Motorola Atrix HD Review: A Sweet Phone at a Sweet Price
There's a fear in the Android community. A growing fear among handset makers that Google has grander ambitions than just software -- that it wants to make its own Google phone, one that rivals Apple's iPhone. One phone to rule them all.
When Google bought Motorola, Android allies such as Samsung and HTC started to panic. They made plans to differentiate their smartphones -- they added online services and gaming, multimedia enhancements like Beats, or just a completely new operating system. Their ally, Google, suddenly became a competitor. And while Google insists it will let Motorola chart its own course while it focuses on Android software, the move makes for an uncertain future.
The Atrix HD, one of Motorola's first releases after Google's buyout, marks a significant improvement over its predecessor, the Atrix 2. First, there's the gargantuan 4.5-inch display. At 1,280-by-720 pixels, and 331-pixel-per-inch density, the touch screen is truly as crisp and clear as they come. There's no visible jaggedness or pixilation. In addition, Motorola uses technology it has dubbed "ColorBoost" to add vibrancy, then shielding the entire front face with Corning's Gorilla glass and a Kevlar-weaved back plate for a nearly unbreakable surface.
Meanwhile, the 8-megapixel camera is, well... awful to say the least. I mean, it'll do fine if you're in a bind, and need to take a snapshot for your Facebook profile, but the features are disappointing, to say the least. Where to start? For one, the auto-focus doesn't work. Or rather, it locks into the wrong items. Want to focus on the face? Oops, you got the sofa in the back. That means half the time, you come out blurry, while your sofa is the center of attention. If you manage to stay sharp, the colors will be a bit off. You can black the white balance for that. If you take a photo of a pure white wall, for instance, you'll notice a slight blue tint. That'll be on your face too.
In dim environments, the tint is the least of your concerns. There's so much graininess and noise that you'll look like you have leprosy. I'm kidding -- it's not that bad. It's worse. Ultimately, if you need a camera on your phone, this is not it. You can stop reading and take a look at other devices. If that doesn't scare you, continue right along.
It runs on ICS. The software and apps are pretty standard among Android devices -- you get your Google goodies, a streamlined interface and access to hundreds of thousands of apps in the market. But Motorola added a few helpful widgets, like a local weather report and icons for basic information like battery life, analog clock and free space for storage. You can remove the extras to bump your amount of storage, but they come in handy, so you might feel reluctant to do so.
Speaking of storage, at 8-gigabytes, the internal memory will make you pause -- it's much too small for a device like this. If you want to use it as a music and video player or snap photos and record video, you'd be wise to invest in a microSD card. The slot can take up to 32-gigabytes, which gives you plenty of room for a decent media library.
Underneath, a dual-core 1.5-gigahertz chip powers the device -- an upgrade from the 1-gigahertz on the Atrix 4G. Paired with 1-gigabytes of RAM, the Atrix HD is blazingly fast, easily powering through graphics-rich games, robust apps and high-definition video playback. In short, you'd have to try to slow this phone down.
Poor battery life among high-powered devices is a common issue, but the 1,780 mAh non-removable pack gives you a hardy power source and will get you through the workday. With standard use, checking a few e-mails, browsing Facebook, snapping and sharing a few photos, expect to get around 10 hours. If you're a heavy on the data, and stream or tether to 4G, buy a second charger. It'll save you.
Lastly, AT&T is racing to build out its 4G service to keep up with market leader Verizon. Coverage will depend on your area, but when you get a strong signal, the data is as fast as it gets. If LTE isn't available, it defaults to 3G HSPA-plus technology, which is a bit slower, but should suffice for most people.
Overall, the Atrix HD is one of the best Motorola devices in recent years -- aside from the camera. Did Google have anything to do with it? Who knows? But one thing is certain, the $100 price tag is as sweet as it gets. If value is something on your mind, you won't find a better bang for the buck -- go pick it up. That is, if you don't need that awful lens. ♦
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TFT (Gorilla Glass / Gyroscope / Accelerometer / Compass / Proximity Sensor / Ambient Light Sensor)
March 11, 2013
Extensive Review after 3 months use
I have had this phone for over 3 months of daily use. I have had and used the Samsung Galaxy S3, the HTC one X and plus, the HTC EVO, the HTC resound, LG models, Iphone 3,4,4.5,5 as well as several other phones recently to compare it to in many ways. The reason I have had so many different phones is despite all the gadgets and gizmos, at the end of the day it is still a phone and call quality matters. All the other phones had issues with call dropping, and with the quality of the calls, such as difficulty hearing others or them hearing you. The frustration of the poor quality of the calls made me look further and the Atrix blew all the others away.
1. Starting with call quality as the first issue, I have never had a mobile phone with better quality. I rarely ever drop a call and people have not even once said they could not hear me. Problems I had with each of the other phones mentioned at least at times.
2. Build of Phone -- the phone seems very well constructed and solid. I like the Kevlar back and it seems very rigid. So far no problems with this
3. Screen- The screen is very bright and the quality of the image is outstanding. I would rate it as very good to excellent. You should not be dissapointed with this.
4. Camera- This part is interesting. The camera is important to me as I take alot of pictures and have used pro cameras myself. When I first started using it, I would say for a cell phone, it was average to slightly below compared with for example the iphone or the HTC. However, with some easy tweaking it actually seems to be now excellent. It has an HDR mode which give quite excellent pictures for a cell phone. While some reviews say it can miss focus, all you have to do is touch the screen on what you want to focus on and it 90 plus percent of the time comes into good focus. I find most camera phones have difficulty with some things that you can do with a regular camera, but again, they are phones with cameras in them. Overall, while not the best camera phone out there, even me being very picky is happy now with 80-90% of the pictures, which is about as good as it gets.
5. Speed- not a problem at all. Very fast, and the ATT connection is very good. In fact, as a mobile hotspot, this thing runs my ipad as if it was on the ipad. I do not need a seperate plan any longer for the ipad as the ATT connection through the ATRIX was very fast.
6. Battery- probably the only real negative. It uses battery and will not last a day without charging. What I do is plug it in car every chance I get and carry a spare USB battery and with that I am fine. But, if I did not do that I would not make it through the day often, but I do use it alot.
7. Compared to other phones, I would take this one any day. I had a GalaxyS3, and while alot of people like it, I dont have the same rave reviews for it. The GS3 had difficulty syncing contacts, had intermittent reception issues, and things just were not as smooth as the ATRIX HD. The iphone is a great phone, but I like android better and the ATRIX just does so much more. The other android phones mentioned were good gadgets, especially the HTC models, but all except the EVO had call quality issues.
Summation: The ATRIX is an excellent phone, both in quality of the calls and construction. I am very happy with it and highly recc. it.
use as mobile hotspot
This is covered above, but the main issue was with the length of the battery life for heavy users, solved by charging in car or using spare external USB battery charger.Was this review helpful to you?
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.
July 19, 2012
Great Phone, Low Price!
I picked up a titanium-colored Atrix HD earlier this week. I'd been debating whether to go with the Galaxy S3 or the One X, but on the end, the Atrix looked like the best choice for me. After a week or so with this smartphone, here are my observations:
- The build quality is excellent -- it's not as sexy as the One X, but much better than the Galaxy S3.
- The 4.5-inch touch screen is gorgeous. It blows the Galaxy S3's screen out of the water. I'd say it's on par with the One X.
- It runs on a nearly pure version of Ice Cream Sandwich. Aside from a few widgets and tweaks, it's the best Android 4.0 I've used so far.
- Speakers on the back are amazing -- the best out of any phone I've heard before.
- You can set the video camera to record concerts. With the great audio, I'm excited to see what I can record.
- MicroSD slot. I bought a 32-gigabyte card (the max accepted) and I suggest you get a card too -- 8-gigabytes of internal storage aren’t quite enough.
- Great sound quality during calls. Basic, I know, but necessary.
- There's a dedicated HDMI output.
- The price. $100 with a contract? That's insanely cheap when you consider the Galaxy S3 and One X cost around $200.
- AT&T will give you a car dock for free -- I think it's for a limited time. The dock is worth at least $50, I think.
- Non-removable battery sucks. The battery life isn't the greatest. Since it's also sealed, like the One X, plan to keep a few chargers around your car, work and home.
- It also gets hot when you're running a lot of apps.
- Design of the camera isn't the best -- it's really easy to accidentally block the lens with your finger.
- Camera quality is okay. It's not as good as the One X, Galaxy S3 or iPhone 4S.
Overall, that's about it. Aside from the few gripes, I'm pretty satisfied with the Atrix HD. If you're considering the Galaxy S3 or One X, I suggest you also consider the Atrix HD. I highly-recommend it.Was this review helpful to you?
59 out of 60 people found this review helpful.
July 24, 2012
Not the Best, But Better Than Most
First of all, the Atrix HD isn't the best. If you want the best, get the HTC One X or Samsung Galaxy S3 -- they blow the Atrix away -- but they also cost an extra arm and a leg. So if you don't feel like blowing $200 on a phone, read on...
If you don't want to spend over $50, there are a few options on AT&T -- you have the Lumia 900 from Nokia, the Nitro HD from LG, Xperia Ion from Sony and the Atrix HD. I looked at all three, and the Atrix, by far, gives the best value for the money. The Lumia looks nice, but I'm not a fan of Windows. The Xperia was more style over substance and the Nitro was a serious consideration.
In the end, I went with the Atrix because it's fast. The 4G LTE is amazing and the processor is speedy -- it rarely stalls. The touch display is responsive as well. And ICS 4.0 is much improved over Gingerbread. Google recently bought Motorola, so they've been pretty good about updating their phones. It'll probably be one of the first to see Jelly Bean once it hits the market.
The few gripes I have involve the battery and camera. As expected, the power runs pretty quickly, and the camera lens isn't the greatest in dim light -- even with a flash. Expect to buy a microSD card as well, this phone only comes with a measly 8-gigabytes.
Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with the Atrix. It offers a lot for just $50. Like I said earlier, if you want the best this isn't it. But it gives you a lot more at a cheaper price.Was this review helpful to you?
31 out of 35 people found this review helpful.
July 20, 2012
Better than Galaxy S3!
I used to own the Atrix 2, and after debating whether to buy the Galaxy S3, I decided to go with the Atrix HD -- and I couldn't be happier. The Atrix HD is a phenomenal phone -- the sleek design fits nicely in your hand, Android 4.0 is blazingly fast and the display and camera are superb.
The only issue I have is with the battery life. For a heavy user, like me, plan on recharging it in the late afternoon or early evening. You might want to buy a second charger too.Was this review helpful to you?
27 out of 31 people found this review helpful.
July 18, 2012
No Excuses Not to Buy
Most of the reviews hit on the main points, so I won't repeat them. For the most part, I agree with what they said:
1. Features. You find high-end features for a mid-tier price.
2. Bright touch display. The size and clarity is superb.
3. Fast processor. Everything loads quickly, without any hiccups.
4. Call quality. This isn't really touched on, but voices come through loud and clear.
5. And the best part, I still have money left in my pocket. Can't beat it.
I spent a week reading every Atrix review I could get my hands on and tried to look for a good reason to go with the Galaxy S3 instead -- but I couldn't find any.Was this review helpful to you?
29 out of 35 people found this review helpful.
July 23, 2012
Better Than the Original
The Atrix HD is a big improvement over the original. The interface is faster, the display is clearer and the whole phone is just more durable. The smart actions and widgets let you change your areas to your liking, whether at work, home or school.
I made sure to check Verizon where I live, and I hardly get any dropped calls -- the reception and call quality is exceptional. The LTE is lightning-quick -- you can fall back on HSPA-plus if LTE isn't available -- and the Internet is wonderful to use. But all that power drains the battery life.
The 8-megapixel camera takes decent photos, but it's not as good as other high-end devices. Also, you can't edit videos. The 4.5-inch is not tiny, but I kind of wish the display was a bit bigger too. I have a problem with the ring volume too -- it's too quiet and I sometimes miss calls because I don't hear it ring. These are small gripes and I can't really complain too much. You can't get much better than the Atrix HD.Was this review helpful to you?
21 out of 26 people found this review helpful.
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