Vodafone Smart Prime 6 review

4G and Lollipop on a budget

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Our Verdict

It's difficult to give the Smart Prime 6 a high score, because it's slow and the screen's uninspiring, but for those shopping at the bottom end of the market it's worth shortlisting.

For

  • Low, low price
  • 4G and Lollipop
  • Good battery life
  • Solid design

Against

  • Underwhelming display
  • Lacklustre performance
  • Redundant Vodafone apps
  • So-so camera shots

Update: Vodafone has updated its cheap handset range with the new Smart Prime 7. It's good enough we've even included it in our best cheap phone round-up.

We're at a time in smartphone evolution when budget phones are actually not all that bad (see also: digital cameras and laptops) – and that means you can save yourself some money without ending up with a real clunker of a handset.

Apple and Samsung may hog the limelight, but not everyone cares what a Snapdragon is, or necessarily want to spend the money to get one. Do you want your phone to run first-person shooters smoothly or just cover the basics? There are more people in the latter camp than you might think.

Into that context comes the Vodafone Smart Prime 6, one of the new breed of 'own-brand' phones that the networks are releasing (such as the EE Harrier Mini). Available in the UK, it costs £79 with a pay-as-you-go SIM included.

That's pretty much the cheapest way to get 4G today and you get yourself a 5-inch 720 x 1280 pixel display, 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor and Android 5.0 Lollipop thrown into the mix, too.

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 review

If you're really tight for cash, there's a £40 derivative called the Smart First 6: with a poor camera, slower processor, smaller screen and Android KitKat, you're definitely better off paying the extra £39.

The camera is a serviceable 8-megapixel shooter and there's a 2-megapixel model on the front. 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage (expandable via memory card) round out the key specs. I'm not sure of the battery size, but we've asked Vodafone for clarification.

Design

Vodafone isn't going to win any international design awards with the Smart Prime 6, but it's well constructed and feels comfortable to hold. The back panel is nicely finished grey plastic and a metallic trim around the screen adds a small touch of class.

You'd struggle to find anything particularly interesting or innovative about the design of the phone. It's nicely rounded and curved at the corners and the build quality suggests you're going to get a good number of years' service from it.

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 review

As I've said, the paltry 8GB internal storage can be expanded via microSD card up to an extra 64GB of room, so that's not so much of an issue. You're probably going to need a card if you're at all into your music or movies.

The screen is something of a disappointment – it's not really sharp or bright enough for my liking, but it's usable. You're probably going to want to have it ramped up at maximum brightness most of the time.

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 review

It's a world away from something such as the Nexus 6 display, but then you are forking out around one-fifth of the money.

Button and port positions are all standard, with a headphone socket on top and the microUSB connector underneath. The back is removable, but the battery isn't – flipping off the case lets you get at the memory card and SIM card slots.