Moto X vs Droid Ultra – Differences Comparison

Moto X and Droid Ultra smartphone on a blurred colorful background

The Motorola Moto X, the new 8X processor-based Android device is getting more of the media’s attention lately.  For some people it seems odd that Motorola has released four devices (i.e. Droid MAXX, Droid Ultra, Droid Mini, Moto X) — all with the same 8X chip. We need to understand two things; the three Droids sell only on Verizon and the Moto X is a multi-carrier one. Second, those four devices were designed to carry the same advanced functionality but come with a few different specs, to appeal to different customer needs.

In this article I want to compare the Motorola Droid Ultra, the one that sits between the MAXX and the Mini, both in terms of price and features — versus the Motorola Moto X.  This comparison is probably intended more for Verizon customers, as the Droid Ultra is Verizon-exclusive device, and the Moto X will be released on Verizon as well. I know that some of you are already eying the two devices and planning to buy either one of those amazing phones. At the end of the day you need to choose one device — but which one will it be?

In this article we’ll take a closer look at the differences between the Moto X and Droid Ultra, understand their cons and pros and hopefully giving you the answers you crave for in order to ease your buying decision when the time comes.  So without further ado, let’s dive straight into our comparison — we start with the design.

Motorola Droid Ultra and Moto X size comparison

Motorola Droid Ultra and Moto X size comparison (via mobiledevicesize.com)

Design and Build Quality

Starting talking about the phone design first is obvious, but in fact, this is where we can find one of the main differences between the two mobile phones. Some people pay a great deal of attention to the phone size, design, weather sealing and build quality.  For some people this is just a matter of buying a high-quality phone that feel good in the hand and looks good, for others the durability and proofing is not less important than the other features.

Unfortunately, none of the two devices has weather-sealing of some degree, so before we talk about the other properties, don’t expect a Sony Xperia Z -like waterproof device.

The Motorola Droid Ultra, like its bigger brother the Droid Maxx, has a 5-inch AMOLED display with HD (1280×720 pixels) resolution. The Moto X features a 4.7-inch AMOLED HD display.  There is certainly quite a lot of difference in size between 4.6″ and 5″ and that have a direct effect on the size of the device. The Ultra is 6.7 mm wider, 8.1 mm taller but 3,3 nn slimmer (yes, slimmer). The Moto X has a curved back which is thicker in the vertical middle. Its curve started at 5.6 mm on the side and gets thicker up to 10.4 mm near the vertical center.

The difference is quite obvious when you view the moto x and the ultra from the sides. The Droid Ultra is amazingly thin and you really feel the difference when you hold the device in your hand. I’ve read many comments from people who love the battery of the MAXX, but fell just love the Droid Ultra design. Some people wish that the Droid MAXX would come with the same design as the Ultra — but due to its battery size/capacity it probably wasn’t possible.

Moto X and Droid Ultra side view comparison

Moto X and Droid Ultra side view comparison (via mobiledevicesize.com)

In the next image you can see that the 5.0 inch screen is slightly larger. The main reason the Moto X is much smaller is also due to its very slim bezel, which is much thinner than the Droid Ultra one.

Moto X screen size vs Droid Ultra, illustration

Motorola Moto X 4.7 inch screen vs Droid Ultra’s 5.0 inch

The Moto X was designed to offer the slimmest possible, look good and also offer superior ergonomics. It’s curvy back will fit perfectly in your hands. According to an interview with a Motorola representative; Motorola decided to go with a 4.7-inch display because this is the sweet spot of what most customers prefer.  It’s the sweet spot between usability and portability.

The Droid Ultra is available in two colors: red and black — and this is the farthest that the Ultra comes to device customization. The Moto X on the other hand is the king of design customizability. Motorola released the phone in 16 different colors, even more models if you count the accent color variations too.  Motorola also announced the ‘Moto Maker’ web site from which you can customize your phone and order it online.

As you can see from the above video, you can decide on the back and front colors, accent colors and even choose the text for the printed signature at the back (can leave it blank if you like). Furthermore, the Moto X is also being offered in four different wood backplates, including teak, bamboo, rosewood and ebony. Moto Maker will be available first for AT&T customers, but in the future it will be available on other carriers.

Back cover available colors for motorola moto x phone

All the Colors and Color Accents available for the Motorola Moto X at launch

I have to say that the Droid Ultra even without these customization options it’s still look very good. I personally like the red color. The only thing I probably dislike a bit is the glossy back. The Droid MAXX is the only one among the new Droids that have a matte finish.

In terms of build quality, the Moto X is made of polycarbonate unibody chassis, the Droid Ultra is made of DuPont™ Kevlar®, which is 5 times stronger than steel. Both phones feature Gorilla Glass.

Winner: Moto X for customizability and portability Droid Ultra for durability, screen size and thickness.

Moto X Camera vs Droid Ultra Camera

The phone’s camera quality and functionality play a significant role for many customers who buy a new Smartphone device. The Motorola Moto X confirmed to use the 10MP  Clear Pixel (RGBC) with Omnivision OV10820 1/2.6″ BSI sensor. I can assume that this sensor module is used on the Ultra as well, but couldn’t confirm that.

After running some Motorola Moto X and Droid Ultra sample images under an exif viewer, here’s what I’ve found:

  • Motorola Moto X rear-facing camera:
    4.5 mm f/2.4 (you can run this image via exif viewer and see for yourself)
    10.5MP effective resolution (4320 x 2432 = 10506240 / 1000000 = ~10.5)
    Omnivision OV1820 1/2.6″ BSI sensor / 1.4 micron pixel size / 16:9 aspect ratio — ClearPixel (RGBC) technology
    Optical image stabilization
    1080p30 + 1080p60 (slow mo) video recording
    LED Flash
  • Motorola Droid Ultra rear facing camera:
    4mm f/2.4 (according to this image specs)
    10.5MP effective resolution (4320 x 2432 = 10506240 / 1000000 = ~10.5)
    Didn’t find info about the sensor, but I assume that Motorola used the same one, However, it’s a ClearPixel (RGBC) technology
    1080p30 + 1080p60 (slow mo) video recording
    Optical image stabilization
    LED Flash

I wasn’t 100% sure about the difference in focal lengths of the Moto X and Droid Ultra lenses so I asked the Verizon Wireless representative. Here’s a summary of the chat..

Moto X and Droid lens focal length chat transcript

Moto X and Droid lens focal length – Verizon chat transcript

So from all the information I have, the Motorola Droid Ultra and Moto X both use a different focal length lens for the rear-facing camera but have the same f/2.4 maximum aperture opening as well both have optical image stabilization and the same resolution.  If I am getting all that information right, this means that the Droid Ultra has a wider Field of view than the Moto X. If you have more information, please leave a comment below and share that information with us. I also want to add that after asking the Verizon salesperson about the source of that information, she replied that she googled it. Of course the EXIF sample image data from phonearena.com confirms that the Moto X has a 4.5mm focal length lens.

My main criticism is that the official phone manufacturer, in this case Motorola, don’t bother giving us this detailed information in the first place.

After viewing some Moto X sample images on phone arena, it seems that the photos have ‘cold’ colors, but the colors look way natural than the iPhone’s and I think that when you compare the Moto X sample image to the warm and saturated colors of the iPhone 5 sample images, it will look ‘colder’, but that’s due to the way the phone process images. I personally prefer the ‘natural’ look than the oversaturated one.

Furthermore,  when I compared the Moto X sample images versus the iPhone 5 it looks that the Moto X has a higher dynamic range. On the iPhone 5 photo the sky area is completely white  and with the Moto X you don’t have this blown highlights, and you can see the blue color in the sky.  The Moto X sample images look sharper as well. Having said that, I think that many people will prefer the rendering of the iPhone 5. Most people won’t bother with investigating the fine details and the image quality aspects of the photo. When you look at a low-res image, the iPhone 5 pleases the eye of the viewer better, I think.

I assume that the Droid Ultra, as well as Droid Maxx and Droid mini to offer the same rendering output, but that’s still yet to be seen (waiting for some online sample images to appear on the web).

Both the Moto X and the Droid Ultra utilize the ClearPixel technology, that together with a relatively large sensor and optical image stabilization, should result in superior low light performance. Phone arena did present some Moto X high ISO sample image and compare it to the Nokia Lumia 1020, Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5 (See here). However, after checking the EXIF data you can see that the Moto X was shot at ISO 1600, whether the iPhone 5 sample images was shot at ISO 800. That lead to a much noisier image on the Moto X, and might lead to people to think that the Moto X produces much noisier images at high ISO.  I assume that this wasn’t their intention, but it almost had me think that too.

I have to say that I wasn’t super impressed with the Moto X sample images. I expected it to be better maybe – but overall very good performance, and of course I expect it to be virtually the same on the Droid Ultra as well.

Winner: close match, but I will give it to the Moto X for its wider lens

Battery Life – Moto X vs Droid Ultra

The Moto X features a 2200 mAh battery, the Droid Ultra employs a 2130 mAh.  Here’s a summary of the battery performance:

  • Droid Ultra:
    2130 mAh Li-Ion
    Talk time: 28 hours
    Standby time: 312 hours
    Non removable battery
    [Motorola claims 24 hours of battery life based on average profile]
  • Moto X:
    2200 mAh Li-Ion
    Talk time: 13 hours
    Standby time: 576 hours
    Non removable battery
    [Motorola claims 24 hours of battery life based on average profile]

Both phones should offer a full 24-hour day battery life, and I quote: “Based on average user profile”. I didn’t  find any information regarding what is exactly that “average user profile”, but I guess it’s a mixed of various things that users tend to do with their devices.

There is a significant difference between the two devices when it comes to talk time and standby time.  There is a 53.5 % difference in talk time in favor of the Ultra, and 84.6% difference in favor of the Moto X for standby time. I personally quite confused with how those numbers add up, but I guess that we need to wait for some battery performance tests from gsmarena.com to get a better idea how the battery performs.

So to keep things short, for Multimedia tasks, both phones should provide relatively the same performance. If you talk a lot on the phone, the Ultra will be your best friend.  BTW: due to the lacks of a removable back, none of the phones support capacity expansion using MicroSD cards.

Qi Wireless Charging Support

The Motorola Moto X will have native Qi wireless charging support, the Droid Ultra lacks this feature.  This means that the Ultra doesn’t have it built-in not it is optional using a wireless charging case. The Droid MAXX and Droid Mini do have support for Qi Wireless charging.

The support for Qi wireless charging means that you can wirelessly charge the Motorola Moto X with any Qi-compatible wireless charger on the market (aka Qi compliant wireless charger). There are various types of Qi wireless chargers, including wireless charging pad, plate, doc, stands and large ones in which you can charge more than one device at the same time. Qi Wireless charging is slowly catching up with standard chargers, but it still far behind when it comes to charging times.

Winner: Moto X for its wireless charging support and standby time, Droid Ultra for its talk time.

Price Difference

Both the Moto X and DROID Ultra will be available on Verizon Wireless, and the Ultra was released exclusively on Verizon.

Motorola Droid Ultra Price

  • Month-to-month (off contract) service:
    16GB: $599.00 (Verizon wireless)
  • 2-year contract:
    16GB: $199.99 (Verizon wireless)

Motorola Moto X Price

  • Month-to-month service (off contract):
    16GB: $575.00 (AT&T)
    32GB: $630 (AT&T)
  • 2-year contract:
    16GB: $199.99 (Suggested retail price)

The Moto X on AT&T costs $20 less for the 16GB and 2-year contract compared to the price Verizon sells its Droid Ultra. This is a small difference, and most people will probably base their decision not on the price, but rather the design and the features the these two smartphone offers.

Conclusion

The Droid Ultra and the Moto X are very close in terms of specs as you can see. I’m pretty sure that some Verizon customers will have a hard time deciding which one to purchase. This is actually why I have written this comparison in the first place, to help you out understanding the differences between the Ultra and the Moto X.

Some will prefer the Moto X for its amazing customization options, smaller size,  higher pixel density, Wireless charging and unique design. Others might prefer the Droid Ultra for its larger display, Kevlar back and slim design. The battery will certainly play a significant role for some people. We still need to wait for some comparison testing to be 100% sure which one performs better. I assume that due to the Ultra larger display the Moto X will outperform it, but that’s still yet to be seen.

I think that some people will opt to the Droid due to the Droid brand name and those who want to have the Droid Zap function built-in. On the other hand, the Ultra has a glossy back that some people might not like. Decisions… Decisions. Oh well, as with other devices, it’s really boils down to personal preference, especially when we are taking at two devices that are quite similar in terms of their hardware features. The bright side is that both are Motorola devices. I am happy for Motorola (should I say Google) for coming up with those excellent and innovative devices.

Let’s open this comparison up – Which one you prefer and why?

Post your opinion by commenting in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to subscribe to our Facebook page (see top right sidebar) to be notified when we post out the next article/comparison. Thanks for reading.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • v August 5, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    You are right its a hard choice. I’m going with the Droid Maxx, I want the bigger screen. I think the Moto X is on the right track and will give Apple a run for it’s money being it will be on all carriers. I wish they would stop all the subsidizing and let the fair market demand dictate pricing. I am willing to pay for quality and what I want….Yes I will be paying full price for the Droid Maxx, already ordered.

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