The Vodafone Smart ultra 7 is Vodafone’s latest iteration of it’s Smart ultra lineup, bringing on some subtle changes changes and improvements from the last version which was reviewed by us last year.
For this review I have been send the “Aluminium Silver” coloured Vodafone Smart ultra 7, there is also a “Satin Charcoal” colour available but all this does it affect the colour of the backplate on the back of the device. The bezel around the display is black regardless.
The design of the smartphone is an all plastic construction to help keep the cost down to £135. But it’s not necessarily a cheap feeling plastic and it doesn’t look that cheap either, I think it is a great improvement from the Smart ultra 6.
On the front of the Vodafone Smart ultra 7 we, of course, have the 5.5″ display, which I will cover in a bit more detail in a moment. Below that we have the navigation buttons, a capacitive back and multitasking button, but a physical home button which I think could be a bit more tactile and clicky as the device doesn’t always recognise me pressing the home button as you have to hit it right in the middle. The advantage of having a physical home button though, is that you won’t accidentally be hitting the home button and leaving your app.
Also, on the front of the device we have the front facing camera, a front facing flash which I wasn’t expecting and also the subtle notification light which I like since it’s not ridiculously obtrusive.
The sides of the device are extremely sleek and clean, with the volume rockers and power button on the right hand side, these buttons have a tactile texture on them which helps for grip but I did occasionally find myself hitting the power button instead of the volume button and vice versa.
Now onto the back of the Vodafone Smart ultra 7, and the back of the device is a grippy plastic which features a geometric pattern, here on the back we can see the rear facing camera and also the two tone flash. Once you take off the back of the device you can change out your SIM, add extra microSD storage to the 10GB built it – but you cannot change out the battery as that is fixed in place.
The bottom of the device features the speaker, which gets very loud and also the microUSB charging port. The speaker isn’t great but it’s not awful, but most noticeably it doesn’t get as quiet as the speaker on my iPhone which was something that stood out to me.
The Vodafone Smart ultra 7 ships with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and like all Vodafone Smart devices, it is pretty much a stock experience apart from a few little extra features here and there – but you won’t find a re-skinned version of Android here.
There are also a few bundled apps that come with the phone; Call+, Message+, Accessories, Start and Tips. There are also other bundled apps included but if you don’t want the extras you can choose not to install those in the setup of the device.
One of my issues with the Smart ultra 6 was that I could not skip the tips/tutorial messages in the device setup, but this time around you can choose to skip them if you don’t need them at all which is a nice touch.
The display on the Vodafone Smart ultra 7 is 1080p 5.5″ screen, and is nice and sharp to look at. It also looks vivid and colours look great which is nice for a phone in such a low price bracket. But a small issue I have noticed is that the viewing angles aren’t the best as the colours go a bit off when the screen is looked at from a dramatic angle, this can be seen in our review video.
I also like the slight touch of where the bezel around the side of the devices curves towards the side, it’s a nice little design touch and it makes the device just look that little bit better and when the screen is on fingerprints don’t show up at all, which is a great bonus.
The camera on the Vodafone Smart ultra 7 isn’t particularly amazing, and I feel like this is a part of the phone that has been cut to save costs to keep the device at a cheap price.
The 5 megapixel front facing camera isn’t brilliant, it’s not sharp and is actually fairly blurry to a certain extent and distorted around the edges – so if you’re going to be taking a lot of selfies this probably isn’t going to be the camera for you.
The rear facing camera on the back is 13 megapixels and is a little better, although there is a lot of sharpening going into the images that have been shot which can really be noticed when viewing a photo shot on it at 100%, the photos also look a little desaturated in my opinion.
I also think that this camera struggles to capture a lot of detail as some of the landscape photos that I have taken appear as a blur at 100% but if you need to take a quick photo it’s not a deal breaker. The camera also features a HDR mode so if there’s a lot of different lighting dynamics going on, you’ll get a decent photo out of the camera.
Video is decent on the Vodafone Smart ultra 7, the device shoots 1080p at 30fps. Like the photos – the phone struggles where there is lots of texture (for example a field) but I accidentally shot some video of the grassy floor which looked sharp so the camera definitely performs differently in different conditions.
The overall performance of the device doing daily tasks is great, app transitions are smooth and the entire operating system is responsive and does not feel laggy at all. I’ve had a few app crashes over the course of using the device, these were mainly from Snapchat – but otherwise it’s great.
Gaming is also pretty good on the device, platformers like Leo’s Fortune play great but if you’re looking to play more intense titles like Asphalt 8 you will find the experience laggy because of the graphical effects. So to summarise that point, this phone is not a graphical workhorse, but for a bit of casual gaming it’s great.
Battery life on the device is impressively great. I can easily get through a full day of using the device and there is still more than 30 or 40 percent left which means that you don’t have to worry as much about remembering to charge your phone, and if you do forget, it won’t be a disaster.
This is thanks to the non-removeable 2960 mAh battery that powers the Vodafone Smart ultra 7, which is a much larger battery than some larger manufactures include in their devices, so this is a great feature for the device.
So, overall – the Vodafone Smart ultra 7 is a great budget offering from Vodafone coming in at £135 and just £16 a month with no upfront, and performs well with a clean Android experience – and I think it is a great phone considering the price tag, it does have it’s little flaws but they’re certainly not deal breakers.