The first thing I thought when I picked up the Motorola Droid Ultra was: “This thing is slick.”
I didn’t mean “cool” or “sleek.”
The chassis of the device has a somewhat unusual texture. It was slick, to the touch.
As far as looks, it’s fairly standard Motorola fare — black minimalistic styling, in this case complemented with a patterned Kevlar inlay, which makes it more durable for those of us who might subject the device to heavy or rough usage or are otherwise accident prone.
The construction of the phone is quite sturdy. It feels far more solid than many devices on the market, which in my opinion, is one of the strongest selling points of the Ultra.
The performance is nothing to sneeze at — it has 2 GB of ram and a 1.7GHz dual-core processor complemented by a 400Mhz quad-core graphics processor, and it can handle anything you’d care to throw at it, app or video wise.
The Ultra also packs a 10MegaPixel rear-facing camera, and the standard 2 MegaPixel front-facing camera.
As far as the user experience goes, Motorola has never been big on heavy customization, unlike Samsung or other manufacturers of Android devices, so the Ultra has pretty much the standard Android experience, with a couple of interesting add-ins, such as Touchless Control, which is an always-on voice command system.
A pet peeve of mine is not being able to easily access the battery on a phone. Running out of battery life and being able to drop an extra battery in there and immediately be fully charged has come in handy far too many times for me to purchase a device without a replaceable battery. You can’t swap the battery on an Ultra. This won’t be a problem for most people, and it seems to be a trend among smartphone manufacturers, but for me it reduces the flexibility of the device.
The Droid Ultra is quite similar to another Motorola phone offered by Verizon, the Droid Maxx.
The Maxx is $100 more and has broadly similar specifications.
The Ultra seems slightly sturdier and is cheaper, so it might be a better bet based on those facts alone. But if you take the price difference out of the equation, there’s not much to choose between as far as the two devices are concerned.
My overall impression: a solid device — the selection at this level is crowded with other Motorola, Apple and Samsung devices, and the price when compared to the specs is good enough to make it stand out.
The Droid Ultra is being offered from Verizon Wireless for $199.99 with a two-year contract ($599.99 without), and is available in black or red.