Camera, Battery Life, Conclusion
Motorola isn't usually known for putting excellent cameras into its smartphones, and the 8 megapixel unit on the Atrix HD is no exception. Though the camera produces acceptable images most of the time, it is by no means at the top of the class these days. Outdoors, the Atrix HD's camera struggles to properly expose high contrast scenes, while indoor images tend to be a bit noisier than the competition's. The Atrix HD also has very inconsistent white balance when shooting in artificial light.
The camera app itself is very similar to the one found on the Droid Razr, and it offers a handful of controls at your fingertips. The Atrix HD doesn't come with the bevy of photography options that Samsung and HTC put into their devices, but it does offer tap-to-focus, a handful of effects and scene modes, and a panoramic stitch mode. The Atrix HD also doesn't have a dedicated camera key, but it is possibly to set the volume rocker to snap a picture. Just be very careful of blocking the lens with your fingers while taking a pic with the volume rocker, as the position of it is a bit tricky for a shutter key.
The Atrix HD can also capture 1080p HD video, which was about the same image quality wise as its stills. The video mode features continuous autofocus, tap-to-focus, and zoom while recording, and it is possible to snap stills while shooting video. Finally, the front-facing 1 megapixel camera works well enough for its intended purpose, and it is capable of recording 720p HD video on its own.
Out of the box, the only music player that comes on the Atrix HD is the Google Play Music app. I don't see that as a bad thing, as the Play Music app handles both locally stored music and music that is streamed from a Google Music account. The app supports album art and playlists, and has various audio profiles and equalizer settings. You can control playback from the lock screen, a home screen widget, or the notification bar if you are not currently within the app. The external speaker offers a good amount of volume without distortion, but the sound is not especially full and the audio becomes very echoey when the Atrix is placed down on a flat surface. Those who have large music libraries will want to either take advantage of Google's cloud storage in its Google Music service or add a microSD card to the Atrix HD, as there is only 4.8GB of storage available out of the box.
As mentioned earlier, the Atrix HD comes with an embedded 1780mAh battery that is not user-accessible or replaceable. Motorola claims that the battery should be good for up to 9 hours of talk time or 8.5 days of standby. In my tests with regular usage, the Atrix HD generally lasted about 11 or 12 hours before calling it quits, which puts it just behind the average for smartphones today. The Atrix HD will likely get most people through a standard workday, but come the end of the day, some time on the charger will be necessary.
The Motorola Atrix HD may not be the absolute best performer, and definitely has its quirks, but for someone looking for a smartphone in the $100 price range, it's pretty tough to beat. For that price you get a 720p display, a speedy Snapdragon S4 processor, and the closest thing to stock Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich that you can find on an AT&T smartphone. I do wish the camera was better, and the battery life is certainly not impressive, but aside from those faults, it's hard not to recommend the Motorola Atrix HD as a solid smartphone choice.
Pros: Sharp and bright display, snappy performance, solid build quality.
Cons: Lackluster battery life, mediocre camera, somewhat boring design.