Feb 09 AT 10:58 PM Taylor Wimberly 95 Comments

Motorola Atrix 4G review roundup

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AT&T sent out review units for the Motorola Atrix 4G this week and the first reviews began to go live today as the embargo was lifted. I’ve been single-handedly hyping this phone (aka Terminator) since late last year, so it’s interesting to finally see what some of the larger blogs and publications think of the device. Check out what the reviewers are saying after the jump.

I’m sure we will reference this post a lot, so if you find a review that we missed please leave a comment so we can add it to our list.

  • Jonathan Geller of BoyGeniusReport: “When we picked up the ATRIX for the first time we were pleasantly surprised with how the materials felt. The device feels solid and well built, and we really love the size”… “The question is if the laptop dock — a single purpose accessory for your smartphone — is worth $300, and we’d unfortunately have to say that we don’t think it is” … “We didn’t honestly notice the phone to be that much faster than normal 1GHz-powered handsets, except under extreme circumstances, but that’s expected” … “We’d say without question that the Motorola ATRIX 4G is one of the best Android smartphones to ever be available from AT&T”
  • Bonnie Cha of CNET: “The laptop dock is a decidedly cool (and pricey) feature, but the dual-core Motorola Atrix 4G has plenty to offer on its own. The smartphone packs speed and high-end features into a sleek package and earns its place at the top of AT&T’s Android lineup” … “However, compared with the company’s other recent handsets, such as the Motorola Droid X and the Motorola Cliq 2, the Atrix doesn’t quite have the same premium feel to it. It’s still very much a solid device but just lacks some of the finer details like a soft-touch finish on back” … “Picture quality was decent. Images came out mostly sharp, but there was some graininess and colors could have been brighter. Video quality was above par.”
  • Scott Stein of CNET: “Here’s the funny part, at least to me: even though this is an Android phone, the baked-in browser on the Motorola dock is Firefox. Herein lies the sense of disconnect. In a future world where devices seamlessly sync and transform function, the top-to-bottom OS functionality here should remain Google-based. If this dock were able to run Chrome OS and Chrome apps, or at the very least a Chrome browser, and even seamlessly integrate Android and Chrome functionality, we’d really be touching the future.”
  • Joshua Topolsky of Engadget: “Right now we can say that we’re pretty impressed with the device’s blazing speed and gorgeous screen, but our experiences with the laptop dock have been hit or miss. It’s clearly a mixture that takes some getting used to” … “We didn’t think 24 hours was quite enough of a window to tell you how we really felt about this monumental device, so we’re giving ourselves the space and time we think is necessary to properly review the phone and all its features.”
  • Steve Kovach of BusinessInsider: “The phone itself is snappy. Apps launched almost instantly, much quicker than Android phones we’ve used in the past. We like that” … “Even though our demo unit said we were connected to HSPA+, we experienced speeds similar to 3G. We’ll have to wait until AT&T finally announces where and when HSPA+ speeds will be available to truly test it out” … “The laptop dock feels like a waste. We can’t think of a single practical use for it. The $500 add on is essentially a shell with a keyboard and screen that must be docked with the Atrix in order to function.”
  • Brian Oliver Bennett of LaptopMag: “Sculpted from black plastic, the Atrix feels almost weightless in your hand but lacks the expensive design treatments we’ve seen in other devices” … “The Atrix 4G boasts a fingerprint scanner that also doubles as the phone’s power button. We successfully used our finger swipe to unlock the handset, which is much easier than using a password” … “A 720p video we shot of skaters in Bryant Park was a little choppy, but the camera did an excellent job of picking up colors and adjusting to light and dark areas in the scene” … “The main thing holding the Atrix 4G back, though, is AT&T’s HSPA+ network. When you have a mobile device capable of streaming Hulu content, it’s unfortunate that low broadband speeds diminish the device’s value, not just for entertainment but productivity as well.”
  • Mark Sulivan of PCWorld: “This dual-core phone is fast and boasts solid data speeds, but the Atrix-powered laptop accessory is a good idea poorly executed” … “After using the Atrix itself for a day or so, I came away impressed with the phone–especially the power of its processor, the clarity of its display, its no-hard-edges design, and its compact shape. Frankly, it’s a phone I would buy.”
  • Sascha Segan of PCMag: “Motorola’s Atrix 4G, the unique bleeding-edge superphone that can transform itself into a PC, shows how we’ll likely be using our mobile devices in the year 2020. But to get a taste of the future, you’ll have to pay, and deal with some bugs along the way” … “AT&T’s accessory pricing discourages the use of the Atrix in laptop mode. But that’s okay. Even without turning into a desktop or laptop, the Atrix is a top-of-the-line smartphone for the techno-elite” … “The Atrix’s bugs and frustrations mean it isn’t a smartphone for beginners” … “But for the adventurous, the Atrix simply does what no other smartphone does, and that alone, is impressive.”
  • Todd Haselton of MobileBurn: “Its NVIDIA Tegra 2 chipset is certainly fast and applications load and close almost instantaneously” … “AT&T says there are some applications that allow you to use the reader to launch various applications depending on the finger you swipe, but out of the box it can only be used to unlock the device” … “My biggest issue with the ATRIX 4G so far is its MOTOBLUR user interface. Motorola’s hasn’t changed MOTOBLUR all that much since it made its debut in 2009 on the CLIQ” … “It’s expensive, but the laptop dock is freakin’ sweet.”

Overall it looks like the Atrix 4G handset is receiving stellar reviews with most people calling it the best Android phone on AT&T and the fastest model available. There are a few software bugs still present, but that’s to be expected with any new Android phone (especially one that does not launch for another month).

Several people said this “4G” phone only delivered 3G speeds, but most of the reviews were conducted in San Francisco and New York, where AT&T doesn’t exactly have the best track record. Hopefully AT&T will fine tune its HSPA+ network over the coming month as this phone starts to hit stores.

The laptop dock still looks awesome, but AT&T might have killed the accessory before it even launches with their high pricing. The laptop dock will cost you $300 extra when bundled with the phone ($500 when purchased separately) and it requires AT&T Data Pro and tethering plans ($25 + $20 = $45 per month). Sascha Segan of PCMag points out that, “the bottom line is that the carrier wants to charge dock users the same as laptop users, who also get charged a $20 supplement to connect to AT&T’s network.”

I previous said I was getting the Atrix 4G and I’m still excited about picking one up. I want to experience the AT&T 4G network, report on their customer service, and the Atrix has several exclusive features (like the fingerprint scanner) that I really want. The Atrix 4G is Motorola’s flagship device so I expect it will get premium software support and timely updates.

AT&T will be selling the Atrix 4G for $199 with 2-year contract, but you might be able to find it for $149 from some discount online retailers. The official pre-sale begins February 13th and AT&T said it should be in their stores by March 6th.

If you are on AT&T, please let me know what you think of the early reviews. Is this your next phone? Does it live up to the hype? Has the high-price of the laptop dock made you reconsider your purchase?

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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