Motorola's Atrix 2 is a definite improvement on its predecessor, but it doesn't do enough to separate itself from the pack. If you want a low-priced phone and aren't particular about the software, it a decent choice with an attractive display. But if you want a newer version of Android, steer clear.
At first glance, the Atrix 2 doesn't look much different than the original Atrix -- just slightly bigger. Made predominantly of plastic, it looks a little cheap, but the body comes with a rubber back that makes for a nice grip in the hand. Other improvements include rounded edges that give the device a nice, gentler shape and a thinner profile. The display takes up most of the front, and four capacitive buttons sit on the bottom.
The larger size means a larger screen, and the Atrix 2 comes with a 4.3-inch display. I found the plastic body a bit cheap, but the Gorilla Glass screen is undeniably high-quality -- it produces eye-popping colors and very crisp graphics. Motorola replaced the poor PenTile layout with a brilliant 960-by-540 pixel resolution, which is very clear and sharp. The only downfall is minor: it doesn't have a wide viewing angle. But as long as you plan on watching it at a fairly standard tilt, you'll be fine. The display makes movie marathons and Web binges a delight, and when you look at photos, colors pop and faces stand out.
If you're in good light, the 8-megapixel camera takes solid photos, and they'll look just as good printed out. But in low-light, pictures are washed out in low-light scenarios. You can use the flash, but it makes the issue worse. In addition, the shutter lags when you snap pictures, which is frustrating if you want to capture a spontaneous moment -- you'll miss it. If you have patience, photos turn out lovely, but it's definitely not an ideal choice for candid moments. What's more, you don't get the sort of filters and tools on other Android devices. And to make matters worse, it defaults to 6-megapixels instead of 8-, perhaps to save space due to the limited storage. More on that later.
Aside from the shutter, it's plenty powerful, packing in a 1-gigahertz dual-core chip. Apps load like a breeze and run smoothly. No, the shutter lag is from the sluggish software, or more specifically, the Motorola skin, which is more annoying than useful. One example of Motorola's hubris: it named its own Facebook and Twitter integrations "Facebook" and "Twitter." That means when you click on what you think are icons leading to the social networks, you'll end up with Motorola-customized versions of the services. And if you try to download their pure third-party apps, you'll have two identical-looking sets of icons to deal with.
But the interface gets points for the customize widget experience. That means if you're obsessed with dressing for the weather, you can pin the weather widget in the foreground, and keep the others in the back. You can choose other widgets to pin. Did I mention the skin is hideously ugly?
The Atrix 2 runs on Gingerbread, which is a bit outdated. If you want ICS, take a look at rival Android devices, since there's no guarantee Motorola will push out an upgrade. But one great feature that's a holdover from the original Atrix: pocket detection. The phone will go into sleep mode if it's in your pocket. So if you tend to butt-dial friends a lot, it'll save you from embarrassing moments.
One feature Motorola thinks is great, but actually isn't: Webtop. If you buy expensive accessories, you can plug the phone into a PC for added functions, like a full Firefox browser. Why? I'm not sure. Without the add-ons, you can't use Webtop. But guess what? It's on the phone.
In most ways, the Atrix 2 improves on the Atrix, but when it comes to the battery, Motorola downgraded it -- possibly to accommodate the slimmer profile. The 1,785 mAh battery is less beefy, but the phone manages power through the day. Features like the pocket detection save some juice when you don't need it. But a big drawback is the paltry 8-gigabytes of storage. It comes with a 2-gigabytes card, which is just enough to load a healthy library of songs, but you'll fill it up fast, so pick up a bigger card.
The Atrix 2 is a lot of phone for the money. Some of the problems that plagued the Atrix are gone, and it's a better phone, aside from the annoying software. If you don't care about the camera, it's not a bad pick. It's is a good value phones for AT&T, and a nice Android alternate to the iPhone 4. ♦
I guess I should start off by saying my standards for the Atrix were high before buying. I switch phones every few months and am no stranger to high-end. And after getting this for free with an upgrade... it's the most amazing smartphone I've used.
The display is great -- it's clear and responsive to the touch. Apps run on the stable Android platform, and it's not the old OS I shied away from in the past. This phone is rock-solid -- it's just like the iPhone. Motorola's Zumocast app is pretty awesome. I use it during school and no longer need to lug around a laptop, books and other supplies. I just stream videos and music from my other devices now.
You can setup Wi-Fi pretty quickly and painlessly. AT&T's data plans are reasonably priced, so you can get online easily and cheaply.
It's too bad Motorola didn't include an HDMI cable or a larger microSD card. You'd be wise to buy both. Fortunately, they don't cost much. The camera isn't as good as I thought. It's not bad, in fact, it's better than most smartphones, but it's definitely not top-notch.
AT&T loads some garbage on the phone. It's not Motorola's fault, but be aware that you won't be able to delete some apps. All in the name of money, I suppose.
Overall, I love my phone. This is one of those few phones I'll tell all my friends about. I've had plenty of other devices, and I can't remember the last time I've been so happy with my phone. In addition, Android has come a long way. The platform is on par with the iPhone, which is no small feat. Motorola, give yourself a pat on the back.Was this review helpful to you?
After using this phone for the last month, I have to say, it's a great Android device at a reasonable price. The camera is really good -- as good as a point-and-shoot camera. It's that good. The battery life is long too. I use my phone mostly to text and go online, but I'll use the camera occasionally too.
When I come home at the end of the day, I'll still have around a quarter of the battery left. So don't worry about power -- I know it's an issue among a lot of smartphones. The processor is plenty fast too. I've never had a problem with it locking or freezing. It's never crashed, once.
It doesn't come with headphones or an HDMI cable, so if you're a music fan, you'll have to pay extra. The only glitch I've seen is the keys on the bottom of the screen -- sometimes they don't glow. Maybe it's a light sensor issue. I don't know. But it only happens occasionally.
Overall, I'm very satisfied with the Atrix. Highly-recommended.Was this review helpful to you?
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