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The Motorola ATRIX is an unassuming looking Android phone that raises the bar substantially when it comes to specifications.
One of several new Motorola handsets featuring dual-core processors, the ATRIX and its siblings will compete directly against the forthcoming LG Optimus 2X, the first dual-core smartphone to be announced. As with LG's offering, the ATRIX comes with a 4" screen but Motorola have included what they call a "qHD" display with 960 x 540 pixel resolution, very close to the pixel count of the iPhone 4. The display is covered with Gorilla Glass to make it scratch and damage resistant too.
Inside is a substantial 1GB of RAM to run applications in, plus 16GB of on-board flash memory and a microSD slot that can bring the total amount of storage up to 48GB, which should be enough for most users.
There are two main versions of the ATRIX - a "4G" version for AT&T in the US running HSPA+, and a "3.5G" version for Bell in Canada and Orange in the UK. As far as we can tell, the differences between the handsets other than the 4G/3.5G support are not that great. Availability in other markets is not known.
On the back is a fairly standard 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, and the ATRIX also has a front-facing VGA resolution camera for video calling. The camera is capable of capturing 720p HD video at 30 frames per second.
One novel feature is a built-in fingerprint reader for additional security, something that could well be extremely useful on a high-value device such as this.
As with the Milestone/DROID line, you possibly need to get a dock to get the best out of the phone - there are two main docks for sale, one with three USB ports and an HDMI port, plus an interesting looking "laptop dock" that turns the ATRIX into an Android-based laptop with an 11.6" display and full keyboard. This second dock is by far the most interesting, although we suspect that it will be very expensive.
Surprisingly, the ATRIX will only ship with Android 2.2 and not Android 2.3.. we don't know when an upgrade to 2.3 will be available, but hopefully Motorola won't wait too long with this particular device. There are all the usual Android goodies plus Motorola's MOTOBLUR service, and of course there are thousands of applications to download from the Android Market.
The battery in the UK at least version is a very large 1930 mAh cell, which has much more capacity than most rivals. Motorola says that the talktime on 3G is 9 hours with up to 10 days standby time, although Android devices are notoriously power hungry.
The Motorola ATRIX also has a 3.5mm audio socket, support for 802.11b, g and n WiFi, comes with a comprehensive multimedia player capable of video playback resolutions up to 1080p including DivX and XviD support, and the whole package weighs 135 grams and measures 118 x 64 x 11mm.
Slated to be available on AT&T during Q1, Orange UK during Q2 and Bell "in the coming months", the ATRIX will probably be available as a SIM-free device if your local carrier doesn't have it. No guidance was given on pricing, our best bet is that this will retail at €650 or so SIM-free.
Motorola certainly seem to have something here that sets them aside from the competition, especially when you consider the dual-core processor, hi resolution display and docking options. But perhaps the weakest component of the ATRIX is the unexciting looks.. will consumers go for this high-end but ultimately slightly dull looking device?
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