Mobile deathmatch: Motorola Mobility Atrix 4G vs. Apple iPhone 4
Motorola's versatile new Android smartphone outshines the iPhone in some ways, but falls short overallFollow @MobileGalen
Both the iPhone and Atrix remember the email addresses of senders you reply to, adding them to a database of contacts that it looks up automatically as you tap characters into the To and Cc fields. Both devices let you add email addresses to your contacts list, either by tapping them (on the iPhone) or long-tapping them (on the Atrix).
Contacts and calendars. Both the iPhone and Atrix offer three of the same calendar views: list (agenda), day, and month. But only the Atrix supports the week view. Moving among months is easy on both (as is moving among weeks on the Atrix), and both can display multiple calendars simultaneously. The iPhone makes it slightly easier to change which calendars are displayed or to change views, thanks to on-screen buttons -- but this is a minor advantage that doesn't overcome the lack of a week view. The two devices also have comparable recurring-event capabilities. But the Atrix cannot send invitations to others as you add appointments; the iPhone can.
On the iPhone, your invitations for Exchange accounts show up in your calendar so that you can accept them there with the full context of your other appointments. For other email accounts, you open the .ics invitation files in Mail, from which you can add them to the calendar of your choice. On the Atrix, the Calendar app doesn't display invitations. You can open Exchange invitations in the Email or Messaging app to add them to your calendar, but you can't open .ics invitations sent to POP or IMAP accounts.
Both the iPhone and the Atrix have capable Contacts apps, but it's easier to navigate through your entries on the iPhone. You can jump easily to names by tapping a letter, such as "T" to get to people whose last names begin with "T," or search quickly for a contact in the Search field by tapping part of the name. On the Atrix (which uses the standard Android Contacts app), a gray box appears as you begin scrolling your contacts list; if you drag it, you can scroll through the letters of the alphabet that appear in the box to move to names beginning with that letter. It's not as simple as the iPhone approach, and its "secret handshake" nature means many users won't know it exists.
On the iPhone, to search your contacts, drag up above the first contact to reveal the Search box. On the Atrix, you can search your contacts if you click the Search button (or if you click the Menu button and then tap the Search icon). You can also designate users as favorites, to put them in a shorter Favorites list. The iPhone has a similar favorites capability, but it's available only in the Phone app, not in the Contacts app.
The Atrix lets you create groups in the Contacts app, and you can then email to everyone in that group by choosing the group in the address field. The iPhone supports email groups, but you can't create them on the iPhone; they must be synced from your computer's contacts application. And you can't pick a group in the iPhone's Mail address fields -- instead, you select a group and open it up to specify just one member, repeating this step to add more members. It's a really dumb approach to groups.
The winner: The iPhone, thanks to its more intelligently designed email and calendar capabilities -- especially the fact that it works with IMAP and POP accounts sabotaged by the Atrix's MotoBlur interface. However, the Atrix wins for contacts. Still, if the Atrix supports your email accounts and you stick with its Messaging app to handle your email, you'll find it's perfectly good for business use.