Motorola DROID Ultra Review
Another year, another round of DROIDs. Back in 2012, we were introduced to the Motorola DROID RAZR HD, RAZR MAXX HD, and RAZR M, which are now being replaced by the new DROID Ultra, DROID MAXX, and DROID Mini.
The best way to think of the Motorola DROID Ultra is an incremental update of the DROID RAZR HD. The display has increased in size from 4.7” to 5” but keeps the same 720x1280 resolution, the processor is updated from a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 with 1GB RAM to an in-house Motorola X8 at 1.7 GHz with 2GB of RAM, and even the camera has gone from 8MP to 10MP.
Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, and LG G2 – all of which are top-tier smartphones from those respective companies. So let’s take a closer look at the DROID Ultra.
Included in the retail package is the Motorola DROID Ultra XT1080 smartphone, 2 USB port wall charger, microUSB cable, and user guides.
The Motorola DROID Ultra has a more stylish appearance than last year’s model, as it comes all black, or a stunning red & black combination. While this looks good out of the box, after a few minutes of use you will notice that the glossy finish is a fingerprint magnet and requires frequent wiping to look its best. Even though both the DROID Ultra and DROID MAXX are made out of Kevlar, which provide for a durable surface, only the DROID MAXX has the woven soft-touch backing that provides for a more firm grip; sans fingerprints.
137.5 x 71.2 x 7.18 mm
4.83 oz (137 g)
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm
4.59 oz (130 g)
137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)
138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)
Even though Motorola dropped its “RAZR” branding this year, the DROID Ultra is a remarkable 7.18mm thin with a weight of 4.83oz, while the DROID RAZR HD was 8.4mm and 5.14oz. Also, the “camera hump” near the top has smoothed out even more. These deign improvements allow the DROID Ultra to fit comfortably in the hand, and is light weight enough for all day use.
Motorola has decided to bring back the dedicated capacitive control buttons (back, home, and recent apps) under the display, instead of using the on-screen buttons. Most likely this was done to make better use of the larger screen size, while above it is a 2MP camera for self pics or video chatting. On the right edge of the phone is the power/lock key and volume rocker, which are raised-up and have a nice texture to them so they are easy to find. Up on top is a 3.5mm headset jack, with the microUSB port on the bottom, and the camera with LED flash and external speaker on the back. If you are wondering about the SIM card slot, it is actually part of the volume rocker. All you need to do it get your thumb nail (or a small pin) under the center part, push up and pull out. This is an interesting way to make use of all available space, instead of having a separate SIM slot.
Maybe Motorola didn’t get the memo, but having a 5” Super AMOLED display with 720x1280 resolution just doesn’t cut it on a high-end device at this time, as most of the competition is now using 1080x1920 resolution displays. Don’t get us wrong, as the display on the DROID Ultra does produce nice saturated colors and is pleasing to the eye, but when compared next to the Samsung Galaxy S4, you can clearly see a difference, as text and images are sharper on the Galaxy S4’s 1080p display.
Since both of those phones use Super AMOLED technology, the viewing angles and color reproduction are great on each, but we did notice that the display on the Galaxy S4 appeared slightly brighter when both display’s brightness were turned all the way up.
Also on board is the Active Display notification feature, which we also saw on the Moto X. Basically what it does it allows you to nudge the phone, and only the center of the display will turn on showing the date and time. Then if you get any notifications, such as a new message or a missed call, only that part of the display will turn on. This way, the device will conserve power since it does not have to turn on the entire display.
Drag the picture or use the keyboard arrows to rotate the phone.
Double click or press keyboard Space to zoom in/out
1. belovedson (Posts: 832; Member since: 30 Nov 2010)
no sim or miscrosim? really? what is this sprint
6. _Bone_ (Posts: 2138; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)
It's Verizon exclusive. Here's hoping for for an international model with SIM, the MAXX sounds too good not to get.
10. ViBRATOt49 (Posts: 17; Member since: 06 Aug 2009)
the sim is in the volume rocker. check out droid-life website
12. Brewski (Posts: 122; Member since: 05 Jun 2012)
FAUguy, you are mistaken about the Sim card being internal. The volume rocker doubles as the Sim tray which I think is ingenious both because it allows the phone to maintain clean lines and also there is no need for a tool in order to remove. Now if only they would have included a Micro SD slot...
Check out the 2:20 mark
14. FAUguy (Posts: 77; Member since: 09 Apr 2008)
Yes, we've now found this out, and are updating the review. The SIM card is part of the volume rocker. Thank you.
19. Brewski (Posts: 122; Member since: 05 Jun 2012)
I haven't seen it written any where but does anyone know if it's splash proof like last years HD?
22. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5645; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
Motorola still uses water repellent nano-coating on their new Droid devices and also on the Moto X.
25. slavytodorov (Posts: 33; Member since: 23 Jun 2012)
Why didn't you do a Quadrant or a Vellamo benchmark? It's good for people to know exactly how well this device fairs against the other top-notch phones. I also think you should start doing app load time comparisons between the above mentioned.
26. FAUguy (Posts: 77; Member since: 09 Apr 2008)
We did, see page 2.
29. slavytodorov (Posts: 33; Member since: 23 Jun 2012)
Well, I'm sorry then. I must say that the Droid Ultra, although being more of a mid-range device, does almost as well, if not better, than the competition of high-end smartphones. Motorola has done a really good job when it comes to performance. What I'm trying to say is that it shoudn't be considered "more of a mid-range device". Once again, sorry for not looking at the other benchmarks. Peace.
30. slavytodorov (Posts: 33; Member since: 23 Jun 2012)
How do you know it looks bad?! I'm using a Galaxy Note 2 and it has a ppi of 267 which is less than the Droid Ultra. The screen looks perfectly fine to me.
4. zachattack (Posts: 590; Member since: 31 Jul 2013)
Everyone is all, I CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 1080P AND 720p. My ass, 1080p is clearly more beautiful. These droid phones were dead the minute they were announced lets be honest
16. Jimstar (Posts: 259; Member since: 24 Oct 2011)
Clearly to you, but your eyes are not mine, and whatever way you use your phone isn't mine either. At the distance I normally hold my phone, I CAN'T tell the difference.
They're dead? Why because you and whatever portion of the vocal minority of the phone buying public that frequents this and other similar sites demand 1080p displays?
17. Penywyz (banned) (Posts: 255; Member since: 13 Aug 2013)
No, what everyone says, is that the AVERAGE human eye cannot really tell the difference in 1080p and 720p when the screen is under 30" or so... And that is correct, go ask an Optometrist if you don't believe me...
7. softfurryanus (banned) (Posts: 232; Member since: 09 Jul 2013)
Last time I checked the Android OS was around 2.7 GB, not 4.97 GB. The extra accounts for Motorola's features as well as whatever bloatware, Verizon puts on it.
8. greekmanx (Posts: 16; Member since: 06 Oct 2012)
Was any research done before conducting this review? The micro sim is under the volume rocker. Also battery concerns their is a low power core just for touchless controls to conserve batter no mention of that. You just say it could hurt battery life. I hate to complain I watch reviews on phone arena alot and this one was bad not well researched at all.
11. Taters (Posts: 3595; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)
It looks like 8.7 is the new safe score. Close enough to a 9 so that the rabid Sony and Motorola fans don't complain about bias too much. And far away enough from the 9 scores to accurately place them as a step below the elite. Good job with the politics Phone arena.
13. SupermanayrB (Posts: 207; Member since: 20 Mar 2012)
I'll make a more detailed comment about this review once I see the phone & compare it to my current devices (RAZR Maxx, GS4 & Optimus G Pro).
15. avasponge (Posts: 40; Member since: 03 May 2012)
The awkward moment when motorola's hero device gets a lower score than its droid
18. najib1312 (Posts: 102; Member since: 08 May 2013)
I don't see 8.7 in this device. Considering this is a flagship device, I would give it a 7.5/10 at max. Which Dumba** have thought that 9GB is sufficient for a flagship device??
20. bigdgt (Posts: 7; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)
If there was an sd card slot on the Maxx I would totally get it in a heart beat.
21. testman22 (Posts: 337; Member since: 03 Nov 2009)
Any review coming for the Maxx? it has more storage, better battery, no shiny back and wireless charging- seems worthy of a higher score.
23. bwhiting (Posts: 173; Member since: 15 Jun 2013)
I would give this phone either way, I can deal without the extra space. I have google drive so that helps me out when needed. It is reliable and I enjoy the Droid brand that Motorola portrays itself as.
The fact that it is stock android means I don't have to deal with too much bloatware and if I don't get the Moto X twice for me and my girlfriend, I can at least get this and give her the Moto X instead.
24. RomeoJDR (Posts: 242; Member since: 09 Dec 2011)
Ditching the micro SD slot is a huge downgrade from its predecessor. I love the Kevlar as it looks good and truly makes for the most scratch resistant phone out there but thats about it. Subpar screen, subpar processor (considering other top tier phones will now be released with S800), subpar camera and hardly any memory available for people to truly use it as a multimedia device. The first Droid Razr's were phenomenal with the RAZR raising the bar for thinness and the Maxx making a revolutionary change in smartphone battery life. The new line of Razrs just add to Verizon expanding overpriced lineup.
31. najib1312 (Posts: 102; Member since: 08 May 2013)
It's funny that The Verge only gave this phone and the Droid Maxx a measly 4.7 rating. PA really has to explain its rating system.
I don't why Moto opted out to the Samsung way (a.k.a Plastic way). I used to love their solid aluminium/kevlar construction. This shift to plastic is a huge turn off for me.
32. SupermanayrB (Posts: 207; Member since: 20 Mar 2012)
Wow! Both this rating & the verge are bogus. I've been using Droids since day one & even though I did like the metal feel of it, my RAZR Maxx is very durable & the new MAXX felt durable as well. At the end of the day it's all about what the consumer prefers, not what some dudes who have phone blogs say about it.