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Motorola Atrix review

Is it a phone? Is it a laptop? No, it's a Motorola Atrix
Tue May 24 2011, 08:31
Motorola Atrix

Product Motorola Atrix
Specifications 1GHz dual core processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB storage plus MicroSD up to 32GB, 4in 540x960 TFT display, 5MP rear camera, Android 2.2, 117.8x 63.5x11mm, 135g.
Price £500 SIM free or free on some 24 month contracts

THE MOTOROLA ATRIX is what you might call a 'hero' product, if you worked in PR. But even those of us that aren't paid to spin can see that it's an interesting idea. At the heart of the system is a dual-core smartphone that runs Android 2.2 Froyo, Google's popular smartphone operating system. It offers extra value with the laptop style dock and other accessories.

We've seen pretty much the whole kit (we made a video to prove it), but the most interesting part is the Atrix, which is arguably Motorola's best smartphone yet. Although the hardware doesn't have the same wow factor that you might get with a Samsung Galaxy S II or an HTC Sensation, it's still a very sleek and likable handset.

Our only major criticism is that it has the kind of cheap, shiny plastic case that doesn't feel as high-end as an Iphone or one of HTC's high-end handsets.

Dual-core Responsiveness
Comparing the Atrix to older, single core phones reveals how much more responsive the dual core processor is. So it's no surprise that flicking through menus, apps and even using Motoblur widgets is much faster and slicker than with previous handsets.

As with all Tegra 2 phones, the Atrix is capable of HD video playback and real-time HD encoding from its built-in 5 megapixel camera.

Performance is also assisted by a generous 1GB of RAM, which should keep apps responsive and allow widgets to run smoothly. Other handsets using the Tegra 2 have used half this amount of RAM and still been enjoyable to use, but there is never a case where having more RAM is a disadvantage and we're pleased to see Motorola isn't cutting corners.

It's also worth mentioning that with this extra speed, MotoBlur becomes a much more usable product. Where MotoBlur is particularly useful is for backing up contacts (although Google also takes care of this) and for restoring a phone's email settings without the need to manually re-enter them each time.

Good Security
Keeping your data safe is easy with the Atrix. It's the world's first phone to feature a fingerprint scanner, so only people with access to your fingers, or PIN can access the device. This means that unlocking the phone only takes the press of a button, and then the swipe of your finger. It's arguable that fingerprints don't provide great security, but they are certainly better than the weak PINs (or no PINs) many people chose to use.

Setting up access to the phone using a finger is easy. You need to enroll, a process that requires you to swipe your finger on the reader between five and eight times. A record of both your index fingers is stored, should one become temporarily unavailable for some reason.

In practice, getting into the phone with a finger scan is easy and works most times. The reader can't cope with fast swipes, slow swipes or half-hearted attempts. But the location of the scanner means that it's convenient to unlock the phone and then swipe your finger straight after. We have found, with long-term use, that we get a mis-scan at least five in every 10 times. Concentration is needed to swipe in the right way.


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