Vodafone Smart Tab 4 review

£125
Price when reviewed

The Tesco Hudl proved you don’t have to be a big-name manufacturer to make a success of selling hardware, and now Vodafone is hoping to do the same with its Smart Tab 4. For a mere £125, this compact Android tablet touts integrated 3G and a smattering of handy features. See also: what’s the best tablet of 2014?

Vodafone Smart Tab 4 review

Vodafone Smart Tab 4 review: design

From the outside it looks much like any other budget tablet, but while its looks aren’t hugely engaging, it’s far from ugly. Exceedingly slim at 8mm and light at 324g, it has a dark, rubberised plastic back panel and deadly straight edges with barely rounded corners, lending it a severe, straight-laced look. Build quality isn’t all it could be, however, and the Vodafone tablet exhibited a worrying amount of flex when we twisted it.

We were pleased with the number of ports squeezed into that slim chassis, however. There’s the standard micro-USB port and 3.5mm audio jack and, behind an easily removed plastic flap, Vodafone has tucked away a microSD slot and a SIM card slot. The latter gives away the Smart Tab 4’s party trick: integrated 3G, with on-the-go internet access delivered via a monthly contract or pay-as-you-go.

Vodafone Smart Tab 4 review: data plans and connectivity

Contract plans for the Smart Tab 4 range from £16 per month for 1GB of data, to £30 per month for 10GB of data; both contracts run for two years and give you the tablet for free. We think the contract’s overpriced, however, and the pay-as-you-go deal is by far the better choice. Here, you buy the tablet for £125 and get 2GB of data thrown in for 30 days, then pay top-up prices of £10 for 1GB data or £20 for 3GB. The Smart Tab 4’s single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4 ensure that it can be used as a normal tablet, with the 3G there if you need it.

Vodafone Smart Tab 4 review

The Smart Tab’s 800 x 1,280 IPS screen is great for the most part. It’s larger than most of its budget peers at 8in and perfectly bright, reaching a maximum luminance of 329cd/m[sup]2[/sup]; its excellent 1,097:1 contrast ratio is only just behind the Kindle Fire HDX 7in, and images really pop off the screen as a result. If there’s a downside, it’s a relatively minor one: the low resolution means text and videos appear quite grainy.

Vodafone Smart Tab 4 review: performance

The tablet’s core hardware didn’t fare well at all, though. Armed with a quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6582 SoC and supported by 1GB of RAM, the Smart Tab 4 is a profoundly slow and clunky performer. In the SunSpider JavaScript test Vodafone’s tablet plodded through with a time of 1,305ms. It gave a pretty poor showing in the Geekbench 3 tests, too, with a single-core score of 350 and multi-core score of 1,138.

In real-world use we found browsing stilted, with slow page-load times, and more demanding apps and games, such as Asphalt 8: Airborne, ran very slowly indeed. An average frame rate of 6.5fps in GFXBench’s T-Rex test confirms high-performance gaming isn’t on the cards; it’s well behind the best of the budget tablet crop. Stamina away from the mains was thankfully much better, with the 4,060mAh battery lasting 9hrs 49mins in the video-playback test.

Detail

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical

Dimensions 123.6 x 8 x 209mm (WDH)
Weight 324g

Display

Screen size 8.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 800
Resolution screen vertical 1,280
Display type LCD
Panel technology IPS

Battery

Battery capacity 4,060mAh

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz 1.3GHz
Integrated memory 8.0GB
RAM capacity 1.00GB

Camera

Camera megapixel rating 2.0mp
Focus type Autofocus
Built-in flash? yes
Built-in flash type Single LED
Front-facing camera? no

Other

WiFi standard 802.11n
Bluetooth support yes

Software

Mobile operating system Android 4.2

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