Apple iPhone 4S vs. Motorola Atrix – Attack!

by Jerry D on October 5, 2011

OK. So the Apple iPhone 4S wasn’t quite the ground-breaking iPhone 5 that many of us hoped for. But then Apple doesn’t always jump streets ahead of its competitors. It does just enough to keep you interested. The question now is: has Apple done enough with the 4S model. Can it meet the Motorola Atrix in open combat and knock it down on its ass? Find the answer below…

XXXX versus graphic Apple iPhone 4S vs. Motorola Atrix   Attack! XXXX

Round #1 – Connectivity:
Let’s consider the wireless options first. The dual-core, dual-mode (GSM/CDMA) iPhone 4S boasts 3G/HSDPA (14.4Mbps), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP. The Atrix, meanwhile, features 3G/HSDPA (14.4Mbps), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and EDR. The iPhone’s dual-mode operation just snags the point here.

Score: +1 to iPhone 4S (1-0)

Round #2 – Size & Weight:
Let’s talk about pocketability next… The nippy iPhone 4S and the speedy Atrix measure 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm and 117.8 x 63.5 x 10.1mm respectively. Overall, it’s easy to see that the Atrix is the bigger phone of the two. But in terms of weight, the Apple iPhone 4S weighs 140g, while the Atrix is 136g. There’s not much in it. We’ll go with the 4S here.

Score: +1 to iPhone 4S (2-0)


Round #3 – Camera:
First up, the iPhone 4S packs a new 8.0 Megapixel camera with HDR, an improved CMOS sensor and an IR filter. It also features: tap to focus, an LED flash, geo-tagging and 1080p HD video recording with video image stabilization. The 8MP lens gives the 4S a max resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels. For video calling/FaceTime/VGA self-portraits, you’ll find a second camera on the front.

The Atrix, in comparison, has a lower-spec camera – specifically a 5.0 Megapixel snapper with a max resolution of 2592 x 1944 pixels. It also boasts frills such as autofocus, an LED flash, image stabilization, geo-tagging and 720p video capture functionality. An extra camera on the front is designed for video calling. It’s good, but the iPhone’s new upgraded optics take the point in this round, opening up a decent lead over Motorola’s phone.

Score: +1 to iPhone 4S (3-0)

Round #4 – Screen/keyboard:
Headlining the Apple iPhone 4S is the same, high-quality 3.5-inch Retina display as you find on the older iPhone 4. It’s a shame that it’s not bigger, but you do get a great resolution of 640 x 960 pixels. This means that there are 614400 pixels onscreen overall, which works out at 329.714 pixels per inch (PPI).

rez comparison1 Apple iPhone 4S vs. Motorola Atrix   Attack!

The touch-sensitive LCD screen on the Atrix is bigger, measuring 4.0 inches. Unfortunately, it boasts a lower resolution (only 540 x 960 pixels) than iPhone 4S. In comparison, there are 518400 pixels onscreen, giving the Atrix a pixel density of 275.25 pixels per inch. We prefer the Atrix’s extra room, but the iPhone’s clarity…

Score: +1 to both phones (4-1)

Round #5 – Processor:
Under the hood, the Motorola Atrix uses a dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 CPU, rated at 1GHz. Eclipsing the single-core A4 chip in the iPhone 4, the souped-up iPhone 4S packs a 1GHz dual-core Apple A5 processor. Yes, the same one that you find inside the iPad 2.

Score: +1 to both phones (5-2)

Round #6 – Software:
Motorola’s phone launched with Android 2.2, enhanced (if you can call it that) with the MotoBlur UI. It’s since seen an update to 2.3. Apple’s hardware uses the iOS 5 software, which adds several new features, such as Android-style notifications, iMessage, Twitter integration and wireless updates.

Score: +1 to both phones (6-3)

Round #7 – Applications:
As our poll shows, the OS is often the most important part of a smartphone. The hardware enabled the content. Looking at the stats below, the iPhone 4S still leads the way with the biggest number of downloadable apps. But the Android eco-system is catching up fast.

Score: +1 to iPhone 4S (7-3)

Round #8 – Storage:
The iPhone 4S boasts 32GB* compared to the default 16GB capacity of the Atrix. That said, the iPhone 4S lacks an expansion slot so 32GB is all the storage you get if you opt for this model. The Atrix’s overall capacity can be increased to 48GB via its microSD memory card slot, giving it some extra flexibility.

*The iPhone 4S is also available in 16GB and 64GB models.

Score: +1 to Atrix (7-4)

Round #9 – Battery life:
Comparing the battery life, Apple claims 8.0 hours of talktime for the iPhone 4S, compared to 9.0 hours for the Atrix. Standby times are 300 hours and 250 hours respectively. This round goes to the Atrix.

Score: +1 to Atrix (7-5)


Note: The Standby time specification is an industry standard that is only intended to allow comparison of different mobile phones under the same circumstances. Power consumption in a standby state is strongly dependent on factors including: network, settings, location, movement, signal strength and cell traffic.

Round #10 – Extras:
Into the final round and the battle is all but won. The iPhone 4S also includes the key features of the iPhone 4 – GPS/A-GPS, digital compass, a TV out and a 3-axis gyroscope. But it also adds world phone GSM/CDMA connectivity and the advanced Siri voice assistant. In comparison, the Atrix features GPS/A-GPS, HDMI out, an eCompass, a stereo FM radio (with RDS) and a clever docking capability that can transform it into a laptop computer.

Score: +1 to both phones (8-6)

BPF Verdict: The Apple iPhone 4S wins!

Here’s how this fight played out… The iPhone 4S wins out here thanks to the highest-spec camera, a superior display and a sexier, thinner form factor. The Atrix is certainly no slouch and the docking functionality is a real draw. But Apple’s new hardware, combined with the new software features baked into iOS 5, see it come out on top in this fight.

See if these two phones make our Top 20 Best Smartphones list…

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