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Motorola Atrix review

 Review: June 2011  

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: The Atrix features a dual-core processor giving it stellar performance, and also comes with a fingerprint scanner and an optional docking station, turning your cell phone into a laptop computer.

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The Motorola Atrix is the first Motorola phone we've reviewed in over two years. After the success of the iconic RAZR phone back in 2004, the company went into a nose-dive, appearing to die completely for a year or so. But, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Motorola has rediscovered a niche for itself, developing high-end Android smartphones. So, welcome back Motorola and let's take a look at your latest offering - the Atrix.

The Atrix is advertised as the "world's most powerful smartphone." Can it really live up to that? Well, it has a price tag that seems to support the claim. At £35 a month on contract, it's more expensive than the Samsung Galaxy S II, and just as costly as the iPhone 4. You'll certainly want an awful lot for such a high cost. And the Atrix gives a lot, but not quite enough to be considered the world's best.

For starters, it's running Android 2.2 (Froyo) - but 2.3 has been around for 6 months! Duh. Admittedly, there's not a big difference between 2.2 and 2.3 (Gingerbread), so let's ignore that omission and move on. Because Android 2.2 is still a great OS. And Motorola's own tweaks seem to work well. Moto Blur helps to keep you up-to-date with Facebook and Twitter, with the latest feeds appearing live on your home page if you want them. There are other subtle modifications to the user interface too, although nothing as extensive as HTC Sense for instance. And as with any Android phone you can customise most things in any case. Motorola have promised an update to Gingerbread later in 2011 - probably just as other phones upgrade from Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich.

Physically, the Atrix matches up to our expectations of what a high-end smartphone should look like. It's more plastic than metal, but feels perfectly solid, and weighs in at 135g, giving it a certain gravitas. Smaller than the Galaxy S2, but hardly petite, the Atrix is a very good size. The display isn't as big as the 4.3 inches on offer from Samsung and HTC, but at 4.0 inches it's not small by any means. The resolution is very high too with 540 x 960 pixels, but it can't quite match the Galaxy S2 or Apple's Retina display.

The Atrix is an extremely fast machine, powered by a dual-core 1GHz Tegra 2 processor, making everything run speedily and without a hitch. And with 1GB of RAM up its sleeve, the Atrix really does pack PC-like computing power.

There are other features that make this a brilliant phone. The 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash takes great shots and can record video in HD 720p format. The dual-core processor shows its power here, with near-instantaneous image capture and judder-free video capture. The media player and web browsers are excellent too. GPS works very well indeed, with full support for all the Google mapping tools including Street View. An optional docking station turns your phone into a kind of super-laptop with PC apps plus communication and cloud-based computing. It's an expensive optional accessory though and we haven't tested it.

Connectivity is outstanding, with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, USB, a 3.5mm audio jack and even a DLNA connection. The amount of memory available can't be faulted either. There's a massive 16GB of onboard memory, plus the capacity to accept microSD cards up to 32GB. And to cap it all, the Atrix has the grandmother of all batteries - a 1930 mAh Li-Ion cell. It's extremely rare to find anything more than 1500 mAh in a phone, and this must surely be the biggest battery ever seen in a mobile. This is a very welcome feature on an Android phone, as many seem to struggle to get through a day's moderate use. The Atrix can easily survive a day or a weekend. Perhaps longer once you're a few months into your contract and don't feel the need to play with it all the time.

There's one other feature which is either a gimmick or a stroke of genius and the shape of things to come. We can't decide which, but boy is it cool. To unlock the phone you actually use a fingerprint scanner located at the top rear of the phone. We have no idea how secure this is, but Motorola claim it's more secure than a password.

So, we find ourselves liking the Atrix very much. If only Motorola hadn't claimed it was the best in the world, we might have approached it more open-mindedly from the start and enjoyed all the great features it has, instead of ticking off specs against our checklist, looking for ways that it fails to match the competition. Because when you look objectively you find that in some ways it's second-best. And when it's so expensive, second-best isn't really good enough. If it was our money, we'd choose the Samsung Galaxy S2 over the Atrix without a thought, and save ourselves a few quid too.

Motorola Atrix features include:


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Motorola Atrix user reviews

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Average rating from 14 reviews:

Reviewed by claire k from uk on 23rd Feb 2012
I adore this phone much more then my phone 4 BUT this is now my 2end as first one developed overheating problems & kept turning off.this one was fine for a few weeks now the problems are starting!! cuts off calls, wont send texts sometimes,when I get messages no audio 80% of the time,my touch tone and keypad vibrate has a mind of its own will work sometimes others not at all,keeps rebooting & this is only half the faults, so although it started off being amazing these phones have some serious hardware fault....
I wont be getting another...such a shame p.s yes I do look after my phones never dropped or been near water etc

Reviewed by Jon from England on 10th Jan 2012
Well after owning this phone for a while, I actually prefer it to the SGS2 & HTC Sensation and I've had both. The screen is brilliant as is the battery, it runs smoothly since the 2.3.4 update, not used before that so can understand others frustration. This phone can be bought cheap now, got mine from CEX A grade mint condition for £188 then £5 to unlock, for a dual core phone, qhd screen, amazing battery,1 gb ram and 10gig space, it was an absolute bargain ;-)

Reviewed by James from UK on 3rd Jan 2012
This phone is the first dual core smartphone I have had, compared to my previous phones (htc wildfire, htc HD2, samsung galaxy s, xperia play) this destroys all of them!! it truly is an amazing phone, if only motorola actually did update the video recording to 1080p 30fps then this would have been 5*

Reviewed by Bob Jones from UK on 2nd Nov 2011
This is such an amazing phone. It has the strongest battery of any phone in the world, is the only phone in the world with a fingerprint scanner, and has an HDMI port which even the Galaxy S2 / iPhone doesn't have. I can stream any movie from my phone to my HDTV at 1080p within ten seconds using the included HDMI cable. Wow. It even has a remote included to control the movie from anywhere in the room. I haven't even mentioned the fact it has it's own desktop operating system called WebTop which I can use on any TV or PC monitor with the same wire, and control it using its own bluetooth mouse and keyboard. Crazy!

Reviewed by Clivuss from UK on 2nd Nov 2011
There appears to be a problem with some Atrix smartphones - A number of these are being reported as being unable to reawaken after from screen-save mode, requiring the battery to be removed and reseated before they come back to life.

Reviewed by Zac from UK on 2nd Nov 2011
I received this phone 3 months ago and fell in love with it. after having for 3 months there seems to be a major problem with the phone. The keyboard on my phone has stopped working, after every word it shuts down and I have to reload it, this becomes extremely frustrating. Looking online this seems to be quite a common problem. Upon speaking to Motorola I hear "yes we have heard of the problem and are trying to fix it, and will be releasing a new update" when I asked when they replied, "we have no date but it could be a couple of months" A couple of months for such a major flaw, seems very stupid as the keyboard is essential. They recommend downloading a new keyboard to bypass the problem. I feel the phone is very good until this problem, it is very quick and easy to use, and has a good battery life. just a shame about the keyboard. SORT IT OUT MOTOROLA!!!!

Reviewed by Matt from UK on 15th Sep 2011
I love this phone. It has a great battery life, a nice display, and lots of additional features available with apps from Android Market and Motoblur runs smoothly and comes in use on the Atrix. The webtop mode (which I'm using now to write this review) with the bluetooth mouse and keyboard works brilliantly. Yes, its a little slow compared to a full desktop PC, and has crashed a couple times on me, but overall the usability is impressive considering it becomes both a high end smart phone and a PC. I also like the IR remote that comes with the work and play box allowing you to pause,play, skip, select movies and music,and also includes volume control. As a phone its brilliant and a PC its almost there... But overall its impressive!

Reviewed by Toni from Scotland on 4th Sep 2011
Good phone but it is Android again, I used to get motorola to get something different, not be a sheep ect ect. Please moto bring out a modern V3 and give us uniqueness once again

Reviewed by Ace from United Kingdom on 30th Jun 2011
Just updating a review that I wrote earlier as I missed out a couple of things. As A Work Phone : Call quality is excellent. I know there have been issues with this in the USA but, at least on Orange, no issues on that front. Motorola have previously had a very good reputation here. As A Consumer Phone : Music sound quality-wise, this is the best mobile phone I've ever had. The external speaker is also very good. Not so good is the Motoblur social media tools which don't look great and are well behind HTC Sense. Either look elsewhere or download from Android market. The phone crashed for the first time yesterday. Hopefully this is just an isolated incident as it has never happened before. No idea whether this was hardware, Motoblur or Android issue. Overall, still very happy with the phone.

Reviewed by Simon from UK on 26th Jun 2011
On paper with specs and accessories this should be easy 5 star winner but the reality is different .... Good points are it's pocket friendly size and weight and reasonable 2 day battery life with moderate use. Not too much crapware from Orange loaded on phone unlike other handsets from Orange. Bad Points ... Tacky plastic build quality, screams Samsung rather Motorola, some features not available compared to other Moto phones with same Android OS i.e Haptic feedback option to turn OFF I don't want phone beeping and buzzing at me for text entry which brings me too... DEALBREAKER UGLY For dual core phone it's pretty pathetic in use. it's laggs a lot of time swiping through screens and text entry can be a nightmare.. typing away and then nothing appears on screen and phone becomes unresponsive and have to wait for it to catch up again. Thought it was just me but ... check this out tracyandmatt.co.uk/blogs/index.php/motorola-atrix-review As for *free* work and play kits from Orange, well where do i start ???? If you get one you are lucky .. Worst upgrade experience ever, next upgrade will get phone sim free and shop around for just sim

Reviewed by Clear Cut Chap from UK on 25th Jun 2011
Further to my review earlier;Motorola could learn from the example set by Asus with their Transformer TF101 tablet keyboard dock.It is priced at £100/-, and the metal build quality is is really good and yet not too heavy.In comparison the Motorola Atrix Lapdock is made of cheaper looking plastic /average key action and costs a ridiculous £300/-! The whole Atrix experience though solid, just does not feel to notch.The camera, the Motorblur UI, the screen all do a respectable job, but they don't convey a sense of excellence and that is what lends it to feel second place.The initial excitement of the Atrix has died down, while that of the Galaxy S2 still prevails-now with the hope that Samsung might take a leaf out of the Motorola book and develop a Work and play / lapdock accessories kit for the Galaxy S2!

Reviewed by Ace from United Kingdom on 19th Jun 2011
I have owned this phone since launch day on Orange so thought I would share my experience with it so far. As A Work Phone : I mainly use this as a work phone and it that capacity, having owned several Symbian, WinMo (incl. 7) & Android handsets in the past, this is without doubt the best. Email, texting, battery life, application speed and document management are all excellent. Also for those who like to message – this phone has a soft keyboard on a par with the HTC Desire's excellent one. With the finger print reader and remote wipe, security features are a step ahead of the current Android generation. The additional docks also make this a much more flexible business machine that it's peers. As A Consumer Phone : It takes respectable 5M shots but if you're looking for camera phone there are better options. 720p HD video looks good but again this isn't the market leader in this regard. What it does excel at though, is as a games machine when it's Tegra 2 chipset is brought to bear. Galaxy on Fire 2 when played on big screen via the HD multimedia dock looks awesome – at least on a par with a PS2. Not many Tegra 2 games around but they all look incredible. HD Multimedia Dock : I received this free as part of Orange's Work & Play kit as part of a free upgrade offer. Using a desktop version of the phone and the full Firefox browser simultaneously is not nearly as fiddly as some reviewers would have you believe. This turns the Atrix into a “netputer” and full screen games machine. In fact the Atrix plus this Dock would make a great relatively cheap all-in-one solution for students on a budget. The bluetooth mouse and keyboard can be a little fiddly at times to connect. Battery Life : As long as you remember to kill certain applications in the background, even with wifi turned on permanently, you can easily make this battery last 1.5-2 days without another charge. Really heavy use will reduce this to about a day's usage. So not on a par with the best Blackberry handsets but still the best of the more expensive Android handsets in this aspect. Overall : There are better overall consumer Android handsets out there such as the Galaxy S2. But as an all-round business phone / games machine (which are my main 2 needs), this is currently the best phone on the market.

Reviewed by Clear Cut Chap from UK on 10th Jun 2011
It is interesting to finally see Motorola are back with something to show on this website. It was a tentative approach to the phone, but resulted in quite a pleasant surprise- I suppose the expectation was low. It works well-not as quick as the Sensation nor SGS 2, Motoblur is not in the same league as Samsung's Touchwiz and definitely not HTC's Sense UI, but it work well enough. It is definitely NOT the world's MOST powerful phone. What makes Atrix unique is the accessories; expecially the lapdock and how well, it seemlessly transfers from screen, to lapdock to phone screen- this is probably the best and most unique feature. However, there are some design features that would have really made an excellent effort outstanding if they were there; The touchpad on the lapdock does not support multi-touch, the plastics used are at best above-average(not enough to justify a top-notch phone of this value.) and the fiddly mini-HDMI and Micro USB ports positioned side-by-side. (Why wouldnt they put in a MHL port instead?) The lapdock idea has a lot of potential-and should be the area that Motorola carves out its niche-however it should not cost as much as a netbook (as it does now) and would do well to have multi-touch touchpad and maybe even the screen too. On the plus side, they have managed to shoe-horn a 4" qHD screen into a compact size(by today's standards) and despite the monster battery have managed to keep the weight down-lighter than the Sensation and the Desire S too! So, the perfect phone would be one that has the Super AMOLED Plus screen, with the Sense UI in a Atrix form-factor! The Atrix is a good effort to kick-start Motorola's resurgence, but it does not rock-the-boat. Pole position still held by the SGS 2, followed by the Sensation. This is 4-star effort, it shows promise for the next iteration, and thats what lifts it from an otherwise 3-star effort.

Reviewed by david from uk on 9th Jun 2011
having had this for 2 weeks now am suitably impressed.having had i phone 3gs i can say this is much better.did my homework before getting this on contract.very fast with dual core processor.camera good and video playback also.speed of this thing is amazing. battery life good compared to i phone.get good day and half with heavy useage.plus has finger print recognition.this is somewhat of a gimmick though does work and despite many people trying to access my phone they cant.so good security measures here.all in all cant really fault this on much. best phone i have had to date.well worth a look considering motorola's dismal offerings of late, this certainly puts them back in the running...

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