Interface and functionality

Both the Motorola DROID Ultra and Moto X are running pretty close to stock Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, including the lock screen, 5 desktop home screens, app drawer, and widget selection. This means that there are no themes, such as what you get with HTC Sense, but you can always install a 3rd-party launcher or theme app if you desire.

Also cloned from the Moto X are some features that are exclusive to Motorola.

Touchless Control:

This is combined with Google Now and is actively awaiting your command. You start off by training it to recognize your voice. After that, all you have to say is “OK, Google Now” and then a command. So saying, “OK, Google Now. What’s the current weather?” the phone will launch Google Now and will show what your current weather is. You can also ask it to place phone calls, check appointments, look up contacts, and get turn-by-turn directions. Even though it is fun to use, you still have to interact some with your hand once Google Now is active. One thing that isn’t clear is how much battery is used for it to always keep the mic listening to hear your voice to launch Google Now. So if you want to save some battery life, you might just want to keep this feature turned off.

Motorola Assist:

Who wants to be distracted while driving, in a meeting, or while sleeping at night? With the Motorola Assist app activated, it knows when you are driving, thanks to GPS updates, and will automatically read incoming text messages, and can auto-reply to them as well. While the Resume Music feature will connect to your car’s Bluetooth for playing music. For meetings that are in your calendar, Motorola Assist will automatically place the phone on silent mode and auto-reply to messages. Lastly, when you specify what time you sleep at night, the phone will also enter into a silent mode.

Droid Zap:

The Motorola Droid Zap is pretty much their version of Samsung’s S Beam. You can use it to share photos and videos with several near-by people at once by swiping up on the screen with two fingers, and the people that want to receive it then swipe down with two fingers. Only the newest Motorola phones can send picture with Droid Zap, but any Android phone can install the Droid Zap app to download and view the images or videos you send.

Motorola Migrate:

This is designed to help you transfer your data (photos, videos, volume and screen settings, call and text history, and contacts) from your old phone to the new DROID Ultra. First you download the Motorola Migrate app from the Play Store on your old phone. Both devices are connected to your PC, so the transfer is from device-to-device and does not use any data air-time.

Wireless Display:

As long as you have a compatible Miracast Wireless enabled display, you can use the phone’s Wireless Display feature to stream what you’re doing on the phone to the big screen. Naturally, the hardest part about this feature is actually having a compatible display to use, but if you do, it should be useful in viewing photos, watching videos, playing games, or surfing the web.

Organizer and Tools

There is really nothing out of the ordinary here. We have the stock Android Calendar, which you remember is integrated with the Touchless Control and Motorola Assist apps. There’s also the basic calculator, clock, alarm, and stopwatch and countdown timer.


Combined with a 5” display, the stock Android on-screen keyboard works remarkably well, as it is responsive and has good word prediction. Even in portrait mode, you can easily enter words just with just the use of one thumb, though landscape does require both hands.

We are also presented with the stock Android apps for E-Mail and GMail, both of which have the same look and feel as the Moto X.

Processor and Memory

This is where things start to get interesting, as the Motorola DROID Ultra (along with other new Motorola devices) is using the company’s own designed processor, the Motorola X8 (you can read more details about it here).

The key to the X8 is that it is technically an 8-core SoC, which has a 1.7 GHz dual-core application processor, a 400MHz quad-core GPU, a natural language processor core, and a contextual computing core. The latter of which is used for voice recognition of Touchless Controls and the behind-the-scenes working of Motorola Assist. In fact, our recent article quotes Motorola in saying that “If we did not have the contextual computing processor and our natural language processor in place, we would need two additional batteries.”

In daily use, the DROID Ultra with its X8 processor and 2GB of RAM is plenty quick in its boot-up time, and also loading and running apps, multitasking, and playing games. As you can see from the benchmarks below, it is no slouch, and even holds up well to other quad-core devices.

Quadrant Standard AnTuTu GLBenchmark 2.5 (Egypt HD) Vellamo
(HTML5 / Metal)
Motorola DROID Ultra 8609 19384 5973 / 53 fps 2455 / 768
Samsung Galaxy S4 12078 24701 4437 / 39 fps 1702 / 704
HTC One 12481 23308 3551 / 31 fps 2395 / 781
Google Nexus 4 4757 16749 4917 1375 / 600

One bit of a disappointment is that the DROID Ultra lacks a microSD card for expanded storage, which means you are limited to the internal 16GB. This then gets divided into the Android OS (4.97GB), Apps, etc, which leave you with about 9GB of usable space out of the box. The only way to have more storage space is to opt for the DROID MAXX, which not only comes with 32GB of internal storage, but also a higher capacity battery.

Internet and Connectivity

Combining both the X8 processor and Verizon’s 4G LTE data network, the Chrome browser on the Droid Ultra is a breeze to use. Pages load fast and properly rendered, with pinch-to-zoom and scrolling being quite fluid.

When using the app, we were able to get between 15-27 Mbps downloads and 10-15 Mbps uploads depending on the area, time of day, and signal strength. Since the device is Global Roaming ready, it can also be used in other countries with EDGE/GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz), HSPA/UMTS (850/900/1900/2100MHz), supporting HSDPA 42.2 Mbps (Category 20) and HSUPA 5.76 Mbps speeds.

Other connectivity includes Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth 4.0 with EDR, and NFC.



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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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??

15. avasponge

Posts: 44; Member since: May 03, 2012

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

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).

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.

9. greekmanx

Posts: 16; Member since: Oct 06, 2012

it is a nano sim btw

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.

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.

5. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

Terrible camera. A pity.

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...

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.

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: 739; 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

14. FAUguy

Posts: 79; 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: 739; 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: 79; 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.

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

  • Display 5.0 inches
    1280 x 720 pixels
  • Camera 10 MP (Single camera)
    2 MP front
  • Hardware Motorola X8, 2GB RAM
  • Storage 16GB,
  • Battery 2130 mAh
  • OS Android 4.4.4

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless