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Quick take: Motorola Droid Ultra from Verizon

Verizon Wireless touts the new Droid Ultra as the thinnest 4G LTE smartphone currently available, but there is more to the new Motorola smartphone than slim superlatives.

The .28-inch thick Droid Ultra shares much of its DNA with its corporate cousin, the Moto X. The slab-themed Ultra is very much a larger and flattened version of the Moto X that stretches the display size from 4.7-inches to 5.0-inches. The Ultra's 1280 by 720 resolution does not pack as many pixels as the competition's high-end devices, but its still a fine display that should be suitable for most.

Available in red or black, the glossy finish of the Droid Ultra is similar to that of Samsung Galaxy S4. It is plasticky, but it does not necessarily feel cheap. There is Kevlar and Gorilla Glass involved, making the device feel quite sturdy. Be aware that fingerprints and smudges readily accumulate on the glossy finish of the rear. If that's a turn off, you might prefer the pricier Droid Maxx which offers a satin finish on the rear shell and greater battery life to boot.

The good:

Very thin

Pleasing 5-inch display

Loud and clear sounding speakers

Less so:

Limited to 16GB of storage

No SD card slot

Physical instead of virtual Android buttons

Like the Moto X, the Droid Ultra eschews the market-fueled drive to out spec the competition that many consumers simply capitalize on. So rather than hardware and specs, Motorola is pushing what magic the device can perform.

My time with the Ultra was brief so I didn't get the chance to try out the full list of bells and whistles, but I'll tell you now that the top reason to go with a Motorola smartphone for now is Touchless Control. With either the default phrase "OK Google Now" or a custom one of your choice you can wake the Ultra from sleep mode and command the Ultra with never touching.

Command the Droid Ultra without touching it, even when it’s asleep and just out of reach. Use voice commands to open a Mobile Hotspot or get GPS directions. The low-power notification system displays alerts so you can avoid constantly waking your phone.

Some of the things you can do with Touchless Control:

Set alarms

Schedule meetings

Set reminders

Get weather information

Get directions

Send text messages

Send emails

Initiate calls

Play music and movies

Answer Google-friendly questions

Touchless Control relies heavily on the Ultra's external speaker for command prompts and relaying information. For music you wouldn't retire your hi-fi audio gear, but I was pleased to find the audio loud and clear.

Another neat trick is Quick Capture that with a double flick of the wrist launches the 10-megapixel camera which does a solid job of snapping photos. The flicking action proved inconsistent with some folks that tried it, but it may just take some practice. Some of the camera control options include HDR, flash, tap-to-focus, slow motion video, panorama, and geo-tagging.

Verdict

Priced at $199.99 with a 2-year agreement, the Droid Ultra is essentially a Moto X with a stretched display. The main appeal of the Ultra is its Touchless Control capabilities. If smudges and just 16GB of storage leave you wanting, then the 32GB Droid Maxx with a soft-touch, matte finish might be the extra $100.

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Motorola DROID Ultra specs provided by PhoneArena

The Motorola Droid Ultra comes with a 5-inch HD display. The device is both thinner and more durable than earlier devices thanks to a new unibody kevlar construction. Thickness comes at the slim 7.18mm making this the thinnest 4G LTE phone out there. A brand new dual-core X8 Mobile Computing system is powering the device allowing exciting new features like ‘Touchless control’ that has your phone listening to you at all times, something we saw on the Moto X leaks. There's also the 'active display' technology that only lights up a part of the screen to conserve battery. Technically, a dual-core processor is what's under the hood, don't get fooled by the '8-core' talk in the event.The Droid Ultra features an f/2.4 10-megapixel camera and chances are this is the same unit we'll see on the Motorola Moto X.

Design

  • Device type:
    • Smart phone
  • OS:
    • Android (4.2.2)
  • Dimensions:
    • 5.41 x 2.80 x 0.28 inches (137.5 x 71.2 x 7.18 mm)
  • Weight:
    • 4.83 oz (137 g)

Display

  • Physical size:
    • 5.0 inches
  • Resolution:
    • 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Pixel density:

    Pixel density - The pixel density of a display represents the number of pixels over an area of one inch. It’s measured in “pixels per inch”, or ppi. The higher the number, the more detailed and good-looking the display is.

    • 294 ppi
  • Technology:

    Technology - There are two main screen technologies currently used in phones and tablets: LCD and AMOLED. The former usually features a light source and liquid crystals, while the latter is based on organic light-emitting diodes. Newer LCD variations like IPS-LCD and Super-LCD allow for very accurate color reproduction and very wide viewing angles, where no significant image quality loss is observed. Current AMOLED screens differ in such a way that they can exhibit much more saturated colors (sometimes too much) and incredibly high contrast levels, which is due to black color being completely black in AMOLED displays.

    • AMOLED
  • Touchscreen:
      • Capacitive, Multi-touch
  • Features:
    • Light sensor, Proximity sensor

Battery

  • Stand-by time:
    • 13.0 days (312 hours)
  • Capacity:
    • 2130 mAh

Hardware

  • System chip:

    System chip - Most modern handsets use an advanced chip that includes many of the device’s hardware modules like the processor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and sometimes even the wireless radio. This field shows what particular system chip (or System-on-a-Chip) is used in the phone.

    • Motorola X8
  • Processor:

    Processor - The processor is the main computing component of a phone and is a major factor when it comes to the overall speed of the device. Some more powerful smartphones use dual-core and quad-core processors designed to deliver greater performance.

    • Dual core, 1700 MHz
  • Graphics processor:
      • 400 MHz, quad-core
  • System memory:

    System memory - System memory, or RAM memory is the type of memory that the device uses to temporarily store data from the OS or currently-running apps. The more RAM available to the device, the better the performance will be when multiple or heavier programs are running.

    • 2048 MB RAM
  • Built-in storage:
    • 16 GB

Camera

  • Camera:
      • 10 megapixels
    • Flash:
      • LED
  • Camcorder:
      • 1920x1080 (1080p HD) (60 fps)
  • Front-facing camera:
      • 2 megapixels
    • Video capture:
      • 1920x1080 (1080p HD)

Multimedia

  • Music player:
    • Features:
      • Album art cover, Background playback
  • Video playback:
    • Supported formats:
      • MPEG4, H.263, H.264, WMV, RealVideo
  • Speakers:
    • Earpiece, Loudspeaker
  • YouTube player:
    • Yes

Internet browsing

  • Browser:
    • supports:
      • HTML, HTML5
  • Built-in online services support:
    • YouTube (upload), Picasa

Technology

  • CDMA:

    CDMA - Code Division Multiple Access. A technique of multiplexing, also called spread spectrum, in which analog signals are converted into digital form for transmission. For each communication channel, the signals are encoded in a sequence known to the transmitter and the receiver for that channel. The foremost application is digital cellular phone technology from QUALCOMM that operates in the 800MHz band and 1.9GHz PCS band. CDMA phones are noted for their excellent call quality and long battery life.

    • 800, 1900 MHz
  • GSM:
    • 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
  • UMTS:
    • 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz
  • LTE:
    • 700 MHz Class 13, 1700/2100 MHz
  • Data:
    • LTE, HSDPA+ (4G) 42.2 Mbit/s, HSUPA 5.76 Mbit/s, UMTS, EDGE, GPRS, EV-DO Rev.A
  • nano-SIM:
    • Yes
  • Positioning:

    Positioning - This field shows the positioning systems supported by the device. There are three main types: GPS, A-GPS and GLONASS.GPS - This is one of the most widespread global positioning technologies, developed and maintained by the U.S. government. It uses satellites in order to detect your location. Works best in clear weather.A-GPS - A-GPS stands for Assisted GPS and is the industry standard for positioning and navigation. “Assisted” means that it can use local wireless networks, in addition to satellites, for quicker and more precise localization.GLONASS - GLONASS is a global positioning system, developed by the Russian Federation. It’s very similar to GPS, but isn’t so popular in cell phones.

    • GPS, A-GPS, S-GPS, Glonass, E911
  • Navigation:
    • Turn-by-turn navigation

Phone features

  • Phonebook:
    • Unlimited entries
  • Organizer:
    • Calendar, Alarm, Calculator
  • Messaging:
    • SMS, MMS, Threaded view, Predictive text input
  • E-mail:
      • IMAP, POP3, SMTP, Microsoft Exchange
  • Instant Messaging:
      • Google Talk

Connectivity

  • Bluetooth:
      • 4.0, EDR
  • Wi-Fi:
      • 802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz, ac
    • Mobile hotspot:
      • Yes
  • USB:
      • USB 2.0
  • Headphones connector:
    • 3.5mm

Other features

  • Notifications:
    • Haptic feedback, Music ringtones (MP3), Polyphonic ringtones, Vibration, Flight mode, Silent mode, Speakerphone
  • Additional microphone/s:
      • for Noise cancellation, Video recording
  • Sensors:
      • Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass, Barometer
  • Hearing aid compatibility:
      • M4, T4
    • Voice dialing, Voice commands, Voice recording, TTY/TDD

Regulatory Approval

  • FCC measured SAR:

    FCC measured SAR - The exposure standard for mobile devices employs a unit ofmeasurement known as the Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR.The SAR limit stated in the international guidelines is 2.0 W/kg*. Tests for SAR are conducted using standard operating positions with the device transmitting at its highest certifiedpower level in all tested frequency bands. Although the SARis determined at the highest certified power level, the actualSAR of the device while operating can be well below themaximum value.

    • Head:
      • 1.54 W/kg
    • Body:
      • 0.32 W/kg

Availability

  • Officially announced:
    • 23 Jul 2013
  • Scheduled release:

    Scheduled release - Shows when is the particular phone scheduled to be made available to the public in North America

    • 20 Aug 2013 (Official)

These short specs are provided by PhoneArena - visit PhoneArena.com for full Motorola DROID Ultra specifications

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