Motorola Atrix 2 Review

Motorola Atrix 2 Review

The Atrix 2 feels like a high-end phone, a great selling point at its relatively low-asking price. It may have slightly lesser performance grunt than the Samsung Galaxy S II, but costs considerably less as well. Motorola have smartly slotted this in the middle of the likes of the HTC One V and the Sony Xperia Sola on one end, and the Galaxy S II, Nexus on the other.

Build & Design
The Motorola Atrix 2 has very plain Jane looks. Unlike the new Sony NXT range of smartphones, or even the unibody of the HTC One V, the Atrix 2 keeps it pretty much old school. A thin frame on two sides flanks the 4.3-inch display. But the top and the bottom have a couple of design elements. The earpiece stands out, with the silver grille finish. The front facing camera is visible when you look closely, but it almost blends in seamlessly. On the bottom are four touch sensitive keys – menu, home, return and search. The left spine hosts the USB and HDMI ports, while on the right are the volume rocker and the camera key. The power key and the 3.5mm jack on the top. Flip the Atrix 2 over, and the plastic back has a slightly rubberized feel with an imprint design on it. The 8MP camera and the flash are placed towards the left, near the top, a placement that may seem odd, but works well. We will explain that in a bit. The silver Motorola logo lies in the middle, with the chrome bordered speaker on the bottom.

There is not much to rave about the build quality, except that it seems well put together. This phone will not stand out in the crowd like an Xperia NXT or the HTC One V would, but should get the job done. There is a sense of reassurance when you hold the phone. It is technically a big screen phone, but doesn’t feel like it in the hand or in the pocket. The thin bezel could have something to do with it. Very comfortable to use overall, and you can use it with the same hand that is holding it, and still reach the further edges of the display without having to stretch.

Features & Specifications
A 1GHz dual-core processor, paired with 1GB of RAM, powers the Atrix 2. The graphics capabilities are quite good, with the Power VR SGX540 chip driving the gaming bit. The 4.3-inch display on the Atrix 2 has a 540×960 pixel resolution, and while it is a humble LCD one, there is the Gorilla Glass treatment on it.

The phone comes with 8GB of internal storage, and a microSD slot upgrading it to a maximum of 32GB more. The 8MP camera is pretty standard spec, with recording for 1080p HD videos.

The disappointing thing is that the phone comes with Android Gingerbread (2.3.6), and till the time of writing this, there has been no Ice Cream Sandwich update released for the phone. This is just truly disappointing, considering even older phones from Sony and HTC have received the updates, already. The skin over the OS is pretty simple and there is no gaudy nature to it. In turn, sacrificing some of that eye candy does have a silver lining – system performance does not get affected, much. But then again, it doesn’t have to be this bland to ensure performance! We had criticized the MotoBlur UI even when we had reviewed the flagship Razr handset, primarily because the widgets have a very boxy design, and the sharp edges across all elements on the display do tend to become quite boring after a while.

About the performance and stability of this UI, we didn’t face any stutters or slowdowns while using it. However, the lock screen “tap and slide” did disappear a couple of times, not letting us unlock the phone. A couple of restarts solved the issue, but this was extremely annoying during testing. And surely will be scary for a consumer, who will probably be worried that his phone is broken!

No one can fault the Atrix 2’s power ambitions with its 1GHz dual-core, that’s coupled 1GB of RAM. Ideally, this phone was probably visualized to be selling with a higher price tag, but the new quad-core ones just came along and spoiled the fun! For the sake of a more like-for-like comparison, we will be comparing the Atrix 2 to the HTC One V.

In the performance benchmarks, the performance is quite neck and neck. With Quadrant, the One V has a very slight lead. There are two ways to look at it – one, the Atrix 2 is holding on well despite being a on a slightly older generation hardware. Second, just to annoy the HTC fanboys – the One V isn’t much better in terms of performance than a phone that has been around for quite a while now! In AnTuTu and LinPack benchmarks is where the Atrix shows a clear lead over the One V. The biggest surprise has been the sheer superiority of the Motorola’s web browser over the one on the HTC One V.

The 4.3-inch display is one of the Atrix 2’s strong points. The resolution of 540 x 960 pixels means this one will handle video playback well, potentially. And it truly does that. Black levels are surprisingly good, and fast moving frames are handled quite smoothly. But the real cherry on the cake is how crisp the text on this display is, and that really makes texting and web browsing very comfortable. Colour vividness is okay, but then again, that is limited by the display technology of the display – possibly the only aspect where this display takes a beating.

Call quality is quite good, as long as you are in a good signal reception zone. The moment signal reception goes below 50%, the audio tends to drop quite a bit. But for the rest of the time, the quality and clarity of the call, at both ends, is pristine. The earpiece is loud, but has a soft tone to it, and won’t hurt the ear even at max volume. The handsfree speaker isn’t very loud, and will not work outside a room.

The 8MP camera is quite good in good natural light, and when there is sufficient amb7ient light indoors. The details are retained for the most part, and you can blow up the images to a certain extent and not detect the noise bit. Lower light step by step, and the images tend to become noisy. Video quality needs the same amount of hand holding, and 1080p videos are smooth, even when panned quickly. Interestingly, the camera will not take images unless you have a memory card slotted in! We quite understand this limitation, and it seems to be an unnecessary roadblock in an otherwise smooth journey.

Battery life is decent enough to get you through a day, and still have some juice left. Under medium call, text and data usage, the 1785 mAh battery will last a day and a half. And that is actually quite good, mostly thanks to the big battery in this one.

We love the Atrix 2, and for a price of around Rs. 20,000 in stores, this one is a very solid Android phone to have. The best part is the battery life on offer. However, we have one big complaint, and that is the OS version on the phone. It isn’t doing any justice to be users that they get palmed off with an older Android version, while phones with lighter price tags get the latest build. Motorola needs to sort this quickly. Till then, we will recommend the HTC One V to most buyers. 

Vishal Mathur

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