There used to be a time when buying a phone from your phone network provider was the simple go to method. They subsidized the costs against the network charges, and you ended up with a great deal and a great phone. The trade off was living with a phone that was locked to that particular network. The last few years has seen that trend shift in the wrong direction. These days it is actually more expensive to buy most phones with a contract, and cheaper to buy them SIM Free straight from the manufacturer or a third party shop and buy a SIM only deal.
Vodafone are looking to buck that trend, and they’re doing it the good old fashioned way. Last year they introduced the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6, which not only gave people a Vodafone branded phone, it gave them an extremely decent set of specs at an extremely decent cost. A year on, Vodafone have given us the next version of its already successful phone, the Vodafone Smart Ultra 7. At only £135, and featuring some really decent specs, it already looks great on paper!
- 5.5″ FHD Display (1920 x 1080 pixels)
- Octa Core Processor
- 2GB RM, 16GB ROM, micro SD Slot
- 13MP AF plus Flash Rear Camera
- Android 6 (almost vanilla!)
- 8.68mm thick (152.2 x 78.12 x 8.6mm), 150g
In the box
- Vodafone Smart Ultra 7
- Micro USB Cable
- 3.5mm Stereo Headset
- Quick Start Guide
- Safety Documentation
Look and Feel
Whether you go for the Satin Charcoal or the Aluminium Silver, you get a plastic back which has a textured pattern on it, but not a textured feel. In fact, sadly, the pattern almost highlights that this doesn’t have a textured feel. On the upside, it is a removable cover, though the battery inside isn’t. What you do get when you remove the cover is the ability to change SIM cards or insert your micro SD card if you wish. You also have the slightly protruding camera from the back.
The front not only features the 5.5″ screen, but also has a physical Home button as well as physical buttons for back and recent apps. This bucks the trend from usual phones, and almost goes a bit Samsung-ish in how it deals with it. However that is pretty much the only Samsung like feature on this one. The side has textured buttons which give you access to volume and power, while the top has the 3.5mm slot and the bottom has the micro USB slot and the speaker grill.
In many ways, the phone looks a bit inspired by the Windows phones, apart from the button layer at the bottom of the screen.
The back may feel a bit cheap, but all in all the phone, despite the big size, feels rather light at only 150g.
The phone offer a full HD screen, with a 1920 x 1080 resolution. It gives you a decent performance under bright sunlight, though the colours seem a bit dull compared to some of the other phones out there. All in all though, not much to complain.
The phone runs Android Marshmallow, and thanks to it being a Vodafone phone, the experience is almost vanilla. You do get a whole suite of Vodafone apps loaded on to this, which is pretty standard for any phone from Vodafone, and while some may find them useful, I pretty much stayed away from them. However, if interested, you have all kinds of options, from an enhanced phone and messaging app all the way to an actual Vodafone Wallet app to let you make payments. In the initial setup, the phone keeps reminding you to set up the Vodafone features, but after you’ve run through it, it should calm down a bit.
For a phone of this cost, it is a bit unfair to expect a lot. Having said that, the phone performed well through most apps, such as your typical social media, browsing and email. It wasn’t lightning fast and instant, but there wasn’t much noticeable lag either.
This is probably where you will notice a difference between this and some of the other phones out there. The camera performance is a bit average, but to be fair we have been a bit spoilt by the latest range of phone cameras that have been on the market. It works great in good lighting, but struggles with focus and clarity in darker environments.
Battery lasts about a day and worked fairly decent.
- There is no NFC, and hence no Android Pay
- There is no fingerprint scanner for security
- Android is as vanilla as it gets on a branded phone
- It has a micro USB slot, and not USB C.
- The removeable back feels a bit pointless, and feels a bit fragile, as it doesn’t let you remove the battery
More on the Vodafone Smart Ultra 7 can be found on their website. It retails for only £135, and is available in Satin Charcoal and Aluminium Silver.
At £135, you will struggle to find something wrong with this phone. Vodafone are selling this one as a basic option, and it flies through all the expectations!