Name: Motorola Atrix 2

Carrier: AT&T

Price: $100 (w/ two-year contract)

The Back Story:  Back in March, we got our hands on the Motorola Atrix 4G, and like every other reviewer, we crowned it the fastest and most powerful Android handset on the market. The first dual-core smartphone not only delivered ridiculously fast processing speeds, but it did something no other smartphone has ever done: double as a mobile laptop thanks to Motorola's netbook-like accessory, the Lapdock. Six months later, the now Google-owned handset maker has evolved and produced more dominating phones like the Droid Bionic which is currently duking it out with the HTC Rezound for the most powerful smartphone honor. With the holiday season fast approaching, Motorola looks to keep the title at home by introducing the follow-up to its AT&T powerhouse: the Atrix 2.

Donning a larger form factor, identical processing power, better 4G speeds, and an immense accessory line-up: Can the sequel outshine the original and take out the competition? Or will the phone’s incremental upgrades leave it falling short of the throne?


• Best AT&T deal in town: You might remember the Atrix 4G and its accompanying laptop dock running for nearly $800 when it launched earlier this year. It’s safe to say Motorola learned from its marketing mishaps, as it completely shocked the mobile world by slapping the unbeatable price tag of a single Benjamin onto the successor of its most prized handset. The beauty of it all is that consumers can tack on a few accessories with their purchase and the total will still amount to less than the original Atrix 4G bundle.

Larger, stunning display and powerful camera: Motorola welcomes a bigger and brighter screen by plastering a 4.3-inch qHD display onto the Atrix 2—resulting in better pixel density, colorful images, and sharper resolution. Websites and 2D games look great, while photo galleries shine on the vivid screen. Speaking of photos, the Atrix 2 boasts a new 8MP camera that captures high-quality images and records 1080p HD videos. Up-close shots and film clips flourish in crisp detailing, plus the additional shooting modes taken from the Droid Bionic such as Panorama Mode completely enhance the photog experience.

• Improved network coverage and battery life: Though we would of loved to see the handset run on AT&T’s LTE network, subscribers are stuck using the carrier’s HSPA+ network for now. Fortunately, Ma Bell has upgraded the 4G connection on its older network which now pushes download speeds of up to 10Mbps and 1.7Mbps for uploads. Wireless coverage was spot-on throughout most of the Tri-State area, too. Another mentionable stride comes from the phone's energy endurance, squeezing a good eight to 10 hours from its 1785 mAh li-tion polymer energizer during a full workday—two hours more than the Atrix 4G.  And for good measure, Moto included power management apps and options to preserve juice.

• Upgraded UI and special features: Mobile critics aren't too fond of Moto's revitalized interface, but we've learned to accept MOTOBLUR the manufacturer's UI and its latest additions. The phone's coolest function is its in-pocket detection system, which automatically locks the phone once sensing it's in your pocket. Moto also took the liberty of including enterprise features like On Device Encryption and Enhanced Exchange ActiveSync. Aside from the standard Google and AT&T bloatware, users can take advantage of the ZumoCast app: an exclusive Moto cloud-based service that provides access to media files on your desktop.

• Huge accessory collection: The Atrix 4G was the first Android phone to really embrace powerful add-ons with the Lapdock and HD Dock. This time around, Motorola is bringing a newer version of its flagship accessory to the market and giving it a sleeker and lighter look. Tagged as the Lapdock 100, this enhanced model weighs in at 2.2 pounds, sports a smaller 10.1-inch screen, supports two-finger scrolling, and is said  to be compatible with future handsets. The company is offering the same accessories suite as the Droid Bionic: including a universal portable charger, HD station, vehicle navigation dock, a variety of Bluetooth headsets and speakerphones, and much more. Check out the Atrix 2's full accessories line-up over at Motorola's website.


• Buggy software and camera stutter: The browser and Google-based apps crashed during some serious multitasking, and the virtual keyboard wasn't as responsive to our input commands as other Motorola handsets. In addition, the webdock UI seemed sluggish at times. The camera's auto focus also lagged, taking two to three seconds to target objects before snapping images.

CPU performance: NVIDIA's Tegra 2 CPU was considered the cream of the crop in processor power when spotlighted in the Atrix 4G. Yet instead of upgrading to a 1.2 or 1.5GHz dual-core, Moto settled for a 1GHz TI OMAP 4430 chip, which produces near-identical speed and power benchmarks as the original handset. In other words, don’t expect much of a boost in processor efficiency. 

Low on memory: The Atrix 4G packed on 16GB of internal memory, where as its follower comes with half the amount and leaves only 4.4GB up for use. You'll find a pre-installed 2GB microSD under the hood, but that doesn't leave much space for media storage. Expect to invest in a bigger memory card.

Final Say: Simply put, the Motorola Atrix 2 is AT&T’s best deal. An amazing screen, better network coverage, great battery life, and the latest Gingerbread and UI updates for only $100? It’s a no-brainer for subscribers in search of a cost-efficient and dynamic Android handset. But is the phone a huge upgrade from the first model? Not quite. In fact, some might argue it’s nothing more than the Atrix 4G with a new design and minor tweaks. On top of that, it's obvious why Motorola neglected a more powerful dual-core or bigger memory: to accommodate the unbeatable price tag. That choice, however, places the Atrix 2 below heavyweights such as the Droid Bionic and the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich-ready, Galaxy Nexus. Still, consumers are getting a heavy-duty smartphone that's more advanced than a majority of the Android devices on the market at an incredible price.