience
  • HDMI-out
  • Good build quality and battery life

Cons

  • Screen is hard to see in sunlight
  • Touch-sensitive buttons
  • No word on Gingerbread update

Bottom Line

The Motorola Atrix doesn't stray too far from the norm once you look past its dual-core processor and fingerprint reader, but it is a slick, super-fast Android phone with good battery life. Anyone after a new Android phone with a big screen should definitely consider the Atrix; we just hope Motorola gives Atrix users the latest Android updates.

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The Motorola Atrix is a smartphone equipped with a 1GHz dual-core processor. The phone runs Google's Android 'Froyo' 2.2 operating system, has an HDMI-out port and records HD video. Motorola's powerful HD Multimedia Dock and Laptop Dock accessories attempt to make the Atrix more than just a smartphone, but this is a fast and powerful mobile device on its own and is a worthy choice for anyone looking for an excellent all-round Android phone.

Read our reviews of other top Motorola phones and check out our guide to the best upcoming smartphones in 2011.

UPDATE: The Motorola Atrix will be available from 7 June, and is exclusive to Telstra until the end of July, where it is then expected to be available through other carriers. It can be purchased on Telstra's new freedom connect plans including the $59 plan with a mobile repayment option of $20 per month. This plan includes $550 worth of calls, unlimited text messages and 1.5GB of data. Telstra will also sell the Motorola Atrix outright for $840.

Motorola Atrix: Design and display

The Motorola Atrix Android phone may lack the unibody design of competitors like the HTC Desire HD, but its plastic frame feels relatively well constructed. The rear battery cover does feel flimsy when removed, but does not creak or rattle once clicked into place. The Motorola Atrix is less than 11mm thick, which is a nice surprise given it comes with a large 4in capacitive touchscreen. Motorola has used 'Gorilla Glass' for the Atrix's display, which the company claims is difficult to scratch or crack. The screen is bright and clear and has excellent resolution but its text is a little smaller than on most other Android smartphones, and it doesn't fare too well in bright sunlight. The Motorola Atrix's display has a resolution of 540x960, making it a full 16:9 screen that is great for video playback.

The Motorola Atrix has four touch-sensitive buttons that sit below the display. These menu, home, back and search keys are backlit and generally responsive, but they are easy to accidentally bump. They also can't be used to wake the Atrix when the screen is locked. Along with external volume controls on the right side, the only other physical button on the Motorola Atrix is a power/lock key that also doubles as a fingerprint reader. The button is recessed and is situated in an awkward position, making it difficult to press single-handedly. You can use the fingerprint reader to unlock the phone by swiping across it; this worked relatively well during testing but is slower than using the regular pass code or pattern unlock options.

Motorola Atrix: Software

The Motorola Atrix runs the 2.2 'Froyo' version of Google's Android operating system, so it supports Flash and has the ability to act as a wireless hotspot. The Atrix technically should be able to be upgraded to the latest 2.3 'Gingerbread' version of Android given it sports a dual-core processor and very high-end specs, but Motorola hasn't announced if or when the Atrix will receive this update.

The Motorola Atrix comes with the latest version of Motorola's MotoBlur service. Motoblur is a widget-based interface that combines multiple social networking and communications accounts (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LastFM, email, Picasa, Photobucket and Yahoo Mail). You'll need to create a MotoBlur account to use the Atrix, but it's free and all content and data is pushed live to the handset. Motoblur also provides excellent security features including the ability to automatically wipe the handset when it is lost or stolen, and the automatic back up of content over-the-air.

We like the idea of Motoblur, but the execution of the service on previous smartphones was far from perfect. Some of the flaws we encountered with the early version of MotoBlur have been corrected, including the ability to resize home screen widgets, and better implementation of contacts across multiple social networking services.

The Motorola Atrix Android phone also features Swype text entry with the on-screen keyboard. Swype allows you to slide your fingers over the letters you want to type in a single motion, letting the software work out the word you're trying to write. Though it sounds awkward, Swype is very easy to pick up and surprisingly accurate. As with most on-screen keyboards, the software will learn as you type and add words you use regularly to its database.

The Motorola Atrix is one of the fastest Android phones we've tested. Swiping through home screens and using multitouch gestures is smooth and efficient, while the Web browser renders pages quickly, and didn't suffer when loading Flash intense sites. The Motorola Atrix has a few handy applications preloaded, including Quickoffice, Media Share (for playing video and music through a DLNA-compatible television) and task, battery and data managers.

Motorola Atrix: Other features

The Motorola Atrix has 16GB of internal storage along with a microSD card slot, 1GB of RAM, a front-facing camera for video calling and a rear 5-megapixel camera that records 720p HD video. The Motorola Atrix also comes with an impressive 1930mAh battery; for the average user, this means you should easily be able to get more than 24 hours of juice out of the Atrix before it needs a recharge.

Motorola will also sell a number of powerful accessories with the Atrix. The Motorola HD multimedia dock ($129) is equipped with three USB ports and an HDMI port, letting you connect a keyboard, mouse and speakers, as well as allowing you to hook the phone up to an HD monitor or big-screen TV for multimedia playback. The Motorola Laptop Dock ($449) essentially turns your phone into a small notebook, using the Atrix as the PC. The dock has no CPU and offers no computing power of its own, however. It has an 11.6in display with 8-hour battery life and is also equipped with stereo speakers.

The Motorola Atrix is available through Telstra, but can also be purchased outright and unlocked through online mobile phone store MobiCity.

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