To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 review – a bargain phablet

Vodafone Smart Ultra 6
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £130
inc VAT on PAYG (as of 4th May)

The excellent £130 Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 sets a new benchmark for budget smartphones


Processor: Octa-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, Screen Size: 5.5in, Screen resolution: 1,920×1,080, Rear camera: 13 megapixels, Storage (free): 16GB (11GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 154x77x8.4mm, Weight: 159g, Operating system: Android 5.0.2. Buy Now from Vodafone 

The super-sized Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 was something of a budget miracle when it first launched last July, but eight months on and it’s not quite the bargain it once was. Whereas its main competitors have all dropped in price over the last year, the Smart Ultra 6 continues to maintain its £17-per-month contract price, and its Pay-As-You-Go price has actually increased, taking it up to £130 minus your initial top-up.

That’s still pretty good for its specification, though, as you’re still getting a large 5.5in, 1,920×1,080 display, a 13-megapixel camera, 16GB of storage, a sizable 3,000mAh battery and a powerful Snapdragon 615 processor. However, other phones like the 3rd Gen Moto G, and even the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua are now equally competitive, as you can pick up a Moto G for just £110 on Pay-As-You-Go or £11.50-per-month from Carphone Warehouse, while the M4 Aqua costs £170 on pre-pay or £13.50-per-month.

That’s a long way from £17-per-month, but if a large phablet is what you’re looking for, then the Smart Ultra 6 is still worth a look if you don’t mind joining Vodafone in the process, as this is still arguably one of the best value own-brand handsets I’ve seen in quite some time.


The phone’s performance, for instance, is truly astonishing for such a cheap handset. Powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 chipset and 2GB of RAM, the Smart Ultra 6 is leagues ahead of anything else in this price range, putting our current budget favourite, the 3rd Gen Moto G, to shame.

For instance, in Geekbench 3’s single and multicore tests, the Smart Ultra 6 scored 636 and 2,148 respectively, which is miles in front of the Moto G’s scores of 531 and 1,625. As a result, navigating through Android 5.0.2 feels much faster on the Smart Ultra 6 than it does on the Moto G, and web browsing is similarly nippy.

Vodafone Smart ultra 6 rear

Web pages load quickly and it takes image-heavy sites in its stride. When browsing through news sites such as The Guardian, for instance, we only had to wait around two seconds before we could scroll up and down and pan round the home page smoothly without any hitches in performance whatsoever. Likewise, with a Peacekeeper browser test score of 741, the Smart Ultra 6 isn’t that far behind last year’s LG G4, which scored 841 overall and is five times as expensive.

Graphics performance was good, too. While its score of 346 in the offscreen Manhattan test in GFX Bench GL 3.0 only equates to around 5.6fps, it’s still much better than what we managed with the Moto G, which only produced 103 frames, or 1.7fps. As a result, its GPU is much better equipped to deal with more demanding titles like Blizzard’s Hearthstone card game, as battle animations were smooth and fluid and text bubbles didn’t stutter at all.


Of course, its large 5.5in display, with a 1,920×1,080 resolution, makes playing any sort of game an absolute delight, as a much smaller proportion of it is covered by your fingers. Admittedly, the screen’s picture quality wasn’t quite as good as we were hoping, as our colour calibrator showed it was only displaying a somewhat disappointing 84.7% of the sRGB colour gamut. This is pretty low even for a budget phone, but when we compared it side by side with the Moto G (which has 85.4% coverage), we were hard-pressed to tell the difference between them. Colours looked almost identical in terms of tone and saturation and both looked equally pleasing to the eye.

Vodafone Smart ultra 6 front

If anything, the Smart Ultra 6’s higher peak brightness level of 498.44cd/m2 gives colours a little bit of extra punch compared to the Moto G, as Motorola’s handset can only reach a maximum brightness of 339.38cd/m2. We were also pleased to see the Smart Ultra 6’s high brightness levels didn’t impact the screen’s black levels too much either, as our reading of 0.42cd/m2 is still roughly around average. Meanwhile, its high contrast level of 1,179:1 means there’s plenty of detail present and viewing angles are lovely and wide.

Battery Life

Considering the Smart Ultra 6 has such a big, high resolution screen, battery life was impressive. With the screen brightness set to 170cd/m2, its 3,000mAh battery lasted 10h 51m in our continuous video playback test, so it should be more than capable of lasting through the day even if you’re using it heavily.


On the back of the phone is the 13-megapixel camera. We were very pleased with the quality of the Smart Ultra 6’s photos, as colours were bright and vivid and there was plenty of crisp detail to be found despite its tendency to produce rather dark areas of shadow. There’s also a Manual mode available which lets you adjust the white balance, ISO and exposure levels, as well as a horizon level guide and grid lines to help you capture the perfectly aligned picture.

Vodafone Smart ultra 6 camera test^ Outdoors, the Smart Ultra 6 produced bright, vibrant pictures with plenty of detail

Vodafone Smart ultra 6 camera test HDR mode^ HDR mode should be used sparingly, though, as colours became very bleached and unnatural with almost no realistic shadow detail

We’d recommend sparing use of the HDR mode, though, as this tended to bleach out colours slightly and produce overly bright and saturated images. This can be found in the Mode setting, which also includes a variety of filters, a smile detection mode, interval capture, which takes multiple shots on an automatic countdown timer, panorama and multi-exposure, which lets you combine multiple images together to create arty collages and layered shots.

Vodafone Smart ultra 6 camera test indoors^ Indoors, the Smart Ultra 6 coped well with low lighting conditions, but noise levels were quite high when we didn’t have our external lamp switched on

Design & Vodafone apps

The Smart Ultra 6 is well-made, too. While its grey plastic 8.4mm thick isn’t particularly eye-catching, it fits in with Vodafone’s other own-brand devices and its lightly ribbed sides give your fingers something to hold onto when you’re using it with one hand. It’s a unibody design, with no removable rear panel, this makes it feel tougher but means you can’t replace the battery – not that you can on the Moto G, either. The SIM and Micro SD card slots are on the edges of the handset, the latter means you can expand the memory by up to 128GB.

It has dedicated touch buttons below the screen, giving you more screen space to play with when running apps. At first we found it a little irritating that they kept turning themselves off, as this made it difficult to easily locate the home and back buttons, but this can be easily remedied in the Display settings menu by switching the touch key light duration option to always on.

We also liked how Vodafone lets you choose which app appears as a fullscreen widget when you swipe to the left of the main home screen. It’s set to news aggregator Flipboard by default, but you can choose from any app currently installed on your phone, whether it’s Netflix, Twitter, or your favourite game. You can always disable this feature if you’d rather not have one at all, but we appreciate having the choice all the same, which is more than can be said for other smartphones with this feature.

if you want Google Now to the left of your homescreen, as on Google’s own Nexus devices, then you can always install the Google Now launcher from the Play Store.

Vodafone Smart ultra 6 Android

Of course, as a Vodafone handset, the Smart Ultra 6 comes with several pre-installed Vodafone apps. Some are more useful than others, but thankfully you can uninstall them if you’d rather free up a bit of extra space. You’ll want to keep the Vodafone Start and Message+ apps, though, as the former lets you keep track of your data allowance and monthly texts and minutes while the latter is Vodafone’s messaging service, which gives you sent, delivered and read notifications when you send texts and lets you chat with multiple Message+ users in the same thread.


With so many practical features, the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 is still good value for its price. Contract prices are now a little high compared to the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua, which is arguably more attractive and has better build quality, but on pre-pay, the Ultra 6 is still a decent bargain thanks to its larger, higher resolution screen and superior camera. If you don’t mind joining Vodafone, the Smart Ultra 6 is a very good buy for those after a jumbo budget smartphone. It wins a Best Buy award. Buy Now from Vodafone

ProcessorOcta-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
Screen size5.5in
Screen resolution1,920×1,080
Screen typeIPS Quantum
Front camera5 megapixels
Rear camera13 megapixels
Storage (free)16GB (11GB)
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0
Wireless data3G, 4G
Operating systemAndroid 5.0.2
Battery size3,000mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)N/A
Price on contract (inc VAT)Free on £17-per-month contract
Prepay price (inc VAT)£125
Part codeSmart ultra 6

Read more