Vodafone Smart 4 Power review
Budget smartphones have been steadily growing in size of late, with first the Asus Zenfone 5 and then the Motorola Moto G 2 moving up to 5in displays for less than £200. The Vodafone Smart 4 power is the latest handset to join the club, but it has one feature its rivals lack: 4G. (There is a Zenfone 5 with 4G in the works, but it isn’t available yet, and when it arrives it will cost £200.) See also: the 11 best smartphones of 2014.
In even better news, this 4G Vodafone handset is a mere £120 on pay-as-you-go, undercutting both Asus and Motorola. Even for a network-branded handset, that’s good value, and when you pick it up it doesn’t feel cheap and nasty at all. It’s a touch chunky at 9.7mm thick, a little on the weighty side at 162g (13g heavier than the Moto G 2), and not the most exciting thing to look at, but there’s nothing overtly ugly about the design.
Vodafone Smart 4 review: screen and battery life
The screen is good-quality, too. Using our X-Rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter, we recorded a maximum brightness of 438cd/m[sup]2[/sup] – a figure that puts the Moto G 2’s 332cd/m[sup]2[/sup] result to shame – and a high contrast ratio of 1,310:1. Outdoor viewing in bright sunlight certainly isn’t a problem.
The catch is that the resolution is low: with 540 x 960 pixels stretched across a screen this big, the pixel structure is clearly visible, especially around the edges of text at small point sizes. Here, the Moto G 2 and the Zenfone 5 take the lead with far crisper 720 x 1,280 displays.
You may well choose to overlook that, however, in light of the Smart 4 power’s excellent battery life. With a huge 3,000mAh power pack under the plastic rear panel, we found the phone lasted one and a half to two days of typical use.
In controlled-condition tests, the battery depleted at 4.6% per hour when playing 720p video, with the screen set to 120cd/m[sup]2[/sup] and flight mode on, and at 3.4% per hour when streaming audio over 4G from SoundCloud with the screen off. It’s the best budget phone we’ve come across for battery life, and it beats most high-end phones for stamina as well.
Vodafone Smart 4 review: performance
The Smart 4 power has a quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek processor and a meagre 1GB of RAM. This sort of line-up usually leads to laggy, dissatisfying performance. That isn’t the case here, though: the phone feels responsive while swiping around Android 4.4 (KitKat), when browsing the web and while panning around Google Maps. The annoying typing lag we’ve experienced with so many cheap Android phones in the past is also mercifully absent.
Where it falls down is gaming. The first problem is the tiny 2GB of storage included as standard. Once you’ve installed one big title, you’ll find yourself quickly out of space, so adding a microSD card is an absolute must. Even if you do add extra space, you may find some titles – Asphalt 8: Airborne, for instance – still won’t work, since they install by default to internal storage.
The second issue is raw speed. A score of 1,342ms in SunSpider and 9.4fps in the GFXBench T-Rex HD benchmark indicates that it isn’t the fastest phone around. Those scores place it behind the Moto G 2 with its year-old Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, and the Zenfone 5 with its Intel Atom; Despicable Me: Minion Rush was playable, but the frame rate was far from smooth.
The cameras aren’t brilliant, either. You get an autofocus 5-megapixel snapper on the rear with an LED flash, and a VGA front-facing one for video calls and selfies. The latter, needless to say, produces terribly low-fi pictures, and while the rear camera is better, in terms of general quality it’s a long way short of the 8-megapixel camera on the Moto G 2, with soft, low contrast shots the order of the day, even in good light.
Vodafone Smart 4 review: Verdict
Although it has its compromises, the Vodafone Smart 4 power represents a pretty good deal. We can’t think of any other handsets that can offer a 5in screen, 4G, superb battery life and a bright, usable screen, and all for £120 on pay-as-you-go. Only the small allocation of storage and poor cameras dent its appeal.
|Cheapest price on contract||Free|
|Contract monthly charge||£22.50|
|Contract period||24 months|
|Dimensions||72 x 9.7 x 141mm (WDH)|
|Camera megapixel rating||5.0mp|
|Resolution||540 x 960|
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