When the Motorola Atrix 4G debuted at CES 2011 it wowed a lot of people. It even won the Best of CES Award in the cell phone and smartphone category. You can do this by showing off a dual-core processor, supporting AT&T’s 4G/HSPA+ network, front-facing camera and the option laptop dock. All that upstart would surely be upgraded in the next generation of the Atrix 2, right?
Well the Atrix 2 came out and low and behold they fixed some of the issues from the Atrix, poor upload speed and a lack of 1080p HD recording being the major problems. However the thing they failed to address was the processor speed hasn’t changed and it still only supports HSPA+ and not the LTE network. So did AT&T just put on a new package and give us the same old phone with a few tweaks? Or did AT&T try and sneak one past everyone and gives us a much better phone at a very reasonable price? Find out now as we get down to the business. If you just want to get down to the meat and potatoes jump right into the video review as well. Mind you my FlipHD camera couldn’t focus at all so it is a bit blurry.
Upon first glance at the Motorola Atrix 2 you can’t tell a difference between the previous version. The shapes are similar yet the subtle differences help bump up the Atrix 2. The gunmetal grey bezel around the front and a rubberized textured back give it a more upscale feel. You get a slightly larger display, the Atrix 4G had a 4-inch qHD display and the Atrix 2 gets a slight jump up to a 4.3 qHD display. This also shows through with a much higher quality display.
Around the edges of the phone are the Micro-HDMI and Micro-USB port, you got your volume rocker and the dedicated camera button, the 3.5mm headphone jack and the power button. You have a front-facing VGA camera for the video chats and the 8-megapixel camera on the back with the LED flash. Accessories for the Atrix 2 are extensive with the Motorola Lapdock 100, extra battery, vehicle navigation dock, HD station, a portable universal charger, a wireless keyboard, and so much more.
Running Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread with a refined MotoBlur interface makes this a huge difference for the Atrix 2 then it’s predecessor. This version of MotoBlur is not as “in your face” as the previous versions of the Blur, no need to sign up for an account just to use the device. 5 home screens you can customize to your hearts content with all the widgets and shortcuts you can handle. As for the text input you the standard multitouch Android keyboard or the fancy Swype keyboard.
Holding the Atrix 2 and poking around on it you have the same feel for this phone as you do any other Android phone. Gingerbread gives you a much improved interface along with a more intuitive virtual keyboard. The front-facing camera allows the young girls to take those “duck face” photos they so love to do and the phone is capable of handling adobe flash content in the Webkit browser. You get 1GB of RAM to help boost performance for loading and running apps.
Speaking of apps the Atrix 2 is compatible with all the Google toys and bells and whistles. Including Gmail, YouTube, Maps with Navigation, Voice Search, Latitude, Places, and more. Motorola also made sure to make the Atrix 2 enterprise friendly with On Device Encryption and Enhanced Exchange ActiveSync. You get several preloaded apps besides the usual Googe fair. Some from AT&T like AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Navigator, Live TV, and myAT&T. Motorola also threw in Qik Lite, Motorola Phone Portal, Quick Office, Yellow Pages, and ZumoCast, a Motorola-owned app that lets you share documents with your home computer. Oh and the best part is you probably already guessed it, most of these are non-removable. You all know my dislike for bloatware if you read some of my other reviews for the other phones I have done like the Xperia Play, Samsung Nexus S, among some others.
Connectivity isn’t a problem here with the Atrix 2. You got your Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and the ability of being a mobile hotspot for up to five devices. You also have a Micro-HDMI connection, so you can view your videos from your phone to your big screen. It is also DLNA compatible if you prefer streaming your video wirelessly. Motorola has really stepped up their game recently with the Droid RAZR and with this Atrix 2
The 8-megapixel camera is a big step up from the 5-megapixel on the Atrix. The one downside was the shutter lag. It was almost a 4 second delay from button press to focus to picture taken. So you can prety much count this phone out for action shots.
The photo quality itself was impressive. Sharp images with accurate colors, low-light photos did need a flash sometimes which would wash out some images. The Atrix 2 does come with 1080p HD video capture. The video quality was great however is was not without some blurry images. You get 8GB of internal storage of which almost 4.5 is available to the user. It does come with a 2GB microSD care preinstalled, it can support up to 32GB card.
Performance and battery life
Testing out the call quality on the Atrix 2 we found it to be quite good. The callers could hear me quite well and the audio on our side was clear and plenty of volume. It wasn’t perfect as some crackle and slight distortion would occur but that might have been attributed to user location. Speakerphone quality was solid as well and sometimes the people we were calling couldn’t tell we were on a speakerphone.
With the battery you get a talk time of around 8.5 hours, standby time 15.9 days. That isn’t a half bad battery life. As always your battery usage will vary depending on how hard you use your phone.
Overall the Atrix 2 is a solid phone. Good screen display, solid workhorse under the cover, HD quality video. Good call quality, the phone feels good in your hand and the 1GHz dual-core processor is more than capable of handling your daily duties. Little to much bloatware and the camera shutter lag is annoying. Those are the only downsides. So now we take it to the Kyle Scientific Scale-o-Rama with our three categories of Buy It, Skip It, Flip It we give this one a solid Buy It. The price tag alone makes this a great mid-level Android Smartphone.
Article first published as Motorola Atrix 2 Review on Technorati.