A good smartphone these days needs a great screen. To that end, marketing lingo offers nothing. Motorola has dubbed this 4.5” TFT-LCD display, its ColorBoost display. I’m not sure what that means, but I do know that the 1280x720 panel has a lot of potential. We take displays seriously, and so, like every other aspect of our reviews, we try to gather as much objective data as we can. There’s something to be said for subjective analysis though, and so we’ll start with that. I want to like this display, but something bugged me from the moment I lit it up. I think this is what people feel when they say they hate a PenTile AMOLED display's color balance. PenTile never bothered me much, but the Atrix HD display does. I couldn’t come close to seeing individual pixels from a normal viewing distance and there were excellent viewing angles, but that’s something we’ve come to expect from any tolerable handset. There was something else . . .

Brightness (White)

Brightness (Black)

Contrast Ratio

Chart topping brigthness makes me recall Motorola's use of PenTile RGBW in many of last years models to boost brightness. There’s no such trickery at work here, just a powerful backlight. Such a strong backlight has its deficits though, and in this case it’s the black level that falters a bit. We’ve seen worse, and the contrast remains respectable. So if all of this looks good, what is it that bugs me about this phone’s display? 


We use ColorHCFR and Voodoo Screen Test Pattern to characterize our displays, and one of the most delightful features is that it builds these great charts. Two charts I’ll highlight here spell out my issues pretty clearly. The simplest is the color temperature chart (right, and a bit difficult to make out), which breaks down the color temperature at the various intensities. What we see is a distinct and drastic blue push, so much so it's off the charts at a few measurements. The CIE chart, gives us a clearer look at what’s happening. The plane is one defined color space, and the black triangle represents the sRGB color space, the standard for CE displays. The white triangle is the Atrix HD’s display’s color space, and you can see a distinct shift towards the blue in this triangle. That shift makes for vibrant blues, but it also makes other colors fall off their mark. I’ve always been a pixel density enthusiast (I’d never considered owning a TV larger than 27” until 1080i was in play), but as the mobile industry continues to scratch that itch, I find myself disgruntled with shifts in color accuracy. What does this mean for everyone else? Honestly, go play with it. I can tell you that it’s bright and dense with good contrast, but that I don’t like the colors. You might love them, and that’s fine. That’s the thing about subjective analysis, it depends on the subject. 

Introduction and Design Performance


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  • Belard - Thursday, September 6, 2012 - link

    The Atrix HD does include the Car Dock/Charger. It re-configs the phone to a GPS type device and hands-free home just by plugging it in. The dock costs $40 (on the Motorola site).

  • kpb321 - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    I assume that the color issue persisted with the new phone you received to resolve the camera issue since you didn't say otherwise. When I first saw the specs and price for this phone I figured it would end up being a pretty solid mid level phone and most people probably wouldn't be bothered by the display or if they were it would be at a level where they couldn't put their finger on why it bother them. Reply
  • dymelos - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    I know most of these are written with certain things in mind, and mostly started before market adjustments happen. But when you put a mid range phone againist a high end phone (the htc one x) thats the same price as each other, its hard to recomend the mid range phone. The htc has been 99 at att for over a month now. Its the best phone for the money that they carry as far as complete packages are concerned. Reply
  • Impulses - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    And the AHD is already $50 at most places other than AT&T... They can't revise the article d every two weeks. Reply
  • bill4 - Thursday, September 6, 2012 - link

    Umm, they can edit the line referring to price, or update their conclusion, or come out with these reviews in a more timely manner, or SOMETHING.

    Talking about how this is the only Krait available for 99 when the One-X has been 99 for weeks just makes the article look bad.

    Just overall, the review isn't timely enough. This phone came out in late July IIRC. At that time I was kind of interested in it as an SGS3 alternative. That seems like forever ago and the Anand review is just now hitting? It's way too late to do any good.

    However, Anand does the most thorough phone reviews that I trust the most. A lot of reviews from all the phone sites, while they may review the phone a day after release, are really shitty. To me they're more like first impressions masquerading as reviews.

    So I guess, it's a big catch 22, and I dont know the answer. But just in general I wish this review was more timely by far. Like maybe first week of August or anything.
  • SlyNine - Thursday, September 6, 2012 - link

    Anandtech adjusts, and learns, from things like this. I hope the next phone review is a bit more forward thinking and includes scenarios such as price drops ( if they think the price will drop just after, or even before the review is released). Reply
  • MrMilli - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    Jason, it seems you're not too familiar with v-sync.
    The differences between the onscreen and offscreen tests (v-sync'd and not) are perfectly normal and have nothing to do with 'thermal issues that arise because of the heat generated by the screen'.
    The simple explanation is that when v-sync is off, the gpu doesn't have to wait for the monitor to refresh to send the back buffer to the frame buffer. This will cause an increase in frame rate, even under 60fps.
  • SlyNine - Thursday, September 6, 2012 - link

    They have discussed this before. I believe they disable Vsync for both, Its a developer option, but I don't remember the specifics. Reply
  • Belard - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    I've been playing with HTC One X, SGS3 and a bit with the ATRIX HD finally. (I did consider the Nokia 900 and iPhone4s - No on iPhone because of Apples lawyers and iPhones are more prone to theft - no on WP7... and its dead end system... even at $50).

    I helped my business partner go with the Samsung GS3... its quite nice... and these 3 phones include an LED messaging light (handy!). But the screens on GS3s are a bit dark.

    Because of the Power button and USB connector location, I tossed out the HTC-One X. Otherwise, its screen, the feel of the body scores a 10 in my book. The Camera is still odd to me. I just won't deal with that button arrangement. Hence, we have CHOICES.

    Love the HOME button on the GS3... Can't stand the glossy plastic feel - the phone is too big for me to make it even bigger with a cover. The cover my friend bought, feel apart after a month.

    The review cleared up a few areas that helps me out on this... THANKS Jason. (sorry for poking ya about it) - I wish the camera was a bit better, but I use real cameras when photos count. Hence, the 8GB of memory means nothing to me. The issues you bring up are valid (the SD slot cover) and slightly odd looking back. Would NFC added more than $5 to the price? I *WILL* be going with the white version because I like how it looks from the front and side. IMHO, they should have made it solid... it would have looked more modern. I actually like how the texture differences feel. The black band has speckles on it (think IBM type-writer/keyboards of the 80s) which is old-school texture..

    I love how the phone feels (not quite as much as the HTC One). I've played with putting it in my pocket and seeing how I can get phone out. I wish it was a bit smaller. The VOL buttons can be set to control ZOOM or SHUTTER... very smart. Also, because of the lack of MAIN buttons, there is a bit more flexibility in using the phone.

    At least down here, at&t is including a CAR-DOCK ($40 usually) with this Atrix HD... so its almost like paying $60 for the phone. The DOCK attaches to you car and your phone clamps to it. What the dock does is charge your phone and puts it into a GPS mode... It'll operate in a hands free mode (speaks your text messages / speaker phone modes). When you remove the phone from the dock, it can "tag" your car location... so if its in a big parking lot, the Atrix HD will point to your car. (unless it was stolen, of course)

    I like the standard interface of the Atrix HD too... over the Samsung and a bit over the HTC for the very reasons you pointed out... using it on the phone is quite nice. I've been using launcher7 on my Galaxy S1 phone for 1.5 years. (It a WP7 Launcher interface) - I think I'm good with ICS on the Atrix to keep it stock.... its a nice screen and to reduce to basic plain color blocks seems a shame.

    I'm glad you did a proper battery test. Reviews I've seen from end users "battery sucks" had me worried. hence, I trust reviews that use standards that can be compared to products, not just what someone decides based on their own usage. None of the phones on your list is as bad as my 2 year old Galaxy S1.

    PS: I've seen the preview photos of the Lumia 820... that is a very COOL looking phone. Too bad they don't make an Android version. :) I'm sure Launcher 8 will come out if I feel the need to use that User Interface style. There is also WP7 style Phone Dialer / Texting apps too... ITs that kind of flexibility that keeps me on Android.

    PS: I always recommend people to still try out the phones themselves to make sure they are comfortable with it. I trust the HTC One X - but its still not for me.
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    You have the battery in the RAZR MAXX, but it's not used in every phone you make.. why not? It would be a huge draw. No other manufacturers have cottoned on yet that people want huge battery life, but you did.. with one model. Reply

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