Motorola DROID Ultra Review

Introduction


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.

Needless to say, the Motorola DROID Ultra has plenty of competition, mostly from the 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.


Design


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.

Motorola DROID Ultra

Motorola DROID Ultra

Dimensions

5.41 x 2.8 x 0.28 inches

137.5 x 71.2 x 7.18 mm

Weight

4.83 oz (137 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4

Dimensions

5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches

136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.59 oz (130 g)

HTC One

HTC One

Dimensions

5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches

137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

LG G2

LG G2

Dimensions

5.45 x 2.79 x 0.35 inches

138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Motorola DROID Ultra

Motorola DROID Ultra

Dimensions

5.41 x 2.8 x 0.28 inches

137.5 x 71.2 x 7.18 mm

Weight

4.83 oz (137 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4

Dimensions

5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches

136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.59 oz (130 g)

HTC One

HTC One

Dimensions

5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches

137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

LG G2

LG G2

Dimensions

5.45 x 2.79 x 0.35 inches

138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



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.







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.

Motorola DROID Ultra 360-Degrees View



FEATURED VIDEO

30 Comments

1. belovedson

Posts: 1061; Member since: Nov 30, 2010

no sim or miscrosim? really? what is this sprint

6. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 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: Aug 06, 2009

the sim is in the volume rocker. check out droid-life website

12. Brewski

Posts: 690; Member since: Jun 05, 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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LrmudiwX4o

14. FAUguy

Posts: 78; Member since: Apr 09, 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: 690; Member since: Jun 05, 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: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

it is. Motorola still uses water repellent nano-coating on their new Droid devices and also on the Moto X.

25. slavytodorov

Posts: 48; Member since: Jun 23, 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: 78; Member since: Apr 09, 2008

29. slavytodorov

Posts: 48; Member since: Jun 23, 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.

2. fouadqr

Posts: 326; Member since: Nov 21, 2012

The display looks bad !!

30. slavytodorov

Posts: 48; Member since: Jun 23, 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: 621; Member since: Jul 31, 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: Oct 24, 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? Please...

17. Penywyz

Posts: 255; Member since: Aug 13, 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...

5. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

Terrible camera. A pity.

7. softfurryanus

Posts: 232; Member since: Jul 09, 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: Oct 06, 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.

9. greekmanx

Posts: 16; Member since: Oct 06, 2012

it is a nano sim btw

11. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 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: 1188; Member since: Mar 20, 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: 44; Member since: May 03, 2012

The awkward moment when motorola's hero device gets a lower score than its droid

18. najib1312

Posts: 155; Member since: May 08, 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: Oct 22, 2011

If there was an sd card slot on the Maxx I would totally get it in a heart beat.

21. testman22

Posts: 339; Member since: Nov 03, 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: 188; Member since: Jun 15, 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: 245; Member since: Dec 09, 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: 155; Member since: May 08, 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. http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/27/4659876/motorola-droid-ultra-and-droid-maxx-review 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: 1188; Member since: Mar 20, 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.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

DROID Ultra
  • Display 5.0" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 10 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Motorola X8, Dual-core, 1700 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB
  • Battery 2130 mAh

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