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Best Cheap Mobile Phones and Budget Smartphones 2016


Smart Ultra 12

8 / 10

Reviewed by Joe Roberts

01 July 2016

Vodafone Smart Ultra 7

Read full Vodafone Smart Ultra 7 review

A real challenger to the Moto G

Key features

    •    5.5-inch 1080p screen?
    •    Locked to Vodafone?
    •    13MP/8MP cameras?
    •    Clean version of Android?

Network-branded phones have really improved recently, and Vodafone is spearheading this push. It’s got three of them currently, with the Smart Prime 7 sitting below £100 and the Smart Platinum 7 making a push for the flagships. But it’s the Smart Ultra 7 that has the best of both worlds.

For £135 you get a seriously capable phone, with a 5.5-inch 1080p display and a 2,950 mAh battery that’ll easily make it through the day.

Under the plastic shell is a MediaTek CPU, paired with 2GB RAM, that gets the job done. Performance is improved thanks to the use of an almost stock version of Android 6.0.1. There are a few apps preinstalled from Vodafone, like a custom Messenger that lets you reply to texts online, which is actually very useful.

The 13MP rear facing camera takes good pictures in daylight, though we found colours a tad muted and there was a lot of processing going on. Budget phones still haven’t quite managed to get fantastic cameras. The 8MP front-facing camera isn’t very good at all, especially when the sun goes down.

The only other major downside is that you’ll have to already be on, or willing to switch to, Vodafone as your service provider.

At time of review the Vodafone Smart Ultra 7 was available for £135.

Our Score:



May 16, 2015, 5:27 pm

Moto G has an incredibly fragile display. Mine fell off of my pockey while I was sitting for dinner. The lcd display inside cracked. I had never dropped the phone before. Although there are tons of users facing the same problem, Motorola wont take responsibility by their faulty project and warranty won't cover it.
Wont fix it because 1. it will still be fragile and will obviously crack again at any smaller impact, 2. Theres a big chance I will get a chinese quality lcd display/touchscreen replacement while paying half of the phone's price for the fix up.
Is it a good device? Absolutely. But only buy it if you're Neil Armstrong (RIP) planning to use it in mission. Otherwise the budget you invested for the lots-of-benefits provided by MotoG turns to nothing.


May 18, 2015, 3:20 pm

Got my Moto G last September. Thought it was excellent until charging problems occurred. had to go through a process of holding power and volume buttons to resume charging. This kept on happening over a couplle of weeks. Customer services were good but told to run phone down to zero power which I did. Phone died completely. Online comments reveal that others have suffered similar problems so maybe mine is not an isolated problem and a fault with the phone which others had complained about. Maybe updated models wouldn't have this flaw but shame as its ruined what I thought was an excellent and good value phone.


May 27, 2015, 2:43 pm

I think that at £200, the Nokia 830 should be considered. I've been using one after my Nexus packed up. Whilst I still dislike the WP8.1 tiles look (vastly improved with active tiles and folders), the OS is excellent these days and the hardware and build quality are second to none. The camera is superb. I thought i'd hate it and go back to Android in days, but I actually like it!


May 29, 2015, 11:44 am

Seriously, you guys need to check out the Prestigio 8500 duo. We have 3 of them in my household. They are £100 each, battery lasts 2 days plus and down slow down or break down in our experience. I had never heard of them before a Windows Server offer from ebuyer, but now they are a firm favourite.


June 1, 2015, 5:17 am

Where would the Sharp Aquous Crystal fit on this list? It's one of the only budget smartphones that looks really cool.


June 21, 2015, 5:40 pm

My daughter got that phone she said it was crap and took it back


June 21, 2015, 6:21 pm

Why did she say it was crap? I'm genuinely curious. Were her expectations too high? Did she compare it to a $700 iPhone?

Robert Daniels

June 24, 2015, 3:20 pm

My general advice for budget devices is to buy last year's flagship on the secondhand market. You can pick up something like the DROID Turbo or HTC M8 for ~$200. Much better values, in my opinion.

EDIT: and maybe even a two year old flagship for the ultra budget conscious, but only if the battery is replaceable.

Jared Jeanquart

September 9, 2015, 5:06 pm

It runs well and holds a huge sd card, and has more ram than usual for stuff in its class. Earpiece Phone calls sound slightly tinny, and you have to mash the phone to your ear; a problem for old people. I know someone who has one, and I've sold a few. One was returned.

Battery's unexceptional.

It's a very serviceable phone for the budget-conscious. The huge SD card potential is a big deal; you could fit a huge music/video library on it.

It's intended for the Asian market. The components are very reliable; needs a screen protector, but will last for a LONG time.


March 19, 2016, 1:04 pm

May be referenced in the full review but the Honor 5X has a rare attribute, that is a Micro SD slot as well as dual sim provision.
I didn't find the overlaying skin a problem but an asset, just like Touchwiz is on some older Samsung's despite reviewers, who mostly do not live with these phones constantly declaring their love for naked android.

I returned mine because of not having NFC and the bother of two sizes of sim card being needed. One micro, one nano.

I hate nano even more than C type plug leads.
Apart from being smaller (a probable DIS advantage) there are no discernable advantages for the existence of nano sim cards. Unless you think the blessings by Apple is a Pro.
Cat- pidgeons.


April 18, 2016, 4:25 pm

Best budget phone is Huwaei Honor 5X from amazon £160.


May 8, 2016, 10:32 pm

These are expensive. Oh well, what can be expected from RT euros?

H Baker

May 31, 2016, 1:55 pm

Personally I would recommend a Ulefone Paris.

Cosmin Dinu

June 21, 2016, 3:38 pm

Cubot, Xiaomi, Umi those phones are cheaper and better. Where are they?
Moto G phones are awesome indeed, but a bit too expensive imo.

Awesome Bryner

July 11, 2016, 3:35 am

People do not know what cheap is. Cheap is not expensive. Some people like me can't pay more than $50. How stupid.

Dorothy Skoland

August 1, 2016, 6:29 pm

I had the same type of problems Only had phone 3 months


August 8, 2016, 9:28 pm

The Moto G4 Plus is a lovely phone, but the battery life is unbelievably poor. I've returned mine because of this. Staring with a full charge, all background activity off and it being left for 24 hours (i.e. not used for ANYTHING), it had only10% battery left after the 24 hours. My old iPhone 5s - and no, I'm not an Apple fan - will do the same for 8 days,, and my iPhone SE - which I actually use as my main phone - lasts 2 days between charges.

So the Moto G4 Plus is fatally flawed, in my opinion, which came as a real disappointment to me.

Kent Bayley

September 9, 2016, 12:51 am

This presenter cannot speak properly and rushes his words so he is almost incomprehensible. I strongly suggest he gets some on camera tyraing.


October 21, 2016, 9:52 am

Try yourself first before criticizing atleast he trying to provide some useful information that too free. Common this is not fair to be critique always.


October 21, 2016, 9:54 am

Two year old is way too bad choice bec software upgrades will kill them that's a new mantra of these google and apple of the world.. :)

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