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printed July 23, 2014
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Review: Motorola Droid Ultra for Verizon Wireless

Form Performance Basics Moto Apps Extras Wrap-up Comments  1  

Screen

The Ultra's display measures 5.0 inches across the diagonal and includes 1280 x 720 pixels. It’s an OLED panel, rather than an LCD screen. As with many OLED panels, the brightness is off the hook, though colors are a wee bit oversaturated. Sharpness is good, though it's not the best given that we've seen smaller displays with more pixels this year. It looks really nice, but other phones such as the Moto X have sharper text and icons. The Ultra's display is by no means bad. In fact, the brightness alone makes it worth recommending. Viewing angles are decent, but there's some brightness drop-off when the phone is tilted. It would have been nice to see Motorola go for a full HD display, though my guess is most people won't complain.

Signal

The Ultra was a signal hound. It remained connected to Verizon's LTE 4G network no matter where I took it. It performed a bit above par with respect to other Verizon devices in the same location. I had no trouble connecting calls anywhere in the metro NYC area. The Ultra didn't drop any calls and it did not miss any. Signal performance generally did not have an effect on data speeds, either. They were consistent, though not the fastest I've seen on Verizon's LTE 4G network.

Sound

The Ultra is an excellent voice phone. Voices were perfectly clear in the earpiece and extremely loud. In fact, you'll hurt your ears if you set the volume all the way up. You can hear most calls, even in loud places, with the volume set about two-thirds of the way up. I was pleased with the warmth of voices coming through the speaker, and those with whom I spoke said I sounded like I was in the same room with them. The speakerphone offers just as much clarity and warmth, but not quite as much volume. Ringers and alerts can be set to blistering volumes. The vibrate alert was mediocre.

Battery

I found battery life on the Ultra to be inconsistent at best. It's something that requires strict monitoring. I easily got two days out of it on standby (just pulling email, some casual browsing, but no real screen time). Using it consistently throughout the day for email, RSS, Twitter, Facebook, browsing, calls, and so on takes more of a toll. I was able to get it to last from 6AM to 4PM with very heavy use one day, and 8AM to 8PM the next day with about the same amount of use. I kept the screen brightness set at 50% and made sure to stream music over the network, spend time on the phone, etc. Bottom line, power users can expect about 12 hours of battery life. More conservative users might be able to get an entire day out of it.

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