The Hardware and Use

The screen fills the entire front of the Atrix, except for the black area surrounding it, as shown in Figure 5. On the sides of the screen, the black bezel is quite thin. The black area is thicker on the top and bottom. The top has the Motorola name in the middle with the earpiece above it. The front-facing camera is on the left. A message light on the right will flash red or green, indicating the status of your messages.

Under the screen are the four touch icons that are used for the Atrix’s Android operating system. They are Menu, Home, Back, and Search. Right under these icons is a very small opening for the microphone.

Motorola Atrix Cell Phone ReviewFigure 5: The front of the Atrix

The volume rocker is the only control on the right side of the phone, as shown in Figure 6.

Motorola Atrix Cell Phone ReviewFigure 6: The right side of the Atrix

The left side of the Atrix has two openings, as shown in Figure 7: one for the Micro USB charger and one mini HDMI port.

Motorola Atrix Cell Phone ReviewFigure 7: The left side of the Atrix

All-in-all, the Atrix hardware performs well. Both incoming and outgoing calls were clear and crisp. The speaker phone is loud and clear. The Atrix is based on the NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor with dual ARM Cortex-A9 cores running at 1 GHz. It has 1 GB of DDR2 RAM. This makes for excellent speed, no matter what the task. Flash is not only supported, but runs very well because of the strength of the processor.

While surfing the web is good, it is slightly slower than some other 4G phones. AT&T bills Atrix as a 4G phone, but it runs on AT&T HSPA+ network which is more like a speedy 3G network rather than a 4G network. Yet, this phone works well with Wi-Fi networks and can roam overseas on GSM and HSPA networks.

The phone can also act as a mobile hotspot, for an additional monthly fee. This worked fairly well in our testing, except for some areas where the phone alternated between the 3G and 4G networks. In these areas, the hot spot cut out when the phone went from one network to another.

The touch screen is responsive. We found the screen’s display to be slightly better than some previous Motorola phones like the Droid and the Droid X. Yet it still isn’t up to the standards set by the Retina Display of the iPhone and the Super AMOLED display of many of the Samsung phones like the Samsung Fascinate. That said, however, the phone’s unusual 960 × 540 pixel resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio made videos look great.

The Atrix has the usual on-screen keyboard, as shown in Figure 8, which can be used either vertically or horizontally in most applications. While several other phones have done away with the Swype keyboard interface that we love, we found it alive and well on the Atrix.

Motorola Atrix Cell Phone ReviewFigure 8: The onscreen keyboard

The Atrix also has all the usual features we have come to expect in a smart phone including Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, an accelerometer, compass, light sensor, and proximity sensor.

Talk time on the Atrix is rated for up to 530 minutes. Standby time is rated for 350 to 400 hours. While we were able to get a normal day’s use out of the Atrix, if we left it unused for a day, the battery drained quite quickly, even with the Wi-Fi turned off.

There are several useful videos on the phone that will help new users, and there is also a useful Help Center in the App menu.


Sandy Berger, respected computer authority, journalist, media guest, speaker, and author, has more than three decades of experience as a computer and technology expert. Her eight books include: How to Have a Meaningful Relationship with Your Computer, Your Official Grown-up’s Guide to AOL and the Internet, Cyber Savers –Tips & Tricks for Today’s Drowning Computer Users, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Better Living through Technology, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to the Internet, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Gadgets & Gizmos, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Health & Wellness, and Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Travel. Sandy’s newspaper column, magazine articles, feature stories, product reviews, and computer tips can be found at her website, Compu-KISS.