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Atrix 1

As the first dual-core phone to land at PhoneDog, one would expect that the Motorola Atrix 4G would be the device to have.  Sporting a 1 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core CPU (the first cell phone to offer it), 4-inch qHD display with 540 X 960 pixels, front-facing camera for video calling, 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, a biometric fingerprint reader, and Android 2.2, it’s a well-equipped device with a fantastic accessory ecosystem.  Sadly, it suffers from quite a bit of lag that’s (likely) brought on by Motorola’s MOTOBLUR user interface.  Despite the sporadic speed issues, is it the phone to have this month?


Design & Features

The Atrix 4G comes in a small box with the device, battery, AC adapter module, USB cable, and an HDMI cable, which was a pleasant surprise.  The 4-inch qHD display is quite nice, though it’s a bit pixelated in comparison to competing products like Samsung’s Super AMOLED display and Apple’s Retina Display.

Atrix 2

Coming in at 4.77 ounces, the volume rocker is on the right side of the device, while the HDMI and microUSB ports are on the left side.  The 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top, and the power button/biometric fingerprint scanner is in an odd position between the top and the back of the unit.  While the build quality is tight and well-constructed, it’s mostly plastic, which may turn prospective buyers to the HTC Inspire 4G.

One of the main selling points of the Atrix 4G is the accessory ecosystem.  Along with the usual accessories, Motorola has a laptop dock, which allows the user to dock the Atrix and send text messages, browse the web, and manage phone settings from the laptop as opposed to the device.  Also available is a media dock, which is self-explanatory.  The laptop dock is $399.99, and the media dock is $129.99.


Usability & Performance

Atrix 3

The Atrix 4G is the first mobile phone to be powered by a 1 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core processor.  It’s an awesome processor, though Android 2.2’s architecture can’t fully take advantage of it just yet.  As if the processor didn’t make it a mobile powerhouse, it packs 1 GB of RAM for good measure, along with Android 2.2.  The real Achilles heel comes from MOTOBLUR, Motorola’s custom user interface.  I won’t sugarcoat it – MOTOBLUR destroys an otherwise great experience and is likely the culprit behind system issues like the delayed unlock screen and the unresponsive keyboard.

Motorola’s “Applications Platform” – the interface you’ve seen on high-end devices like the DROID 2 and DROID X – isn’t bad at all.  It gives their devices a distinct “Motorola” feel and isn’t too intrusive.  MOTOBLUR is bloated, unintuitive, and very outdated when it comes to things like the organization of social media mediums.  If Motorola insists on sticking with it, it should be on their low to mid-range devices, not the high-end lineup.  Despite the lag in select tasks, the Atrix performed well in Quadrant Standard, obtaining scores between 2200 and 2800.

Atrix 4

The Atrix 4G has a 5-megapixel camera, and for the most part, picture quality was good.  Colors were relatively crisp, even in low-lit situations.  Editing options include "scenes" (auto, portrait, landscape, sport, night, macro), "effects" (normal, black and white, negative, sepia, solarize), picture resolution, and more.  Video quality was equally decent.  I could be off base here, but I find the Atrix’s 5-megapixel camera to be better than the DROID X's 8-megapixel camera.  Image quality appears to be better, with richer colors and less graininess in the individual shots.

Motorola has a strong track record with call quality, and the Motorola Atrix 4G is no exception.  Calls were clear on my end, and my callers reported the same results, with many questioning whether I was on a cell phone.  I tested the Bluetooth with my Plantronics Voyager Pro+ headset (yeah, I upgraded to the plus model), and was very pleased with the call quality.  I took the unit to an AT&T dead zone, and despite having no bars of service, was able to hold a (very choppy) call.   

Atrix 5

I’m assuming that AT&T hasn’t turned on HSPA+ just yet, as the speed test numbers were on par with the carrier’s HSPA speeds.  I averaged download speeds between 1.5 and 2.5 Mbps, and upload speeds between 800 Kbps and 1.5 Mbps.  T-Mobile, on the other hand, averages HSPA+ speeds between 4 and 6 Mbps, with upload speeds between 1 and 3 Mbps.

I have been pleasantly surprised with the Atrix 4G's battery.  It packs a 1,930 mAh battery, which works well despite Android’s notorious history with poor battery life.  With moderate use like calling, text messaging, browsing the web, and downloading apps from the Android Market, I was able to make it through one full day and into the second before the device powered down.  If you’re a heavy user, you’ll want to grab a car charger for the road, but light to moderate users should have no issue with battery life.


Conclusion

Atrix 6

Unfortunately, the Atrix 4G is a fantastic, well-equipped powerhouse that suffers from some lag as a result of MOTOBLUR.  I realize it can be found at cheaper prices through non-AT&T channels, but the $199.99 price tag combined with the lag may push users to the HTC Inspire 4G, another great device and another one that supports AT&T’s HSPA+ connectivity.  The Motorola Atrix 4G can be had at AT&T retail stores and online for $199.99 with a two-year agreement, or $499.99 with Motorola’s laptop dock (at the time of purchase only).


Wrap-Up

What’s Good: Specs are excellent; battery life is very good; biometric fingerprint scanner is a cool touch; accessory ecosystem is nice; Motorola’s multitouch virtual QWERTY keyboard is one of the best out there.

What’s Bad
: MOTOBLUR virtually destroys an otherwise fast phone.

The Verdict: The Motorola Atrix 4G has a fantastic feature set that’s sabotaged by MOTOBLUR.  With a price tag of $199.99 (at AT&T), the HTC Inspire 4G may be the better option.


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Comments & discussions  

102 Reactions to this post

"Which phone would you choose - Motorola Atrix 4G or HTC Inspire 4G?"


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Cassandra Wilson
Cassandra Wilson HTC Inspire 4G
Caleb Van Tassel
Caleb Van Tassel i already did. autually im on my atrix/laptop right now
Eric Kroh
Eric Kroh Neither...ATT's network is aweful
Nagesh Bhupal
Nagesh Bhupal Atrix!
Jonathan Jones
Jonathan Jones These new phones pop out like popcorn
Julio Ortiz
Julio Ortiz The EVO 4g 2 when it comes available
Byktor Urvaes
Byktor Urvaes Neither I hate AT&T, but I think that just because of the battery the atrix is better, I love HTC sense but soothing I don't like about my evo is the battery live, and I think the inspire is worst. But something I wanna see thunderbolt vs atrix...Lol :-)
Masood Jamily
Masood Jamily htc
Ron McKenna
Ron McKenna I have the Inspire
Jose Pablo Islas
Jose Pablo Islas Anything that is not moto
Robin Mather
Robin Mather Motorola Atrix
Mark Balcher
Mark Balcher Nexus S would probably be my choice. I'm using Epic 4G now with Froyo and Launcher Pro. Epic's 1500 battery goes down pretty fast. I couldn't imagine a 1200 battery on one of these. Super Amoled FTW!
Ben Bartholomew
Ben Bartholomew atrix. it's bigger, badder, american, and the cool (expensive..) stand
Teron Facey
Teron Facey @ Carlos you can't root they atrix cause they locked the bootloader
Teron Facey
Teron Facey It all come down who going to get an OS update first. I would be surprised if Motorola came out first and actually rolled it out on time.
Tariq Suharto
Tariq Suharto I choose HTC over Samsung, Motorola always.
Cristian Vasquez
Cristian Vasquez motorola
Brandon Cromer
Brandon Cromer Between those two definitely the Atrix. But I'm happy with my Nexus S.
Geo Amspaugh
Geo Amspaugh Hd2 all the way ...cause u can put windows 7 and android on it!!
Kevin Bell
Kevin Bell I choose Desire Z / G2
Jake Mexin
Jake Mexin I've had both and the Atrix is far better in every way. HTC can suck on my Atrix!!
Asif Iqbal Shaik
Asif Iqbal Shaik A mix of both could have been better. Battery of atrix, exterior and interface of inspire.
Mitch Lopez
Mitch Lopez Neither, because neither are real 4G phones. AT&T doesn't have a real 4G network.
Tony Abiama
Tony Abiama Hmm... I choose my HTC EVO 4G
Fernando Arias
Fernando Arias Does the Atrix come with speech to text?
Luis Robles Figueroa
Luis Robles Figueroa Motoral ATRIX 4G all day!
Seaedge Val
Seaedge Val atrix ftw~!
Maitreya Solanki
Maitreya Solanki HTC rules android.
Nathaniel Hull
Nathaniel Hull Or sammy infuse....
Nathaniel Hull
Nathaniel Hull Atrix duh..... doesnt look like u can expand battery on inspire, and to me standard batts suk butt
Heang T-r
Heang T-r Darryl-i agree w/u! I got mine pre-launch n it was awesome i cudnt put it down! Still love it. Never exp any lag aaron had during his review or any issues everyone has been having. Def love the battery life on it too :)
Ethan Rogers
Ethan Rogers I got the atrix...
Steve Blais
Steve Blais Atix of course!
Parker Davidson
Parker Davidson Got that atrix!
Darryl Mouzone
Darryl Mouzone Just got the Atrix today and so far I am pleased with it. I haven't put it down yet. Its plastic but it doesn't feel cheap in the hands or anything. It still feels solid. So far im enjoying it.
Timothy Michael Kendall II
Timothy Michael Kendall II Motorola Atrix 4G
Terence E. Abiama
Terence E. Abiama Neither
Rolando Cruz Franqui
Rolando Cruz Franqui The mytouch 4G the best!!!!!!!!!
Keleb Jerel Parker
Keleb Jerel Parker Inspire
Samuel Topolsky
Samuel Topolsky I want an HTC inspire with specs of an atrix..... wassup best awnser
George St. Martin
George St. Martin I was very sceptical about motoblur, but I use launcher pro anyways. The cool thing about this is that you can still use some of motoblurs widgets with launcher pro, something that you couldn't do with the samsung epic 4g. And having owned the g1, the hero, the moment, and the epic I can say that the battery life on the atrix is amazing. Not to mention the dual core processor and the laptop dock. Don't let the price tag of the inspire fool you. Pay the extra $100 and get the atrix.
Stephen M. Knipe II
Stephen M. Knipe II Atrix, I like my high resolution screen and battery life
Joey Nettleman
Joey Nettleman My Inspire is GNARLY!
Leonardo Gutierrez
Leonardo Gutierrez Atrix which i happily have =)
Michael Barton
Michael Barton Choose the atrix..came from the evo..aka inspires big brother..love it..dont know why ppl complain so much about blur
Jordan Mosley
Jordan Mosley It depends.The Atrix on a two year contract, or Inspire on a one year. I know that Inspire will probably have a better user experience, but its specs will quickly become oudated and relatively slow. If i had to have one for 2 years, definitely the Atrix, it will hopefully be much better once its OS takes advantage of a dual core (which may be sooner rather than later), but RIGHT NOW, i think the Inspire would be more pleasing.
Ele Garcia
Ele Garcia Neither because at&t is a ripoff only allowing you a couple hundred mb of data before you start paying again per kb's use.Evo 4g on sprints unlimited data plan ftw!!!
Jared Cox
Jared Cox HTC all the way!
Jackson Sanger
Jackson Sanger Atrix IF! they crack the bootloader, if not then the inspire
Ilyas Khayrutdinov
Ilyas Khayrutdinov I choose T-Mobile!! Because everybody knows that AT&T blows! Lol wow that was a rhyme, wish I could do it all the time. Oh crap looll
James Shurtleff
James Shurtleff Inspire (I own one) mainly because of sense as opposed to motoblur. The atrix felt cheap and the demo unit I played with was broken on day 3 haha
Julian Perry
Julian Perry Had an inspire on launch day, returned it and picked up an atrix launch day tried it for a week and HATED it.....picked up my 2nd inspire yesterday and couldn't be happier!!
Jonathan Ittner
Jonathan Ittner atrix all the way baby
Salman Memon
Salman Memon Samsung infuse
Zakk Quinones
Zakk Quinones Atrix would be my first choice because of the laptop connectivity and the inspire has the same htc layout that's it has had for just about every htc phone ever.
Dietrich Brown
Dietrich Brown inspire 4 me
Gmb Matt
Gmb Matt atrix...no contest
Domanick Dibiaso
Domanick Dibiaso iPhone 4
Jason Hatherlee
Jason Hatherlee Um neither. There are much better Android devices out there.
Steve Moore
Steve Moore 10.5 hours on the Inspire that is.
Rafael Guzman
Rafael Guzman Motorola
Steve Moore
Steve Moore I managed 10.5 hours out of it, but I barely touched it either. I'm not a fan of MotoBlur at all and I do like how polished Htc Devices are, but battery life really sucks on all that I've had. Incred, Evo, Mytouch 4G. The G2 ws cool but it had the crazy hinge thing. I'm not a MotoBlur fan by any stretch of the imagination but it's really a lot better than it used to be... Now if they could jjust make the widgets more appealing that would go a long way to silencing a lot of critics. I have to say, from the display to how fast things load to the gps working correctly is a major step in the right direction for me and my dealings with Moto devices. Oh, I also had Droids 1,2, and X and Blur drove me absolutely insane.
George Deleija
George Deleija Psssh its all about my dads briefcase phone lol But id have to go with the Inspire just because of its open bootloader. Motorola needs to step it up 1 time and allow us in the door! We will do wonders on their phones!
Preston Mainard
Preston Mainard Inspire
Bobby Johnston
Bobby Johnston Funny how people are saying atrix but are saying how it needs to be rooted right away. If you have had one you would know motorolas execution of s dual core phone is garbage. Inspire runs ways smoother and faster in many aspects. Oh but angry birds loads faster on the atrix by like 2 seconds
Javier F. Cabrera Gonzalez
Javier F. Cabrera Gonzalez Motorola Plain Suck!! HTC Insipre all the Way!!!
Harrison Hughes
Harrison Hughes HTC inspire has nxt generation HTC sense and is wayyyyyy cooler than atrix
Demarcus Smith
Demarcus Smith Probably the inspire since I can't stand motoblur :P
Andrew Gleboff
Andrew Gleboff that inspire needs a front facing camera and a 1950 mah battery.
Andrea Ginelle Cruz
Andrea Ginelle Cruz Inspire :)
Christopher Manic Johnson
Christopher Manic Johnson Engadget gave the Atrix a 9/10, & they have an insanely rigid scoring criteria. With that said, a device is worthless when it's battery life sucks, so I'm getting the Atrix hands down. The Atrix's battery is a beast, & the Tegra2 chip is amazing. Seriously speaking, between the Inspire & the Atrix, there isn't that big a difference in build quality. Yes, aluminum feels better than plastic, but the Atrix is solidly built, it even suprised me, & the screen on the Atrix is by far the best of the two.
Mladen Knezevic
Mladen Knezevic hd2 for life !
Joshua Allen Bishop
Joshua Allen Bishop That's actually hard to decide. Normally I'm not very fond of motorola android devices with motoblur; htc has great quality with phones, and the inspire is at a great price for what it is, but the battery is very underpowered for what the device is. I'd have to try them out in person.
Tim Gruber
Tim Gruber definitely the inspire, I love HTC products. but if the battery life is absolutely horrible I would run launcherpro on the atrix
Douglas J Kmiotek
Douglas J Kmiotek Neither,...I'm going with the iPhone 5 - an upgrade from my iPhone 4.
Marti Ruiz
Marti Ruiz i dont know confused
Allan Monteclaro
Allan Monteclaro Atrix 4G
Grant Stansel
Grant Stansel Inspire
Alex Godinez
Alex Godinez None! HTC EVO!!
Derek Howard
Derek Howard INSPIRE!!!
Jared Brock
Jared Brock Inspire
Andrew Lacey
Andrew Lacey neathier fasate is the best
Ashley Threeg
Ashley Threeg Atrix
Wesley Lam
Wesley Lam Definitely the Motorola Atrix 4G!
Steve Moore
Steve Moore Just got the Atrix after returning the Inspire (weak battery life/gps issues). They are different phones with different features. That said I have to say, so far I'm pleased with the Atrix.. so far. I haven't experienced any of the lag that Aaron was describing. I think the screen is plenty bright and mainly crisp too. But I've only had it for a few hours. I've had MotoBlur devices in the past and they majorly bogged the phone down, but so far this one has been pretty snappy. We'll see how we feel about it tomorrow, I plan to hammer this thing pretty hard for the next couple weeks or so.
Trent Datcher
Trent Datcher If I had to get a phone now it's the inspire 4G by far, currently using an Aria with froyo and it's great
Jeremy Oliver
Jeremy Oliver Neither my droid incredible still rocks..
Erik Balster
Erik Balster Neither. iPhone yes.
Shawn Sanchot-Wilson
Shawn Sanchot-Wilson Motorola
Neal Daringer
Neal Daringer HTC
Tim Miyashiro
Tim Miyashiro Inspire 4G. Motorola's products are garbage, (like Samsung: cheap and plasticy.) And even with the Tegra2 chip it still lags. On top of that, MotoBLUR sucks.
Oscar Zeon Dominguez
Oscar Zeon Dominguez Atrix hands down but I'm a loyal T-Mobile customer soooooo yeah lol
Walt Alan Wilcutts
Walt Alan Wilcutts Had em both and I'll take the Atrix all day long.
Greg Lyster
Greg Lyster Atrix and I'll get rid of motoblur asap!
Rex Tippin JR
Rex Tippin JR The Atrix!! What kind of question is that?!
Stanley Morris
Stanley Morris Inspire
Kyndryk Baker
Kyndryk Baker Definitely the Atrix
Robert Centennial
Robert Centennial I had both at the same time and I chose the inspire. The atrix was cheap plastic and blur sucks mouse ballzzzz
Stephaughn Alston
Stephaughn Alston HTC Inspire. I hate Motoblur!
Tyler Bones
Tyler Bones I have the inspire
Julius Mawoussi
Julius Mawoussi Atrix the battery life on the inspire 4G sucks.
Jaquana C McNeill
Jaquana C McNeill I'm tryna get the LG Optimus Black




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