It’s a phone I would to buy. But I’m giving low marks to the new smartphone/laptop combo device that Motorola proposes with the Atrix. The Atrix is surprisingly svelte at 0.4 inches thick. The front of the phone features a 4-inch qHD (Quarter High Definition) touchscreen display, with a set of physical buttons beneath the screen for menu (contextual), home, return, and search.
On the right edge of the phone, you’ll find only the volume rocker; on the left bottom edge are the HDMI and USB ports. The Atrix is the first phone I’ve seen that has a fingerprint recognition pad built into its back. You cannot use the laptop unless the phone is docked in place. Part of the reason that the Atrix uses a powerful dual-core processor is so that it can run full-size apps on the enlarged user environment of the laptop screen.
When docked in its slot at the rear of the laptop, the Atrix automatically launches a Webtop app that offers a larger and more functional presentation of its content and features for the laptop’s larger screen. For instance, it can run a full-size Mozilla Firefox browser or display rich content like Flash graphics on the larger screen. Meanwhile, conveniently, the phone’s battery gets a charge from the powered laptop.
You can use the laptop to control various phone functions, as well. You can plug the multimedia dock into your HDTV via an HDMI connection to play high-quality content from the phone on the big screen. The keys on the keyboard, while easier to use than the software keyboard in the phone, felt plasticky and not very solidly built. It would have been faster to use the Facebook mobile app on the phone.
The Atrix ships with Android 2.2 (Froyo), not with the more recent Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). The Atrix, like other Motorola smartphones, has Motoblur social media overlay software running on top of Android. I was impressed with the microphone, voice speaker, and voice software in the Atrix. Motorola clearly put some money into using high-quality microphones for the Atrix. I suspect that some high-quality noise cancellation software is at work inside the phone, too.
The Atrix sports a 5-megapixel camera with automatic focus and an LED flash. I was similarly impressed with the 720P HD video I shot with the phone. That extra power was apparent as I used the phone. The Atrix 4G runs on AT&T’s 3G HSPA+ network. With the FCC-approved Ookla tool installed on the Atrix, I tested the network connection of the phone from several locations around San Francisco, and found the download speeds were consistently in the neighborhood of 2.7 mbps.
The high latency number combined with the mediocre upload speed could hamper the smooth operation of apps like video chat and mobile gaming. The 1930-mAh battery, Motorola says, is good for 8.8 hours of talk time and 264 hours of standby time.
I didn’t have the time to perform a full battery test, but I charged the phone to 50 percent of battery capacity when I began testing the phone 13.5 hours ago, and the battery is 30 percent charged now. Idle time accounted for 62 percent of that usage, with the remainder (rounded to the nearest percentage point) going to the cellular radio while in standby mode (24 percent), the display (10 percent), voice calls (4 percent), and the Wi-Fi radio (2 percent).
Further extending its availability, Walmart Wireless has announced the Motorola Atrix 4G and Laptop Dock bundle through their online retail service for fans of the phone. It runs on the Android 2.2 OS along with a new Webtop OS specifically developed by Motorola for improved performance. The Motorola Atrix 4G and Laptop Dock bundle can be bought along with AT&T plans through the Walmart Wireless website.
At the CES and then at MWC, the Laptop Dock bundled with the Motorola Atrix 4G surely caught a lot of eyes. Walmart is now offering it for a lesser price. Atrix 4G bundled with the Laptop Dock is now available at the online store for just $250! Existing customers who are upgrading from their current device are not eligible for this offer.