back to article There are some really crap budget phones out there. Vodafone's Smart Ultra 7 isn't

Not so long ago, the idea of buying an operator-branded phone would have filled most people with horror. For years these were typically budget feature phones for skint punters, too time-poor to do their own homework. Vodafone Smart Ultra 7 . From vodafone uk website But then a couple of years ago, EE introduced its Kestrel, …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me


    A telco offering an own brand cheap phone SIM-free - are you sure?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: SIM-free?

    Just because it SIM free, doesn't mean it's not locked.

  3. Doc Ock

    Carrier mediated OTA updates and don't forget the bloatware, no thanks.

  4. Sam Crawley

    These phones are excellent value if you're already on the network and don't want the hassle / worry of buying direct from China etc. They will be locked to Voda.

  5. David Webb

    I went direct from China, for under £150 I got.......

    3Gb RAM

    64GB Storage (+ TF up to 128Gb)

    Helio X20 10 core CPU @ 2.1GHz

    5.5 inch IPS FHD screen

    Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, it's quite nice. Also gets 4G on Voda which is something you need to watch out for. Value wise? Crushes anything sub £400.

  6. Mage Silver badge


    Though at end of initial contract period they now have to unlock for free?

    There should be affordable 6 month contracts.

    No contract subsidy, that's hidden HP

    Here the minimum contract on many sorts of subscriptions has crept up to 18 months and meanwhile PAYG credit expiry period keeps dropping, making it nearly impossible to have an emergency phone in glove compartment or drawer.

  7. JimmyPage Silver badge

    I wouldn't buy one if it came with Noddys Rice Krispies ...

    Never, ever again. Quite apart from SIM/Network locking is the sheer amount of shite that you can't remove or disable without rooting the phone.

    Never, ever.

  8. Bloakey1

    Re: I wouldn't buy one if it came with Noddys Rice Krispies ...

    Agreed, the amount of auld shite that consumes a lot of battery power and forces you to invalidate your phone by rooting it.

    The name Google comes to mind.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To be fair

    it's not my cup of tea and probably not others as well, but if you have young kids this might be an ideal first timer. Reasonably good features for a cheap phone that more likely than not would be dropped,drenched and generally smashed by a youngster.

  10. Mage Silver badge

    Re: young kids

    Should anyone under 10 or not allowed to wander the streets at night on their own, have a phone at all?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Ultra 7 offers very decent display and battery life

    and the battery life is, well, very decent / immoral / outrageous

    and the battery is removable / non-removable / explodable

    and the call quality is terrible / best in its class

    and the no-sim feature is what makes it stand out / not

    and the expansion memory aka micro-sd is there / not

    and it's called a review

    and it's free

    and it's ok

  12. Stuart 22

    Re: The Ultra 7 offers very decent display and battery life

    Quite right AC. From another review site:

    5.5-inch 1080p display

    MediaTek MT6755M CPU

    2GB RAM

    16GB expandable internal storage

    2,960mAh battery

    13MP rear camera

    5MP selfie camera

    Android 6.0.1

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: The Ultra 7 offers very decent display and battery life

    You forgot the most important thing.

    This is a phone, how good is it at making and receiving calls, also what is the quality of the sound and do you have to shout for the microphone to pick up your voice.

    And they call this a review.

  14. Doc Ock

    Re: The Ultra 7 offers very decent display and battery life

    And of interest to the jailbirds and recidivists, will it fit your rear cavity comfortably or is that asking a bit much of a reviewer ?

    Have an upvote sir

  15. Mark #255

    San Francisco

    Prior to the Kestrel was the Orange San Francisco, which I remember very fondly.

    Yes, that is my lawn, and would you do me the courtesy of moving along, thanking you kindly.

  16. Bloakey1

    Re: San Francisco

    "Prior to the Kestrel was the Orange San Francisco, which I remember very fondly."


    Some of us would have to reject that on religious grounds.

    Spotted in Belfast Toilet, mid eighties written in different hands:


    But the man from Delmonte says yes.

    He should know as he is an orange man.

  17. thesykes

    Re: San Francisco

    My OSF is still in daily use, sim removed as a nice little MP3 player with OLED screen for watching the odd video. With all the network stuff turned off, it lasts a few days on a charge. I had a look for a colour screen MP3/MP4 player that would take SD cards and have wifi etc and couldn't find one to match the OSF's original £99 price.

  18. WibbleMe

    Is it me or do all phone reviews never actually review what the phone was intended for. That is audio and microphone for use as a phone.

  19. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    What sort of luddite uses a phone to speak to people?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No, not just you.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I 2nd that!

    A phone IMHO is just that. I've tried numerous so called smart phones (and they're all shite).

    I just want a phone to make calls, send texts, add calendar reminders and the odd alarm - and that's it. Oh an FM radio is a bonus.

    Just my opinion but people who believe that a phone takes the place of a desktop / laptop (i've had many people make this claim) are just deluding themselves. Oh sure it can do a small percentage that a desktop / laptop does (most of the time it does them very badly or at best just about scrapes by).

    But it's kinda like saying that you can live in a car - sure a tiny minority of the world may do this for short periods of time, but I don't see may people intending to give up their homes to live in a car because it does just the same thing!

    Another thing that is a must on a phone (and frustratingly very rare these days) is buttons. I really fail to see what the worlds childish obsession with touch screens is all about! I mean what is the point of having a high def screen on a device when all you can see is high def finger print smudges ?

    We tell tots not to put their paws all over the tv and then pass them a smart phone (or other dumb touch screen device).

    I myself use a Samsung GT-S5611 - it does everything I want, a full charge lasts for a around a week (I use the phone little - but a smart phone only ever lasted me around 2 days) oh and best of all it cost about £40, so if I drop or lose it i won't be bawling tears like an i-phone user.

    I can feel them downers in the post. Come on frantically hit me with your down-votes (it'll take you ages to clean the touch screen afterwards ;-) )

  22. IsJustabloke Silver badge

    And that...

    " - it does everything I want"

    Your use case <> my use case

  23. Pete4000uk

    Impulse purchase

    I had its Vodafone branded predecessor with a battery that the user was not supposed to remove. Well, I didn't know that and tried to prise it out only to damage the thing causing the battery to combust Samsung style.

    So, I ended up with one and I have to say, apart from not being sure about the speaker it's a good bit of kit. Would spending an extra £200 really make much of a difference??

  24. Robigus

    New word


    I've learned something today.

  25. Chris 244

    Re: New word

    Lots of great Yiddish words out there, "dreck" being only one of them. The term "glitch" (to slip, nose-dive) is also Yiddish.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: New word

    Oy Vey, what sort of shlemiel would kvetsh about such a schlock phone.

  27. sorry, what?

    Re: New word

    "Dreck", that'd be Shrek's dad. Right? Old, green, scary and likely to take your arm off.

  28. theModge

    Re: New word

    ...and it is true that yiddish words really convey their meaning with there sound. How could schlep being anything but a long and arduous journey?

  29. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Re: New word

    "Oy Vey, what sort of shlemiel would kvetsh about such a schlock phone."

    That would be a nebbish. A nudnick would have had his phone stolen by a goniff already.

  30. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    Re: New word

    "It's a schlep" certainly means that, but just "schlep" means to carry or, especially, to drag. And is usually used in amusing context. Thus "schlep it along".

    "Schmutz" is another good one, meaning dirt or grime. A good example was a weatherman using it correctly in context during a light snow, describing the dirty wet stuff that ends up on your windshield, thrown up by cars ahead of you esp. in town. In PA, at least, we like to salt our roads during snow, so dirty wet schmutz is exactly what you end up with.

  31. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Re: New word

    Cornishmen do it dreckly has a new meaning now.

  32. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: New word

    Classic era MAD magazine was very educational in this respect (particularly Don Martin's work).

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: New word - Classic era MAD magazine was very educational in this respect

    When we in our North London suburb read Mad Magazine for the first time we suddenly realised that there were people out there on the other side of the Atlantic with a shared culture. It wasn't just the Yiddish - it was the entire Jewish sense of humour aimed at all the sacred cows, and seeing American pop culture get a drubbing was a liberating experience. I owe a lot to Mad Magazine. The English department at our school was divided into those who hated it and those who loved it.

  34. mlvj

    I got the Ultra 6 for one daughter...

    ...and expect to get this one for the other daughter.

    The 13yo absolutely loves it - really good battery life - MUCH better than my company Lumia - and it does everything that she needs it to.

    Really pleasantly surprisingly good.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: I got the Ultra 6 for one daughter...

    Are you sure that advertising on a public website that you are looking at selling your daughter for the price of a phone is a good idea? :-)

  36. PAKennedy

    You missed a bit. Its got a 5.5" screen. Just a minor factor.

  37. ColonelClaw

    Don't knock White Elephants

    That Alcatel Pixi 4 phone looks so godawful it may just make the perfect xmas present for a (purely hypothetical) obnoxious 11-year-old brat nephew.

  38. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Re: Don't knock White Elephants

    Obnoxious releation? Get them an old dumb Nokia. Then they can see what life is like without the 'smart' bit and that they will experience it if they continue to be obnoxious.

  39. Khaptain Silver badge

    Re: Don't knock White Elephants

    Careful Steve, they might actually fall in love with a their Nokia's endless battery life, one handed usage and practically indestructible case/screen..

  40. Roland6 Silver badge

    Re: Don't knock White Elephants

    My daughter loved her first phone, a Nokia 1100 for all the reason you give as well as it tended to get a connection in important places friends smartphones couldn't; like on the school bus. Having worn the keycaps away, after nearly 18 months of daily usage, I replaced it with an Apple iPhone 3GS, which in a matter of weeks required a replacement screen...

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Personally I like my Wiley Fox Swift, £120 dual sim android, no bloatware, replaceable battery, just works. Beats my old HTC Dual Sim M8 which cost 3 times as much.

  42. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Re: WileyFox

    Shame the chances of updates are practically nonexistent now that Cyanogen, Inc. have pivoted to selling soap powder or something.

  43. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    Re: WileyFox

    Cyanogen is not the only custom ROM in town. There's always AOSP, as a non-random example.

  44. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Re: WileyFox

    Yes, but AOSP doesn't have any privacy features.

    Finding a ROM for your phone written by someone who knows what they're doing and doesn't have ADD so you're assured of future updates is often a challenge.

  45. Ian Emery Silver badge

    a material-like finish

    Plastic IS a material.

    Spec sounds like a 2014 Xiaomi Note 3G/4G hybrid; there have been rumours that some of the octocore 3G models had 4G capabilities that were disabled in the firmware; maybe this is why.

    (3G got Octocore - 4G got Quadcore)

  46. This post has been deleted by its author

  47. Anonymous Coward

    7 is not a good number... be using in the name of a phone.

    Just ask Samsung.

  48. David Nash Silver badge


    A few people talking about bloatware and things that can't be un-installed, however the message I got from the review was that there was very little, with only one Vodafone app that you had to ignore if you don't want it.

    Doesn't sound bad to me.

  49. Doctor_Wibble

    Damn it!

    That linked Pixi4 is cheaper than my Pixi3 was. Bastards! In my defence it was only intended to be a better camera than the one I had and far exceeded expectations. The only downside is nobody makes wallets that size so I had to use duct tape and a bit of plastic which is now a sort of fck-you badge of pride to wave at all you fancy-pants posh people.

    Back to the main subject of the article, it does look good, but I see it doesn't have the only feature that a modern phone actually needs, which is the bit that electrocutes anyone trying to film in portrait mode.

  50. Nelbert Noggins

    Or just skip all the voda branded bits and buy the Alcatel Pop 4S, which I think is the same phone, if you really must have one. Seemed to get average reviews in Europe though.

    Cost a little bit extra but then it will be network and sim free


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