Saturday, May 28, 2011

Motorola Atrix 4G

I just had the Motorola Atrix 4G for a couple of days now and I'm having some fun with it. It's what some would call a "superphone" because the specifications and optional accessories make it more than just a phone and even more than just a smartphone. The most popular advertisement for it when it was first coming out asked the possible consumer one important question... "Is it a phone, or a computer?" with the simple answer of, "Yes." The reason: it has a couple really awesome accessories available for it that make it into a normal full sized computer with a full web browser.

Click the "Read More" button for the full review. Also, make sure you visit the "re-review" of the Motorola Atrix for the review of the phone after it receives the 2.3 software update.

1. The availability of some very good accessories to make this phone into a full computer
2. Android 2.2 (Froyo) upgradeable to Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
3. Fingerprint scanner
4. 9 hours of talk time (that's higher than the iPhone 4, folks)
5. Compact size and lightweight
6. Front facing camera for video chat
7. Included HDMI cable for plugging the phone into any HDTV

Cons: The cons listed here are bad things I found before the 2.3 update. See the "re-review" article for how the phone performs after getting the newest update.
1. Somewhat glitchy and slow, even with the new software update.
2. Unable to get my Hotmail account working on it
3. Bluetooth headsets can't activate the voice dialing if there's a password on the phone

Android 2.2 (Froyo) upgradable to Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
5 MP Camera w/flash that captures 720 P HD Video
1.3 MP front-facing camera for self-pictures and video chat
1.2 GHZ Dual-Core Processor
4.0" qHD display
9 hours talk time
16 GB internal storage (expandable up to 32 GB with Micro SD card)
4G HSPA+ network enabled
Optional laptop dock, HD dock, and car mount dock
Optional Swype Keyboard

Motorola Atrix in the laptop dock
The first accessory is the laptop dock. This dock will allow the phone to be plugged directly into the docking station on the back and then, that activates the laptop-like accessory. This turns the whole setup into a laptop, by using the phone as the processor. You can use all the applications, the full keyboard, and the bigger screen to do everything you normally do on your phone... only easier. Text message using the keyboard, e-mail, office suite, and web browser. The phone being docked in the laptop dock is the picture above. Along those same lines, there's an optional dock that will allow you to do the same as the laptop dock, only on any HD TV. The package is available at AT&T to get that dock, a wireless keyboard, a wireless mouse, and a remote control. This allows you to be as lazy techy as you want while sitting on your couch. You'll never have to leave the comfort of your lazyboy recliner and your bag of potato chips. In order to be able to dock either of these with your phone, you'll have to have the bigger $45 tethering/mobile hotspot data package on your phone. The reason is that using it in this way consumes much more data than just using the web on your smartphone.

Motorola Atrix in the HD docking station, hooked up to
The technical specifications stick out from the rest also. The Atrix has a 4" qHD display, mobile hotspot capabilities, a 5-megapixel with a flash that takes HD video, a front facing camera for video chat and for easily taking drunk @ 2:00 AM cool pictures of yourself and your friends and then posting them to Facebook immediately. It also has a sweet battery life, rated at between 9-10 hours of talk time. The processor is a 1.2 Ghz Dual-Core processor, and a 16 GB internal memory with a micro SD card slot that can expand the memory up to 32 GB more. It runs Android 2.2 (Froyo). And, who needs a number passcode when you have a fingerprint scanner that only unlocks your phone when it uniquely identifies one of your index fingers being swiped over the reader?! With those kind of specs it is easily able to be put in the superphone category.

Top of the Atrix, showing the headphone jack, power/
standby button, and the 5 MP camera w/flash
A Motoblur account, which is a location/tracking account through motorola, is unfortunately needed in order to log onto the phone. Boo! I don't like being forced to get accounts before I can use a phone. That fact aside, Motoblur is a pretty cool feature that allows you to locate your phone in case you lose it. It is also the cause behind those facebook posts from your friends that end with "via Motoblur." Motoblur connects to facebook from your phone and allows you to quickly update your status from your homescreen. These comes preloaded on the phone but can be removed. I've seen a lot better social integration applications on other devices like the HTC Inspire 4G, but it gets the job done... sort of.

The Micro-USB and HD ports on the Atrix
Like every phone I've tried, there are a few ticks I've found that aren't good. The first one is that if you put any type of passcode lock on the phone, you can no longer activate the voice dialing with a bluetooth without unlocking the phone first. This prevents me from easily dialing people with my voice while driving and so I'm not able to make calls. Simple fix is to take the passcode lock, but that leaves it open to anybody just taking your phone and using it. Also, it's advertised as a good business phone, but a lot of corporate e-mail accounts require a passcode lock on the phone before you can have your e-mail on it, so you can't disable the lock to use voice command if you want your corporate e-mail on it. :-(  Another unfortunate thing about the phone is that it is rather difficult to set up my hotmail on it. I had to look up instructions on how to do it on the Motorola website, and the average person may not be up to the task. Anyone that's been working in the wireless industry for any period of time knows that Hotmail has it's problems sinking with wireless devices, but I never did end up getting it to work properly.
Different views of the Motorola Atrix

I don't know what it is, but, since the Razr, I've never had good luck with Motorola phones. In my personal experience, they are; glitchy, slow, break easily, and in every case when I've had one myself, it never ends well. I've rarely made it the entire two years before my phone would wear-out or before I wanted to break it. There are several software issues with this phone that were corrected with an update released by Motorola. I updated my Atrix, and there were still a lot of software issues that I identified as issues. The e-mail thing is one. The fingerprint scanner worked most of the time. I would prefer it to work more than most of the time. I also noticed a very significant lag in unlocking the phone when I had a password to get into it. The call quality was okay, but nowhere near the HTC Inspire or the Samsung Infuse I've been using recently. Quite a few times I experienced hearing myself a few seconds after I spoke and my own voice was louder than the person on the other end. This is the most annoying thing in the world to me and I can't concentrate on my call when it's happening.

Back of the Atrix from the top
Overall, I like the phone. I like the feel of it in my hand because it has good form and a good size that will fit into most palms comfortably. It is thin so I don't really notice it in my pocket. The screen is bright and colorful. Darks are very dark. Whites are very white. A lot of people complain about Android phones looking "cartoony" but this doesn't really give you that feeling. The phone feels solid when holding it in your hand. The glass on the front is guerilla glass, but that doesn't make it impervious to scratches and buffs (mine has one on it from the previous user dropping it on the ground) but it's better than other options out there.

The top front of the Atrix. The glass on the front might be
guerilla glass, but that didn't prevent the scratch shown in
the picture (a screen protector would be a good idea).
I'd recommend this phone for business people. With an application called Dropbox, and a gmail account along with the flexibility of the laptop dock makes this a force to be reckoned with. You always have access to your e-mail, files, and calendar with internet along with the sweet option of having it on a full-sized screen with a normal keyboard. This phone is also for people who are constantly on the go. To be able to have this with them and have a charged phone (the laptop dock charges your phone) is a lifesaver for some. It will be rare that you will find yourself running low on battery power if you pair the phone with the laptop dock. If these features above sound appealing to you and you can get past the downsides of the phone's software glitches mentioned above, then this is the phone for you. Feel free to comment below with further questions.

Keyboard of Atrix Laptop Dock
Atrix in Laptop Dock (again)
iPhone 3GS next to Motorola Atrix (for size comparison)

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