Mobile Phones Guide

Motorola Atrix 2 review

Motorola Atrix 2 - Game On

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Design:
7.5
Features:
8.5
User-Friendliness:
8
Performance:
8
Value:
8.5
THE GOOD
Bundled with 10 free EA games
MotoCast Personal Cloud Service
Good battery life
Bright 4.3-inch qHD touchscreen
THE BAD
Poor camera performance
Comes with Android 2.3 (update coming in Q3 2012)


Motorola Atrix 2 - Game On

Overview & Design

Late last year, Motorola made a jump start into the Android arena with the Razr; good thing is it hasn't quite forgotten its Atrix roots, resulting in a sort of indirect successor to the Lapdock-friendly Atrix. In the interim of a possible Atrix 3 release, the slightly up-sized Android 2.3 equipped Atrix 2 sits in the middle of the portfolio.

Given that Google's massive US$12.5 billion buyout has been recently approved by US and European regulators, we should be expecting a slight shake up in terms of product design, marketing and strategy. With that said, the Atrix 2 could be one of the last "pure" Motorola handsets that we would be seeing.

If you have seen the Atrix in the flesh, you will know that the dual-core Motorola Atrix 2 bears a significant resemblance to it. The phone shares the same curved body, making it easy for users to wrap their fingers around with much ease.

Off the cuff, the handset sports a particularly uninspired black-theme and a rather chunky design that's unlikely to stand out amidst its flashier, dressed-in-aluminum counterparts. The phone is predominantly plastic, which keeps it pretty light at 147g, just 12 grams heavier than the original Atrix. For a detailed comparison between its predecessor and Atrix 2, check the table below: 



Key Features Motorola Atrix Motorola Atrix 2
Operating System
  • Google Android 2.2
    (Upgraded to Android 2.3)
  • Google Android 2.3
    (Upgradeable to Android 4.0 from Q3 2012)
Processor
  • 1 GHz dual-core processor
  • 1 GHz dual-core processor
Memory
  • 1 GB RAM / 16GB Internal memory
  • 1GB RAM / 4GB Internal memory
Display
  • 4.0-inch qHD (960 x 540) TFT screen
  • 4.3-inch qHD (960 x 540) PLS TFT screen
Camera
  • 5MP rear-camera
  • VGA front camera
  • 8MP rear-camera
  • VGA front camera
Battery
  • 1930 mAh
  • 1735 mAh 
Dimensions
  • 117.8 x 63.5 x 11 mm
  • 126 x 66 x 10 mm
Weight
  • 135g
  • 147g

Like most phones, the Atrix 2's front is predominantly covered by its large touchscreen - 4.3-inch Gorilla Glass protected qHD (960 x 540 pixels) screen to be exact. As a result, fingerprint smudges are unavoidable on its front. Instead of physical buttons, the Atrix comes with four touch controls lining the bottom of the screen. These buttons are thankfully easy to press and clearly demarcated with symbols. 

However, the same cannot be said of the physical buttons found on the Atrix 2. The volume controls and camera shortcut/shutter buttons on the right profile of the phone are actually raised adequately and can be differentiated enough. On actual usage, we found the buttons depress inwards too much and requires more effort to activate them. This makes it frustrating to toggle volume or snap a photo; if only those buttons were stiffer. Fortunately, the Power/Lock button on the top of the phone isn't a trouble to use.

On the left side, the Micro-USB and HDMI ports lay bare to elements from nature. On the back however, we were thrilled to find that Motorola decided to go with a plastic matte, lightly textured back cover which not only keeps it free from smudges, but also allows for a non-slip grip. Sad to say, the sides are a little too shiny (hint: fingerprint magnet) for our liking.

Features

If you are looking to have a taste of the latest Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) iteration, you might find yourself fairly disappointed with the Atrix 2. The smartphone comes equipped with Android 2.3 and will only get the Android 4.0 treatment from Q3 this year or later. The user interface on the Atrix 2 is identical to the one on the Razr but if you have used Motorola Android phones before, the experience is going to be pretty familiar.

The selling point of the Motorola Atrix 2 is undeniably in its tie-in with EA which gives you access to a package of ten free EA games. The games includes simple 'time-wasters' like Bejeweled, Tetris; group board games like Monopoly, The Game of Life; and even sports-themed games like FIFA 10 and Need for Speed. The addition of such titles will definitely make the phone an attractive option for those looking for entertainment on-the-go. Without further ado, here's a complete list of the free games for the smartphone alongside its corresponding price, as stated in Google Play:

List of Free Games and Their Original Cost

Take note that Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit has already been preloaded on the Atrix 2 while the rest of the nine titles require extra steps for installation. Thankfully, the set-up - though slightly more complicated than the usual click-on-Android-Market way - is pretty simple, so users don't really have to fret about awful, time-consuming steps. There's just one small step to be done prior to that and that's to ensure that the check box for Unknown Sources has been ticked - you can find this under Settings > Applications. This is because the games are being downloaded from outside of the Google Play (formerly known as the Android Market). After that, you should be ready to enjoy the extra goodies with the phone.




 

The other prominent feature on the Atrix 2 is is the recurring Motocast personal computing service. It first made its appearance on the Razr and later on the Motorola Xoom 2 tablet. This cloud service allows you to access your personal content from both the web and your smartphone straight from your computer's hard drive. Set-up is pretty straightforward and hiccup-free; simply follow the steps as instructed. Create a Motocast ID via the Motocast app on the Atrix 2, then download and install the application for your PC from www.mymotocast.com. This would of course mean your PC would have to be powered on all the time and that's something you might want to think about too before getting too happy about this feature. It's not a cloud based solution to overcome this downside.

We previously complained about how there wasn't a single icon for the MotoCast app streamed content on the phone; instead, we had to access our content from three different places - Files, Gallery and Music -, resulting in a lot of unnecessary navigation to-and-fro. Thankfully, this problem is rectified on the Atrix 2 - simply tap on the Motocast app to access all files hosted on the personal cloud.

For the uninitiated, MotoCast USB is the new name for what was previously known as Motorola Media Link. Good thing is, the software is automatically installed as part of the installation for MotoCast. What exactly is MotoCast USB? The software allows users to back up and sync your Atrix 2’s media content and contacts to and from your PC. Simply connect your phone via USB to your personal computer.

Of course, the other exciting aspect of the Atrix was that it came with accessories that transform the phone into another gadget altogether. Just like its predecessor, the Atrix 2 is compatible with the Lapdock 100, an extension of sorts that transforms the handphone into a netbook. However, the Atrix isn't bundled together with the Lapdock like the Atrix was, so you have to buy it separately at S$399. At least it gives users an option and it doesn't inflate the phone's price too much like the original Atrix had to contend with.