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Motorola Atrix HD

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: AT&T
Manufacturer: Motorola
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What's hot: Excellent 720p display, fast, clean Android 4.0 experience, low price.

What's not: Battery sealed inside, camera isn't as good as the competition's.


Reviewed July 24, 2012 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

When a seemingly high end phone comes in at $99 on contract, our first thought is "something has to be missing". Yes, AT&T is very aggressive with their contract pricing, but consider the lovely Nokia Lumia 900: awesome phone, but the hardware specs aren't up there with the $199 phones. The $99 Sony Xperia Ion has an elegant metal casing, a stand-out display and a 12MP camera, but it's running Android 2.3 Gingerbread on a third rather than fourth generation CPU. So what's the story with the bargain priced Motorola Atrix HD?

Motorola Atrix HD


The Atrix HD seems to have it all: Android 4.0 ICS, a lovely 4.5" "ColorBoost" 720p display, the same 1.5GHz fourth gen Qualcomm Snapdragon dual core CPU as the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X, an 8mp rear camera that can shoot 1080p video, dual band WiFi (nice), Bluetooth 4.0 and a GPS. The only thing missing is NFC, but that isn't a huge deal (yet) on AT&T since there's no way to use it for mobile payments.

Design and Ergonomics

Despite the name, the Motorola Atrix HD is a GSM Motorola Droid RAZR rather than the reincarnation of the last two Atrix Android smartphones on AT&T. It has the beveled Gorilla Glass front and a Kevlar back with the RAZR's distinctive top cap that houses the camera, LED flash, HDMI and USB ports. It's a good looking phone with a sealed casing. That means you can't swap the 1780 mAh Lithium Ion battery since it's sealed inside. There is a microSD card slot on the side though, along with a micro SIM card slot. The Atrix HD's corners are matte and have softer curves than the Droid RAZR, and we confess to prefer the RAZR's edgier design.

Motorola Atrix HD

4.5" smartphones aren't tiny beasts, but the 4.9 ounce Atrix HD is reasonably easy to hold. I find the hand-centric curves of the HTC One X more comfortable, but the Atrix HD is less slippery than the curvy-glossy Samsung Galaxy S III. Despite its slightly smaller screen size, the Atrix HD isn't appreciably smaller than the One X and GS III.

Motorola Atrix HD

I confess to love the patterned Kevlar back for both looks and texture. The subtly curved Gorilla Glass edges give the phone a more polished look and the black on white stripe on our white model gives visual interest. There's a large speaker grille on the back hump, and this is indeed a loud phone with more fullness than most smartphones offer. The small power and volume controls on the right side are a bit hard to press, but we like having both micro USB and micro HDMI ports (no hunting for MHL adapters).

Motorola Atrix HD


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Motorola Atrix HD Video Review


The Atrix HD has a 4.5" TFT LCD with ColorBoost (Motorola's marketing term). As the name implies, it has excellent colors that are rich yet not unnatural. The 1280 x 720 display is tack sharp and gets plenty bright. Viewing angles are also wide, though the HTC One X's viewing angles are a bit wider with less glare. Moto's display reminds us of LG's IPS displays, and that's a good thing. As Motorola likes to remind us, since this isn't a Super AMOLED display like the Galaxy S III, there's no Pentile Matrix and resulting smaller number of subpixels. The 326 ppi display is thus sharp with no text jaggies upon close inspection.

Calling and Data

The Motorola Atrix HD has simply excellent call quality. In fact, AT&T's top four Android phones all offer excellent voice (Atrix HD, HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy S III and the Sony Xperia Ion). Incoming and outgoing voice are extremely clear, full and volume is adequate. The speaker is also better than average in terms of volume and fullness, and it reminds us of the original Droid's speaker.

The phone is quad band GSM with 3G and 4G HSPA+ on the 850/1700/1900/2100MHz bands. It has LTE 4G and download speeds averaged 23Mbps while upload speeds averaged 17Mbps in the Dallas area. Those are obviously excellent data speeds that are similar to AT&T's other top LTE Android smartphones.

Reception is solid on 3G and LTE, as we've come to expect from Motorola, and LTE reception is again identical to the top four Androids on AT&T.

Performance and Horsepower

Don't let the budget price fool you: the Atrix HD has the same 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 "Krait" CPU as the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III on AT&T. That's currently the fastest CPU available on a US Android smartphone, and the Atrix HD indeed feels fast. Motorola's very clean rendition of Android OS 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich no doubt helps speed things along as well. The phone has the usual 1 gig of RAM but only 8 gigs of internal storage (~ 5 gigs available) vs. 16 gigs on the big boys. That's still plenty of room for large app installations, and there's a microSD card slot located on the phone's side so you can further expand storage for media files and documents. Motorola says the Atrix HD is compatible with cards up to 32 gigs capacity.


  Quadrant GLBenchmark 2.1Egypt Offscreen AnTuTu Sunspider JavaScript Test
Motorola Atrix HD 4627 55 fps 6123 1314
HTC One X 5001 56 fps 7074 1617
Samsung Galaxy S III 5102 51 fps 7011 1825
Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket 3346 33 fps 5367 2237
Sony Xperia Ion 3126 34 fps 6391 2410

Software: Ice Cream Sandwich

I really like what Motorola has done with Android OS 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich; or more specifically I like what they haven't done. This is the cleanest skin on Android I've seen yet for ICS handsets, and that's a good thing. It doesn't bog down the smartphone or dumb down the UI and try to make it look like Gingerbread so folks won't have to learn a new trick here or there. Motorola's custom square icons are here, but that's pretty much it for significant UI changes. One thing they did add (or rather subtract) is a unique home screen treatment where you start with one main screen and add others, as you desire. You can start with templates or just an additional empty screen. For those who don't clutter their home screens with endless widgets and icons, this is much cleaner and you won't be swiping through unwanted and unnecessary screens.

Motorola's Smart Actions from the Droid series is here, and it offers useful settings customizations based on time of day or locale. You can have it use different sounds and email schedules when at work vs. home, for example. When it's bedtime, it can automatically reduce power consumption by increasing sync intervals.


Well, it isn't all puppies and roses. The 8 megapixel camera is distinctly average, and this is the one area where the Atrix HD falls short of the One X, GS III and Sony Xperia Ion. It has a bright LED flash and it can shoot 1080p video at 30 fps, but photos lack the sharp detail of the competition. Photos have visible artifacts and both photos and video have oversaturated colors (which some folks may like). It's not a horrid camera; it's just not excellent like the 8MP and higher competition on AT&T.

The Atrix HD has a front 1.3MP camera that worked well for video chat using Skype and Google Talk. Our video partners said we looked clear and bright.

Battery Life

Though I own and use phones with sealed batteries that can't be swapped on the road, I'm not a fan. If you're 9 hours into a business trip and your phone runs out of juice, you're either tethered to an AC outlet instead of getting work done or you're juggling external battery packs that trickle charge the phone. Such is the price we pay for thinner and lighter smartphones.

The Atrix HD, like the RAZR, has a Lithium Ion battery that's sealed inside. We do wish Moto and AT&T had gone with the RAZR MAXX's much more ample battery, but this is a $99 phone. That means a 1780 mAh battery that will get average users through the day with the usual regime of nightly charging. If you're a light user, you'll probably go 2 days on a charge. If you're a streaming video addict, play games with gusto or navigate using the GPS for daily trips, the phone may not make it until bedtime. The same is true of the HTC One X (battery also sealed inside) and the Xperia Ion. The Samsung Galaxy S III's 2100 mAh battery earns 20 to 40 minutes longer runtimes, which isn't much, but it does have a removable battery.


We're really impressed by Motorola's first Android 4 handset for AT&T. It has the stylish good looks of the Droid RAZR with the price tag of a bargain smartphone. The 720p display is very sharp and colorful with good viewing angles and outdoor visibility, and the speaker is above average. Call quality is tops as are data speeds and the phone is fast thanks to ICS and the Qualcomm S4 CPU. The sealed battery isn't ideal for road warriors who need 12 hours of heavy use per day on a charge, but for average use it's adequate (and no worse than the HTC One X). Our only complaint? The camera is decent but doesn't hold up against AT&T's top Android phones. But if high quality imaging isn't your top priority and your budget is tight, the Motorola Atrix HD is a winner.

Price: $99 with 2 year contract, $449 without contract



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Display: 4.5" ColorBoost TFT LCD. Resolution: 1280 x 720, supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer. Has an ambient light sensor, proximity sensor and gyro.

Battery: 1780 Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.

Performance: 1.5GHz dual core Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon S4 Krait CPU with Adreno 225 graphics. 1 gig RAM, 8 gigs internal storage.

Size: 5.25 x 2.70 x 0.30 inches. Weight: 4.9 ounces.

Phone: GSM quad band with 3G/4G HSPA+ on the 850/1700/1900/2100MHz bands. 4G LTE. Has the Mobile Hotspot feature.

Camera: 1.3MP front camera and rear 8MP camera with LED flash that can shoot 1080p video.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.

Software: Android OS 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich. Light Motorola UI customizations and Motorola Smart Actions and Vehicle Mode, full suite of Google Android apps. AT&T apps include AT&T Navigator and Family Maps, AT&T Live TV, Yellow Pages Mobile, AT&T Code Scanner.

Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot.


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