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Motorola Atrix

Alright, it arrived on April 2nd. It's my third mobile phone, my second Android phone, as well as my second Motorola.

Specifications

Do they not have radios in the U.S.? Motorola doesn't put FM radios in most of their phones for some reason. Certainly not the two that I've chosen.

Having struggled with my Milestone, which has only 256 MiB of RAM, I‘m really looking forward to having a phone with four times that amount. I’m hoping that the large amount of RAM and the unlockable bootloader will give this phone a longer life than my Milestone.

Accessories

Wishlist

There are two docks available for the Atrix - a “standard” one mostly like my Milestone one, and a “multimedia” dock. The later enables the host mode of the USB OTG controller in the phone. That means you obviously can't connect your computer to it in that dock. But strangely the “standard” dock is also charge-only, even though it takes a micro-USB plug in the back. So it seems that to transfer files with my computer, I'd have to plug it in with a USB cable. Or use some IP-based method (rsync?) over the Wi-fi.

With HDMI out and a good amount of processing power, this phone could become my games machine. The Sixaxis Controller app allows using PS3 controllers (that are Bluetooth) with any app, simulating touch events to the on-screen controls. And I gather a growing number of games will take input directly from a variety of controllers. So one possibility is to use the multimedia dock with a DVI/USB KVM switch (and a HDMI-to-DVI converter in between) to play games at my desktop. Or I could just go downstairs and plug into the big TV in the lounge room.

Experience

Hardware

The plastic back seemed a little flimsy at first but after a week it's working fairly well. You just have to remember to click in the middle clips before the top corner ones, then it's all solid. Although the corners still creak a little.

The combination power button + fingerprint scanner is annoying. It's angled at 45° because it's a combination device, but that makes using either of its functions non-optimal. It is certainly difficult to press it, requiring a pinch of the top of the device. That would make unlocking the device a two-hand job, if it weren't for the ability of CM7 to allow waking the device with the volume buttons. Swiping a finger along the sensor is easier, but still not optimal.

Like my Milestone, the camera is too close to the edge to avoid easily covering it with a finger when holding the phone. And the LED lights/flash are placed below the camera. They have a slightly greater spacing from the lens than on the Milestone and I often find my fingers/hand covering them when I turn on the torch function of the phone. The LEDs really should be above the lens for both better lighting of photographic subjects and to avoid being covered by fingers when holding the phone in a normal portrait orientation.

Software

I quickly tried out the MotoBlur software included on the phone when I got it, but I wasn't impressed with it. Even though the phone seemed to be from Italy (Italian was the default language on first startup) there were, IIRC, still icons for AT&T. So I quickly resolved to replace the stock firmware.

I used tayshun12's howto, it was written much better than some of the other XDA forum posts on how to do stuff. My phone was soon unlocked and had romracer's recovery image flashed to it. Then it was off to find a ROM to install. I found Notorious544d's Neutrino ROM (based on CM7) and downloaded the various packages for it. It was really fiddly operating the recovery with only the volume toggle and power button as inputs. But I eventually got Neutrino and all of its add-ons installed. Rebooted and I have a lovely CM7 phone! Boy is it quick!

I‘ve since tried a CM9 beta (buggy), a ROM based on Motorola’s official firmware (still don't like MotoBlur), and a CM7 nightly. Just as on my Milestone, I'm liking CM7.