Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
The Atrix line for Motorola has remained as its flagship smartphone offering for close to three years now. It was the first model to feature dual-core processors and was said to be powerful enough to power the LapDock and HDMI desktop base station. The Atrix HD is available from Bell for $49.95 on a three year contract and $600 is the no contract price.
This time around, the Motorola Atrix HD beefs up performance and features but does away with the expensive adjuncts that could make it a netbook or a desktop PC.
Now owned by Google, it is unlikely that we will see any Motorola smartphone or tablet that runs a mobile OS based on Mozilla's Firefox browser. The new Atrix has more in common with the RAZR line of thin smartphones. It has a largerly square design that's more RAZR-ey than Atrix-ey since previous versions were more rounded.
While many smartphone makers have gone unibody in their construction using hard polycarbonate chassis (Nokia, HTC), Motorola has gone the extra mile and introduced Dupont's woven Kevlar as its ultra-sturdy lightweight exterior while piling on Gorilla Glass and a water resistant coating.
The result is a thin, light yet structurally solid smartphone that feels like a quality device. Grip the Atrix HD tightly and you won't hear it creak and waver at the pressure. Looking back at the past couple of years of products, Motorola has really figured out how to make tough devices that still feel thin and light.
The highlight of the Atrix HD is that it has 4G-LTE connectivity which makes it fit right in with competing flagship devices from other competitors. Side by side with the Nolia Lumia 900, the Samsung Galaxy S III, the HTC One X and the Apple iPhone 4S it is the iPhone that is starting to look and feel a bit outdated in terms of size and LTE connectivity.
LTE connectivity on Bell's network was consistently fast at around 22Mbps download speeds on average. Having tested various LTE devices on Bell, Rogers and Telus, it seems that Bell is the most consistent in terms of high speed transfers and less fluctuation of access speeds.
Motorola's Smartactions, which are granular controls that allow the Atrix to automate certain tasks (switch off 4G-LTE when WiFi is available, shut off after 11:00 PM, wake at 6:45 AM, employ battery-saving functions when needed, Geofencing controls and triggers) are a clever differentiator that users will likely put to good use.
"Motorola ATRIX HD LTE offers a smarter smartphone experience," says David Petrou, sales director, Motorola Mobility Canada. "It delivers shortcuts and convenience with SMARTACTIONS - even extending your battery life so you're never out of power when it matters most."
The screen is a 4.5" 720 x 1280 pixel screen with the HD ColourBoost technology that's a little too candylike in terms of saturation, for my taste at least. Stil, this is one of the highest resolution smartphone screens today and with an impressive pixel density that's sure to impress users, specially those who enjoy using Bell's Mobile TV app.
Performance is very good thanks to a dual-core 1.5GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. Internal memory is a bit sparse at 8GB stock but you can expand it to up to 32GB via a microSD card.
The camera has been improved and is an 8 megapixel camera that also shoots full 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second which is superb for something so small and thin.
Motorola has also included a new Wifi-direct feature so users can create ad-hoc connections without a router, a smart way of using WiFi to transfer files locally between devices.
The Atrix HD's austere and serious look and feel will not appeal to everyone, it's a great smartphone but it isn't a looker.
Specially if you put it next to any of the RAZR smartphones or competing Android flagship devices. Users who are into smartphones for the looks and the aesthetic value will likely look elsewhere.
I am pretty sure, however, that the ATRIX HD will out-survive any of the competing smartphones in day-to-day use and is better designed to escape unscathed from drops, scratches, pint-pourings and rough treatment.
To borrow a line from a BlackBerry ad, this feels like a tool and not a toy which makes it a great option for enterprise and the workplace market that Motorola has been trying to break into.
Personally, I feel this is the last purely Motorola designed smartphone we are going to see that's a pre-Google acquisition device.
The next Motorola smartphones will likely have Google's DNA and strong design influence.
So overall, the Motorola Atrix HD further refines the flagship smartphone line by introducing LTE connectivity, Strong, strudy and with truly useful software features, the Atrix HD stands on its own, which is a good thing.
Rating: 4 out of 5