Hands on review: Vodafone Smart 3

This is not a premium smartphone but it is certainly a good-looking, capable and highly affordable alternative, says David Phelan

Nobody doubts that the best, fastest and most deluxe smartphone experience comes from high-priced models like the iPhone 5, Nokia 920 and Samsung Galaxy S4.

But not everyone wants to splash out £400 or more for a mobile, whether you pay that price up front or slowly over a two-year contract. So Vodafone has created its Smart series, now up to number three. It’s priced £95 on pay-as-you-go and is free on contracts as cheap as £13 a month.

Budget smartphones traditionally disappoint – the screen is sketchy, the processor slow or the capabilities reduced as corners are cut. Sometimes GPS or even wi-fi are omitted to keep the price down.

But the Smart III has a good screen with decent resolution, even if it’s no match for the iPhone’s Retina display. And this is a good sized screen too at four inches.

The processor isn’t dual- or quad-core like top-end mobiles but it clocks in at 1GHz and in practice it’s pretty nippy. What’s more, where some cheapies include an old version of Android operating software – the Gingerbread edition which is more than two years old now is often the version of choice – the Smart III manages Jelly Bean 4.1, which is very nearly the latest.

So where have the corners been cut? Well, the camera is 5MP – cutting edge a couple of years ago but overtaken more recently by 8MP and 13MP sensors. But it comes with a flash, at least, and in practice the pictures are certainly acceptable. And that’s about it. Wi-fi and GPS are both on board, along with Bluetooth and even a microSD card slot so you can add to the internal memory which, admittedly, is limited to just 4GB.

What about the looks, you ask, surely they scream budget? Actually, not really.

The display has a black surround with a white or black frame around it that unclips so you can customise the handset. There’s a cute LED slot at the base which flashes to let you know there are messages waiting. The back panel is translucent so you can slip a sheet of paper with your own design on it in. Providing the patterns or images are strong, you can see them through the back panel. It’s a neat touch of personalisation.

Battery life, signal strength and call quality were all fine, and Vodafone’s little apps to show you how much memory you’ve used will prove useful to those new to Android.

This is not a premium smartphone, but it is certainly a good-looking, capable and highly affordable alternative.

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
science
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

    £40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

    Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst / Trainee Application Support Analyst - Essex

    £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before