PROS / If you're a fan of the technological look and feel of Droid phones, the Ultra won't disappoint.
CONS / The term mediocre defines much of the Ultra's build, from its average screen to its unimpressive processor.
VERDICT / The Motorola Droid Ultra is a middle-of-the-road Android phone with too little going for it to make it worth your dollar.
Exclusive to Verizon, Motorola's line of Droid phones is instantly recognizable for their red and black color schemes and high-tech look and feel. Motorola tends to release these Android phones in threes, with a flagship model, a light version and a version with a sizable battery. The Droid Ultra is this generation's flagship, and though it packs some decent features, there's nothing truly outstanding about it.
As Motorola points out in its marketing, the Droid Ultra is built from a Kevlar shell. That shell is then overlaid with a plastic resin, which gives the phone a glossy finish. Though it looks beautiful, the finish constantly picks up fingerprints and dirt, and lends the phone a flimsy feel despite its strength.
The Ultra's front is dominated by a 5-inch AMOLED screen. AMOLED technology gives displays rich, deep blacks, but they suffer from poor visibility in bright sunlight. The Ultra's display is no different: It offers great contrast, but can turn odd colors when viewed from off-center angles. The real disappointment of the screen, however, is its pixel density. Where other flagship phones have 1080p resolution packed into in their 5-inch screens, the Ultra's screen is only 720p. This gives the phone a pixel density of 294ppi, the lowest of any flagship device we reviewed.
While they can't compete with shooters you'll find on other phones, the Ultra's front and rear-facing cameras are its best features. Both shoot full 1080p video, and the rear camera can film at 60 frames per second for half-speed playback. The phone's ƒ/2.4 rear aperture isn't very large, but it's adequate for taking decent pictures in well-lit conditions. Just take care when pressing the shutter button – without image stabilization, it's easy to get blurry photos.
Like so many of its other features, the Ultra's processor is decent but not outstanding. With 2GB of RAM and a dual-core, 1.7GHz processor, its specs are on par with many of the other phones we reviewed, and its benchmark scores are similar. It will run your apps perfectly well, though intense Android games may occasionally stutter.
The Motorola Droid Ultra is an adequate Android phone, but it doesn't excel at anything in particular. Its processor isn't unusably slow, nor will its camera take poor pictures. It looks beautiful, but in terms of its performance and overall usefulness, it won't wow you or your friends. Given that the Ultra costs the same amount as other flagships, you're better of going with a different brand.