Going some way to allowing Motorola to state that the Atrix is the most powerful phone is its inclusion of a dual-core 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. While we’ve seen 1.2GHz dual-core phones, this still remains one of the most capable phone chips on the planet. It also accompanies this with 1GB or RAM, where some alternatives have only 750MB.
The result is that while it’s not the fastest phone going, the Motorola Atrix zips along astonishingly quickly. From loading apps through playing the latest 3D games to simply browsing through your pages of apps, few things cause this phone to trip up. This is perhaps most acutely felt in the web browser where it copes particularly well with Flash videos. Where non dual-core handsets can struggle to play some videos and will get generally sluggish when doing so, you’ll have no such issues on the Atrix. That said, the browser can otherwise be a bit stuttering when zooming in and out, though this is a common issue on Android handsets.
This isn’t helped by the Atrix only running Android version 2.2, rather than the latest 2.3. The core changes it misses out on are support for NFC and some keyboard and text editing improvements, neither of which are crucial for most people. However, the final piece in the 2.3 puzzle is a general refinement of the interface, just giving it a bit of spit and polish that does make quite a bit of difference in general use.
On a practical level, though, the Atrix is absolutely ready for battle. All the core Android elements are present and correct with excellent core phone features like the dialler, contacts and text messaging apps, great web features, and of course the plentiful app store, which although it still trails the iPhone store for quantity and quality has seen a number of high profile additions in recent weeks and months.
The reason for such tardiness in updating this phone is that Motorola has fairly heavily modified the interface. Starting with the main homescreen, it’s mostly standard stuff with seven homescreens available to fill with widgets and apps, a typical Dialler/Main Menu/Contacts array of shortcuts along the bottom, and a modification-free notifications drop down. However, one really notable change is that when you slide left and right between desktops, the shortcuts along the bottom disappear to be replaced by markers to indicate which of the seven desktops you’re on. While useful in a way, this is annoying as you have to wait for these markers to disappear to again access the shortcuts. Silly Motorola, bad Motorola!
Otherwise, we like that the main menu hasn’t been messed around with, as on many rivals. It’s just a simple alphabetical list of apps – the desktops are there for you to organise your apps in whatever way you want.