Vodafone Smart Speed 6 review

It's a silver surfer's dream machine

Vodafone Smart speed 6

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The Vodafone Smart Speed 6 is an extremely capable entry-level smartphone. When you factor in the price, it's hard to beat – it's a great all-round performer, let down only by the sub-standard main camera.

We liked

The thoughtful – and genuinely useful – tweaks that cater for people for whom this will be their first smartphone. They demystify the whole experience without belittling it.

Playing games, music and movies, despite the low-resolution 854 x 480 screen, is an enjoyable experience and not hampered by the budget hardware. The audio quality over headphones is particularly good.

The no-frills approach to Android Lollipop means the user experience is smooth, responsive and free from bloat. I hope Vodafone doesn't wait too long to bring Marshmallow to the Smart Speed 6.

We disliked

The disappointing camera performance lets down what would otherwise be a fantastic budget all-rounder. It's adequate for quick shots indoors, but take it out into the wider world and it buckles under the pressure.

The Smart Speed 6 is locked to the Vodafone network – it's an ideal pay as you go handset, but your options are limited when you can't easily swap networks.

The choice of only silver and black rear covers is disappointingly dull, especially as younger customers are likely to be a large part of this smartphone's market. Even a third, white option would have been a welcome addition.

Final verdict

It's difficult to complain too vociferously about a full-fat smartphone experience that costs just £50 – but when each network operator offers its own cut-price caller, it often comes down to the little differences that separate them. When we reviewed the EE Rook, we liked the capable hardware but rankled at the restrictive viewing angle, sub-par camera and limited on-board memory.

The Vodafone Smart Speed 6 certainly avoids the first of those criticisms, with a screen that's slightly larger (4.5 inches compared to 4 inches, with a resolution of 854 x 480 as opposed to the Rook's 800 x 480) and viewable from a far wider range of angles. Watching a movie isn't as arduous on the Smart Speed 6, and the built-in speakers aren't too bad, either.

The problems with the camera are common to both phones. Snapping anything other than quick shots for sharing on social media is pretty much out of the question, although the Smart Speed 6 does offer a flash. And as for the limited on-board memory, well, buy a microSD card – they're cheaper than they've ever been.

All of which makes the Vodafone Smart Speed 6 a pretty savvy silver surfer. There's nothing else out there at the moment that offers 4G LTE connectivity with such a well-rounded combination of features, performance and price.

First reviewed: October 2015