Motorola Atrix

23rd May 2011 | 16:26

Motorola Atrix

Can this be the phone that brings back Moto's Razr effect?

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

In many ways, the Atrix leads the pack of Android phones and points the way to a future where our mobile computer is small – and powerful

Like:

Large battery; Good camera; Clever HD Dock turns it into a good computer; Lap Dock has potential; High res screen;

Dislike:

No Gingerbread for now; Slippy back panel; Expensive accessories; Computer element won't work without phone docked; Convoluted overlay

Motorola Atrix: Overview, design and feel

Updated: we've now picked up the UK version of the Atrix and have re-reviewed the phone to make sure it was the same as our US model. We've spent a lot more time with the accessories too, so take a gander at our upgraded article.

Back in 2007 Motorola's then arch rival, Nokia, told us its iconic N95 was "what computers have become."

The sentiment may have been a little optimistic, but if Motorola were to use that now for the Atrix, it'd be a little more fitting.

It isn't what computers have become, but it does give us an idea of where the future is heading with high data speeds, high definition cameras and massive dual core processors. All on a mobile phone which can also almost become a laptop.

Our colleagues over at T3.com have spent some time with the Motorola Atrix, offering up a tasty video treat of the phone's top features:

Instead, Motorola's gone with "The World's Most Powerful Smartphone" which just might be true, albeit with a little help from its accessory friends.

An Orange exclusive at the time of writing (SIM-free models aren't out yet but are expected to hit the £500 mark) – and the subject of a massive advertising campaign – the Motorola Atrix matches the dual-core specs of others such as the new and popular Samsung Galaxy S2 and the LG Optimus 2X, which are hitting stores now and more than capable of matching the power-processor promises.

Motorola atrix

The Atrix is definitely Motorola's most advanced smartphone ever – it has a 5MP camera with HD video, massive 1930mAh battery and – with optional accessories – it really does transfer from a smartphone to a multimedia centre and very swish looking netbook.

It has a tendency to quickly get hot during use though – especially around the lower right-hand corner. No doubt the 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor is working hard and providing that heat, but it can be a battery sucker.

But it does so elegantly, with the Motorola Atrix able to handle just about every task and app that you throw at it without judder or delay.

Motorola atrix

It certainly feels like a quality device. It's not uncomfortably heavy at 135g, but just hefty enough for its presence to be felt.

The screen is definitely something of quality too – a 4-inch qHD capacitive display. While it may not be able to match the brightness of the Samsung Galaxy S2's Super AMOLED Plus screen (probably the best on any phone out there right now), it certainly holds it own against others on the market.

Motorola atrix

Blacks look black, whites look bright and only when you put your eyes right up against the screen do you notice the pixels. Icons on the home screen (Motorola's at least) almost seem to jump out at you, and the Gorilla Glass promises to do its best to keep the screen relatively blemish-free.

Motorola atrix

The back is smooth, which could cause problems. Several times during the review process, the Atrix slipped out of the hands and was only saved by some quick moves to catch it.

This happens a lot when you're quickly flipping the camera over to landscape to take a photo and, combined with its weight, could spell disaster. A rugged back would help – but in the absence of this, you'll want to find a case.

Motorola atrix

The memory card is hot-swappable – you'll have to pull the battery cover off to do it, but this is easy enough. The charging port is on the bottom left hand side alongside a Mini HDMI socket (more on that later).

The speaker grill is found at the bottom of the rear – slightly indented to prevent it being muffled.

Motorola atrix

Perhaps the most impressive gimmick is at the top where the lock/unlock button also doubles up as a fingerprint scanner for unlocking the phone.

It actually works very well and you'll find yourself trying to fool it (unsuccessfully) with other fingers at some point. It may not be rigid enough security for Barack Obama, but it's good enough for most of us and is great for showing off down the pub.

With all of this, the Atrix is pretty much future-proof (aside from the operating system, which we'll get onto in a moment).

Motorola atrix

Just as well really – because you'll pay a lot for it.

On contract, to get it for free, you'll have to sign away two years of your life and pay £35 at least a month for the privilege – and that's before you buy the added accessories (the lapdock, the HDMI dock, bluetooth keyboard, etc).

Although various bundles give you them at a lower price, they're not cheap add-ons and you'll see that reflected in a higher monthly bill.

Motorola Atrix: Interface

Let's get one thing out of the way first though: if you're looking forward to gorging on Gingerbread, you won't find it in the Motorola Atrix.

The Atrix may come with all the bells and whistles one would want, but it ships with Android Froyo 2.2. It seems odd for Motorola to launch its new flagship handset with an old operating system – especially since Gingerbread 2.3 has been out now for several months.

And this could prove to be a problem for buyers concerned about being left behind, with the new Android OS – Ice Cream Sandwich – expected by the end of the year.

A Gingerbread upgrade is planned for the Atrix for some time in 2011, but this may cost Motorola in the meantime, as other manufacturers push their handsets as having the latest OS.

Social media junkies will love this phone. Indeed, it'll appeal to anyone who loves Android's use of widgets. But for those who are always connected – and always have something to say – the Moto Blur overlay makes it fun.

Motorola atrix

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn updates can all be configured and they change in front of your eyes on the home screen as they come in.

Motorola atrix

From here, you can read, reply, view profiles and so on. It's not an in-depth Facebook or Twitter experience, offering just the basics of Reply and Retweet, and serial social media types will prefer proper apps for those.

Motorola atrix

But for people who want to just glance at what's happening, the Motorola Atrix does this well. The widgets are present from the moment you set the handset up (after you've been guided through the relatively long process of setting up a Moto Blur account, on top of configuring your Google version too).

Motorola atrix

But in the true spirit of Android, they can be moved around to one of the seven home screens at your disposal.

Motorola atrix

Widgets for the music player, camera, Google search, function toggles and other apps are loaded on by default along with shortcuts to various apps. Again, these can be removed or reorganised at your pleasure simply by long-pressing the screen.

Also, when you get messages from, say, Gmail or Twitter or LinkedIn, you get the appropriate mini icon in the notifications bar in full colour.

Motorola atrix

The coloured notifications are a small touch – but it adds to the feeling that this is a very complete and fluid OS. As with previous Android handsets, Motorola has slightly tweaked the notification bar on the Atrix (own battery icon, signal bars etc) as well as adding shortcuts to Dialler and Contacts screens at the bottom of the main home screen, where they flank the App Drawer button.

These don't stay as you swipe across screens as they do on some Android handsets (such as Samsung's TouchWiz).

The dual processor is quick, responsive and, seemingly, very difficult to confuse. Switching between traditionally processor-heavy apps didn't seem to even register a blip, and live wallpapers played along happily in the background.

One of the games we tried on the Motorola Atrix, Need for Speed Shift (which Motorola says comes as standard, but it cost us £6) is very graphic-heavy and the kind of game that would grind some Android phones to a halt. Yet on the Atrix, it whizzed along without a care in the world.

Opening the app drawer, you can scroll through what's in there at lightning speed. It all looks very neatly laid out and in there are both the stock Android apps and those that Motorola has seen fit to install already.

Motorola atrix

You do find they double up sometimes, where for instance not only do you get the incredible Google Maps (plus Navigation), you also get Orange Maps which is perhaps not as comprehensive (we say 'perhaps' because it wouldn't open on our review handset).

Similarly, you get the standard Android News and Weather reader, plus another next to it in the App Drawer called 'News' which does the same sort of thing.

Motorola's included widgets are also fairly functional – it's the usual fare such as toggles for various settings, clocks and shortcuts to contacts.

Motorola atrix

A nice touch, though, is the ability to resize certain widgets so that they take up more or less space on your screen.

It also affects how they look. For example, make the clock widget larger and you get a calendar on the screen too. Make it smaller and it switches from an analogue to a digital clock instead.

They're not particularly colourful and look rather business-like, but they're well thought out and, again, they make you feel Motorola has put some thought into its skins rather than just rushing the Atrix out of the door with stock Android loaded on.

If you're not a fan, however, the likes of Launcher Pro can quite easily override the Motorola skin, allowing you to customise the Atrix to your heart's content.

Motorola Atrix: Contacts and calling

Motorola atrix

While Motorola has put a lot of effort into the Atrix's Moto Blur skin, the same can't be said for the calling section. It's pretty standard Android fare. It works very well and suggests that perhaps Motorola isn't too bothered about fixing something that isn't broken.

The Contacts section is also standard Android fare on the surface, but when you delve into it, you notice it is integrated with the Moto Blur experience, meaning you get birthdays, and all manner of social media information on a contact.

Motorola atrix

For example, swiping across one of three screens will give you the contact's contact details on one, your contact history with them on another and their social media updates on a third.

It also means you are able to directly Facebook or Tweet someone in the same way that you would send them an email or a text. Again, it shows just how much Motorola is trying to make the Atrix your social media hub and it works well.

Motorola atrix

Call quality is good, with just the right amount of bass in the speaker so that conversations don't sound tinny at your end. Callers reported a clear line and no problems with the quality at the other end, and the phone was able to hold onto a signal in the centre of London while in a moving vehicle.

You can make a call by using the contacts or dialler icons on the main home screen or, as with most other Android phones, start tapping a name into the Google search box and the person you're after will eventually pop up. That is, of course, if you haven't set up one of the home screen widgets to take you directly to the contact quickly.

The loudspeaker is very loud. In fact, during a call, it had to be turned down because it was a little too loud. It could work out quite well though, as it's always best to be able to turn it down rather than not be able to turn it up enough if you're trying to get the sound to a few people in a room.

Motorola Atrix: Messaging

As with all Android handsets, you'll need a Google Account (and, therefore, a Gmail address) to even be able to begin using the Motorola Atrix.

You don't have to actually use the Gmail address once you're in, but if you do, then it works well. The Gmail app is preloaded, which allows not only a detailed search, but also the ability to sync labels.

Fans of messaging will be impressed with the Atrix. Because the various social media options are hardwired into the phone, you're able to contact your desired subject by any means. It's easiest to go into their contact page and select the method you wish to use there, rather than firing up individual apps.

Motorola atrix

When you hit the Messaging app, you get the option to open the inbox for each individual method, but there is also a Universal Inbox that works well and looks good.

At no point does it feel complicated. It just seems to work. If you do decide to look at individual methods separately, there's a uniform look. For example, there's no Facebook branding on the Facebook inbox (other than the icon when you select to open it).

Motorola atrix

It looks exactly like your Twitter DM inbox which, in turn, looks like your email inbox and LinkedIn inbox and so on. It feels again like Motorola has put a little thought into what will make the experience look and feel good on the Atrix, and here it has succeeded.

IM is handled by the onboard Google Talk application - although we were hoping Motorola might see fit to bring some other instant messaging options here too, but no dice it seems.

Motorola atrix

Motorola has ditched the standard Android Keyboard in favour of its own. It works well enough, but can easily be replaced with the multitude of keyboards on offer from the Android Market. Curiously, though, while it does add a full stop if you tap the space bar twice, it doesn't autocorrect words as you get them wrong by default, and you have to go into the settings to rectify this.

Motorola atrix

You can tap out messages in portrait or landscape mode. Portrait works fine but in landscape the Atrix struggled to keep up, as you can see in this picture.

A version of the increasingly popular Swype is also present. It's a keyboard you'll absolutely love or hate – but if it's the latter, there are alternatives available.

Motorola Atrix: Internet

If you want to browse the web at high speeds, then the Motorola Atrix is probably one of the phones for you.

Equipped with Wi-Fi 802.11 supporting A,B,G and N, it loads pages in a jiffy – partly due to the speed of the connection, but also due to the processor which, again, whirrs along in the background and is able to process pages very quickly indeed.

Motorola atrix

The entire Guardian.co.uk front page loaded up in fewer than three seconds on Wi-Fi, and just marginally longer on 3G over HSDPA.

The wonderful Android browser is present here and works brilliantly, as it does on most other Android devices. As with all modern browsers (including those on the Apple iPhone 4 and BlackBerry Torch), it's WebKit-based and does a stellar job.

Motorola atrix

Pages load quickly and, thanks to Flash support coming as standard on the Froyo build onwards (for the phones that can support it), they look beautiful. Displayed in full colour on screen they enable the option to tap to zoom in on the elements you want to concentrate on.

Motorola atrix

Playing video embedded in sites is simple, and the Atrix does this happily. Zoomed out, sites look great (though the text is often illegible because of the size). However, it reformats perfectly when you double tap and zoom in.

Text reflow is supported, but doesn't automatically resize when you pinch and zoom to change the screen size - instead a slow double tap is needed.

As you scroll down pages, you may expect to see a lag as it renders, but that's doesn't happen on the Motorola Atrix. By the time your finger has whizzed down, the page has loaded already. It really is fast.

Motorola atrix

There's no customisation on the browser – it's vanilla Android – but it's such a strong part of the operating system that Motorola clearly feels it doesn't need to change a thing about it.

Of course, you can install others, and there are many excellent browsers on the Market including Dolphin, Opera Mini and Firefox. But unless you have a serious issue with any one element of the stock Android browser, it's unlikely you'll feel a need to change the default offering on the Atrix.

Motorola Atrix: Camera

Motorola atrix

The Motorola Atrix comes equipped with a rear facing 5MP camera. While not shabby, it's certainly not cutting edge with other offerings such as the Samsung Galaxy S2 boasting 8MP cameras, and others with even higher capabilities. That's not to say that it isn't good – it works well and shoots nice pictures.

Starting up the camera from cold takes just over a second, and it's instantly ready to take the picture. This could be down to the processor again – but whatever the reason, it's a welcome feature as it cuts down the risk of the moment having passed by the time you're ready to take a snap, which happens pretty rapidly.

Once taken, your photo can then be uploaded to a plethora of apps, depending on what you have installed on the Atrix.

Motorola atrix

DIM: Some people have complained of a lack of quality in photographs taken in low light

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Motorola atrix

LOW LIGHT:Without a flash, you may as well not even bother with some shots

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Motorola atrix

BETTER:Stick the LED flash on (or leave it in Auto mode) and photos are bathed in a good volume of light, and with the minimum of noise

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Motorola atrix

SMILE: A fast shutter speed captures relatively slow moving objects without too much blur

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The shutter speed is quick. If the subject is moving quickly, you're likely to encounter blur. But if it's just a little natural movement, it locks on, focuses and snaps very quickly after you press the capture button with a good focus.

There are various modes, including a sports mode, which should make taking photos of fast moving subjects a little easier, although it didn't seem to make much difference during the review process.

Other modes on offer include the likes of Macro, Auto and Portrait, and there are some in-built effects which will give you a black and white or sepia alternative. However with so many free photo manipulation apps available on the Market, the built-in effects are a bit pointless because third party ones are so much better.

Motorola atrix

You can get into these settings fairly easily by tapping on the screen, making them move in from the right. But that means that you can't tap in on the screen to choose where you want to focus the shot. You have to let the Motorola Atrix do this for you, and it can get this wrong.

Motorola atrix

For example, it won't focus automatically on text and because you can't tap the screen to focus. You have to go into the Scenes menu and manually change the mode from Auto to Macro. In theory it only takes a few seconds, but in practise, it's annoying that you're forced to go digging around menus.

There is a second, lower-res camera on the front, but aside from taking the odd self pic or using it to check your makeup, this will likely not be used for anything other than video calls.

Motorola Atrix: Video

Motorola atrix

The back of the Motorola Atrix boasts of the camera's capabilities with a not-too-subtle 'HD Video' badge.

When it comes to shooting video, it doesn't disappoint either. The quality – either playing back on the Atrix or blown up on a large HD TV – is equally as stunning. In good light, it looks brilliant. Lower light is passable, though susceptible to a little noise.

Motorola atrix

Helpfully, you can enable the LED flash to help you in darker conditions, but the illumination only works if you're filming something that's close up. If you're filming, say, a large room, the light doesn't stretch more than a few inches, so you'll still have some lighting issues.

As with the still camera, there are some scene modes that you can use to assist in your shooting (Everyday, Outdoors and Concert) and again, you can use effects to change the video to black and white if you wish.

You can also shoot video on various modes from QVGA right up to 720p (which is set by default).

Motorola atrix

One nice touch is that when you select a video, if you'd like to send it by MMS, the Atrix asks if you'd like to resize it so it will fit within the size limit, and then fires up some video editing software.

This is helpful because the HD videos are huge compared to the 300KB or so limit that mobile networks impose, so it's a necessary feature that's sometimes overlooked.

Motorola Atrix: Media

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Media is at the heart of the Motorola Atrix. With 16GB of internal storage and support for 32GB of additional memory, you could load this up with up to 48GB of content.

Motorola atrix

The media player looks like stock Android, but it has some great little additions. These include a Music Videos section, which searches online for music videos.

Motorola atrix

It also supports TuneWiki, so you can see what friends on Facebook and Twitter are playing and sing along.

Motorola atrix

Another free offering is a Song Identification section, which works like Shazam but is fully integrated rather than being a third party add-on (like Sony Ericsson has been bundling for years, with its Track ID service). You can access it either via the app drawer, or by using the Motorola widgets that are included as standard.

Sound quality is very, very good – there's enough bass using the supplied headphones and the volume is loud. Some handsets have left it difficult to hear because the loudest volume isn't loud enough, but there's no danger of that with the Motorola Atrix, which pumps out good quality music and has even more space on the dial if you want to really deafen yourself.

If you want to play your music through your loudspeaker, it sounds quite tinny – but then again, unless you're 13 years old and planning to annoy fellow passengers on a submarine (we've used the bus analogy too many times), this probably won't concern you.

Most formats are supported, including H.264, WMA9, AAC, MPEG-4, MP3. AMR NB, eAAC+ and AAC+.

There's no FM radio on board the Motorola Atrix, which is a noticeable absence – especially when they're still being incorporated by other manufacturers.

It may not be as big a deal these days, now that streaming radio is available through third party apps and phones can cope with streaming while completing other tasks, but it's strange for a phone with everything else, to lack a feature still used by lots of people.

By default, there's no dedicated video viewing app on the Atrix. Although videos play happily through the gallery, file manager or if you click on them within emails, there's no 'Videos' app in the way there is a 'Music' app (ignoring the supplied YouTube app).

Motorola atrix

Having said that, the phone's multimedia centre is present and kicks in on connection to the HD dock (more on that ahead) or if you go through the Media share app.

Like the LG Optimus 7 and LG Optimus 2X, the Atrix comes with a DLNA client that lets you play content from your computer or DLNA server on your phone. This worked incredibly smoothly for movies, music and photos.

Setting it up in the Windows 7 Home Group is also easy, as long as you click all of the checkboxes. DLNA streaming turns your phone into a digital media player around the home.

Watching movies on it is comfortable with the in-ear headphones because the bass is just as good as it is on the music player. Controls are very basic though, and any diehard movie fans will probably download an alternative video viewer with more bells and whistles.

The problem is that slippy back, which means you may end up dropping the Motorola Atrix accidentally. You find yourself having to hook your fingers around the top and bottom, which can get a little uncomfortable after a while.

Motorola atrix

Looking at photos is a much easier experience. The Atrix comes with the Android gallery app but it's been given a bit of a Motorola makeover. On opening it, you get various categories to browse which, when you open, display a grid of thumbnails.

Motorola atrix

But turn it on its side and it switches into an Apple-esque cover-flow mode, splitting the photos and videos into date category.

It looks nice and keeps things fairly organised without you having to lift a finger. From here, you can tap on your photo and either edit it with a basic photo editing package (to crop or resize) or tag people for uploading to Facebook.

The entire process is simple and uncomplicated, which means that you aren't reliant on browsing the Android Market for solutions.

Motorola Atrix: Battery life and connectivity

Motorola atrix

The Motorola Atrix's battery is enormous, at 1930mAh. Other comparable phones on the market at the moment have smaller power supplies (The LG Optimus 2X comes with a 1500mAh battery, as does the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, while the Samsung Galaxy S2 opts for 1650mAh).

So, you'd expect this battery to be brilliant. And it actually is pretty impressive.

Android phones have been notorious for terrible battery life ever since the HTC G1 first brought them to our attention, and the Motorola Atrix is probably the first to really surprise you. It's not amazing, and if you use it for moderate to heavy use all day, you'll still need to give it a nightly zap, but on the whole, it'll get you through a day without the need for panicking.

Our average use consisted of taking the phone off charge at 7am, making about 40 minutes of calls, enabling all background syncing, browsing the web over Wi-Fi and 3G for about an hour, playing music for an hour, going for a two hour run (with GPS on the whole time using the Adidas micoach app, and streaming live radio through the TuneIn App) and tinkering for about 40 minutes. By 5pm, the battery was down to 20%, but didn't die until the following morning.

You also have to bear in mind that if you do buy the lapdock and/or HD dock, this will affect your performance too, because you'll go from just expecting the battery to last all day to giving it intermittent blasts as it does other tasks.

Motorola says the Atrix is capable of up to 540h talk time and 400h standby. Of course, it's always impossible to gauge because real life use will depend on factors such as signal strength. But it's certainly capable of putting in the mileage, and if you're a light user it's not impossible to get two or maybe even three days out of this in between charges.

If you keep an eye on your usage, you'll definitely get away with a weekend's break without the charger, which is more than can be said for the majority of Android handsets.

Motorola atrix

Connectivity wise, it's all on board. There are the standard options we've come to expect – Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth, plus HSDPA (and 4G if you ever manage to find a network). As part of the Android setup, you can also share your data connection and turn your phone into a wireless hotspot.

The Wi-Fi works perfectly. GPS took a good 5-10 seconds to get a fix, but once it had managed to, it kept hold of the connection without problems. DLNA support means your Atrix can control media around the home.

Motorola atrix

The HDMI port will enable you to connect to your TV to view the experience in High Definition if you'd like to share your videos and photos, and the excellent Phone Portal enables you to control your Atrix's file system over Wi-Fi from any other device.

It worked flawlessly via a Macbook Pro and then (despite fears there would be some kind of error) also worked perfectly from the browser on a Samsung Galaxy S2, so that one phone was controlling the other.

Connection to a computer is courtesy of a standard USB cable for dragging and dropping, although it was much more elegant to download the excellent Dropbox client and get files to and from the Atrix that way, or via the Phone Portal.

Motorola Atrix: Lap Dock

Motorola atrix

The major selling point of the Motorola Atrix is not necessarily what the phone is – but what it becomes.

For power users and business people who it is inevitably aimed at, the Lap Dock will be a fantastic addition.

Motorola atrix

The idea is simple. The Lap Dock is a dummy laptop. It's thin, but it's heavy. To fire it up, you lift open a cover at the rear and slot the Atrix in.

Motorola atrix

It then fires up the computer, which runs two operating systems side by side. One is a form of Linux that allows you to browse the web and do simple netbook tasks (bizarrely, considering this runs Android, it comes installed with Firefox rather than Google Chrome).

Motorola atrix

At the same time, on the left-hand side, your phone screen pops up and you're able to do everything you'd normally do on it (including making and receiving calls via the laptop, sending and receiving texts and emails).

The Lap Dock will even charge your phone for you and piggy back the Motorola Atrix's 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS connections. The battery lasted a good four days like this, bearing in mind that you'll likely be carrying this around and using it intermittently rather than continuously.

Motorola atrix

And just in case you're wondering how it's doing, it even comes with a sequence of lights on the case that indicate how much power is left, alongside two USB ports.

Motorola atrix

A few apps are included on it as standard, including the Entertainment Centre (which runs through your media and plays it back from the phone) and that Firefox browser.

Others, such as Motorola's own Webtop Zone and Facebook, are merely shortcuts to the websites. The idea is that you'll use this as a cloud computer (making it all the more bizarre that it runs neither the Chrome browser nor the cloud-based Chrome OS) for your work when you need it.

In theory, the Lap Dock is a very good idea. In practice, it falls down in a few places.

Firstly, it feels like it's not complete. Having two operating systems feels like awfully hard work. You're constantly flitting between your phone and the Linux environment. It's almost as if Motorola couldn't decide what it wanted them to do so it threw both OSes in.

Motorola atrix

It would make more sense to have the Lap Dock running either a Linux operating system only, that then integrates the various phone elements into the core OS, or just blow up the entire Android screen and use that as the OS.

Android Froyo is certainly capable – especially when you consider that it comes with Flash support for websites plus full email clients and media players.

Secondly, the screen may be nice and bright but because of the way the Atrix sits at the back of the Lap Dock, there's only a certain amount of leeway. This means you can't actually push the screen too far back, and it can make for a very uncomfortable angle when trying to work with the Lap Dock on your knees.

It's a simple design fault that is annoying, inexcusable and should surely have been picked up during the conception and testing processes.

Thirdly, there's the price. Some bundles are available which will give you the Lap Dock at a discount with Orange, or you may get the phone for free and just pay for the Lap Dock. But you're still looking at a minimum of £250-£300 on a high-spend tariff, which means that you're then in cheap notebook territory and, frankly, netbooks will probably do the job better.

Motorola atrix

Another problem is also one of the strengths of the package. It integrates so well with the phone that it won't work without the Atrix being plugged in. It should be desirable to have the Atrix connected, not essential, because if you find yourself in a position where you need to use it as a standalone laptop for any reason, you're out of luck.

It's then nothing more than an expensive doorstop.

You can see what Motorola is trying to do with the Atrix and the Lap Dock, and the fact that Android is so open and customisable means that manufacturers are limited only by their imaginations.

It's a credible and exciting first step, and a very exciting insight into where smartphones and laptops are going and how their relationship with each other is developing. But alas, with the Lap Dock it just feels like it's not quite there yet.

Motorola Atrix: Docks, keyboard and mouse

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Where the Motorola Atrix's Lap Dock falls short, with the docks, the Atrix really comes into its own. There are two available.

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The cheaper dock (though still expensive at around £30) is merely a charging device that you can slot the phone into.

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The second is the HD Multimedia Dock. It's more expensive, at around £75, but this plugs via an HDMI lead into your TV for the full HD experience.

Motorola atrix

Dock the phone and it instantly goes into HD mode, firing up the Entertainment Centre which then allows you to scroll through your Music, Photos and Videos and even play them in a slideshow.

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The HD Dock comes with a remote control which allows you to scroll through your files from the comfort of your chair.

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You'll also find three USB connection ports on the back.

And that's just the beginning.

Motorola atrix

You can also fire up the Webtop Connector and enjoy the Lap Dock experience on your HD TV. You have to make sure the power cable is plugged into the dock at the back, otherwise it will only fire up the Entertainment Centre, which is a bit odd and led to a lot of head scratching during the reviewing process.

Motorola atrix

However, once that's in, the Webtop Connector option appears on the Atrix's screen for you to tap and away you go.

You can do one of two things. You can use it as just a streaming player (watching the likes of iPlayer through your TV via your phone) or you can also get hold of the original bluetooth keyboard and mouse and turn your TV into a full web browsing tool.

Essentially, with Webtop Connect, you're just doing exactly the same on your HD TV as you did with the Lap Dock – it's the same software experience of having two OSes in one place.

But it works so much better like this because it doesn't feel like it's trying to be a netbook or anything other than a web experience on your phone blown up on the TV. Having said that, one advantage is you can use the Firefox browser rather than the Android browser, which affords you perks such as being able to watch ITV player (which annoyingly still redirects all phone users to the mobile version of the site).

Obviously, it's not as portable as the Lap Dock experience (unless you like lugging a HD TV around) but for an added extra in the home, it works brilliantly.

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The Motorola bluetooth keyboard and mouse look both elegant and stylish and run off normal AA batteries.

Motorola atrix

Again, they're not cheap. And at around £70 for them on top of that £75 for the dock, it may feel a little too expensive. However, it's still cheaper than the Lap Dock, and seeing your photos and videos play on a large HD TV as opposed to a much smaller Lap Dock screen is far better.

Motorola Atrix: Hands-on gallery

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Motorola Atrix: Official gallery

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Motorola Atrix: Verdict

Motorola atrix

If you're looking for a powerful smartphone, then the Motorola Atrix will definitely hit the spot. Not only is it enabled with every method of connectivity that you could shake a USB cable at, it probably is, as the marketing hype keeps telling us, the world's most powerful smartphone.

It shows just how much Android has come of age in the two and a half years since the G1 first hit stores, and feels future-proof for anyone thinking of signing up to a two year contract

We liked

Kudos goes to the huge battery. It's not going to power a nuclear substation but compared to what's out there at the moment, it certainly shows other Android phones up and makes you realise competitors could really do better.

The camera is above average with that great shutter speed and HD video making a real difference. You could easily get away with leaving the compact camera at home when you go on holiday.

HD is really where the Atrix comes into its own with that dock and although we're not fully convinced by the Lap Dock, we have to give a thumbs-up to Motorola for highlighting the potential here.

Even if you don't use the HD dock, you'll still be more than happy with the screen which enhances the feeling that this is a quality device.

The impressive battery is larger than others out there at the moment and capable of punching above its weight.

The better than average camera has a good shutter speed compared to comparable models and amazing HD video.

The HD Dock turns this into a truly multimedia little computer, and the Lap Dock has potential.

The high res screen adds to a device that already looks like a top quality piece of kit.

We disliked

Motorola's decision not to include Gingerbread when competitors are already looking forward to Ice Cream Sandwich seems a bit crazy. It's not a deal-killer since the upgrade is promised but it would be nicer to have it now than not.

For such an expensive device, the Atrix really should have a better rear cover because this will slip out of your hands at some point. Get a case immediately to protect it and ensure a better grip.

To realise the full potential, you have to buy the accessories which are not cheap – and if you go down the sim-free route, the whole lot will leave you with a £1000-ish shaped hole in your pocket.

The cost of the Lap Dock alone will turn many people off – meaning Motorola is shooting itself in the foot to a certain extent.

The fact that its a 4G phone is great for one-upmanship with friends – until they ask for a demo and you realise 4G doesn't exist in this country so it's a bit of a pointless selling point and what you're holding is a 3G phone like almost everybody else.

Although it's not a killer, Gingerbread would have been nice out of the box rather than waiting for a promised upgrade.

The slippy back panel means that your expensive device could end up with a few bumps before too long.

The price of the accessories is offputting – if you go down the SIM-free route, the phone, Lap Dock and two docks will leave a £1,000-ish shaped hole in your pocket.

The fact that it's a 4G phone yet current technology means we can't test that out in this country is annoying.

Verdict

The real issue one has is whether you evaluate the Motorola Atrix as just a phone, in which case it's a stellar piece of equipment that is definitely a suitable contender for your cash, if only because it has one of the best batteries on an operating system that is notorious for guzzling juice.

Or do you evaluate the Atrix as a sign of things to come, bearing in mind the potential of the Lap Dock if other manufacturers follow suit? In that case, this could have an impact on the Android world, like Apple's capacitive glass screen and Touch Flow technology impacted other smartphone manufacturers, and is the sign of an exciting future.

Motorola, of course, has been one of the great innovators with goodies like the StarTac and Razr, which did its portfolio wonders back in the day.

The Atrix with the Lap Dock may not be of the same calibre in some eyes – but it's certainly revolutionary and could fire the starting gun to other Android competitors

Motorola Atrix Android 2.2 Dual core smartphone business phone
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