The new Motorola Atrix HD has AT&T’s speedy 4G LTE service along with the new Android 4 operating system, a slim profile and a gorgeous display.
Everything looks outstanding on the Atrix’s 4.5-inch screen. Whether watching YouTube videos or HBOGO movies, playing popular games like Angry Birds or Words with Friends or just reading online news articles, you can’t help but notice the Atrix’s vivid colors and clear, crisp text.
The Atrix weighs 4.9 ounces and measures 5.25 x 2.7 x 0.3 inches, and its thinness makes it nice to hold or carry. It claims extra durability plus splash resistance from its Kevlar materials. The Android operating system and apps leave a fair amount free of the phone’s 8 GB of internal memory, but I still suggest adding a microSD card, since you can get one with the 32 GB maximum size for about $20 on Amazon.
The phone generally has excellent sound quality. Voice calls sound clear for both parties, and playing music is certainly easy on the ears.
Speech recognition works extremely well, too, whether you’re dictating Google searches, emails, text messages or documents. The Atrix comes with Quickoffice for working with documents and spreadsheets.
The Atrix takes lovely photos and videos with its 8 MP camera and 1080p HD camcorder. It also takes decent 1.3 MP front-facing pictures and 720p HD videos. I recommend Dropbox for synchronizing photos and videos with a home or office computer, so you don’t need to worry about trying to email large files to yourself.
The Smart Actions app, included with the Atrix, can automatically change your phone settings throughout the day. You can set a Drive Smart rule to announce incoming calls or texts and have texts read aloud. You can have the phone silence itself during a certain calendar event (such as a meeting) or automatically send a text message to someone when you reach a particular GPS location.
The Atrix has a unique lock screen that lets you instantly jump to the most common applications. Drag to the right to return to the screen that was open when the phone locked. Drag down for text messaging, to the left for the camera, or toward the top to make a phone call. You can also choose to use a pattern, PIN or password to unlock the screen, or even facial recognition.
AT&T’s impressive 4G LTE service really shines on the Atrix. Taking full advantage of 4G LTE requires speedy hardware, and the Atrix is certainly a fast phone. You’ll notice this on AT&T’s mobile service and also when connected to Wi-Fi. Apps install and launch quickly. Movies and videos start right away and play smoothly.
In areas where AT&T doesn’t yet have 4G LTE, the phone falls back on HSPA+. While slower than 4G LTE, HSPA+ isn’t nearly the steep dropoff that you’d get when going from 4G LTE to 3G.
If you buy a data plan with a monthly allotment of only 1 GB or 2 GB, you’ll probably want to make use of Wi-Fi whenever you can. The Atrix connected easily to my home Wi-Fi and generally stayed connected except in the known dead areas of my house. It also had no trouble connecting to public Wi-Fi networks when I encountered them.
Under Settings, Wi-Fi, Options, Advanced, there’s a checkbox for automatically connecting to available AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots. This box is already marked by default, and could come in handy when you’re shopping, dining out or running errands. AT&T provides many of the free Wi-Fi networks at major retail establishments and restaurants like McDonald’s, so you have a pretty good shot at picking up Wi-Fi even when you don’t think to look for it.
The demo unit I tested came with a car mounting kit as well as an HD dock. The car kit would be a godsend for anyone who’s had trouble using smart phone GPS due to awkward positioning in a vehicle. The mount uses adhesive to stick to the dash, then you simply insert your phone and choose your favorite GPS app for spoken, turn-by-turn directions.
I’m writing a separate review of the HD dock to make sure I cover it thoroughly, since it’s definitely an accessory worth considering.
AT&T sells the Atrix HD in black or white, with the car kit, for $99.99 when you sign up for two years, and the optional HD dock will set you back another $49.99. If you want a fun and feature-filled phone without shelling out several hundred dollars, the Atrix HD fits the bill nicely.