Motorola Atrix vs. HTC Sensation: Smartphone showdown

Which is the better smartphone – Motorola's Atrix or HTC's Sensation?

Motorola Atrix vs HTC Sensation: Display

The Motorola Atrix has a 4in TFT touchscreen but the big draw card here is its resolution. The Atrix's 540x960 pixel resolution makes it a quarter HD (qHD) screen. In general, the higher resolution the better, as it increases the pixels per inch on the display. The Atrix's qHD screens means you will see more of a website at once, and will also benefit video playback and mobile gaming.

The HTC Sensation also boasts the same qHD resolution as the Motorola Atrix, but in the form of an SLCD (super LCD) screen rather than Mototola's regular TFT panel. Critically, the HTC Sensation's display is 4.3in, slightly larger than the Atrix.

Both of these handsets boast qHD displays, but the HTC Sensation's slightly larger screen, and the use of SLCD technology over the Atrix's TFT panel gives it an extra edge.

Motorola Atrix The Motorola Atrix has a 4in touchscreen with a 540x960-pixel resolution, making it a quarter HD (qHD) screen.

Motorola Atrix vs HTC Sensation: Software

The Motorola Atrix runs the 2.2 'Froyo' version of Google's Android operating system, so it supports Flash and has the ability to act as a wireless hotspot. The Atrix should be able to be upgraded to the latest 2.3 'Gingerbread' version of Android given it sports a dual-core processor and very high-end specs, but Motorola hasn't announced when the Atrix will receive this update. The 2.3 'Gingerbread' version of Android will equip the Atrix with a revamped keyboard, better copy and paste, improved power management, and a slicker user interface compared to previous versions of Google's mobile platform.

The Motorola Atrix also comes with the latest version of Motorola's MotoBlur service, a widget-based interface that combines multiple social networking and communications accounts (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LastFM, e-mail, Picasa, Photobucket and Yahoo Mail). Motoblur also provides a number of security features including the ability to automatically wipe the handset when it is lost or stolen, and the automatic back up of content over-the-air.

The HTC Sensation on the other hand runs the latest 2.3 Gingerbread version of Google's Android operating system. It also includes the latest version of HTC's Sense UI overlay, 3.0. New features include customisable lock screens, 3D transitions between screens, an improved weather app with more vibrant animations and a video-on-demand service called 'HTC Watch', though the latter is not likely to be available in Australia.

Although both of these smartphones run the Google's Android operating system, each has a different UI overlay that is intended to enhance the user experience. Both Motoblur and Sense look appealing in their own way, so a choice between the two will more than likely come down to personal preference. We have to give the win here to the HTC Sensation though, purely because it will ship with the latest version of Android.

HTC Sensation The HTC Sensation includes the latest version of HTC's Sense UI overlay, which includes customisable lock screens, 3D transitions between screens, and an improved weather app.

Motorola Atrix vs. HTC Sensation: Other features

The Motorola Atrix Android phone comes with a HDMI port, meaning you can connect it directly to a high definition television. Along with DLNA connectivity for wirelessly sharing media content, the Atrix seems well designed for multimedia sharing.

The HTC Sensation doesn't come with a HDMI-out port but includes something better: a new connection technology called Mobile High-definition Link (MHL). The on-board MHL technology uses the standard micro-USB port on the Sensation for outputting 1080p HD video and audio via HDMI. You'll need an optional micro-USB to HDMI MHL connector to enable this feature, but the beauty of MHL means it can also be used with a USB adapter, meaning the HTC Sensation can utilise USB on-the-go functionality like the Nokia N8.

The HTC Sensation trumps the Motorola Atrix with an 8-megapixel camera compared to the Atrix's 5-megapixel offering, and also records 1080p HD video in comparison to the Atrix's 720p HD limit. However, the Atrix boasts a fingerprint reader; the button is recessed and is situated in an awkward position, but you can use a fingerprint to unlock the Atrix, which is handy for extra security.

Motorola offers two advanced accessories for the Atrix that the HTC Sensation can't boast. The HD Multimedia Dock and Bluetooth remote ($129) allows the Atrix to be connected to a high-definition television or monitor and comes with a USB port to connect peripherals like a keyboard and mouse; the Laptop Dock ($449) turns the Atrix into a notebook computer with full Web browsing capabilities, document editing and playback access.

Motorola Atrix The Motorola Atrix's optional Laptop Dock ($449) turns the phone into a notebook computer with full Web browsing capabilities, document editing and playback access.

Another point worth noting is the fact that the Motorola Atrix is a quad-band HSDPA phone, so it will work across all Australian networks including Telstra's Next G network. The HTC Sensation on the other hand is only a dual-band 900/2100 phone, so it will only work on the Optus and Vodafone networks in Australia. There may be a separate model that will work on Telstra's Next G network (which runs on the 850MHz 3G spectrum) but this is yet to be confirmed.

The Motorola Atrix is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor, has 1GB of RAM and comes with a microSD card slot for extra storage. The Atrix is exclusive to Telstra until the end of July, where it is then expected to be available through other carriers. It can be purchased on Telstra's new freedom connect plans including the $59 plan with a mobile repayment option of $20 per month. This plan includes $550 worth of calls, unlimited text messages and 1.5GB of data. Telstra also sells the Motorola Atrix outright for $840.

The HTC Sensation is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, has 768MB of RAM and comes with a microSD card slot for extra storage. It is expected to be available in Australia in the second half of 2011, though pricing and availability has yet to be announced.

What do you think about the Motorola Atrix and the HTC Sensation? Tell us in the comments below!

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Tags Motorolahtc sensationhtcmobile phonesGoogle Android phonessmartphonesmotorola atrix

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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