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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  • eric appla - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    does anybody make rugged smartphones? No mater what phone I had they rarely lasted more then 6-12 months so i ended up with Sonim XP3 but it's too bulky but i could live with that.
    True problem is the buggy SW.
    From the Smartphone on the market Motorola razr seems like most robust but battery live is poor.
    If anybody have an idea what else to look at please post here.

    Criteria are following
    1) Durability
    2) Reliability
    3) battery live 3 days of medium use or replaceable battery to be able to carry spare battery for longer weekend hikes
    4) Android

  • MrMilli - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    The Sony Xperia acro S has IP57 certification but has a non-user replaceable battery. Reply
  • Zoomer - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    The upcoming Xperia V would do too. Reply
  • Belard - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    Its out-dated, but kind of matches your 4 items


    Samsung needs to modernize that phone. Its buggy and the battery tends to such. But it is tough.
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    Maybe adjust your behaviour first? I have broken 2 phones out of 5 I owned, one because of a car/bike accident and one because of a fight I was in. My 2 most recent ones (HTC TP2 and Samsung SGS2) have survived 20+ and 15+ months so far. Reply
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    I have zero broken phones out of all that I've owned since 1999 (and a few pagers before that). Work has always paid for my phones + service (currently iPhone 4S). I'll probably break one when I pay for it myself... Reply
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    Just get a good case? Hard to imagine anything breaking inside an otterbox. Reply
  • Peanutsrevenge - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    'Sensible screen size: Maybe, just about.
    MicroSD: Check
    Removable battery: FAIL.
    Decent performance: Check

    Another phone that fails to tick the boxes a mate wants ticking.

    Why oh WHY can't Android phone makers put decent hardware in a phone <4" with removable battery and SD card slot?
    Even going for 4.2-4.5" with those requirements is hard to find and their important features for a great number of people.

    Sod saving that 2mm thickness, give us removable batteries!
  • Belard - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    Removable battery isn't a major issue for most people. As long as there is a way to hard-reset the phone. My Galaxy S1 Captivate has a handy slide-removable cover - which gets used a lot because it locks up.

    Talk time on todays phones are pretty good.

    The HTC ONE X has a non-removable battery, also can't add memory to it.

    Even thou the S3's cover can come off... it actually works pretty good underwater... a video is on CNET... dropped in a fish bowl for a few seconds. Only thing dumb about it - She tried to turn the PHONE OFF (but it thought it wanted her to unlock/reboot) - rather than pull the battery ASAP.
  • Arbie - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    Jason -

    It doesn't "beg the question"; it "raises the question". In basic terms, to beg a question means to take something for granted.

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