Billed as the most powerful smartphone in the world, Motorola could hardly be making a more bold claim as to the Motorola Atrix abilities. While it's debatable whether this is truly the best of the best of the best, the company has at least done something to put all that oomph to good use. Thanks to a range of dock accessories, you can turn this humble phone into a laptop or desktop computer, or a multimedia player.
Putting aside the extras for a moment, the phone itself looks like a fairly typical Android phone. With dimensions of 117.8 x 63.5 x 11 mm it's a little bigger than your average smartphone but crucially smaller than most of its dual-core processor equipped rivals such as the HTC Sensation, Samsung Galaxy S II and LG Optimus 2X. This makes it rather easier to handle, making for less stretching this way and that to reach all its buttons and the full expanse of its screen.
It's the screen that helps in this regard as it's only 4in across as opposed to the 4.3in models used on much of the aforementioned competition. We feel this is a more sensible size, giving a good compromise between being large enough for comfortable viewing (especially for video) and being small enough to use easily.
The screen also trumps many others thanks to its high resolution, which Motorola calls qHD. Whereas most of the competition offer 480 x 800 pixels, the Atrix packs in a near iPhone 4-equalling 540 x 960. The result is a sharper display and one that can fit in more detail (134,400 pixels more). It's a good quality panel too, with strong colours, deep black levels and decent viewing angles. The iPhone 4 is still slightly better overall (though of course much smaller) and the OLED panel of the Samsung Galaxy S II has even punchier colours and better viewing angles but we'd take the extra pixels over the latter any day.
Getting back to the phone's design, it's somewhat generic with a full-frontal slab of glass inset with four touch sensitive buttons below the screen, while the back consists of a single plastic panel covered with a simple but fetching chequered pattern. There's almost a utilitarian vibe to it but not so much that it's ugly, just a tad bland.
The use of touch sensitive buttons is an ever-contentious issue as they can be rather awkward compared to a proper physical button but we found few issues in day-to-day use on this phone. That said, we generally do quite like the reassurance of a button for core tasks like returning to the home screen.
Connectivity and features are thankfully areas where the Atrix sets itself apart rather more. As well as packing in all the current must haves – microUSB, microHDMI, headphone jack, 5-megapixel camera and microSD card slot– it has a unique extra: a finger print reader.
This is incorporated into the power/screen lock button that sits at an angle on the edge where the back meets the top. Just tap the button to activate the screen then swipe your finger to unlock it. It's easy to setup, works very well and there's a backup unlock code in case you happen to mislay your finger. What's more the power button is nice and easy to reach, unlike on some other smartphones. It really is a great addition. Our only grievance is that you can't specify how long it takes for the phone to lock itself, as on most other security modes. So, every time the phone's screen turns off you have to swipe to unlock it again.