Motorola Atrix vs HTC Inspire: 4G Smartphone Face-Off

Motorola Atrix vs HTC Inspire: 4G Smartphone Face-Off
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When you get tired of waiting forever for your entry-level smartphone to just open your email app, it’s probably time to upgrade to one of AT&T’s powerhouse offerings, like the Motorola Atrix or the HTC Inspire. Both of these devices pack a serious punch under the hood, and both can take advantage of AT&T’s HSPA+ network to get 4G-like data speeds. Choosing between them is not an easy decision, but here we have broken down the strengths and weaknesses of each device in four important categories. No one device is going to be perfect for everyone, but if you consider each category carefully, you’ll discover which device comes out ahead for you in the battle of the Motorola Atrix vs HTC Inspire.


The HTC Inspire is the bigger of the two devices, measuring 4.8 inches by 2.7 inches, while the Atrix measures 4.6 inches by 2.5 inches. The Inspire is slightly thicker at 0.46 inches, compared to the Inspire’s 0.4 inches. That extra size also means that the HTC device is a little heavier, coming in at 5.78 ounces compared to the Motorola device’s 4.8 ounces.

With the extra space, the HTC Inspire packs a slightly bigger screen, offering a 4.3-inch WVGA touch screen. The Inspire screen is nice, but bigger isn’t always better, as the Motorola Atrix proves. The Atrix’s screen is only 4 inches, but it has a much higher pixel density, at 960 x 540, and looks much better than the Inspire’s screen in all kinds of lighting conditions.

The rest of the design of both devices is fairly similar, they feature the four standard Android buttons just below the screen, and a camera on the back side. The camera does protrude a bit on the Inspire, but it isn’t in a place where you will notice it much. Both devices have a micro-USB port and a 3.5mm headset jack. The Atrix also includes a small HDMI port.

Both devices feel solid in your hand and both have a texture that will keep the device in your hand, instead of flying across the room. Since the overall design is so similar, the superior display and inclusion of an HDMI port will give the Motorola Atrix this category.

User Interface

Inspire Front

Both devices operate on the Android 2.2 (FroYo) software, but as they come from different manufacturers, they each have different UI overlays. The Inspire uses HTC’s Sense UI, while the Atrix uses Motorola’s Motoblur UI.

While I have always felt that Motoblur was the weaker of the Android overlays, recent advancements have certainly closed the gap between the products. Both UIs feature seven home screens and a Leap feature that lets you quickly view thumbnails of your home screens so you can quickly jump from one to another, instead of just swiping to scroll through them. Both overlays also come with a host of widgets and applications that you can use to do everything from consolidate your social networking to checking on the weather. Motoblur does require that you sign up for the service, while Sense gives you the option of doing so.

I’ve always been a fan of the HTC overlay, and while Motoblur is certainly no longer a reason to avoid Motorola Android devices, it still lacks a bit of the polish that I find in Sense. This category is by no means a blowout, and certainly some people will enjoy Motoblur more, but I’ll give this category to the Inspire.


laptop dock

Many of the features, like the Webkit browser, Flash support, GPS, Bluetooth technology and Wi-Fi capability, are the same on both of the devices, but there is still some separation here in the battle of the HTC Inspire vs Motorola Atrix.

The Inspire features an 8 MP camera on the back, while the Atrix features a 5 MP camera. Both cameras are capable of capturing 720p video, but the Atrix’s camera will eventually be upgradable to 1080p. Even though the Inspire camera has a higher pixel count, once you get to around 5 MP, the pixel count no longer matters. Both cameras take fairly good images, albeit with a little noise, in good light, and OK pictures in poor light. After extensive tests, I can’t claim that one camera is superior to the other in any significant way.

The Atrix also comes with a front-facing camera for video chatting. It isn’t a major loss for the Inspire, unless video chatting is important to you, in which case it may be a dealbreaker.

I would normally avoid including accessories when comparing smartphone features, especially one that costs hundreds of dollars, but the Atrix laptop dock is powerful enough to demand consideration. The laptop dock is a light, thin device that looks like a laptop. You just plug your Atrix into a special port on the back of the unit, and you can use your Atrix with a trackpad, full keyboard and an 11.5-inch screen. Only a beast like the Atrix can handle this kind of setup, and it truly is one of the best accessories available for any device.

With such similar devices, it can be difficult to pick a winner. Really, the front-facing camera and the laptop dock are the only major differences, so this round will have to go to the Atrix.


Atrix Right Side

The battle of the Motorola Atrix vs HTC Inspire has had three close categories, but performance is where the two devices start to separate.

With a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, 768 MB of RAM and 4 GB of ROM (with 1 GB available for apps), the HTC Inspire can match up with almost any device on the market… as long as that device isn’t the Atrix. The Motorola Atrix features a dual-core Tegra 2 1 GHz processor, 1024 MB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. Those specs are impressive, and the device’s performance is even more impressive.

The difference between the Atrix and Inspire is noticeable, albeit slight, when navigating around the user interface, which can only speak to the superiority of the Sense UI, because once you enter an application, there is no comparison. The Atrix is much faster and much more responsive. Additionally, with mobile applications and games getting more and more complex, the Atrix is a little insurance that your device won’t be completely obsolete in a year or two.

The Atrix also comes with a slightly larger capacity battery, which results in a little more overall battery life, at least in the tests that I performed. As far as data performance, both devices use AT&T’s “4G” network, and the load times for web pages were very similar.


Atrix vs Inspire

In the battle of the HTC Inspire vs the Motorola Atrix, both of these 4G smartphones bring a lot to the table, but one firmly stands above the other. Both of these smartphones have similar styles, use the Android OS and have similar features, but the Atrix is simply one of the most advanced devices available on the market. The dual-core processor and amazing laptop dock accessory just bring the device to the next level.

Honestly, you’re not making a bad decision with either of these two options, but given the choice, I would certainly pick the Atrix.