Review: Motorola Droid Ultra for Verizon Wireless
The Ultra runs an essentially clean stock version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Unbelievably, Verizon Wireless has left the user interface alone. Android 4.2 includes lock screen widgets, which let you peek at your SMS or Gmail inbox without unlocking the phone. It also has notification shade controls that make it easy to switch off Wi-Fi, for example.
There are plenty of home screen panels for user customization, the main app menu can be arranged at will, and the ability to place apps in folders on the home screens lets you organize the device how you like.
Motorola has a handy home screen widget that we've seen before on its Droids. It's a clock that holds the alarm app. There's a little "+" sign next to the clock. Press that, and the widget expands to show the weather as well as provide access to some of the phone's settings. It's a helpful widget, but of course you can get rid of it if you don't like it.
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Performance of the Ultra's software is incredibly fast. The phone has a dual-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor on board, (the same chipset as the Moto X,) and this engine provides all the power the Ultra needs. I didn't notice any performance problems at all while testing the phone.
Pressing the phone button on the home screen brings you to the dialpad. You can swipe sideways to access the call log, and your favorite contacts. The call log provides some information about calls (time, duration) in addition to shortcuts for redialing or sending a text message to that number.
The Ultra has a Verizon app on board called Caller Name ID. It costs $2.99 per month, but will provide the name, picture, city, and state of what would otherwise be "unknown" or "blocked" callers. It's a handy tool if you're serious about screening your calls.
Contacts are automatically synced with your Google accounts and whatever other contact databases you might wish. Contact cards, or direct dial or direct message shortcuts can be placed on the home screens, which give you instant access to your besties. You can also add contacts to your Favorites list — which is visible in the phone application and includes a homescreen widget.
The Ultra comes with the same stock Android communications apps that are on every other Android device. That means Gmail, email, SMS, Hangouts, and Google+ (no more Google+ Messenger!). There are no third-party communication tools on the phone when you pull it out of the box; Google is all you get. If you want more, the Google Play Store has plenty to wade through. The stock tools work well.
The device also has the generic Emergency Alerts app, which provides messages when there are emergencies nearby. Weather and Amber alerts can be turned off, if you wish.