Review by Sunetra Chakravati,7/27/2015 11:41:28 AM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Runs Android 5.0.2 | Massive battery | Full HD screen | No android overlay
Size not for everyone | Some pre-loaded annoying Vodafone apps
Vodafone are not new to the smartphone market, they have had several phones and tablets out in the market for some time now. However, they have gotten ZTE to manufacture the Smart Ultra 6 for them this time and packed it full of fabulous features at a budget-busting price point that consumers will find very hard to resist.
Very iPhone 6+-esque, the body of the phone has been made to look as inoffensive as possible. Grey plastic back, no metallic trim down the sides and a very very slim metal frame around the glass. Instead of trying something ‘different’ or adventurous, Vodafone have chosen the path of least resistance here. It is important to remind ourselves that the phone costs £125 or £17 on pay monthly contracts and I would definitely not judge it on its lack of premium looks.
Vodafone’s logo is writ large on the back in silver and apart from the audio slit at the back bottom and the almost-flush camera lens at the top left, the back is pretty undulating and anonymous. The SIM and microSD card slots are both opened using a safety pin and the power button and the volume toggles are on the right middle- a la iPhone.
The 5.5-inch screen has a resolution of 401ppi making it best in class in the price range and in a radius of another £100. In terms of pixel density, it almost takes up arms against Samsung’s Galaxy S6. Honor’s 6 Plus is a very close contender with a 400ppi but it costs £75 more than the Smart Ultra 6.
The full HD IPS screen does wonders and contrasts were good with excellent visibility in direct sunshine. The Smart Ultra 6 is a very worthy contender in the phablet fray and I will be surprised if consumers didnt vote for it en-masse at this year's Mobile Choice Consumer Awards.
A very healthy 2GB RAM fires the octa-core processor. Although not Qualcomm’s top-end baby, it worked lag-free during the time I used it. Not using Qualcomm’s complain-riddled high end processors is a prudent move, one that obviously made sense for Vodafone both to avoid the associated quibbles and price-wise.
One of the most refreshing things about the Smart Ultra 6 was the presence of Android 5.0.2 out of the box. Even though it has been some time since Lollipop became a part of the Android world, roll-out to devices, especially budget ones has been very slow.
Also, Vodafone haven’t slowed the phone down or tried to put a ‘stamp’ on the phone with their overlay and kept Android in its pure form. As a reviewer, you would think I would be used to different overlays, but they just seem like a colossal waste of time. Without a bespoke skin, Vodafone have probably saved a whole lotta cash but also saved consumers the headache of getting less space than they bargained for as well as giving the phone a burst of energy that not having to carry a payload of duplicate apps and services can help you achieve.
A CAT 4 phone for £125 is unimaginable given that networks still charge extra for 4G data packages, but Vodafone has brought 4G to this handset at no extra cost. Until now, Motorola’s Moto G at £150 was the uncrowned king but Vodafone has blown all competition away with this skinny one and like how!
The 3000mAh battery is a very prudent decision given the 5.5-inch screen and full HD capabilities of the Smart Ultra 6. My review sample lasted for what seemed like ages and matched my other phone a Sony Xperia Z3 every step of the way. Two days is how long it took for the Smart Ultra 6 to finally down arms and this was from moderate browsing, Youtube, Google Maps and Whatsapp usage.
The 13-MP primary camera has everything going for it with every feature and function you would expect from mid to upper-mid range phones.
Swipe left from the locked screen to instantly access the camera and you get your money’s worth in the number of modes and settings you get. These include HDR, about a dozen filters, multi-exposure, interval capture and the crowd-pleaser Smile detection. Again, at £125, not sure how Vodafone managed to pull this one through but picture quality as you can see from the example shots were clear, free from distortion and true to colour.
The Ultra Selfie camera is a 5-MP one and has a smile capture setting so even if you grimace, it will take a picture. You get options to select storage location and size of image you want to save but not much else.
Video capture is at 1080P for the primary camera and 1280X720 for the front-facing one so it is perfect for video chats with friends and family as well as the odd video conference.
Vodafone have changed the way the mobile phone retail business is played. It is no longer about the high rollers and the most expensive handsets. The battle is now being fought on the budget and mid-range fields. Motorola’s Moto G has ruled over the budget handset market for long and the specs and £150 price tag made sense for it to. But Vodafone’s Smart Ultra 6 has snatched the crown away and is now the king of this space.
Only fly in the ointment is that the phone is locked to Vodafone, however, getting phones unlocked isn't the most difficult job and I am sure those who know their specs and are not swayed by shiny advertising will be flocking in their hundreds to buy the phone for themselves.
With the Moto G we realised what was possible for £150 and thought that was how far it could go, but with the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6, we know that there can be no lower limit to what we perceive as a lower limit for budget handsets.
The superlative camera, LTE connectivity, IPS HD display with 401ppi and the super light form factor with the aesthetically inoffensive form factor makes it a champion, nay king in our eyes and are sure that long will it prosper!
Processor: Octa-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615,
Screen Size: 5.5in,
Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080,
Rear camera: 13 megapixels,
Storage (free): 16GB (11GB),
Wireless data: 3G, 4G,
Operating system: Android 5.0.2