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Though disappointing in some key areas, I found that using the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 was mostly a pleasant experience. Even at a lower price point, it manages to outcompete most of its peers, especially in terms of performance.
The full HD, 5.5-inch panel on the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 is a true beauty. Offering excellent clarity, colour reproduction and brightness, it is the screen of a smartphone that is at least twice as expensive.
With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 chugging away inside, performance on the device is great. Navigating the UI is a seamless experience, while games mostly maintain consistent framerates, outside of the more intensive titles.
Reception on the device is fantastic: even in areas where I normally receive no reception, the Smart Ultra 6 still managed to maintain a strong connection. In areas with 4G, internet speeds were commonly very fast, even when compared to other devices, especially at the same price point.
As the competition continues to heat up at the lower end of the market, it is no longer acceptable to pass off a grey slab as a modern smartphone. Though the design of the device is inoffensive, the Smart Ultra 6 struggles to stand out against more colourful and attractive competitors.
The rear-facing camera, though possessing some promising hardware, produces only barely adequate results. Images are often washed out, with the sensor having a very poor dynamic range, and video is also very flat with a washed-out look.
Battery life, though mostly acceptable, does not meet the claims set by Vodafone. Though many users will find this acceptable anyway, this is certainly not the battery champion it is set out to be. The excessive bloatware also makes for a poor impression.
For £125 on Pay As You Go, the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 could be the budget device to beat at the moment. And with a large, bright Full HD screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, 3000mAh battery, 13MP rear-facing camera and 5MP wide angle selfie cam, on paper this certainly appears to be the case.
However, with a bland design, poor camera performance and a battery that is only adequate, the constraints of this price point certainly make themselves heard.
In many other ways however, the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 exceeds its price point, and then some. The screen is excellent, the performance is more than satisfactory, and the inclusion of a 4G radio, let alone a good one, at this point is very encouraging.
With the Smart Ultra 6, Vodafone is attempting to cast off the appearance of compromise that has dogged its smartphone efforts so far, and has mostly succeeded. The Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 is one of the most exciting devices of the year at this price point, and as such is well worth a look, especially if you're on Vodafone's network already.
First reviewed: July 2015
Sean is a Scottish technology journalist who's written for the likes of T3, Trusted Reviews, TechAdvisor and Expert Reviews.