Motorola Atrix HD Review: Fast, Sharp, Bargainby Jason Inofuentes on September 5, 2012 12:00 AM EST
Previous Motorola LTE devices used Qualcomm basebands for 3G data and telephony, while using Motorola's own Wrigley LTE baseband. Here, though, with Qualcomm's own baseband tucked alongside the AP, the Atrix HD is Motorola's first UE Category 3 device, so speeds should be better than the predecessors we saw on Verizon. And that performance was every bit as good as we've seen in other Category 3 devices. AT&T's network has a lot of potential, but speeds have as much to do with signal quality as network congestion. With AT&T's growing LTE network there's still a paucity of devices in the wild, so it's still easy to find a completely unloaded tower and spam several 55+ Mbps Speedtest.net runs. Muck with signal quality or surround the tower with lots of active devices and you'll see speeds drop, but so far that's not as likely to happen as with Verizon's network.
Unfortunately, I neglected to record the data I collected in an AT&T LTE area prior to resetting the phone to try and resolve the suddenly absent rear-facing camera. As a result, the LTE data is skewed to the little exposure I had while traveling through an area with an utterly unloaded AT&T LTE tower. As expected, speeds in such a scenario can be massive, and seeing the test fly by is quite satisfying. More realistically, I saw speeds that fit the profile we've seen before; consistently faster than AT&T HSPA+. Speaking of HSPA+, performance was on par with what we've seen down, but up was a different story. HSUPA performance hovered around 1 Mbps, and in some instances I saw performance that would make 1xRTT look speedy. AT&T's coverage of HSUPA+ is good, but one can never take for granted the possibility that you'll find yourself with either poor coverage or saturated cells.
Call voice quality is one of the more subjective aspects of a phone, and the best I can offer is that it was as good as I've heard. The speaker was perceptibly louder than many other phones in house, including the HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE and the Samsung Galaxy S III (Verizon). I still don't have the equipment to quantify that figure, but I'm abusive with phone speakers; I listen to music and podcasts all day long and the difference between a quiet phone and a loud phone is the difference between a phone I'd never own and a phone I would own. Motorola's typically a reliable performer and they do just fine here.
There's no evidence that they used anything other than the MSM8960's GPS silicon, which leaves us beating the same dead horse here. Signal locks are quick inside and out, and it's never once said I was standing in a lake when I was not.