Vodafone Smart Prime 6 review: A 4G Android at a bargain price

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Pros

  • 4G at a low price
  • Smart design

Cons

  • Underwhelming processor
  • Average screen
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Vodafone's Smart Prime 6

Image: Steve Ranger/ZDNet

The smartphone market is all about the big names. Own-brand handsets offered by mobile operators are at best overlooked by customers looking for the reassurance of a mega-brand name, if not actually looked down on as poor substitutes.

That's not always very fair: and as prices continue to fall and the smartphone heads towards commodity status there are some decent handsets you can pick up for a fraction of the price of the flagships, so long as you are willing to forgo the well-known logos.

Vodafone's Smart Prime 6 is a good example of this. It's about the cheapest 4G phone you are going to be able to grab at a mere £79 but runs pretty much the same software as a phone five times that price.

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 - hardware

At the price the Smart Prime 6 is a good package that Vodafone seems rather proud of (note the 'Designed by Vodafone' tucked away at the bottom of the backplate) as its highest spec own-brand device with 4G as an added bonus.

While there's nothing too remarkable about the design, the silver-grey cambered shell and metal power button and volume rocker do managed to raise it above the level of generic handset. It may not provoke gasps of astonishment as you pull it from you pocket, but it won't have people laughing and pointing either: it certainly doesn't look cheap.

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The volume and power controls are on the right hand side (slightly too flush with the body of the device for my liking), while the charger socket is in the bottom right and the headphone slot gapes rather awkwardly in the middle of the top of the phone. You remove the plastic backplate to get to the SIM card and Micro SD (note, you can't remove the battery).

The five-inch screen is adequate, although I found I had to boost the brightness to get the most out of it. On the downside it's not the most responsive touchscreen I've ever used, and nor does it have more than adequate viewing angles.

The Smart Prime 6 boasts a Quad core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410 (MSM8916) which stands up well - I didn't notice too much lag when switching between apps and games like Temple Run 2 were stutter free. However, testing with Geekbench 3 processor benchmark scored the phone 465 for single core and 1387 for multi-core: compare that to the 1504 and 5307 scores we got when testing Samsung's Galaxy S6 and you can get an idea of the difference in performance here. If you were planning to be a frequent user of particularly processor intensive app that might be something to keep in mind. For the average consumer, unless they are a big fan of gaming, it's likely less to be an issue.

The 8 megapixel camera comes with a few a few advanced settings, such as face recognition, panorama and HDR, as well as a manual mode that will let you tinker with the settings further. I found it quicker to load than many other budget handsets we've tested out. You can see some test shots from the rear camera below.

Don't expect high-end bells and whistles like wireless charging, although it does offer NFC for the minority that might find that useful. Clearly 4G will be a selling point for those that want faster data access on the move.

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Software

The Smart Prime 6 runs Android Lollipop (5.0.2) and Vodafone has decided to keep it all pretty simple - there's very little unnecessary bloat. From this perspective Android is a fantastic leveler of the playing field: ignoring the hardware and just looking at the software here, you're getting a pretty similar experience on a £79 handset that you do on a £600 one, which is remarkable.

Conclusions

It seems churlish to complain about the specs on a 4G phone that's only going to cost you £79. The Smart Prime 6 certainly doesn't feel cheap and as long as you are aware of the limitations of the screen and the processor it could be good fit for those who want a good Android experience - and 4G - at a bargain price.

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Vodafone's Smart Prime 6, rear view

Vodafone Smart prime 6 specs

Dimensions: 141.65 x 71.89 x 8.96

Weight: 155g

Operating system: Android 5.0 Lollipop

Screen: 5 inch, 720p HD IPS LCD

Rear camera: 8 Megapixels, Auto-focus, LED Flash

Front camera: 2 megapixel

Processor: Quad core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410 (MSM8916)

SIM type: Micro Sim

Storage: 8GB Expandable to 64GB with micro SD card, 1GB RAM

Battery: 2500mAh: 3G standby time 915, 3G talk time 18hours

Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n, wireless tethering, NFC

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Specifications

Cellular
Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
Type smartphone (Android OS)
Integrated Components FM radio, audio player, front-facing camera, navigation, rear-facing camera, stereo speakers, voice recorder
Navigation GPS
Band WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 900/1800/1900
Mobile Broadband Generation 4G
Phone Form Factor touch
Service Provider Vodafone
Operating System Family Android
Operating System Android 5.0 (Lollipop)
SIM Card Type micro SIM
Input Device Multi-touch, capacitive
Details
SAR Value 0.868 W/kg (body) / 0.727 W/kg (head)
Integrated Components Rear-facing camera, front-facing camera, FM radio, audio player, voice recorder, stereo speakers, navigation
Phone Features
Phone Functions Speakerphone, call timer, conference call, flight mode, vibrating alert
Sensors Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, G-sensor
Additional Features HD Voice, Vodafone Content Control
Miscellaneous
Sensors G-sensor, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
Messaging & Internet
Mobile Services Calculator, Calendar, Google Maps, Google Play, Timer, Video Call
Messaging Services MMS, SMS
Supported Social Networks and Blogs Yes
Communications
Data Transmission EDGE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSPA+, HSUPA, LTE
4G LTE Band Band 1, Band 20, Band 3, Band 5, Band 7, Band 8
Wireless Interface Bluetooth 4.0, IEEE 802.11b/g/n, NFC
Bluetooth Profiles Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP)
Processor
Processor Number MSM8916
Manufacturer QUALCOMM
Processor Core Qty quad-core
Display
Type LCD display - colour
Technology IPS
Display Resolution 1280 x 720 pixels
Color Depth 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
Display Format HD
Pixel Density (ppi) 294
Color Support color
Camera
Focus Adjustment automatic
Camera Light Source LED light
Features video recording
Media Player
Supported Digital Video Standards AVC, MPEG-4, H.264, H.263, VP8
Supported Digital Audio Standards WAV, PCM, Ogg Vorbis, AMR, MP3, FLAC, AAC-LC, AAC +, eAAC+, MIDI
Memory
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDXC - up to 64 GB
User Memory 5 GB
Battery
Technology Lithium Ion
Run Time Details Talk (WCDMA): up to 1080 min
Standby (WCDMA): up to 915 hrs
Digital Camera
Focus Adjustment automatic
Camera Light Source LED light
Video Recorder Resolutions 1920 x 1080 (1080p)
Features video recording
Header
Brand Vodafone
Product Line Vodafone Smart
Model Prime 6
Packaged Quantity 1
CE Input Device
Type touch sensitive screen (multi-touch)
Touchscreen Technology capacitive
Features
Sensors G-sensor, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
Phone Functions call timer, conference call, flight mode, speakerphone, vibrating alert
Additional Features HD Voice, Vodafone Content Control
Digital Player (Recorder)
Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC +, AAC-LC, AMR, FLAC, MIDI, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, PCM, WAV, eAAC+
Supported Digital Video Standards AVC, H.263, H.264, MPEG-4, VP8
Flash Memory
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDXC
Front-facing Camera
Sensor Resolution 2 Megapixel
Focus Adjustment focus free

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