Android is the Robin Hood of the smartphone kingdom. It nicks all the stuff that was once the preserve of the well-heeled and brings it to the pay as you go crowd. The Vodafone Smart is one of the cheapest Android phones yet, available for just £60 on a pre-pay deal. However, even with the ultimate leveller OS at the helm, some sacrifices have had to be made to chip away those pounds.
The Vodafone Smart is a dinky phone by touchscreen standards. With just a 2.8in screen on-board, only the teensy Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini is significantly smaller. It'll disappear into pockets with no trouble, but at 12.6mm thick isn't super-slim compared with waist size-obsessed mobiles.
Part of this phone's USP, other than costing less than a family trip to the cinema (with popcorn), is that you can buy custom engraved backplates featuring your own images. It's a neat idea that supports the notion that phones like this bring you luxury-style features without demanding a 2-year contract or a £250 price tag. Sadly, our review model is the plain edition.
Contrary to how the phone may appear in the manufacturer's own shots, it's not plain white though. The front fascia and battery cover have a slightly metallic, almost pearlescent, finish. This effect is spoiled though by a glossy plain white strip that runs between these two elements, making the finish inconsistent. It's an unfortunate signpost of the phone's budget nature.
Build quality is perfectly good though. It won't wow, its body made entirely of plastic, but it feels tough for a budget model. The back cover is thinner than the budget HTC Wildfire S, but the tight fit into the main part of the body stops any excessive flex.
Underneath the battery cover is a microSD slot, which will boost the tiny 100MB or so of internal storage by up to 32GB. No card is included in the box, but this is not a serious issue for such an aggressively-priced phone when 4GB cards cost less than £5. The included memory will suffice for installing a handful of apps anyway.
Like almost all budget smartphones, the selection of sockets and buttons on its sides features the basics only. There's a volume rocker on the right edge, the power and headphone jack up top and the microUSB charge/transfer socket on its bottom. The prosaic design of the Vodafone Smart makes the potential to customise it with a printed cover all the more important. Fire up Microsoft Paint and get scrawling already!