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Thread: Crowded at the top: Our Motorola ATRIX HD LTE review

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    Crowded at the top: Our Motorola ATRIX HD LTE review

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    In terms of 2012 flagship Android phones, first came the HTC One X which was followed by the Samsung Galaxy S III. Both share very similar specs including support for LTE. Now we have the Motorola ATRIX HD LTE which is packing similar hardware. So which of the 3 should you buy?

    While pretty much all Smartphones are plain slabs these days, last year’s Motorola RAZR was an interesting interpretation of the plain slab. It was wide and had sharp angles. The Kevlar back is bare with its weave exposed. There were some nice details including the Motorola logo and the volume buttons.

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    All this really exaggerated how thin the RAZR was. It actually felt thinner than it really was.

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    left to right: ATRIX, RAZR

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    top to bottom: RAZR, ATRIX

    At a glance, the ATRIX HD follows the RAZR’s design DNA with some exceptions. While most of the hard edges have been smoothed out, what really sticks out is that the ATRIX is actually thicker its competition - (the GS3 and One X) even though it has a smaller screen.

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    top to bottom: ATRIX, One X, GS3

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    left to right: One X, ATRIX

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    left to right: GS3, ATRIX

    Initially, this really bothered me. The flatness/thinness really made the RAZR special. While not a fat phone the ATRIX thickness makes it feel like an unauthorized knock-off of the RAZR.

    Motorola really missed an opportunity to the make the ATRIX more one-handed friendly.

    Still, after using the ATRIX for a few days it’s still a pleasant phone to use. It’s nice to hold and for the most part, a solid phone. My only complaint is that the MicroSD/micro SIM slot cover flexes a little because it’s located right where I grip the phone.

    Body:


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    Micro SIM card and MicroSDHC card slots

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    power and volume buttons

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    camera, flash, speaker

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    headphone jack, microUSB, micro HDMI

    Yes, there’s a separate micro HDMI port on top. On the GS3 and One X you have to use a MHL adapter if you want to connect a HDMI cable. With the ATRIX you just need a micro HDMI cable.

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    The screen looks fantastic. It’s bright with very good viewing angles. It’s a LCD display so it lack’s AMOLED’s deep black levels but it is noticeably better out in the sun. While it has the same resolution as the One X and GS III it’s slightly smaller so it’s bit sharper though the difference isn’t great. I couldn’t help noticing that the ATRIX’s screen looks more recessed than the One X and S III screens. When you look at the One X and S III you get the feeling that their screens are painted onto the glass. With the ATRIX you can tell that the screen is underneath some glass, like you’re staring through a lens.

    The ATRIX lacks physical menu buttons. So it uses on-screen ones like the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7. Personally, I’m not a fan of the on-screen buttons because they move around. I also find that they’re easier to accidentally press than physical ones.. There’s enough space at the bottom of the ATRIX for them, why didn’t they just put them in?

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    I’m not a fan of the camera software. While it allows you to shoot video and take pictures simultaneously, pictures are only captured at 1920x1080 (2mp) instead of at max resolution (8mp). I wish it had the shutter and record buttons on the same screen like the HTC One X. There is a burst mode but you have to go through the menus to turn it on. Instead of taking rapid fire shots as long as you hold the shutter button like the One X and S III, the ATRIX takes 6 shots in rapid sequence regardless of how long you hold the shutter button for.

    I wasn’t impressed with the camera’s performance. I found it struggled with focus a lot. While it is capable of taking sharp photos I ended up with lots of blurry photos because of the dodgy autofocus. Video quality is a little better - it does a decent job of capturing audio.

    Software:

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    In the past, Motorola was criticized for over customizing their phones. While Motorola’s customization have gotten lighter, last year’s RAZR was still a little heavy in this regard. So I was surprised that the ATRIX is almost a stock Android phone. The main menu UI is Motorola but some of the apps like the Gallery are now generic. I was a little surprised because I’m pretty sure the RAZR’s gallery app was a 3rd party one.

    Speaking of Gallery apps, while the generic app allows you to share your pictures with 3rd party services (like Picasa) it doesn’t display albums from them. So in that respect I’d like to see a little more functionality.

    The main menu is actually pretty interesting. Certain app icons can be swiped to reveal more information. For example, if you swipe the email icon on the home screen it will show you your latest emails without you having to open the app. Swiping the browser icon shows you your most visited pages, the phone icon shows recent call activity. Other apps icons that support this are the phone app and text messaging app.

    So MOTOBLUR or whatever they called it on last year’s RAZR is now completely gone. That means the extra Motorola security and social networking apps are gone. Also gone is Motorola’s MOTOCAST. I actually thought MOTOCAST was pretty cool but to be frankly, most of these apps’ functionalities can be found on 3rd party programs. Removing them allows Motorola more time to focus on the rest of the software.

    There is printing support built-into the ATRIX though it’s only for the built-in apps.

    One feature I’m happy Motorola kept is their Smart Actions program. With Smart Actions you can activate rules depending on what you’re doing. For example, you can set up a sleep rule that automatically runs at night which disables emails, lowers the screen brightness and turns off your ringers. Probably the coolest thing about Smart Actions is that it’s location aware. So you can set up a work action that runs automatically whenever you get to work.

    Another cool feature is the Vehicle Mode which is like a launcher with bigger buttons so that you can use it more easily while you’re driving.

    Other extras I spotted include Voice Commands, a timer, and a file browser. Bell also preloads some extra Bell software: Bell RDM, GPS Navigator, Mobile TV, Self Serve and Sympatico link. Since the ATRIX is running Android 4.0 you can disable (but not remove) these Bell programs from the apps option in the setup menu.

    Storage:


    There is about 5GB available for storage. I copied a 3.4GB file to the ATRIX and observed speeds of around 12.3MB/s. You can add more storage using micro SD cards.

    SunSpider (lower is better):


    SunSpider is a javascript benchmark that runs on any browser. For all four phones I ran SunSpider using the built-in Android browser and not Chrome.

    Motorola ATRIX HD
    1246.6
    Samsung Galaxy S III LTE 1781.5
    HTC One X LTE 1550.9
    Sony Xperia ION 2490.2

    Here the ATRIX smokes the competition. Its score is 2x as fast as the Xperia ION (which is sporting an older processor). Note that this doesn’t mean the ATRIX’s browser draws pages twice as fast as the ION’s.

    Vellamo (higher is better):


    Motorola ATRIX HD
    2380.48
    Samsung Galaxy S III LTE 2364.96
    HTC One X LTE N/A
    Sony Xperia ION 1271.12

    Vellamo is a suite of benchmarks designed to test a browser’s performance. Again the ATRIX does very well here.

    GL Benchmark (on screen, higher is better):

    Motorola ATRIX HD 5063
    Samsung Galaxy S III LTE 5423
    HTC One X LTE 5571
    Sony Xperia ION 3342

    GL Benchmark is a 3D gaming benchmark that uses Open GL. I’m a little surprised that the ATRIX scores about 10% lower than the GS3 and One X.

    Basemark (higher is better):

    Motorola ATRIX HD 30.09
    Samsung Galaxy S III LTE 29.8
    HTC One X LTE 31.95
    Sony Xperia ION 18.1

    Basemark is another OpenGL 3D gaming benchmark. Here the ATRIX is competitive with the GS3 and One X.

    Battery life:


    The ATRIX has a 1780mAh battery which is not removable.

    AnTuTu Tester (Battery, higher is better)

    Motorola ATRIX HD 578
    Samsung Galaxy S III LTE 756
    HTC One X LTE N/A
    Sony Xperia ION 495

    For some reason I can’t get the HTC One X to finish a AnTuTu battery tester run. The ATRIX scores between the Xperia ION and Galaxy S III.

    Along with AnTuTu battery tester, I measure battery performance using my own test. I charge the phone, max out the brightness, turn on airplane mode and play a video until the phone shuts off.

    Motorola ATRIX HD 210
    Samsung Galaxy S III LTE 368
    HTC One X LTE 268
    Sony Xperia ION 293

    The ATRIX HD does very poorly in this test, contradicting my findings in AnTuTu. My seat-of-the-pants feeling is that the ATRIX’s battery life isn’t very good. Unless you use it sparingly it will struggle to make it through the day. The One X and GS III both feel like they have superior battery life to the ATRIX.

    As a Phone:

    Sound quality is slightly fuzzy sounding but otherwise it’s decent. Maximum earpiece volume is average. RF performance is excellent.

    Which one?

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    As a Galaxy S III and HTC One X owner I’ll be honest, it took me a few days to warm up the ATRIX. However, once I got used to it I realized it’s definitely a match for those 2 phones.

    So between the 3 phones here’s how I see it. The HTC One X is probably be best all around phone except that it lacks expandable storage which is a HUGE minus. It’s really hard to recommend the One X to anyone because of this.

    The Galaxy S III’s screen doesn’t work well outside and I find my to be kind of buggy at times. It does have good battery life (when it’s not buggy) and is the most flexible when it comes to storage.

    The ATRIX sort of slots between the 2. It’s as fast as the One X and its screen is almost as good but you get expandable storage and excellent RF performance. The ATRIX’s biggest weaknesses are the camera and battery life. From a design standpoint the ATRIX is also a bit of a let down. It has a smaller screen than the other 2, yet it’s the thickest.

    I hate to say it, but between the 3 there is no clear winner. Really, you have to look at the pros and cons of each and see which best fits your needs. Either that or just buy all 3. One thing's for sure: It’s getting crowded at the top.

    Pros:

    • screen
    • fast
    • good sound quality
    • screen
    • RF performance


    Cons:

    • battery life
    • kind of thick
    • camera
    • no physical menu buttons

    New Infinity Blade character

    My iPhone 5 ringtone: Bah, Bah, Black Sheep.

    Our reviews:

    ZTE Open| Samsung Galaxy Note 3 | Apple iPhone 5c | Apple iPhone 5s | LG G2 | Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in pictures | Samsung Galaxy Mega | 2013 Nexus 7 | Cel-Fi Signal Booster | Huawei Ascend Y300 | Motorola Moto X | Blackberry Q5 | Motorola Moto X | Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7" | Belkin NetCam HD | Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8" | Belkin WeMo Switch | Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1" | Nexus 7 2012 vs 2013 | Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 | MugenPower GS4 Battery | Huawei Ascend Y210 | Huawei B890 Router | Nokia Lumia 520 | Blackberry Q10 | ZTE F160 | Samsung Galaxy S4 | HTC One | Sony Xperia ZL | Nokia Lumia 620 | Samsung ATIV-S | Blackberry Z10 | Samsung Galaxy Camera | Reflections on 2012 | HTC Windows Phone 8s | Samsung Rugby LTE | Huawei D Quad XL | Google Nexus 4 | Apple iPad Mini | HTC One X+ | HTC Windows Phone 8X | Nokia Lumia 920 | Sony Xperia T | Parrot Zik | LG Optimus G | Samsung Galaxy Note II | Motorola DEFY PRO | Motorola RAZR HD LTE | From iOS to Android | Apple iPhone 5 | HoFo at the CWTS coverage | Rogers LTE Rocket Hub ZTE MF28B | Nokia Lumia 820 and 920 launch | Motorola RAZR V | Motorola ATRIX HD LTE | Back to School Guide | HTC One V | Huawei Ascend P1 | Sony Xperia ION | Nokia Lumia 610 | Nexus 7 | LG Optimus L7 | HTC Titan II | Sony Xperia U | OtterBox Commuter for HTC One X | Samsung Galaxy S III | HTC One S | Samsung Galaxy S II HD LTE | Nokia Lumia 900 | HTC One X | Apple iPad 3 | Sony Xperia S | Samsung Galaxy Note | Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 | Nokia Lumia 710 | Blackberry Playbook OS 2.0 | Casemate Pop for Galaxy Nexus | Otterbox Commuter for Galaxy Nexus | Otterbox Defender for Galaxy Nexus | Nokia Lumia 800 | Motorola Pro+ | Blackberry Curve 9360 | Asus Transformer Prime | Galaxy S Glide | Blackberry Bold 9790 | Nokia N9 | 2011 Gift Guide | HTC Amaze 4G | Acer ICONIA Tab A501 | LG Optimus LTE | Case Mate TANK | Samsung Galaxy S II LTE | Motorola RAZR | Samsung Galaxy Nexus

  2. #2
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    Always tradeoffs

  3. #3
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    Nice review ....

    Sent from my SGH-T999 using HowardForums

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    Was playing with the ATRIX when I noticed that it doesn't have NFC support. Not a big deal now but could be an issue later.

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    Here's another question: is the bootloader locked?

  6. #6
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    I played with one at Best Buy today, very nice screen and motor's ICS is so clean and nice....sucks about the battery life though.

    Sent from my MB865 Atrix 2.
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    Motorola has done an excellent job with their software lately. Hopefully with the google acquisition, they'll gradually improve their software updates roadmap. Out of all the manufacturers that create android devices, only Samsung and the current lineup of premium Moto devices offer a UI experience that is smooth and responsive enough to rival iOS and Windows phone.

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    I've got an unlocked Atrix HD that I purchased from Ebay. I didn't realize this would actually be the Bell version and not the AT&T version, that's fine I don't like the AT&T logo at the bottom of their version anyway. But one problem I am having is that I can't get the LED notification light that I've read the AT&T version has to work on my phone at all, can someone with a Bell Atrix HD tell me if theirs has a notification LED, or if mine is just not working? Thanks.

  9. #9
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    Just saw anandtech's review, batt isn't too bad but the battery could have been bigger.

    Sent from my MB865 Atrix 2.

  10. #10
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    A lousy camera has made this one a no go for me as well. Most reviews I've seen complain about this as well.
    But on the plus side, I knocked over the SunSphere.

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