Motorola Atrix 4G Hands-on Video: Most Versatile Smart Phone Yet

A lot of people in the tech world have been talking about modular computing for years. The idea: carry around a primary device, which plugs into various docks to deliver more functionality. Today Motorola made that concept a reality with the very innovative Atrix 4G, which is coming to AT&T. This dual-core Android superphone not only outputs whatever is on its display to separate laptop and home media docks, it launches a whole separate webtop application that delivers a full HTML browser (Firefox 3.6). You can even see both the phone and webtop interfaces at once, which can interact in clever ways.

We got some hands-on time with this exciting device and wanted to share our first impressions, along with some photos and a quick video.

Hardware and Specs

By itself, the Atrix 4G is a beast of a device, powered by Nvidia’s dual-core Tegra 2 chip. Coupled with a whopping 1GB of RAM, this CPU is capable of 1080p video playback and smooth Flash performance. The device sports both front- and rear-facing cameras and can record HD video. The qHD display (960 x 540 pixels) isn’t as gorgeous as a Super AMOLED panel, but menus and web sites looked bright and colorful. For the security conscious, a unique and convenient biometric fingerprint reader is there for unlocking the phone. The 4G in this phone’s name means the handset will tap into AT&T’s HSPA+ network for enhanced speeds up to 6 Mbps.

Docking Options, webtop App

The Atrix 4G has an HDMI output, but things get really interesting when you plug the phone into Motorola’s Laptop Dock. You just connect the device into the back of the ultrathin 2.4-pound clamshell, and the Atrix 4G is transformed into a mini notebook. The dock features a 11.6-inch screen and a chiclet-style keyboard that felt solid but somewhat scrunched. It’s definitely not full size. You also get two touch buttons and a trackpad that worked well when we briefly surfed the web.

Motorola’s webtop app lets you surf the full web (yes, we got the real Gmail), enjoy Flash sites, and even run Android apps like Citrix Receiver. Those with a Citrix account can run full Windows right on this Android device, which was pretty wild to see in action.

The Motorola HD Multimedia Dock has features USB ports and an HDMI port. This little accessory gives you the flexibility to connect the Atrix 4G to a HDTV for enjoying media or for plugging in a larger monitor, keyboard, and mouse at your desk. The beauty of these docks is that it you can just pick up where you left off. For example, when we loaded on the phone itself and then connected to the Atrix 4G to the Laptop Dock, the Firefox browser automatically opened the site.

In docked mode you can use Android apps at full screen, or place the phone screen on the left and web interface on the right. You can even leverage both interfaces at the same time, such as looking up a business in the browser and then dialing it on the phone.


Although there’s still a lot of unknowns, such as the price of the Laptop Dock, the Atrix 4G really pushes the limits of what a smart phone can be. It builds upon the ahead-of-its-time Palm Foleo and niche devices like the Redfly and takes the modular concept to the next level.

Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer on
Twitter Google+
Email* (will not be published)
*Indicates required field
Submit Comments

All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options