The emperor’s new Motorola


IF you were looking for a use for the reels of bunting left over from the Royal Wedding, hark! The Motorola Atrix finally went on sale yesterday! Of course, there is little chance anyone will actually be reading this – they will be camped outside The Carphone Warehouse, soaking up the carnival atmosphere, hoping to catch a glimpse of the first lucky Atrix owner.

The launch of this handset has been talked about for so long it must rank alongside the White iPhone in the protracted pre-release stakes. The problem is, while everybody knows what the White iPhone is, at least 90 per cent of people reading this won’t have the first clue what an “Atrix” is. Well, it’s the phone that is going to relaunch Motorola as a force in the mobile phone world. Perhaps.

It’s hard to believe Motorola was once responsible for a handset even more successful than the iPhone – one that competes for the accolade of biggest-selling gadget ever – the Razr. And while it’s a relic compared to what’s out there today, it still stands out as a design classic. The Atrix, however, doesn’t. While it looks slick enough, its appearance is not its unique selling point. No, its raison d'etre is power. And it is fast. Motorola boasts it can open web pages up to twice as fast as rivals (up to being the important words there). In fact, it is so powerful it can also morph, Transformer-like, into a laptop.

The Atrix slots into an external box – something that looks like a hollow laptop case – and becomes a fully functional PC with its own desktop operating system. So the problem of sending emails on the go is solved. All you have to do is spend the extra £300 on the casing (which is the same price as a cheap laptop) and carry it around with you (like you would a laptop). Come to think of it, could probably just buy a laptop.

And so the Atrix eats its own tail, disappearing forever in a puff of logic. Smartphones acting as a mobile “brain” to power portable hubs may one day become the norm. But the Atrix is like the emperor with his new clothes. Squint and you might convince yourself you see a revolutionary new take on the laptop. But in reality, its just another smartphone also-ran with its kit off.