Hands on: Motorola Atrix 2 review
The original Motorola Atrix smartphone was a powerful device that doubled as a pseudo laptop or AV centre – you could connect it to an HDTV in your living room or the LCD on your desk and run a Linux variant with full keyboard and mouse.
The Atrix 2 adds a few twists, and is a powerful phone that falls in the same league as the Samsung Galaxy S2.
One of those new twists is an 8-megapixel camera, now becoming standard on the hottest Android models. We decided to put this upgraded camera through some serious tests, knowing it is the one major improvement to the original Atrix phone, which had a 5MP camera.
First, an overview of the new model. The Atrix 2 matches up with the specs of the original Atrix – which we’re a little disappointed in to be honest, as we’d have liked to see more of an upgrade.
Both phones have a 1GHz dual-core processor, something that Motorola makes well-known when the phone first boots with a striking splash screen that announces the dual-core chip.
Most phones now offer this capability, which handles some processing tasks faster because both cores can simultaneously handle OS requests (say, keep downloading an app while firing up the browser).
Both phones use Android, although the Atrix 2 now comes with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. That means more accurate text input, and we found the Atrix 2 did allow us to copy and paste text more easily. Thankfully, the Android 2.3 release also lets you select which camera you want to use (front or rear, something oddly missing from the original handset).
The Atrix 2 has 8GB of internal memory. The back cover, which is very easy to remove, reveals a slot for a microSD card – ours came with a 2GB card but you can boost that up to a maximum of 32GB. Like the Atrix, the Atrix 2 comes with 1GB of RAM.
The 4.3-inch screen on the Atrix 2 is also a bump up from the Atrix’s 4-inch screen. While both phones pumped out an impressive 960×540 pixel resolution, or exactly one quarter the full 1080p resolution on an HDTV, the Atrix 2 does not use the enhanced Pentile subpixel technology that (supposedly) makes photos and videos look a bit sharper. In reality, both phone screens look about the same.
Another similarity: both the Atrix and Atrix 2 use the AT&T HSPA+ network in the US for "4G light" connectivity of up to about 21Mbps, which tends to run much lower than that. In our tests, the Atrix 2 connected at only about 6Mbps on average over several days of broadband speedtests.
Both phones offer a front-facing camera, and we’ll explore how well that performs in our full Atrix 2 review that includes several Google Talk sessions between two Android phones.
There are a boatload of accessories for this phone – almost too many to count. There’s a dock you can use to charge the device and connect it to an HDTV or LCD screen. There are car mounts to use the device as your primary GPS.
And there are countless battery chargers, extra cables, and even a full laptop dock with a keyboard and screen, now newly re-designed for the Atrix 2.
Suffice it to say, the Atris 2 is not a major upgrade from the original. In fact, there is one downgrade. The original Atrix provided a security feature where you place your finger on the screen to unlock the phone that’s been removed for the launch of the Atrix 2.
The most critical finding we had, though, is that the Atrix 2 does not really fulfill the promise of the Atrix when Motorola announced the device at CES in the beginning of this year. Namely, that it would be a webtop device you can use with a laptop dock or with any HDTV or LCD.
We really wanted that to work out – a smartphone that’s powerful enough to be your mobile device and store all of your data, providing a webtop experience for office and home computing? Sign us up.
But the reality is that the Atrix 2 is still not fast enough for that to work. The webtop still runs too slow for anything but basic web browsing or checking your email and scanning though photos. There’s a strange pause when you move the mouse or type on a keyboard that’s a hold-over form the Atrix – we’d have expected Motorola to sort this out for the new release.
Atrix 2 camera
About the new 8MP camera: it’s astoundingly good. We complain frequently about the poor imaging quality of tablet cameras, but the Atrix 2 camera is better than what you’ll find in many pocket digital cameras.
You can shoot widescreen photos in 6MP or normal-ratio 8MP shots. With the camcorder setting, you can shoot full 1080p videos. Check out the samples for how crisp and smooth these look.
YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHTfkMAV_I0&hd=1
The Atrix 2 is one of the best Android phones around, but is it the best? We still want to run some speed tests and compare the photos and videos with several other models, including the Samsung S2, which you’ll see in the full Motorola Atrix 2 review.
There is a rumbling on the horizon, and it is the sound of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, a 1.2GHz phone that will come with a near-field communication chip for easier purchases at retail. That phone will ship with the newly improved Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich release with a smart looking UI.
What’s really missing from the Atrix 2, though, at least for US buyers is LTE. This faster 4G standard runs at a real-world speed of about 12Mbps – it takes minutes to download a full Hollywood movie on the fly. That’s one killer.
The other is the screen. We like the Atrix 2′s TFT screen, as it’s bright and clear, but the Atrix loses in a side-by-side comparison to the Samsung Epic 4G Touch and S2 with their AMOLED screens. Those detriments put the Atrix 2 a few paces behind the leading Android models.
Yet, the Atrix 2 is a price leader. It costs just $99 with a two-year contract. The webtop connection, 8MP camera, and optional accessories make it one of the top Android phones around – although we can’t help but think users will be swayed by the much more aesthetically-pleasing Motorola Razr.
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