Review Price £70.00
As you would expect on a budget handset, the Vodafone Smart II uses a single-core chip rather than the dual- or quad-core power houses found on the latest mid and high-end Android handsets. The chip runs at a fairly modest 832Mhz and is twinned with 512MB of Ram.
The Smart II also has around 150Mb of storage space for apps with about 125Mb of this available for your own apps. This isn’t a huge amount of space, so you're likely to use it up pretty fast. Vodafone has included a 2GB microSD card as part of the package and you can move some app data onto this, but not all. The phone accepts cards of up to 32GB in size, so at least you will be able to use larger cards for storing lots of music, photo and video files, if you want.
When it comes to the OS, this model runs Android v2.3, also known as Gingerbread, and thankfully Vodafone hasn’t messed around with it too much, so essentially what you get is the normal, plain vanilla Android interface with a few added Vodafone widgets. These include a handy Weather and Time widget along with one that shows notifications for new mail, SMS and Gmail messages.
Overall performance is a little bit lacking though. The browser can be sluggish to render pages – probably due to a combination of its slower processor and lack of Ram – and you'll experience slow downs and pauses on a relatively frequent basis. This was born out in our benchmark test. In BroswerMark it scored a lowly 18184, while in SunSpider it managed to post a result of just 12129ms. Its LinPack result of 8.17 seconds on the single thread run shows that its processor is no speed demon. It struggles a bit for 3D gaming performance too and unfortunately refused to run the Egyptian test in the GL Benchmark.
The phone's camera is merely passable in terms of the shots it produces. It really needs ideal lighting conditions to produce good shots, so if you're outdoors on a sunny day your photos will be honky dory, although lacking a fair bit of crispness, but if it's overcast, or you're trying to take photos indoors, you'll find the results tend to look very grainy and noisy. There is an LED Flash to help out in low light conditions, but it's not really strong enough to be effective and its overly blue-ish hue makes the resulting photos look quite cold. The video mode isn’t great either. It can capture video at a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 pixels, but the quality is poor with things becoming very pixelated when there's even a modest amount of movement in the frame.
Unfortunately battery life isn’t one of this handset's strong points. Vodafone has used a fairly small 1,200mAh battery, but despite the fact that the phone has a smaller screen and modest processor, it doesn't seem quite sufficient as the phone struggled to get through a days usage without needing a top up of juice in the evening. Call quality was on the whole pretty good, though, with both the mic and earpiece delivering crisp and clean audio.
The Smart II has ended up stranded ion something of an Android no-man's land. It's not cheap enough and doesn't have good enough battery life to compete right at the bottom end of the Android market but also lacks the features and screen quality to make it worth considering over slightly more expensive options such as the Orange San Francisco II and Huawei G300. Our advice would be to save up a few more pennies and opt for either of those two models instead, especially as the latter is also available on Vodafone.