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Review: The Motorola Droid Ultra is ultra-average

Armando Rodriguez | Aug. 23, 2013
The Motorola Droid Ultra may have all the same features and specs as the Moto X, but the phone lacks the personality it needs to differentiate itself from the crowd.

Specs (still) don't matter

For all the faults in its design, the Droid Ultra performs exceptionally well. The phone has the same 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor that's in the Moto X, and it uses Motorola's 8X system architecture for faster natural-language computing. Although a few people will scoff at the Droid Ultra's lack of a quad-core processor, I honestly didn't notice much difference in performance while switching back and forth between the Droid Ultra and the GPE Samsung Galaxy S4. Games such as Riptide GP 2 ran great on the Droid Ultra's "lesser hardware," and you won't notice any lag when using the device.

Motorola rates the Droid Ultra's battery life at 28 hours of mixed use, and in our own battery tests we managed to squeeze out 7 hours of screen-on time. The phone can easily last an entire day on a single charge, though power users will probably need to keep a charging cable handy. The Moto X, which is rated for 24 hours of mixed use, actually scored higher in our battery tests, with a screen-on time of 9 hours, 13 minutes.

Calls that I made over Verizon's network sounded hollow and uneven, and several times I struggled to hear what the person on the other end of the line was saying. Thankfully the Droid Ultra's data performance was up to par--so you should have no trouble using the phone to browse the Web or download apps--but the substandard call quality is something to take note of if you plan to use this phone as, well, a phone.

Audio played through the phone's rear speaker sounds tinny and warped, so you should stick to headphones whenever you want to listen to Daft Punk's latest album. (No one wants to hear you blasting "Get Lucky" in public, anyway.) The Droid Ultra comes with a little less than 10GB of usable storage right out of the box and has no MicroSD card slot. You'll probably want to upload tunes to Google Play Music or use a service such as Spotify to get your entertainment on the go.

A Moto X by any other name
The Droid Ultra boasts the same features found in the Moto X and then some. You can quickly launch the camera by flicking your wrist, and the phone is always listening for the magic words, "Okay, Google Now," even when the screen is turned off. The screen will pulsate whenever you get a new notification, and the phone comes preloaded with Moto Assist to automate certain tasks. It's all the features we know and love in a larger and less attractive package.

 

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