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The Motorola Droid Ultra is a fine continuation of Motorola's Droid line (last year we had the variety of RAZR smartphones). Its body retains the same Kevlar materials used in the Droid RAZR line, so it has some strength despite being very thin. However, the glossy finish and red or black color options may be a turn off for some.
One thing Motorola tends to do well as of late is to deliver a pleasant Android experience without bogging it down with heavy UI skins and customizations. Thanks to the Droid RAZR line and its newer devices, we've almost forgotten about how bad Motoblur and Blur were. Almost.
What we really like about the device is the 5-inch display and battery life. For its size, the Droid Ultra doesn't really feel like a brick or large chunk of hardware. Its slim profile and light weight help make it feel manageable in your hand. If you have smaller hands, there will be times when you'll need to use both hands for operation, but for the most part we didn't have any problems with one-handed operation.
Battery life is always a deal-breaker for us. If a smartphone can't get through the day without a charge or spare batteries, it doesn't really do anyone any good. Motorola promises 28 hours of usage on this smartphone, but it is on the optimistic side. We were getting closer to 14-16 hours of solid usage with all of our notifications turned on, and that's pretty great.
The first item on our dislike section is the camera. Motorola really needs to do something about this, because cameras have been its weakness for as long as I can remember. The very first Droid ever was built for Verizon by Motorola, and its 5MP camera could only be described as completely awful. Motorola does a bit better now, but not good enough compared to its competitors.
Cameras are obviously a big deal when you have companies like HTC, Samsung and Nokia showing off bigger pixels, better low light performance and crazy resolutions. Since we spend so much time shooting photos and videos and share our moments with friends and family, we want good quality cameras.
The Droid Ultra is a solid Android smartphone that offers a pretty good user experience. It needs a little work here and there, especially with the camera, but there are no real deal-breakers with this smartphone.
Good battery life and a large display make this a winner for us. We also like the fact that it has hands-free Google Now, or what's called touchless control on the phone. It makes it really convenient to interact with the phone when you're driving, cooking or engaged in any other activity that requires use of both your hands.
We would really like to see higher resolution displays from Motorola. At 294 PPI, the Ultra doesn't have the worst display, but devices like the HTC One and DROID DNA are much more crisp and sharp.
If you're a Verizon customer looking for a new Android smartphone, the Droid Ultra isn't a bad choice. However, it's going to be hard to choose between this device and the Moto X when it finally becomes available for Verizon. With incredibly similar specs and a mild difference in display size, it's really going to come down to design preference. If you're on the fence, we suggest you wait until you make the decision to sign a two-year commitment.