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


View All Comments

  • locowolf - Thursday, September 6, 2012 - link

    Any chance that you can start testing battery life on GPS in some of these reviews? I am astonished at how fast GPS runs down the battery of my HTC One-X and would love to see how other smartphones fare. Reply
  • Belard - Saturday, September 15, 2012 - link

    Well... I finally got my Atrix HD today. So far, I'm liking the phone a lot... much more than my Galaxy S1... and personally, I still like it over the SGS3. Still getting used to Android 4.0

    Anyways, soon after activation - there is a 66mb upgrade for the Atrix HD phone which is supposed to:
    - Improve battery life (always a good thing)
    - Improve Wifi
    - some security fixes.
    - Improved Camera functions and image quality.

    Since I just got the Phone and did the update on its first charge, I don't have much to compare it with.

    Improving Camera and battery life would be a big boost to the phone.

    I really really like the Circles, how the info is provided.
  • Belard - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - link

    One week of use...

    Battery life seems to be getting better every day. Also, I've shut down some useless apps, mostly at&t ones for thinks I just don't need.

    Best Buy is now selling this phone (by itself) for $30... a steal.

    The phone fells great. The review is pretty accurate on its shortcomings (SIM cover). I also played with a friends new Samsung Galaxy S3, fixing some settings... and was glad to have bought the Atrix HD over the Samsung (even thou it is a somewhat better phone on the hardware end)

    4.1 will only make the Atrix a much better phone.
  • kbird1976 - Monday, October 1, 2012 - link

    How do I know if my phone is charging.. I thought there was a blue flashing light,but its gone Reply
  • kbird1976 - Monday, October 1, 2012 - link

    can you remove/change the keyboard that suggest words ? I hate that, I just want the old fashion touch 1 letter at a time ! Sorry, but I am an older user and swype isn't for me, nor the suggestion of words.

    Thanks !
  • KjunMan2012 - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Stay away from the Motorola Atrix HD as it will not last the length of your contract. Purchased one at AT&T on 8/24/2012 with a 2 year contract. The phone battery lasted until 10/20/2012. After many questions by warranty such as "Do you leave the phone on at night?" I was able to obtain a new one under warranty spending $14.95 for expedited shipping.
    I doubt this phone will last until the end of the contract as the battery which cannot be changed will die again and at that point I have nothing, nada, for a phone. Maybe it will get dropped overboard while fishing as it is insured. Probably will end up buying another phone on eBay to get to end of contract. Wanted to pay for a new Samsung and trade in this NEW Motorola but they would not deal or wanted $450.00 for me to change phones. I am stuck with this one but no more Motorola phones for me. My son has the Samsung Galaxy III and has no issues with it. Should have spent the additional $100.00 and got a quality phone. John Arbuckle said "You get what you paid for". Boy, was he right!
    Camera is poor on the Motorola. Photos come out rather yellow looking. Difficult to save photos and some I have not been able to delete.
    My suggestion. spend a little more money and get a much better phone than the Motorola. I hope it lasts till contract ends but i am not confident.
  • Jay72 - Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - link

    If I run Lin pack multi threaded 10 times on my atrix HD, I get from 250 to 300 MFLOPS on 9 of the runs. Reply

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