Review: Vodafone Smart Ultra 7

Once again thank you to Vodafone for sending me a unit out for review and this time it’s the Vodafone Smart Ultra 7. This is another device in their self-branded range of devices. Coming in at £135 it is the second most expensive in the line up for this year. Lets see what £135 gets you. 

Specs

As usual lets get the specs out of the way.

  • 5.5inch IPS LCD display
  • Android 6.0.1
  • Mediatek MT6755M
  • 16GB Storage
  • 2GB RAM
  • 13MP rear camera – 1080p @ 30fps, with flash
  • 5MP front camera, with flash
  • 3.5mm Headphone jack
  • Dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Micro USB
  • 2960mAh battery

Unboxing

Cracking open the box open the first thing you’re greeted with is the device itself. Pulling the phone out you are find a little envelope with all the paperwork inside of it. Pulling that out you’ll then find a smaller box with the USB cable, wall plug, and a set of earbuds. Nice to see Vodafone throwing some earbuds in. However on the flip side my unit came with a European 2 pin plug and no UK one.

Tour Of The Device

Starting around the front of the device, on the bottom you’ll find the back, home and multitasking buttons. One thing to note is the home button is a physical button where as the other two are capacitive buttons. Now personally I dislike the home button with a passion and I’d prefer a capactive button like on the First 7 and Prime 7. Up top there is the front facing flash, speaker and the camera.

Spinning it around to the right you find the volume rocker and power button which both have a nice texture to them. Whilst this is generally fine, but to have the textured finish across both the Volume rocker and the Power button means any increased in the ability to find the buttons without a glance is lost and is kind of annoying. The buttons are ever so slightly tactile but they certainly get the job done. They’re half decent.

Spinning around to left hand side you find nothing. No surprise really. Heading to the bottom of the device you find the micro USB port, speaker and a microphone. Two things I don’t like are that the the micro USB port is on the far left hand side and the speaker is located in the middle. The problem with this is that the speaker gets covered too easily which is obviously inconvenient. So is the micro USB, which is rather odd to grip when a cable is plugged in. Heading up to the top of the phone you’ll find another microphone and the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Finally around the back you’ll find a plastic back with a pretty pattern (which is the same design as on the other phones from Vodafone) as well as the camera hump and flash. It’s not a small hump as well, which is annoying and also means that the top of the device slides around way to much when on a flat surface.

Camera

As you might have expected the 13MP camera does a pretty average job at best with the stills but like I said in other Vodafone device reviews, they are budget devices so don’t expect an excellent camera. I mean it could be used to take a picture for insurance purposes and I suppose if you were out you could use it to take a picture of something but it’s not Galaxy S7 class and nor should it be at this price point. The front facing 5MP is a straight up no. Even with that front facing flash.

Video Sample

Like with stills the camera still doesn’t do all that great with video either. Sure its OK and can just about replace and a regular point and shoot but if you like a high quality photo this isn’t a replacement. Take a look for yourself and comment what you think.

Audio

As I mentioned earlier the speaker is located in the middle of the device and it makes it ridiculously easily to cover it up. You can add in the fact it gets to half volume and sounds like its being shoved into a glass. It is also rather quiet on the first notch and too loud on the second notch. It really isn’t nice to use. Definitely a headphone or speaker job here, no ifs or buts.

Display

The display however is something that I quite like about this phone. It’s a 5.5inch IPS LCD display, which if you don’t already know, my daily driver is a 6P and I like bigger phones so this is fine for me. The colours are also fine and viewing angles are great. Heck I actually enjoyed watching YouTube videos, Twitch streams and just general use on it.

Battery, Benchmarks and Performance

Running the GeekBench3 battery test the Ultra 7 managed to score a very good score with the screen dimmed at 50% brightness delivering a battery length of over 5 hours, which is actually pretty damn good. I’ve also managed to conduct the usual “daily use” test during my working day. The test is conducted by having the device idle for 3 hours then used just lightly to moderately in the evening. I got about 10-12 hours on battery. Not bad, I could live with that.

The benchmarks scores were not bad coming in at 768 and 3021 respectively. In real world test it was fine, I had no problem at all. Multi-tasking was fine, it never stuttered at all during switching. Though I did go into developer options and turn the animation speed down too 0.5x. but that seems to be something I do on every phone at the moment and is purely a personal thing.

Conclusion

The million dollar question is should you buy the Ultra 7? Being honest I kind of want to say no. It’s not that it is a bad phone, believe me it actually isn’t. It’s a nice phone but it just feels like a little bit of a beefed up Prime 7 (read my review here) and I much preferred the Prime 7. The fact that the Prime doesn’t have that stupid physical button is just a bonus. Add in the fact that the speaker is harder to cover up on the Prime 7 and it really does have my vote above the Ultra 7. The Prime 7 is also only £75, and that is quite a saving.

To be brutally honest the Smart Ultra 7 just left me feeling a little underwhelmed. In fact it took me longer to write this review than normal because it could have been easier to simply write “buy the Prime 7” instead of everything I have done, because like I said this just left me feeling like it could have offered more.

To wrap up, it’s not a bad phone, it’s just that it doesn’t offer enough to be an Ultra version when a Prime exists.

Vodafone Ultra 7

£135
8.2

Build Quality

8.5/10

Software

8.0/10

Performance

8.0/10

Usability

8.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Good screen
  • Decent battery
  • Great viewing angles
  • Runs latest Android

Cons

  • No fingerprint scanner
  • Plastic build could put some off
  • Has a stupid physical home button
  • Micro USB port is placed in the far right hand side
  • Speaker is the middle and to easy to cover up

About Chris Wallace

Techie, Gamer, Biker

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