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Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 review - a bargain phablet

Katharine Byrne
4 May 2016
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
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

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Specifications

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, 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, 1,920x1,080 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.

Performance

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.

Display

Of course, its large 5.5in display, with a 1,920x1,080 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. Continues on Page 2

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