Sunday, October 13, 2013

TECH REVIEW: Verizon 4G LTE Droid Ultra by Motorola #VZWvoices #Save

Hello - Is it the Droid Ultra you're looking for?

Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Savers Voices program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.

For the last 3 months I have been reviewing the Verizon 4G LTE Blackberry Z10 smartphone as part of my participation in the Verizon Savers Voices Program. Hopefully everyone has been following along and have learned a lot about the Blackberry Z10 from my posts about the awesome camera, video story maker, money saving Blackberry apps, and more. (Read all my VZWVoices posts at this link)

It was been fun learning about the Blackberry ecosystem and the first touchscreen Blackberry smartphone, but now it's time for a tech change that will take me back to using an Android smartphone. You see, a few weeks ago, I received a new device for review from Verizon - the new Verizon 4G LTE Droid Ultra by Motorola.

The new Droid Mini, Droid Ultra and Droid Maxx share the same cutting edge features...
The Droid Ultra is part of a series of three new Droid by Motorola branded Android smartphones that are available exclusively to Verizon - the Droid Mini, the Droid Ultra, and the Droid Maxx. The features on all three phones are the same, but the phones differ in their design, size, and battery life.

The features are also the same as those offered on the new Motorola Moto X smartphone, which has some very cool "Lazy Smartphone" television commercials that show off these features in a humorous way.  I really love these ads :)

The Droid Ultra has a big beautiful 5" display...
I have reviewed many Verizon Droid smartphones over the years and have found them to have very useful features and quiet elegant designs that I loved. The Droid Ultra also has some very nice features, like the big beautiful 5" display, and I found the design is nice, but overall not as elegant as other Droid smartphones.

All three new Droid smartphones have some cutting edge features which include -

-Touch-less controls where you just speak to the smartphone and it uses Google Now to answer your questions and talk back to you. This is great if you are in the car and need directions.

- A "shake-to-awake" 10-megapixel camera that is up and useable in seconds, even with your phone locked, so that you never miss an important shot.

- The ability to preview alerts on the lock screen with just a touch of the screen so that you know in seconds if a message is important or just something that you can take care of later - love it!!!

- Droid Zap feature for sharing photos and other content without touching phones

- 16GB of memory (32GB on the Droid Maxx)

- 2GB of RAM

- Verizon 4G LTE Hotspot capable

Never Miss an Important Shot!
We have all been there. A perfect camera shot is coming up and you know you are going to miss it if you have to open your smartphone and then navigate to the camera. But you don't have to worry about missing a shot with the Droid Ultra. Just shake the smartphone twice and the camera wakes up - even if your phone is locked. How cool is that?

With touch-less controls, you can talk to your phone w/o it being in your hand...
Touch-less controls are perfect while driving!
Driving down the road and need information, but you cannot safely use your smartphone? Just say "OK Google Now" and the Droid Ultra will wake up and ask you for a command. The Droid Ultra is built with a special processor that is dedicated to the touch-less control features that work with Google Now. The touch-less control feature is always awake and waiting for your command, but will not drain your battery due to the dedicated processor. The touch-less control feature learns your voice through a series of commands so the feature will only work for you and no one else.

Nothing important here - now back to work...
Now you can stop checking your smartphone!
The most useful feature for me on the Droid Ultra is the Alerts Preview on the lock screen. I am sure that all of us waste a ton of time checking our phones every time it beeps - after all the message or email or text could be important. With the Droid Ultra - you can stop being a slave to alerts since the lock screen shows you a preview of the message. Now you can do a quick eye scan and go back to what you are doing knowing you are not missing anything important. This should be a feature on all smartphones!

The Droid Ultra slopes from a thick top to a thinner bottom...
Can smartphone be too thin?
The Droid Ultra sets itself apart from the Droid Mini and the Droid Maxx in its thin design. Motorola claims the Droid Ultra is the thinnest smartphone on the market. The phone does feel thin mostly because it is so lightweight, but it is not as thin as it seems. The design actually slopes from a thick top to a thin bottom so the smartphone is actually top heavy and is hard to hold comfortably in the hand. And the fact that the phone is made from a slick DuPont™ KEVLAR® fiber material does not help with the hold factor since a slick phone is easy to drop.

I would sum up my review of the Droid Ultra by Motorola as follows -

Pros -
- Beautiful 5" screen is big and easy to see
- Very lightweight
- Touch-less controls are nice when you are driving
- Camera takes nice photos and can be used even if the phone is locked with just a shake
- Ability to preview status on the lock screen with just a touch is the best feature on the phone
- 4G LTE Hotspot is a wonderful to share with computers and tablets while on the go.

Cons -
- The phone is a fingerprint magnet that is hard to keep clean
- Difficult to hold and easy to drop due to the slick back and slopping design
- Not the prettiest smartphone on the market, despite it's thin design
- Very few protective cases are available for this phone, even after being on the market for over 2 months
- Droid Zap app available in the the Google Play store has to be installed on everyone's smartphone that you want to share content with in order for the feature to work
- No Wireless Charging

The Droid Ultra by Motorola has some nice features like the shake to wake camera, lock screen status preview and big 5" screen. But I found the thin slopping design makes the phone hard to handle and not overly attractive.

My tastes are more drawn to a thicker, more substantial designed phone with longer battery life like the Droid Maxx, but I could see where individuals that like their tech devices on the thin side would be attracted to the Droid Ultra smartphone.

The Droid Ultra is available for $199 with a 2 year contract.

Watch for the next post in my Verizon Savers Voices series coming soon where I will profile more about living with the Droid Ultra by Motorola and the Blackberry Z10 smartphones.


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