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.
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.