- Editor's Rating
- Nice design
- Fast and stable operation
- Camera quick access is superb
- Glossy build, a fingerprint and smudge magnet
- Too much Verizon bloatware
- No microSD or user-accessible battery
Quick TakeThe Motorola Droid Ultra is a good phone, if you can see past its glossy build. It's fast, stable, and sports excellent software with fun features.
The Motorola Droid Ultra is a Verizon-exclusive handset with a 5-inch Super AMOLED display. The device came out just days before the much-anticipated Moto X and is priced the same at $200 with a two-year contract at the time of the review. Brighthand set out to discover what, if anything, is the Ultra’s appeal.
The Ultra sports a Kevlar unibody covered in a glossy plastic shell, which BH noted is prone to fingerprints and smudges. BH also said the phone is not pleasant to hold. However, BH was impressed with the smartphone’s design. It has a tapered body that thins out toward the mouth-end of the device. It measures 5.41 x 2.80 x 0.28 inches and weighs 4.94 ounces, making it as thin and light as any other smartphone on the market. BH said the Ultra feels solid and did not flex under moderate pressure. In terms of ports, the Ultra’s sealed body offers users a microUSB input and 3.5mm headphone jack. It also has a power button and volume rocker that slides out to reveal the SIM card tray.
BH noted the Ultra’s 5-inch super AMOLED display with 294 dpi resolution looks fine with “super contrast.” AMOLED displays are known for intense contrast and vibrant colors and the Ultra’s display lives up to the reputation. BH found the touch sensitivity of the screen to be spot on and said viewing angles are “superb,” but noted the brightness of the display could be better.
When it comes to performance, BH found the Ultra to operate nearly flawlessly with very little lag and delay. The Ultra runs on the new Motorola X8 system which consists of a 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU and 400MHz quad-core Adreno 320GPU with 2 GB RAM. The Ultra ships with Android 4.2.2 and is very close to being a stock Android device. It comes with a suite of preloaded Verizon applications, which BH found to be mostly useless. It also features the dated Droid branding, which sports a red and black color scheme that BH called “garish” but noted can be changed or disabled. The Ultra UI also includes some useful features, notable Active Notifications, which gives users quick access to notifications while the device is in sleep mode, Touchless Control, which is similar to Google Now, and Droid Zap, which allows users to share photos with any other Android phone with Droid Zap that is within 300 feet (similar to AirDrop). The Ultra supports Verizon LTE, CDMA/EVDO, GSM and HSPA+ bands, which BH notes makes it easy to take overseas and swap out SIM cards.
The Ultra has a 2130mAh lithium ion battery, which Verizon states will hold a charge for 28 hours of usage or 13 days of standby time. BH got about a day of use out of the battery and logged no complaints with its performance. The smartphone has a 10-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. It can shoot 1080p video at 60 frames per second and includes a multitude of modes and shooting options. The camera is also easily accessible even while sleeping, as it only takes two shakes of the wrist to launch the camera app. BH found picture quality to be decent in low-lighting and good in outdoor lighting, but noted image quality paled in comparison to smartphone such as recent iPhones and the Lumia 928.
Overall, BH called the Motorola Droid Ultra a “good phone, bottom line.” BH was impressed with the fast and reliable performance, excellent software and wonderful design. BH found that while the Ultra’s display specs do not match-up with that of the iPhone 5s or Samsung Galaxy S4, but most users won’t notice the difference. The camera, however did not match up with the best of the best. In the end, BH found the Droid Ultra is “not hard to recommend,” but noted it’s so similar to the Droid Mini, Maxx and Moto X, that most users will want to look at those handsets as well.