May 11, 2011

Cell Phones review: AT&T’s Dockable Atrix 4G

Cell Phones review: AT&T’s Dockable Atrix 4G

The Atrix is surprisingly svelte at 0.4 inch thick. It is 2.5 inches wide and 4.6 inches tall, and weighs roughly 4.8 ounces. The front of the phone features a 4-inch qHD (Quarter High Definition) touchscreen display, with a set of physical buttons beneath the screen for menu (contextual), home, return, and search. At the top are the proximity sensor and the front-facing camera. On the right edge of the phone you'll find only the volume rocker; on the left bottom edge are the HDMI and USB ports. A standard 3.5mm headphone jack occupies the top edge.

The Atrix is the first phone I've seen that has a fingerprint recognition pad built into its back. As with many laptops, you can set up the phone to remain locked until it recognizes your unique fingerprint slide. The surface also serves as an on/off and sleep/wake button, if you choose not to use the fingerprint recognition feature. Also on the back are a 5-megapixel camera and flash, and a small speaker port at the bottom.

The Atrix sports a 5-megapixel camera with automatic focus and an LED flash. I was pleased with the quality of the photos I shot. The first thing I noticed was the accuracy of the auto-focus: The camera seemed to adjust quickly as I moved the lens farther away from or closer to my subject, accounting for and correcting my intentionally sloppy technique. I noticed no motion blur in the images, and the resulting photos seemed perfectly focused, with sharp colors.

The phone doesn't have a hardware button for snapping photos, but it does use the volume rocker button as a zoom in/out controller, which seemed perfectly natural (and rather ingenious) to me.

I was similarly impressed with the 720P HD video I shot with the phone. The video looked clearer and smoother than video I've seen shot with some smartphones that have 8-megapixel cameras, leading me to believe that a powerful processor and a high-quality display (both present here) are more important to good video than is the resolution of the lens.

I also liked the way the software organized my photos. The phone displays images in a carousel; to scroll through them, you just drag them to the left or right. Each image carries a little "i" in the bottom right corner; tap it, and all the information about the picture--location taken, time, resolution, file size, tags, and so on--appears on the screen. You can click the 'tags' label to add more tags to the image

Battery Life

With all of the heavy lifting that the Atrix is designed to do (shooting and playing high-definition video, running a full-size browser on a large display, multitasking, and so on), it's a good thing that Motorola put in an extra large battery. The 1930-mAh battery, Motorola says, is good for 8.8 hours of talk time and 264 hours of standby time.Read more

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