Vodafone Tab Prime 6 full review
It's getting more common for mobile networks to offer their own products and EE now has quite a wide range including an action camera. Vodafone isn't far behind but is sticking to core devices such as smartphones and tablets. We were impressed by the Smart Prime 6 budget phone so can the tablet wow us too? Also see: Best new tablets coming in 2016.
See also: Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 review.
Vodafone Tab Prime 6 review: Price and competition
Since the Tab Prime is a network device, you can buy it in different ways. Like a phone, you can choose to buy it on Pay As You Go for £150 and that includes 6GB of 4G data valid for 30 days. Top-ups then cost from £3 for 200MB up to £25 for 6GB. Of course, there's no obligation to buy more data so you can just buy the Tab Prime 6 for £150 and leave it at that.
The other option is to buy it on a contract starting at £17 per month which includes 1GB of 4G data. The contract is 24 months and you'll need to pay £19 upfront for the tablet totalling £427 over the two years.
We recommend the PAYG option but even then there is some fierce competition in the budget tablet market. For example, the Tesco Hudl 2 has impressive specs and costs just £99 now and even less with Clubcard Boost – that's a difficult offer to beat. There's also the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX which has also been cut to £99 although it has a locked down version of Android.
Vodafone Tab Prime 6 review: Design and build
The Tab Prime 6 is a simple tablet in terms of design, looking a little like the Nexus 9 but without the premium materials. Despite the lack of any metal, the device looks and feels quite nice with the anthracite rear cover which gladly is smooth and slippery.
The camera sticks out a little way but it's not a big problem and the back also has a flap hiding the microSD- and SIM card slots. As you might expect, there's a Vodafone logo and '4G' printed above four round metal contacts which are for connecting to a keyboard. The Tab Prime 6 keyboard edition will be available soon, according to Vodafone.
Vodafone points out the Tab Prime 6 is just 7.9mm and 406g which is a fair point since the similarly sized Nexus 9 is 8mm and 436 for the equivalent model. We found the tablet easy to hold in both portrait and landscape mode but be aware that it's quite tall because of the 16:9 ratio screen.
See also: Best tablets you can buy in 2015.
Vodafone Tab Prime 6 review: Hardware and performance
Most budget tablets use a small 7in screen but the Vodafone Tab Prime 6 uses a 9.6in screen so that's almost the same as the full-size iPad. That's a decent amount of space but the resolution is just 1280 x 800 which means it's outpaced but the aforementioned rivals which both offer Full HD (1920 x 1200).
There's a reasonable amount of brightness on offer here – at least for indoor use - and colour reproduction isn't bad either but that resolution on a screen this size simply means things aren't crisp and some text can even appear blurry which is far from ideal. The display is only 157ppi.
Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor which is a 1.2GHz quad-core chip and 1GB of RAM. Benchmark results aren't great and although the Tab Prime 6 is sticky in performance occasionally, it's actually pretty smooth the majority of the time so we're pretty happy on this front. Like some devices, it's slow when first booted up but gets slicker after a little while. Do take note of the GFXBench results though which show that this really isn't a tablet for any proper gaming.
Although Vodafone's website only lists an 8GB model, we've been sent a 16GB capacity and like normal there's around 12GB free after Android and pre-installed stuff (see software section). As mentioned in the design section, there's a microSD card slot for adding more storage (up to 32GB) which is handy.
One of the main features and reasons to buy the Vodafone Tab Prime 6 is the built-in 4G LTE support. Whether you buy the tablet on PAYG or contract it will come with a SIM card and you can get data on the go easily.
With 11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 we were surprised to find an IR blaster on the Tab Prime 6 which means you can use it as a universal remote control around your home via the pre-installed Peel app.
Cameras on the Vodafone Tab Prime 6 are basic and you won't get anything special from the 5Mp rear camera which doesn't have a flash. The front camera is equally poor and won't provide a crisp image for video calling plus is positioned off-centre which doesn't help matters.
In terms of battery life, the tablet can offer decent performance from the non-removable 4600mAh battery. In our new benchmark via Geekbench 3 the Tab Prime 6 managed seven hours and 49 minutes with a score of 3129. We've not tested many tablets with this benchmark but for comparison the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet provided nine hours and 53 minutes with a score of 5933 with its 6000mAh battery.
Vodafone Tab Prime 6 review: Software and apps
We're pleased to report that Vodafone has decided to load stock Android 5.0 Lollipop onto the Tab Prime 6 with only minor tweaks. This makes it one of the cheapest large screen tablets with vanilla Android on-board.
Like Vodafone's own-brand phones, the Tab Prime 6 does come with some branded items though, but not many. There's a Vodafone SIM app which is understandable plus Discover and Update apps – and you can uninstall Discover if you like and the widget on the homesreen is easy enough to remove if you don't want it.
As with many Android devices, swiping right from the homecsreen takes you to a separate section. In this case it's Flipboard like Samsung Galaxy devices but Vodafone offers the option to change it which we really like.
Within the display settings you can switch it off completely or choose what swiping right launches, including regular apps. Google is included in the options giving you a Nexus style UI where Google Now is a swipe away – just remember it launches the app so you can't swipe back to the homescreen.
With Vodafone offering stock Android Lollipop, holding back on bloatware and adding customisation where it's not normally available the software of the Tab Prime 6 is a real plus point.
Vodafone Tab Prime 6: Specs
- Android 5.0 Lollipop
- 9.6in screen, 1280 x 800, 157ppi
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor 1.2GHz quad-core
- 1GB RAM
- 16GB storage
- microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
- 5Mp rear camera
- 2Mp front camera
- Wi-Fi 11a/b/g/n
- Bluetooth 4.1
- IR blaster
- 4G LTE
- 4600mAh battery
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