While premium phones offer the best possible performance, graphics, battery life and features, their pricing makes it difficult for a lot of people to afford them who then bank on mid-range phones to offer them performances as close to the premium ones as possible. However, 2016 saw the arrival of a slew of new 'super value phones' which are not only priced below £150, but offer specifications and features which previously belonged to mid-range devices costing around £300 or more.
We take a look at some of these wonder devices, namely the Vodafone Smart Ultra 7, Honor 5C and Moto G4 and find out which among them offer the best combination of looks, features and specifications to become your ideal super value phone.
Vodafone's Smart Ultra 7 is a pretty affordable phone but Vodafone hasn't let the low price tag come in the way of how the phone feels and looks like. The smooth textured back gives it a professional look and the chamfered metal lining on its edges make it look a lot more premium than it is. The dragontail glass screen which curves slightly over the edges, the circular metal lining around the rear camera and bright power and volume buttons enhance the phone's looks- something that you wouldn't much expect to see in a sub £150 phone. However, the large display may render one-handed usage almost impossible.
The Moto G4 is similarly-sized at 5.5-inches but unlike its more premium sibling, doesn't feature a physical fingerprint sensor on its front. The curved plastic back is easy to hold and the vertical glass screen sheathing the camera lens and LED flash stands out, giving the phone a unique appearance. The thin metal lining around the phone's edges make it look classy as well. What makes the G4 worth it is that you can easily change how the phone looks by using MotoMaker, even though you will have to pay extra for any additions. MotoMaker will let you choose the phone's frame colour, choose from 8 different colours for the back panel, add new accents to the colours and personalize the phone with any engraving of your choice.
With the Honor 5C, Huawei chose to let buyers enjoy the looks of a premium phone for a super value price. Honor 5C looks very similar to the HTC 10, but its plastic polycarbonate back frame makes it very light which, along with a smaller 5.2-inch display makes one-handed usage a stroll in the park. However, the front screen isn't oleophobic which means that fingerprints will linger around until you wipe it from time to time. At the same time, the back screen is very susceptible to scratches and keeping it encased in a strong back cover will conserve its appearance.
Winner: Moto G for letting you build it the way you want to, curved back and bright display.
Vodafone Smart Ultra 7's 5.5-inch LCD display isn't as bright as an AMOLED screen but compared to its price, the phone's display offers a decent viewing experience thanks to a Full HD resolution. The display in Moto G4 is similarly-sized and features the same resolution and thereby offers a very similar experience. Video viewing on Full HD may not be as crisp as a Quad HD one but you won't feel that you're using an inferior display unless you've been using a Quad HD one for over a year.
Honor 5C has a smaller 5.2-inch display but with the same 1080p Full HD resolution. However, during our review, we found that the videos didn't appear as colourful as in other screens and were fuzzy at times, thus not offering as good an experience that you would otherwise expect from a Full HD display.Winner: Vodafone Smart Ultra 7 and Moto G4Processing power and RAM
Vodafone's Smart Ultra 7 features a MediaTek MT6755M octa-core processor clocked up to 1.8GHz and a 2GB RAM to provide extra memory for your multi-tasking needs. The Moto G4 comes with a similar RAM and an octa-core Snapdragon 617 processor and Honor 5c features Huawei's home-grown Kirin 650 processor clocked up to 2.0 GHz of RAM.
All three phones feature very similar processing power and memory and only long term usage and detailed performance tests will be able to make out a difference between these, of which we think there will be very little.
While Vodafone Smart Ultra 7 and Honor 5C offer 16GB of internal storage, Moto G4 has gone a step ahead here and is available in 16GB and 32GB storage models. However, the 32GB model will cost a little more but will be worth the spend given how much storage is usually gobbled up by system files, operating systems and default apps. All three phones also feature MicroSD card slots with a maximum storage capacity of 128GB.
Winner: Moto G4 for higher storage capacity.
Honor 5C and Moto G4 feature 3,000 mAh batteries but the one in Vodafone Smart Ultra 7 has a slightly lower capacity of 2,960 mAh which may not seem much. While these phones certainly benefit from all the battery saving features in Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, they also come with quick charging and power saving features of their own. The Smart Ultra 7's battery life can be juiced up with Pump Express Plus technology which facilitates quick charging, the Moto G4 features TurboPower™ which can charge the battery with 6 hours of power in just 15 minutes and Honor 5C features Huawei's SmartPower 3.0 which helps distribute power efficiently to save battery life.
Both Smart Ultra 7 and Moto G4 feature 13-MP and 5-MP cameras but the Honor 5C steals the march here with a similar rear camera but a more powerful 8-MP front snapper with Full HD video recording capability. Features like auto-focus, LED flash, HDR, Panorama and Burst mode are available in all three primary cameras but crucially missing is Optical Image Stabilisation which probably makes premium phone cameras much better in comparison despite feature similar resolutions.
Winner: Honor 5C for powerful front camera lens.
While all these phones are prices around the £150, Moto G4 is the costliest among them with a starting price tag of £169. Honor 5C costs £149.99 and Vodafone's Smart Ultra 7 costs a mere £135, even though its Achilles Heel is the fact that it comes locked to Vodafone's network and won't be available SIM-free. In terms of on-paper specifications, all three phones are closely matched up and this is the reality of today's smartphone market where technologies have basically peaked and performance differences between phones have been limited to some tiny factors. As such, choosing one among them may be difficult but given how Moto G4 offers a larger storage and amazing customization options apart from a brilliant look and feel, it may just be worth the extra cost.