Like most slate phones, the front of the device is nearly all screen, save for the familiar Android buttons along the bottom, and the front-facing camera and earpiece up top. Along the top rear of the phone is a power / sleep button which just happens to be a fingerprint scanner too, and the 3.5mm headphone jack. Along the right side of the phone is the volume rocker (easily accessible with your thumb during calls if you're right handed). On the left side you'll find the Micro USB and HDMI ports. Around back, the stylishly patterned casing is broken by the 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, and a speaker along the bottom of the phone.
As far as truly unique hardware goes, the fingerprint scanner seems fairly novel -- but in practice it's a little frustrating. It does work as advertised, but being told to re-swipe your finger if it doesn't take when you're trying to get into the phone quickly can be a little bothersome. Unless you really need the high security, a standard passcode will suffice for most people.
Fingerprint scanner quibbles aside, the Atrix 4G is one of the better looking Android devices we've had a chance to use. We would have liked to see higher quality materials in play here, but despite the housing, the phone comes off as both sleek and rugged -- a great combo for something that will likely be doing double (if not triple) duty in your connected world. From an industrial design standpoint, this device more than holds its own against the the best of the best on the market right now.
|Image Source: Motorola|
A few observations and a caveat:
Caveat: I've never held one of these devices. I'm just going by what's in the quoted section of the article linked above and what I can infer from the picture.
♦ The fingerprint reader is at the top-center of the back of the device. This seems like a good choice, extending the possibility that both right-handed and left-handed people could use the sensor conveniently using the device as a phone.
♦ It's a swipe fingerprint sensor, as opposed to a static fingerprint sensor. Swipe sensors require far less real-estate than static ones but they also require more user training.
♦ The sensor seems to be in an "alley" that should help the user find it without looking at the device and guide the finger across the sensor, making it easier to use.
♦ The sensor is also the power button, so the Motorola folks didn't just jam a fingerprint reader into some random spot, they gave it a place of honor.
All in all, it's hard not to get excited about the possibilities offered by manufacturers incorporating biometrics into mobile platforms. Motorola appears to have opened the door to these possibilities in a thoughtful and meaningful way. Given the amount of information in our pockets nowadays, it seems likely that this is only the beginning for consumer mobile biometrics.