Motorola DROID Ultra Review
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 SppedTest.net 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.