Friday, 7 August 2015

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6

High-performance budget phone

Over the page, we review the Sony Xperia M4, a very attractive phone for £210. The Smart Ultra 6 offers similar features for only £125, or £17 a month on contract with Vodafone (its exclusive vendor). It has the same fast processor as Sony’s phone, the same Android 5.0.2 software (Lollipop), and a bigger screen with 1080p Full HD resolution. And its rear camera, with the same 13-megapixel rating, takes nicer pictures.

So what’s the catch? Well, you may not want to be on Vodafone’s network. It’s also one of the most generic-looking phones we’ve ever seen. It’s like one of those fake phones in an advert or a TV programme, where they can’t show a real brand, so they’ve carved something phone-shaped out of sculpting foam and painted it black. In fact, if Apple’s design guru Sir Jonathan Ive was delivering a lecture on minimalist design and wanted to illustrate that simplicity alone wasn’t enough, he could hardly find a better example.

Unlike the Xperia M4 Aqua, the Smart Ultra 6’s case Is not metal, nor is it waterproof. It’s also noticeably thicker. There are forward and back buttons below the screen, an idea conceived to save space when screens were small. This screen is huge, so the buttons are unnecessary. Battery life is a little longer than the Xperia, at 10 hours 51 minutes of continuous video playing, but the screen is as dull as the design.

Performance is basically the same, however, which is a stunning achievement at this price. And you get a reasonable 16GB of storage (4GB is taken up by the operating system), as well as a microSD slot to add more if needed. Despite some reservations, the Smart Ultra 6 is an incredible bargain with no major functionality flaws.

This isn't the perfect phone, and it looks nothing special, but as long as you want to be on Vodafone, it's an amazing deal.

5.5in 1920x1080-pixel screen • 13-megapixel rear camera • 5-megapixel front camera • 802.11n Wi-Fi • 3G/4G • 154x77x8.4mm (HxWxD) • 159g • One-year warranty