When I finally broke down and got a smart phone upon returning from living in Mexico for a year, two of my traits made me get this Motorola Atrix Android phone instead of an iPhone.
1) I’m a value shopper at heart and 2) I’ve always rebelled against doing something just because it’s the popular thing to do. I didn’t want to be one of the iSheep.
I’ve got an iPod Touch and except for the horrible battery life, I like it. So I’m able to do a reasonably fair comparison. I’m totally digging this Atrix phone and here’s why.
The Price is Right
Without any special discounts, you can usually get the Motorola Atrix for $79 to $99 with an AT&T contract. I paid $49 because of a promotion running. So I essentially got a 4G, dual-core smartphone that does everything an iPhone does, with 16GB of storage to start with and the ability to add 32GB more any time, for 1/4 the price of an 16GB iPhone. I can also pull up Flash websites with ease—a huge plus. The music player can handle Apple files AND regular MP3 or WMA files.
For that $49 I got a smartphone with front and back 5 megapixel camera that shoots HD video. I’ve got Wi-Fi, 4G, and access to all my different e-mail accounts. It uses micro USB to connect to the charger and computer, which is not proprietary. (The phone comes with a USB cord and a charger attachment, plus an HDMI cable to connect to hi-def TVs.) There’s a speaker phone that works great in the car and Bluetooth connection ability of course. I can make any song a ringtone by just selecting “make this my ringtone.” Nice and easy.
Every important regular-usage app I have on my iPod Touch I’ve been able to get for this from the Android store. So I’m a ready traveler with dictionaries, currency converters, maps, flight searches, and all that. For those who want to document their life as it happens, you can put on Facebook, Twitter, Hootsuite, Foursquare, and whatever flavor of the month is bubbling up. Shazaam, Yelp, Evernote, and all the other cool apps that can make this a real multitasker. With the Skype app on here, calls that come to my Skype subscription number ring on this phone, wherever I am, with a different ring tone.
The screen is gorgeous and the interface works well. I find it a little easier to type on this than my Touch, probably because it’s a tad bigger and there is a vibration for each letter typed. It offers word suggestions you can click on, but doesn’t automatically do text correction—thankfully. There’s a fingerprint recognition function built in to turn it on, but I haven’t used that because sometimes my wife needs to answer my phone for me if I’m in the other room or in the shower. Speaking of using the phone, the dailpad is turned off when you’re talking, but a sensor can tell when you’ve removed the phone from your ear and need to punch the dialpad or hang up. Almost like magic.
Perhaps the most important advantage this has over the iPhone for many people will be a battery life that’s far superior. Without any significant conservation commands in place, I generally get two days out of this phone before I have to charge it. The worst I’ve gotten is 16 hours after playing a bunch of games for a stretch and pulling up a map while I was driving. That’s a huge improvement.
What’s the downside?
Even the most staunch Apple haters have to admit that the company is tops when it comes to ease of use. The Android interface may be logical, but it isn’t nearly as intuitive. There are surely ways to customize it to have what I use most front and center, but I need to look at a manual to figure out how. The Motoblur function overdoes it when importing your contacts and throws your Twitter and Facebook ones in with your phone contacts and e-mail ones, creating a big overwhelming mess of people. Getting rid of them is not so easy. There are some functions I haven’t figured out yet and others I’ve stumbled upon by accident.
There are a few games and destination apps that are not available for Andriod, which could matter to some people. Most will just find an alternative though. You’re not integrated with your iTunes collection with this phone, but it’s very easy to import from there.
Overall, I consider this Motorola Atrix to be about the best bargain I’ve gotten all year. I was going to sign up for a new 2-year plan anyway, so getting a smart phone with this much power and this many features for this price is fantastic. Sorry Apple—advantage Android on this deal, by a wide margin.
See the long list of features and specs at the Motorola site.