Review by Sunetra Chakravati,8/10/2016 11:59:36 AM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Low price tag | Near-stock Android | Good build quality | Sound battery life
No fingerprint sensor | Camera not good | Vodafone bundled-in apps
Vodafone's star budget handset got a redux with the Smart ultra 7 this year. While the Smart Platinum 7, the more expensive number of the budget duo awed us with its looks and value, the ultra 7 promises to keep the faith...
Well, it does come with a removable back cover, but that doesn't make it nasty. I actually quite like the textured back- it looks very officious and if you are holding it to your ear, taking a call, no one will be able to tell the difference between this and a pricier number.
You need to pop the back off to stick the memory card as well as the NanoSIM card in and the edges of the phone are chamfered metal and the front is sheathed in dragontail glass- a cheaper type of Gorilla Glass. The glass seemingly curves over the edges
The textured power button and volume rocker are on the right and there is no fingerprint sensor on the lozenge-shaped physical home button at the bottom of the display. Quite light at 150g, the Smart ultra 7 is however quite a big phone to use one handed and truth be told, I struggled to do so-frequently.
With a 5.5-inch LCD display, Vodafone is onto a winner with the Smart ultra 7. Although not as crisp as an AMOLED one that you would otherwise see on a £500+ flagship device, the streaming experience off Youtube isn't bad, but not terribly good either.
Video playback has the kind of rough edges you would otherwise come across on a budget handset and because of its non-budget looks, on the whole it is easy to forget that this handset costs just £135 and this is probably the best media guzzling device you will find for the price.
Battery-wise, things aren't as rosy as they were with the Vodafone Smart ultra 6 and its 3000mAH battery because the one on here is a slightly scaled back version at 2960 mAH but Android 6's doze functionality and software optimisations make sure that battery doesn't burn through at the speed of sound. The phone lost just 6 percent juice when I streamed HD videos off Youtube over 4G with 100 percent brightness for 20 minutes.
There is just a row of speakers at the bottom of the phone and while not tinny, it does an okay job of relaying music and dialogues.
It isn't a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor on here but a Mediatek one... However, it is a sound octa core one and games, streaming and switching between apps werent juddery or laggy.
A near stock version fo Marshmallow is onboard, the only additions being a few Vodafone stock apps that have been bundled in. These include a calls+ app that makes sure your call continues even when yo move out of an area of network coverage by switching between network and the internet. There is an accessories store as well as a 'tips' app that guides you through all that your phone can do... sort of a manula for first time smartphone users.
Internal storage amounts to only 16GB and you get a little over 9GB for your personal effects but the ability to expand memory via a microSD card will come as relief for those who like taking a 1000 selfies.
The Smart ultra 7 comes with Bluetooth and NFC so you will be able to make full use of Android Pay but there is no fingerprint sensor. I have heard from manufacturers that for handsets under £250, it is usually very difficult to include one and will put down the absence of one on here to that.
When I ran an AnTuTu benchmark test, the Smart ultra 7 scored 31020 points which was considerably behind other known phones- but then these were ones that were a lot pricier than this budget buy.
While in theory, the 13-MP snapper seems good enough to give flagship devices a run for their money, in reality, the story is very different.
Colours appear quite different on screen and even in the auto mode, the phone faltered quite badly. I tried to focus it on an item on my desk and then increase brightness, the slider froze and then switched its function around so pulling it down increased the brightness than dim it.
Low light mode was a bit of a disaster with the auto focus taking a good few seconds to focus and then the brightness slider continually malfunctioning.
Selfie mode on the 8-MP front facing camera reminded me of my first camera phone with its under-1 mega pixel camera- every photo came out hazy and blurred unless I was very very still and the focusing was a shambles. A very strong reminder that mega pixels dont maketh a good camera.
The phone is able to record 1080p videos and the ones I recorded were just okay but I was left very disappointed with camera on the phone.
It is clear that the Smart ultra 7 is a direct competitor to the rather fabulous Moto G range... I recently reviewed the Moto G4 Plus and it ticked all the boxes for me: battery, camera, display and obviously the stock Android OS.
However, the real rival of this phone is the new Moto G4 and with similar specs onboard, it will be a difficult battle for the Vodafone budget blower. The ultra 7 has the might of Vodafone behind it whereas with a £169+ price tag, the Moto G4 is pricier but ultimately with the better camera.
The Vodafone Smart ultra 7 is one of the best budget handsets in the market right now and if it is price that drives your buying decision as well brand trust, I would strongly recommend this handset.
Operating System: Android 6.0.1
Dimensions:152.2 x 78.12 x 8.68 mm
Weight: 150 g
Resolution: 1080p Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels)
Display: 5.5-in 1080p IPS LCD
Processor: 1.0GHz/1.8GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6755M ; 2GB RAM
Camera: 13 megapixels, auto-focus, LED flash; 5-MP selfie camera
Memory: 16 GB, up to 128 GB microSD Card support
Battery: 2960 mAH
Fingerprint sensor: No
Misc: Vodafone apps to help first-time smartphone users; Pump Express Plus technology helps charge the phone faster