Motorola has largely been an Android OEM who has loved to put their phones on Verizon because of their DROID marketing. The thing is that CDMA isn’t the only network technology to be used and in past months Motorola has been trying to cater to GSM networks; mostly AT&T. The latest Motorola phone to show up in AT&T’s stables is the Atrix HD, the successor to the Atrix 2. At $99 on a two year contract, does the phone deserve your time and money? Let’s find out in the full review.
Design wise, the Atrix HD will remind you a lot of the DROID RAZR on Verizon, without the boxy edges. At just 140 grams, it’s a very light phone. The body and edges are pretty much plastic meaning that while it won’t break like glass would, it is susceptible to fall damage and dings. On the front you have your 1.9MP FFC next to the Motorola logo and below the screen you have only an AT&T Logo with a groove for the speaker. On the left side you have a flap for where the Micro SIM card and micro SD cards reside and on the right side you have a sleep/wake/power button and volume rocker. Up top you have your mini HDMI port, Micro USB charging port and 3.5mm headphone jack. On the bottom you have nothing. On the back of the Atrix HD you have an 8MP camera with an LED flash and next to that a speaker grill. The entire back is coated in Kevlar, meaning it can stand up to more scratching and exposure to moisture. Don’t go dipping your Atrix HD in a pool or anything but against minimal water, it should hold up just fine.
Motorola continues to bring the best in screen technology to their phones. The Atrix HD sports a 4.5 inch HD Colorboost Display. Not only is this display sport Gorilla Glass but its also non pentile (yay for non-pentile displays). Viewing angles were great and the vibrancy of the display couldn’t have been more apparent.
For a “mid-ranged” phone at this point, Motorola didn’t hold back in the hardware department. Powering the Atrix HD is a 1.5 GHz Dual Core S4 Snapdragon processor with 1GB of RAM. It has 8 GB of internal storage and does support Micro SD card expansion up to 32GB’s. It’s sporting all the usual radios including accelerometer and gyroscope and Bluetooth 4.0. It has a sealed 1780 Mah battery meaning that if you use your phone a lot you might have to be relying on Motorola’s “Smart Action” to monitor what you do with your phone. In my testing, and I don’t consider myself the average phone users, I found the battery didn’t get me through the day. Even worse than that, I felt that the battery discharged very quickly when not plugged in.
The Motorola Atrix HD has two cameras, a front facing one and one on the back. The front facing camera is capable of taking HD pictures while the back is an 8MP camera with an LED Flash. Here is another sore point with this phone. Pictures are not one of its strong points. If you are taking pictures on a beautiful and sunny day, then you won’t have too much of any issue. Any attempt to take pictures in a low light setting or indoors where there isn’t enough light will leave a lot of your pictures looking cold (blue hued photos). You can look a sample shots below in the gallery.
The Atrix can also record 1080p @ 30fps and in my testing wasn’t the worst thing in the world. I think the camera had a hard time focusing when panning around as well as contrasting. The Microphone picked up my voice pretty well so that at least something I can’t dock the Atrix HD for. Check out the 1080p video sample below.
The Atrix HD runs Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) with Motorola’s custom UI on top. I have to say that compared to all of the other custom UI’s like Sense and Touchwiz, Motorola’s is the most toned down and close to stock Android as you can get. Other than a few themed icons and themes setting menu, Motorola really let stock Android shine through as stock Android. The interface was mostly unobtrusive but I did run into something that I had a hard time getting around. Motorola built in something called “Smart Wi-Fi” that would ever so often search for local Wi-Fi hotspots in your area and if it was beneficial to connect to one to save data or battery life, it was supposed to do so. I noticed when I tried connecting to Wi-Fi on purpose and I would turn Wi-Fi on, it would say it was connecting to the access point, connect to it, and then turn off. This happened constantly and I had no idea how to deal with it. I don’t know if I was doing something wrong or if it was a bug to be honest.
As far as call quality is, I had no issues on the Atrix HD. AT&T is very reliable in the Vegas area. In regards to data speeds, I realized that on this handset, I wasn’t getting the data speeds that I normally get with other handsets on AT&T. I was averaging 3-7 MB’s down, which isn’t the worst thing in the world but I’m surprised that my download speeds were slower than average.
Should you get the Atrix HD? You should only get the Atrix HD if you love Motorola. For everything that is appealing about the handset, there are drawbacks that are significant. The less than average battery life mixed with the cameras poor performance makes it hard for me to honestly recommend this phone outside of loving the company. I would recommend spending the $99 on the HTC One X or spend the $199 on the Galaxy S III. In both cases you would have a superior phone for the next two years. If Motorola had put the RAZR MAXX on AT&T then things might have been much different.