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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  • SanLouBlues - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    Is it easy to flash with other ROMs? My current Motorola Droid Pro is crippled with the stock ROM and it drives me up a wall. Reply
  • bjacobson - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    Given Motorola's track record of support for existing devices I'm staying the heck away from this one. My Atrix4G, hailed as the world's most powerful phone when it was released just one year ago, still does not have ICS or JB. It has 1GB RAM, 16GB ROM, and dual core 1ghz A9 (Tegra2), no reason it shouldn't receive ICS, JB and (potentially Android 5.0), but I'm not holding my breath to get even ICS.

    In addition Motorola's touch screens leave a lot lacking. Every phone of theirs that I've used (OGDroid, Droid2, Droid3, Atrix4G, Droid Bionic) has too low of a resolution of touch-sensing and has a grid of "dead zones" where the screen will jitter if you hold you finger there while dragging something (like the notification bar). Makes for a very unpleasant phone experience that I do not want again.

    So needless to say I will be going HTC or Samsung or frickin anybody else but Motorola next round.
    Reply
  • Belard - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    Atrix HD is sold by the Google owned Motorola... Support should be improved, no?

    Also, I had the same problems with my Samsung.

    The carriers are the biggest problems with updates.
    Reply
  • bjacobson - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    Yes.
    It probably will be, I'm just TO'd that I still don't have a new version of nderoidz
    Reply
  • blakflag - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    totally agree.. I also got the Atrix 4G and the update support has been terrible. Regardless of how good the hardware is, without timely updates it's not worth it. Gonna go with a Google Nexus branded device next time. (stock Android is better than any of these tarted up skins the OEMs put on there) Reply
  • extide - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    You'll probably be disappointed to find out that all the future Google Nexus phones will be made by Motorola! Reply
  • Impulses - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    That's just speculation, and also irrelevant since updates would be handled by the Android software team regardless... Doubly irrelevant if rumors of an expanded multi-manufacturer Nexus lineup are to be believed. Reply
  • ados_cz - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    Galaxy S III is quad core. Reply
  • eric appla - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    there are two variants. The one listed here is also correct it is a USA model which is dual core while the international version is a quadcore Reply
  • ados_cz - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - link

    Aha, thanks, did not know that. Reply

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