Vodafone Smart Prime 6 review

Vodafone has entered the world of budget 4G-enabled smartphones with the Vodafone Smart Prime 6, which costs just £79. With such a small price tag, we were expecting a rather painful testing period with lag and severe frustration – but we were wrong. See also: Best phones of 2015.

Also see: Best Black Friday Phone Deals

The Vodafone Smart Prime 6 may be a budget phone, but it has a premium design. Some may say it’s bulky compared to the iPhone 6, but it’s thinner than its main rival the Moto E 4G, measuring in at 9mm compared to 12mm. The edges are curved to fit snuggly in your hand, making sure that it doesn’t become uncomfortable to use after long periods of time or if it were being used one handed.

The Smart Prime 6 boasts a 5in full 720p HD IPS display, which provides great clarity and detail at any viewing angle. The size of the screen is just right too, as it’s big enough to enjoy playing games and watching videos without it being uncomfortable to use one handed. It could be brighter however, as we struggled to see what we were doing when in direct sunlight.

Vodafone’s budget smartphone comes packing a Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal memory (around 5GB after the Android OS is installed). It also comes with an Adreno 306 GPU, which won’t play the latest 3D games but will run casual games like Temple Run and Sonic Dash with ease. With regards to benchmarking, the results were very similar to the Moto E 4G, which isn’t surprising considering that they both use the same processor, GPU and RAM.

The Smart Prime 6 boasts a rear facing 8-megapixel camera, with general photography looking good with decent exposure and detail, especially in lighter environments. It doesn’t matter if it’s dark though, as it also has an LED flash and a night mode on the camera app to help brighten the darkest of photos. The only issue we have is with the compression method, which makes photos grainy and is most noticeable when you zoom in on a photo. It also has a 2-megapixel front facing camera, which is good for selfies and video calling, but not much else.

Video recording is also supported at 1080p @ 30fps on the rear facing camera and 720p on the front facing camera. The overall quality is similar to the photography, but with the lack of optical (or digital) image stabilisation, videos tend to shake a bit more than we’d prefer.  

Apart from Vodafone branding throughout the OS, the Smart Prime 6 runs standard Android Lollipop 5.0.2 with a handful of Vodafone related apps. The Vodafone store is where you can access your data allowance, minutes and texts whereas the Updates app gives you access to Vodafone exclusive apps, such as SmartPass, an app (and accompanying sticker) that enables contactless payment.

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 review: Design and build

Vodafone’s Smart Prime 6 is aimed at a budget market, though this isn’t obvious with its design. Even though it’s made from plastic, it has a hint of premium design, not looking dissimilar to the Samsung Galaxy S4 (although more bulky). It’s also available in two colours – silver and grey. We thought this was a strange choice, as there’s little difference between the two colours and we think Vodafone would’ve done better offering a completely different colour option. 

The Smart Prime 6 is bulkier than the likes of the iPhone 6 at 9mm thick and 155g, but is still thinner than its main rival, the Moto E 4G, which is 12.3mm thick and costs around £109. It’s also worth mentioning that just because it’s bulky, it doesn’t make it any less comfortable to hold – in fact, the curved edges of the Smart Prime 6 allows it to fit snugly in your hand. 

It measures in at 141.7x71.9 and houses a 5inch display, giving the Smart Prime 6 a 67.7 percent screen-to-body ratio, which isn’t a bad for a smartphone that costs under £100. The display is one of the better features of the Smart Prime 6; it’s quite crisp and clear, boasts a full 720p HD resolution and IPS technology, which allows for better viewing angles at almost any angle. It also beats the Moto E 4G’s 4.5inch screen in size and resolution, with a qHD 540x960 pixel display.

We feel that the size of the screen is just right too – the Smart Prime 6 provides adequate screen real estate to watch videos and play games without becoming uncomfortable to use one handed.

For those among you that look for a phone with a removable back cover, you’re in luck with the Smart Prime 6. It snaps off to reveal the battery along with a SIM card tray and a MicroSD card slot, which supports up to 64GB of extra storage, offering double the capacity of the Moto E 4G’s MicroSD card slot. However if you’re thinking about swapping out the battery, you’re out of luck – even though the back cover is removable, the battery itself is sealed off and removing the cover will void the warranty. 

See also: Best cheap smartphones of 2015

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 review: Hardware and performance

The Vodafone Smart Prime 6 boasts a Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, which is the same processor used in the Moto E 4G. It uses the Adreno 306 GPU, a graphics processor that won’t play processor heavy mobile 3D games smoothly, but is more than enough for casual games – it ran games like Temple Run and Sonic Dash without any issues or lag. In fact, there wasn’t much in terms of lag anywhere at all when we tested the phone.

The Smart Prime 6 also boasts 1GB of RAM and 8GB internal memory, around 5GB of which is usable after the OS has been installed. As we mentioned earlier, there’s a MicroSD card slot available for those of you that want more storage. While these may be figures to turn your nose up to with flagship phones, the fact that this phone costs under £100 makes them quite impressive.

When we ran our benchmarks, we were pleasantly surprised with the performance results we got from such a budget phone. The GeekBench 3 results showed that the Smart Prime 6 achieved a score of 1401 in its multi-core component, narrowly being beaten by the Moto E 4G’s score of 1463. It’s single core component scored quite highly too, achieving a score of 464, matching the score of the Moto E 4G. In layman’s terms, both the Smart Prime 6 and Moto E 4G will perform equally as well, managing casual gameplay and general usage with ease. 

In SunSpider, a JavaScript benchmark, the Smart Prime 6 achieved a laggy score of 1301ms, with similar results in terms of graphics performance. We ran GFXBench and the Smart Prime 6 only managed 9.4fps in T-Rex and 3.8fps in Manhattan, beaten by the Moto E 4G’s 13fps in T-Rex and 6fps in Manhattan, making the Moto E 4G the better option for gaming.

The AnTuTu score was 21842, and marked the Smart Prime 6’s general performance as “high performance”, surpassing 60% of other devices, as well as average battery performance and a poor game experience. Though the game performance was marked as poor, it still surpasses 40% of other devices, an impressive feat for a sub-£100 smartphone.

See also: What’s the fastest smartphone of 2015? 

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 review: Connectivity

One of the biggest selling points of the Smart Prime 6 is its 4G connectivity, allowing people to access faster internet without having to fork out hundreds for a new phone. Along with 4G connectivity, the Smart Prime 6 also features Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS and FM Radio functionality. It can also be used as a mobile hotspot, giving you access to 4G speeds on a Wi-Fi only tablet. 

See also: 4G vs LTE

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 review: Cameras

The Smart Prime 6 comes packing a rear facing 8-megapixel camera with a maximum resolution of 3264x2448 pixels. It boasts standard features including auto focus and an LED flash, and general photography looks good with decent exposure and detail, especially with good lighting. The only issue is compression – when you zoom in and look closely, the detail disappears. While this is expected on such a cheap phone and is also present in the Moto E 4G, it’s still slightly disappointing.

The stock camera app also offers different shooting modes – panorama, sport, HDR, night and for those of you that are interested in photography, you’re able to set the camera to manual. In manual mode, you can custom set the ISO, exposure, flash, white balance and focus mode, giving you better control over your photography and allowing you to achieve something a bit better than what’s produced in Auto mode. 

The rear facing camera can also support video recording at full 1080p HD, and while it looks good, the lack of optical (or digital) image stabilisation means that videos are a bit shakier than most people would prefer. 

The Smart Prime 6 also boasts a 2-megapixel front facing camera, perfect for selfies or video calling on Skype. In regards to detail, it’s not the greatest front facing camera we’ve ever seen but compared to the VGA front facing camera of the Moto E 4G, 2 megapixels is fantastic. And did we mention it records at 720p HD? Because it does. 

How does this compare to the Moto E 4G? The Smart Prime 6 seems to beat it in almost every aspect when it comes to the camera. The Moto E 4G has a rear facing 5 megapixel camera and a front facing VGA camera, compared to the 8 megapixel and 2 megapixel offerings from Vodafone’s budget smartphone. The Moto E 4G doesn’t come with an LED flash either, which means night-time photography is out of the question.

The video recording capabilities are also better on the Smart Prime 6, as the Moto E 4G only offers 720p HD, although it does offer a slow-mo video mode – a feature not available on Vodafone’s offering. 

Here are some unedited shots to give you an idea of the quality:

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 review: Software

Apart from the Vodafone branding that’s apparent throughout the OS, the Smart Prime 6 seems to be running a standard version of Android Lollipop 5.0.2. There are only two Vodafone specific apps installed on the smartphone – Vodafone Store and Updates. Think of the Vodafone Store as the phone’s hub, where you can easily access your data allowance, minutes, texts, etc. as well as use the Vodafone Message+ app.

The Updates app is where you go to, to keep your Vodafone specific software up to date. You can subscribe to notifications when a new app becomes available, or when you need to update an existing app. Apps currently available include Vodafone’s SmartPass, the networks pay-as-you-go mobile payment service that allows you to pay using your phone (via a sticker that Vodafone will send you) at any contactless payment terminal. 

See also: Best budget smartphones of 2015

Vodafone Smart Prime 6: Specs

  • 5in (720x1280, 294ppi) IPS touchscreen
  • 141.65x71.89x9mm
  • 155g
  • 8 megapixel rear facing camera, LED flash
  • 2 megapixel front facing camera
  • video recording at 1080p @ 30fps
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor (Quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A53)
  • Adreno 306 GPU
  • Android Lollipop 5.0.2
  • 8GB storage (plus MicroSD support up to 64GB)
  • 1GB RAM
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • A-GPS
  • 5in (720x1280, 294ppi) IPS touchscreen
  • 141.65x71.89x9mm
  • 155g
  • 8 megapixel rear facing camera, LED flash
  • 2 megapixel front facing camera
  • video recording at 1080p @ 30fps
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor (Quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A53)
  • Adreno 306 GPU
  • Android Lollipop 5.0.2
  • 8GB storage (plus MicroSD support up to 64GB)
  • 1GB RAM
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • A-GPS

OUR VERDICT

The Vodafone Smart Prime 6 is a great budget smartphone that we think is worth more than the £79 that Vodafone asks for it. Its processor may not be able to compete with grey-market phones like the Doogee F1 Turbo Mini, but it handles day-to-day use just fine with no noticeable lag. While the Moto E 4G performed slightly better during our benchmarks, the Smart Prime 6 has a bigger screen, better camera and is £30 cheaper, making it our choice out of the two handsets.

Best prices today

Retailer Price Delivery  

Price comparision from , and manufacturers