Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
Motorola Mobility's ATRIX 4G Android smartphone is, in many ways, a keystone device. It is the first dual-core smartphone to martket running Google's Android OS. It is one of the first smartphones to have almost netbook or tablet-like specs with 1GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage and, thanks to a novel line of innovative docks, the first smartphone that can work as a notebook or a desktop, at least theoretically.
After a series of successful Android powered smartphones like the Motorola Droid, BackFlip and Milestone among others, Motorola Mobility has the experience in making attractive and functional devices.
The ATRIX 4G ($99.00 for a three year plan, $600 contract free) is a landmark device for Motorola Mobility and they have made sure to cover all the desirable features users would want.
In terms of speed and power, very few smartphones can come close to the ATRIX today.
Aside from the Tegra 2 dual-core processor (same one found in the Motorola XOOM), the ATRIX boasts 1GB of RAM, the first 4" inch qHD high resolution display and a 5 megapixel camera as well as the first fingerprint scanner on a smartphone.
The ATRIX also offers a front facing camera for video chatting and a mini HDMI port that enables the ATRIX to directly output HD video provided you have the right cable.
As a standalone smartphone, we found the ATRIX to be solidly built but not at all heavy. Motorola clad the ATRIX with a shiny plastic case with a faux carbon fibre design.
It is a bit slippery overall specially since it is a smooth and rounded smartphone and a bit of a departure from the more angular lines and edges we've seen from models like the Motorola Milestone.
The rear of the ATRIX features the tactile fingerprint scanner as well as the 5 Megapixel HD video camera and LED flash plus a small speaker. There's a bit of an issue with the speaker which is protected by a mesh grille and looks too much like a button.
We spoke to another ATRIX users who had inadvertently pressed this speaker cover and as a result dented it (you can undent it easily enough by pressing it out from the other side). Our review ATRIX was a bit dented in the grille but we were able to easily rectify it.
For better or worse, the ATRIX runs on Google's Android OS overlayed by MotoBlur which prides itself in pushing social feeds, apps and widgets on to the screen.
Some users may love the glance-and-go convenience that MotoBlur offers, we just find it clutters up the screen.
It also takes a longer time for system updates to come for Android smartphones that run on overlayed software, sometimes these updates never come.
Sadly, there's no way to turn off MotoBlur so users will just need to learn to live with it. If you need your feeds and contacts front and centre then its not too bad.
Still, the speed and processing power dominates most functions and we were impressed by how fast the ATRIX rendered websites on the browser.
In terms of multimedia, specially video playback, the ATRIX managed very nicely. YouTube videos look and play well.
Having HDMI-out capability is a feature that may seem frivolous but really adds a dimension to smarphones specially if you want to play videos, run presentations or blow-up a voice chat. Best of all is you don't need a $45 dollar attachment to get this to work.
Call quality and management on the ATRIX is superb and Bell's HSPA network was accessible throughout Toronto's downtown core. Battery life was above average allowing 5-7 five minute phone calls, 3 hours surfing on WiFi and some GPS use.
Overall, few smartphones in the market can match up with the Motorola ATRIX in terms of specs, this becomes apparent when one takes into consideration the accessories such as the Lapdock and HD Dock that extend the ATRIX's usage as a browser-powered netbook and limited deskto/HD set top box. These accesories do extend the ATRIX in terms of functionality for a price.
The Motorola ATRIX 4G is capable and versatile and a good choice for Bell customers looking to invest in one of the fastest, most powerful Android smartphones in the market today.
Rating: 4 out of 5