I found my old Motorola Atrix 4G today, and decided I'd write my thoughts from a 2020 perspective. My current DD is a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, it's my first time back to Android since my Samsung Galaxy Note LTE (SGH-i717)
Back in 2011, the phone was introduced at CES. As a burgeoning Android fan, and an AT&T subscriber, I knew I had to have it! The ability to do whatever I wanted with Android (more on that later!), the availability of all the docks (I eventually purchased the lapdock, HD Multimedia dock, and the navigation dock.)
Android version (at launch): Android 2.2 Froyo
Android version (final official): Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread
CPU: Nvidia Geforce 2 (dual core, 1GHz Cortex A9)
GPU: Nvidia Geforce ULP
Ram: 1GB LPDDR2
Storage: 16 GB, up to 32 GB microSD supported
Display: 4 inch, 960x540 qHD display, 275 ppi, 16M colors, Gorilla Glass 1
Rear Camera: 5MP AF, digital zoom, LED flash
Front camera: 0.3MP VGA
Other features: HSPA+ connection, headphone jack, Webtop applications (Ubuntu based), tricolor notification LED, Fingerprint scanner, MicroUSB connection, MicroHDMI connection
So onto it! First things first, nowadays, the Atrix feels almost toy-like. The diminutive size compared to the S20U, plastic shell, and non-laminated screen all contribute to make something that feels like a child's toy. The impression is not helped by the weight of the device, it is easily half the weight of the S20U. The screen off animation is a really neat feature that is designed to emulate an old tube television.
Android Gingerbread is a rough-around-the-edges platform, and is nowhere near as smooth as iOS was in the era. Stuttering is a problem when swiping to a homescreen with several factory-installed widgets on it.
The screen is uninspiring, the resolution is low, and brightness is terrible. The "pentile" design and low resolution combine to create a hideous display by modern standards. This can be alleviated somewhat by turning off the autobrightness control and setting brightness manually to 100%.
The dialer app is hideous, with MOTOBLUR colors, but all buttons are within easy reach, something that modern phones suffer from, and manufacturers are implementing different one-hand mode options to correct.
The keyboard is as basic as they come, there is no autocorrect, but even on a 4" screen, typing isn't as difficult as you think it'd be.
There are no system-wide gestures, or even a quick settings menu available.
The camera app is separate from the video recording app, and each has a dedicated button available to switch between the two. Each app does however, have different presets for different environmental conditions that must be manually selected. Different effects are also available for both still and video mode.
Unfortunately, this phone has AT&T branding and apps everywhere, and suffers from the terrible MOTOBLUR system skin and software. The MOTOBLUR servers are now gone and you can no longer reactivate your MOTOBLUR account if you wipe the phone. There are instructions to bypass the activation. MOTOBLUR Bypass - Youtube
The built-in web browser, conveniently named "Browser",is unable to access many basic sites nowadays. Some sites suffer from formatting issues (apple.com
engadget.com), and others (local news sites) fail to load at all.
The stock calendar, Text Message and Email apps all work conveniently enough, and with no random lags, but confusingly enough, there is a separate Gmail app that works with a google account, otherwise one must log-in separately with the Email app.
The stock gallery app is laggy on initial startup, and again is covered in the hideous MOTOBLUR coloring. The same for the stock Music app.
Now to the main selling point of the Atrix, it wasn't the screen, it wasn't the apps, it wasn't the camera, it wasn't the performance or the UI, it was WEBTOP! For those of you who aren't familiar, Webtop is a built in version of Ubuntu Linux that runs on top of the existing Android version, on a different screen and presents a few built-in apps for productivity and office work on the go.
As you dock your phone with the lapdock, the pulsing old style Motorola logo appears, and fades to a Firefox window that proclaims itself, "The future of mobile computing!" It's not far off, but not entirely truthful. To start with, if you're in the US, AT&T required a separate data plan to be able to use Webtop on their cellular network. The built-in apps and Webtop Ubuntu version are non-upgrade-able. There is no current way (nor do I think there ever was a way) to install other Linux or Android apps on stock Webtop. So, you have a lapdock, which gives you a decent but not outstanding keyboard and mouse, think Dell, not Lenovo or Apple, an extended battery, and an outdated, useless web browser.
Sadly, after a reformat I am unable to get the Market to load and let me download new apps, if any of you have a solution to that, I'd be open to hearing it!
Its primary competitors at the time were the Samsung Galaxy S II, HTC Desire S, and Google Nexus S among others.
The Atrix line continued a while longer, exclusive to AT&T in the US, with the release of the Atrix 2 and Atrix HD. The line was subsequently discontinued.
At the time, Motorola promised an Ice Cream Sandwich update, which never officially arrived. This soured myself and many other Motorola users' experiences. As it were, the Gingerbread update was overpromised and overhyped and arrived late.
The Atrix 4G was a decent phone, but overhyped, bloated by MOTOBLUR, and gimped by AT&T. It was simply outclassed by the Samsung Galaxy SII and others, with better processors and better (AMOLED) screens.
Anything you'd like to see or hear, let me know. I've got a few other phones I can look at, the SGH-i717 Note 1, Nokia Lumia 520, Nokia Lumia 1520, Nokia Lumia 950 & 950XL, iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone X. For whatever reason, I don't normally throw old phones away.