Review by Sunetra Chakravati,10/5/2015 12:43:24 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Runs Android 5.1 | Costs £50 | 4G connectivity
Under-par camera | uninspiring design
By Sunetra Chakravarti
Vodafone are fast making a mark in the budget handset arena. The incredible Vodafone Smart ultra 6 won the best value phone category at the Mobile Choice Consumer Awards 2015 and they also have the Smart prime 6 in the arena at a lower price than the £125 that of the Smart ultra 6 retails for.
The Smart speed 6 is the third child in the gaggle and costs £50, here's what we think of it...
Solidly plastic and available in a choice of two colour options for the back: Anthracite and Silver, Vodafone's Smart speed 6 dosn't break any design moulds focussed more on getting the internals right.
The phone measures 10mm at its thickest point and there is no tapering involved. It is a solid phone which feels quite small in the hand and form factor wise, you are thinking Apple iPhone 5c. The look and feel of the phone still firmly is in the era from before all flagships started becoming super-sized.
My biggest beef is with how unashamedly budget the phone looks. It is all plastic and the plastic case comes up to hug the screen of the phone and even the buttons are the same material and built into it. The 3.5mm audio jack is at the top middle and the power button and the volume toggles at the centre of the right side of the phone.
Peel off the plastic casing and you have a slot for the micro SIM card, and another one for the microSD card which is able to expand memory on the phone by 32GB. There is a removable battery in there as well and remember to peel off the lens protector before you start taking picture otherwise all your pictures will be of a strange blue-hued variety.
For a similar size as that of the Apple iPhone 5, you get a screen that is far bigger but at a lower resolution. The screen on the Smart speed 6 has a ppi of 218 and the resolution is 480 X 854 and as you can guess, it isnt the most crystal display. Streaming HD videos on Youtube led to a pixellated experience and when outside in the sun, videos were very dark and needed the brightness cranked up massively for a normal viewing exerience.
You will be fine streaming episodes of your favourite Netfix dramas but we would suggest a different device to see Downton Abbey or re-runs of Bake-off in all its glory.
The primary camera has a 5-MP snapper and there's a 2-MP secondary camera on board. The images clicked on the primary camera are just fine in good light conditions but try and throw a curve ball and it sort of falters. These images were taken indoors and every one of them are lacking in detail, fuzzy and under par. It is surprising that the elder sibling Smart Ultra 6 had such a capable camera and yet this one has just a very basic one. The front-facing camera was exactly as you would expect from a 2-MP snapper, you need to have super steady hands to not end up with fuzzy shots and the only 'apps' you get with it are: collage and aspect ratio setting, probably to make your selfies more Instagram friendly before the photo led social network said yes to non square photos.
There is a quad core Mediatek 1.1Ghz processor on board. This may seem quite piddly, but the screen is a 4.5-inch and the display is no HD and so coupled with the 1GB RAM, it doesnt do badly at all.
Android Lollipop 5.1 comes pre-loaded with just a handful of Vodafone's apps onboard and you can very easily delete them to make space for your favourite ones. An over the air update to Andorid 6.0 is imminent and can only make the browsing experience better. Connectivity wise there is 4G, Bluetooth and an FM radio and I can say that the 4G is amazing.
On the 8GB review device, I got 4.68GB free and I think that is pretty good. You are able to up the memory of the device upto 32GB via microSD card and so that should take care of all your photos and videos that you record.
An AnTuTu score came back as 20021 just behind the Asus ZenPhone 5 and with one eye on the £50 pricetag, I am not one to start complaining. The Smart speed 6 scored 343 on the GFX Bench and this was just a couple of points behind the award-winning Smart Ultra 6.
The Smart speed 6 is also a great device to have on person to tether your laptop to on your commute, you not just save money but also because Vodafone dont charge for tethering, it is a very good way of saving money.
The battery is removable, just as well because it isnt particularly high specced. At 1780mAH, it would not usually be expected to take you though the working day, but the low-res screen and the smaller screen size comes in handy here and the decent processor makes sure you are able to consume all the media you want, both to and from work. Streaming videos on YouTube over 4G with brightness set to 50% led the battery to drain from 56% to 53% over a period of 15 minutes, so you can see how robust battery life is going to be...
Charging was, however, excrutiatingly slow with us being able to add just 2% to the battery life by charging it for 15 minutes.
This isn't a phone that has been made to topple the likes of Apple iPhone 6s and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. This is a phone for the first time user who wants a good browsing/streaming experience without breaking the bank. There is superfast 4G on board, I was able to stream a tech event live that took ages on my laptop and the camera does the job. For a device that costs the same amount as you would spend each month on a flagship device over two years with a top 4G deal, I think that the Smart speed 6 packs a good number of great features.
If this is your primary phone and you are not a first time smartphone user, I would still recommend you save up for the brilliant Smart Ultra 6 but for taking on a holiday, students and over-65s, to browse on social media and for those who dont spend their waking hours gaming, you would be hard pressed to find a better value phone.
Operating System: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Weight: 146 g
Size: 132 x 65 x 10mm
Resolution: 854x480 pixels
Processor: Quad core 1.1 GHz
RAM: 1 GB
Camera: 5MP and 2MP
Storage: 8GB, available 4.68GB
Memory via microSD: upto 32GB
Battery: 1780mAH (removable)