Top positive review
288 of 296 people found this helpful
You won't ever look back.
on March 16, 2011
A bit of context, just so you know where I'm coming from on this...
- I upgraded from a Motorola Backflip. The best Android phone AT&T had to offer at the time, but I'd had enough of the ridiculously slow processor.
- Rather than wait another 8 months to renew my contract, I took an exclusion renewal, so I got the Atrix for only about $100 under retail price.
- I don't spend much time on social networking sites, so the Motoblur features aren't a selling point for me.
- I've used iOS devices, and their UI design is excellent, but I'd never buy an Apple product (I find their walled-garden policy patronizing and their hardware restrictions unethical.)
So when I looked into upgrading, I cross-checked the specs on a few different phones (Android's great, but I was willing to try Windows or Blackberry if the hardware was right). The dual 1ghz processor sold me on the Atrix.
Remember when cell phone LCDs first went from black and white to color? Within the first five minutes, this phone completely changed my paradigm for mobile phones. Everything is fluid and responsive - no more half-second delays between action and response, no more waiting for a window to load, it's all instantaneous.
I won't waste your time with a glowing review (there are enough on here already), I'll just cover the questions I had when looking into upgrading my phone. And I'll start with the cons, because the Atrix is just that impressive:
1. Battery life is pathetic. While we've come to accept that with touchscreen smart phones, it's a shame that 8 hours of moderate use will suck down the whole battery. It's on par with other high performance phones, so plug it in to your car adapter, PC, or outlet whenever you get the chance.
2. Android 2.2 is almost a year old, and 2.3's been out for a while now. It would be nice to have an ETA on when the 2.3 update will be pushed to these phones.
3. The usual Motorola/AT&T rebranding and lockdown of the OS. It's unnecessary restriction just to squeeze a bit of extra cash out of their customers, and they should be ashamed of themselves.
4. No physical keyboard. People that are used to touchscreen-only devices won't even raise an eyebrow about it, but this is the first phone I've owned that didn't have a keypad of some sort.
5. The accessories are gimmicky and overpriced. If you want a laptop, spend the $400 on a laptop. If you want to play media on your TV, use the Atrix's built-in DLNA to run it through your Xbox, HTPC, or any of the other DLNA devices you've already got connected. The dock is crazy expensive, and the phone comes with an HDMI cable, which is really all you need.
6. The battery gets a warm when charging - scary warm, like it might not be healthy for the phone. Phone also charges slowly when connected to a PC.
7. The power button is about the same size and shape as the loudspeaker, and it's in about the same spot (only on the opposite side of the phone). I've caught myself pressing the speaker to turn on the phone, rather than the power button, at least 10 times this week. That can't be good for the speaker.
1. FAST. Insane fast. The responsiveness of this phone is like nothing I've seen before - there is no noticeable delay in using any of the UI menus or features.
2. The screen is enormous, vivid, and crisp - almost on par with a PC monitor.
3. All the I/O ports you need: micro USB, stereo miniplug, and mini HDMI. (And it comes with a free mini HDMI to HDMI cable, so you can plug it right into your TV or home theater receiver)
4. DLNA is fantastic - I never considered how useful it would be on a phone until I saw it in the apps menu. Access all your Windows 7 shared libraries, media on your Xbox 360, or shared media on any other DLNA-enabled device on your network. Transferring files from your computer to your phone is as easy a tapping a few icons - no cables required, and transfer speeds are quick - ballpark, I'd say it was around 1 MB/s.
5. Voice recognition is excellent. For the first time, speaking a text message is actually faster and easier than typing it in. Accuracy is good, and my only complaint so far is that it automatically censors swear words. Which is bull****.
6. Very light for its size.
7. Front-facing camera and rear camera with a bright LED flash.
8. Six input buttons: Volume up/down, menu, home, back, and search (search was a new one for me)
9. The usual bonuses that come with buying non-Apple phones: you can take the battery out if it freezes or you keep a spare; microSD port allows you to expand your storage space up to 48GB; you can load and play DRM-free media without using any apps or programs; reasonable replacement plans for theft, damage, or loss; standard micro-USB charge port, so if you can buy cheap spare charging cables in the wall socket, at your office, in your car, etc.
10. And, of course, the flexibility that the Android homescreen offers for widgets, shortcuts, and everything in between. The phone's processor handles it all with exceptional speed - I filled the home screen with every widget on the phone, just to put the phone through its paces, and screen-to-screen transitions were as smooth as ever.
I bought this phone because I wanted something faster. I got all that and more. If you've already got one of the newer iPhones or a newer, higher-end Android device and you're satisfied with it, you can probably wait until next year's crop of superstar phones come out - there may not be enough of a difference to justify the price.
But if you're in need of a serious speed upgrade, the Atrix will revolutionize the way you see mobile phones. There really is no going back.
After some more time with the phone, I've got a few additional items for the "pros" list.
11. The loudspeaker, while small, is surprisingly loud and crisp - couple that with Pandora, Grooveshark, or stored MP3s, and you've got a nice little micro-boombox.
12. The fingerprint reader is an ingenious timesaver. I hate having to slide-unlock my phone after pressing the power button to turn on the screen - just another step in the process, but turning it off leads to pocket-dialing, which isn't fun for anyone. Despite all the personal data stored on smartphones, I've never used the pin lock feature either, because I don't want to go through the extra step every time I wake up my phone.
Enter the fingerprint reader. It sounded gimmicky, so I ignored it for the first week. When I finally gave it a shot, I was amazed at the elegance and simplicity of the idea. You press the power button to wake up your phone. Then slide your finger down the same power button (you don't even have to adjust your grip), and there's your home screen. No need to swipe to unlock, no need to type in a pin.
The fingerprint recognition seems strong, too - I tried to get a false positive using my other fingers (it only works for your right and left index fingers) - and the phone rejected those attempts. As a failsafe, you can always enter your pin number to unlock the phone if the fingerprint reader malfunctions.