Motorola’s Atrix HD has a nice price at $100 on contract, but its killer feature is its 4.5-inch touchscreen, which offers an iPhone-rivaling level of clarity. Photo: Peter McCollough/Wired
Motorola has produced many attractive, powerful and well-built Android smartphones over the last few years, but none have had the killer feature of the new Atrix HD: a 4.5-inch, 331ppi, 1280 x 720 display. After spending more than a day using the phone, there’s no disputing that this screen is beautiful. Stunning. Gorgeous.
Pixels are indiscernible. Zoom in on text, and it renders with a sharpness rivaling a page out of one of the glossiest print magazines. HD videos look, well, extremely high-definition — crisp, clear and detailed.
It’s a display that competes with the fantastic screens found on the HTC One X and the Apple iPhone 4S. But while the One X and the entry level iPhone 4S sell for $200 on two-year carrier contracts, the Atrix HD sells for $100 on a two-year AT&T data plan.
A high-end screen on a mid-range phone? Yeah, we’re in the midst of a smartphone display renaissance, a fantastic development for consumers. With any touchscreen device, the display is what you look at, and interact with, the most. It’s arguably the most important feature a phone or tablet can offer, so when a company can deliver a premium display in an affordable product, we know we’re seeing real progress.
Indeed, Apple’s Retina display advantage is now effectively over.
Motorola calls the screen on the Atrix HD a “ColorBoost” display. And colors do look boosted, a bit warm and bright. I still have some comparison testing to do, but my initial impression is that colors feel a bit amped up, over-saturated like Samsung’s intense reds, greens, and blues. It looks good, mind you, but perhaps the output isn’t fully real-world accurate.
The Atrix HD is also very thin and light — just 0.33 inches thick and 4.93 ounces. It’s also very, very fast, thanks to a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdrgon procesor and 1GB of RAM.
Another high point: Motorola’s version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is lightly skinned, making the entire OS smooth and responsive. This is as close to the stock Android experience as I’ve seen on an Ice Cream Sandwich Phone, excluding, of course, the Galaxy Nexus, which runs Android completely stock.
There’s much more testing to be done before we write up our full Atrix HD review, but so far I have only one gripe: The phone ships with just 8GB of onboard storage. That’s a laughably small amount once you get to downloading apps and capturing high-res photo and video with the Atrix HD’s 8-megapixel/1080p rear camera. There is, however, an included microSD card slot, so storage expansion is up to the owner.