Motorola Atrix - Apps

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Other key changes Motorola have made all involve MotoBlur. This brings together social networks, email accounts and your other messaging services into one interface. So you can jump into a single universal inbox to check messages from all these services in one go. It's an interesting addition though one that we seldom found ourselves using, instead preferring to manage our different modes of communication separately.

Motorola Atrix 11

Social networking is another MotoBlur feature that, like messaging, brings together different networks into one interface, this time with an emphasis on status updates. Like the universal inbox and normal email app, though, we find the interface a bit awkward thanks to the white-on-black styling – it's just not very easy on the eye.

Motorola Atrix 19

The final piece of the MotoBlur puzzle is the contacts list. Here, like on many Android phones, Facebook and Twitter info is integrated into a each contact, where available. You can also swipe left and right to view a contact's updates and your conversation history. Again, there's an oddity though. Unlike on most Androids where if you press the contacts button, the dialler is a mere tab away, on the Atrix you have to close the contacts list and open the dialler separately – a pointless change.

Motorola Atrix 14

When it comes to multimedia, the Atrix doesn't challenge the Samsung Galaxy S 2's crown. The latter can play just about any video file under the sun, including mkv, but the Atrix, not so much. The standards of mp4 and avi files are supported but mkv won't play ball. Likewise, FLAC music files aren't supported, though this is far less of an issue as third party apps will do this for you.

It's a similar story when it comes to taking your own videos or photos. With only 5-megapixel stills and 720p video on offer, the Atrix is a step behind much of the high-end smartphone competition. It also lacks features like touch focus and face recognition. The pictures it produces are perfectly middle of the road but we would've hoped for more from the "most powerful" smartphone. At least the dual-LED flash lights do a reasonable job.

Motorola Atrix

The final, often-overlooked feature of any smartphone is how good it is at making calls. The Atrix proved to be an adequate if unexceptional call-maker, with a reasonably powerful speaker. Its large 1930mAh battery kept the phone going for longer than most rivals, though we're still talking a couple of days between charges – it's just that you'll easily get two rather than one and a half in general use.

So, clearly the Atrix has a few plus points as a standalone phone but when it really comes into its own is when you factor in its dock accessories.

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David Horn

July 15, 2011, 7:44 pm

"The result is that while it's not the fastest phone going..." certainly goes nicely with "The Fastest Phone in the World".

Cliff

July 15, 2011, 8:22 pm

Hi David - If you're referring to the homepage teaser: "The most powerful smartphone… in the world." That was our attempt at a Clarkson-ism. Of course the humour gets lost when you explain it, but the review itself should expand upon (and debunk) this claim. Thanks for your comment.

David Horn

July 15, 2011, 8:42 pm

Thanks Cliff - what actually piqued my interest is that I think one of the networks in the UK advertised the Atrix with exactly this slogan, which confused me.

Apologies for the complete sense of humour failure!

simon jackson

July 15, 2011, 8:52 pm

I've been using the atrix for a month or so now and i've been very impressed with it. I ditched the motoblur launcher in favour of golauncher. Not because i have any particular problem with motoblur - i actually don't think its anywhere near as bad as some people would have you believe - but just because i wanted more in the way of customization options.

The performance of the phone is great, not withstanding nonsense claims about fastest phones in the world. Processor wise its pretty much the same layout as the SGSII - two arm cortex a9 cores - albeit without support for the ARM NEON instruction set. How much difference this makes is up for debate. Also, more instructions = more silicon = more power consumption, so its a double edged sword. What seems to make a much bigger difference is the OS version - and the reviewer has missed out a big improvement in gingerbread over froyo: the EXT4 filesystem. It offers greatly improved performance supposedly, and is the default for gingerbread. The SGSII therefore, already benefits from this. Check out this quadrant score for an overclocked LGOptimus 2x:

http://blog.gsmarena.com/t-mobile-g2x-a-k-a-lg-optimus-2x-overclocked-to-1-5ghz-scores-4570-in-quadrant/

Faster than an SGSII with the same clock, but that's probably just down to the variability in repeat quadrant runs. Linpack score is up from 36 to 54, which is a huge improvement, and a lot of that is attributable to EXT4.

Gingerbread (with an unlocked bootloader) is imminent on atrix, so it might be worth doing an update when it drops, because it should offer significant improvements. Motorola are usually pretty good when it comes to device updates, unlike samsung, which is why i originally decided to go for the atrix.

Another big reason i opted for tegra 2 is gaming. Not that tegra 2 is more powerful than an sgs2 - a lot of people believe the opposite - but because it is more widely supported. Plenty of games wont run out of the box on sgs2 because its GPU uses some proprietary texture streaming mode. You have to use chainfire 3d to get stuff to run, which is a faff i can do without.

Other things that swung it motos way were the high resolution screen for web-browsing (although it is a pentile screen, which is worth pointing out - it doesn't bother me, but some people aren't keen) and the huuuuuge battery.

Bugblatter

July 15, 2011, 11:34 pm

Lots of games only work natively on Tegra 2 because Nvidia paid lots of games developers to write their games to exclude everything else.

That's from reading the Clove blog, which I trust.

Craig Turner

July 16, 2011, 1:09 am

I'd love to know a bit more of the flash player and the phone's capability. I refer to how well it handles HD Flash?

Whether using the lapdock or just the phone itself, will it play a HD flash video from like youtube?

I can't seem to find an answer to this.

Thanks!

simon jackson

July 16, 2011, 2:31 am

@Bugblatter

There are issues with texture streaming on the SGSII which is how chainfire 3d came about. You're quite right though, and that's precisely what i meant by "compatibility". Whether software is intentionally hamstrung so it wont work on other hardware or not, the result is the same: without faffing about with custom roms you will not be able to play the game on other hardware platforms.

One other thing I would caution against though is underestimating the value of optimising software for particular hardware. Tegra 2 versions of games no doubt run well on other powerful smartphones. They may well run better on tegra 2 though.

Ed

July 18, 2011, 6:29 pm

Hi Craig, I've just investigated this for you. Results are that it's nearly impossible to get HD video to play on the phone itself - youtube doesn't offer it on the mobile version and it's darned difficult to get the desktop version to select an HD version. As for the lapdock, 720p video just about works but it doesn't stay in sync well and drops plenty of frames. All told, sticking to 480p is the way forward.

Craig Turner

July 18, 2011, 7:01 pm

Thanks for checking Ed! :)

btel

October 19, 2011, 3:27 pm

Long story but I had an atrix but had to send it back but nothing to do with the phone. I am now thinking about getting it back or go for the S2.Spoke to a friendn about the Atrix & was told that the software fails after about 3 months can anyone spread any lighht on this claim thanks

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