- Page 1 Vodafone Smart 4 Mini Review
- Page 2 Camera, Battery Life and Performance Review
Vodafone Smart 4 Mini: Software, Apps and Performance
One of the best elements of the Vodafone Smart 4 Mini is that it uses a near-standard version of Android. It may be the slightly-aged Android 4.2.2, but having the clean and clear default interface is a big plus point.
Many lower-cost phones end up with slightly wonky custom interfaces that are more difficult to use, and significantly slower.
The Vodafone Smart 4 Mini may have the simplicity part down, but speed is still a real issue. The phone is very laggy by current standards, requiring a fair bit of patience if you’re used to a higher-end phone.
We found that you often have to wait as the Vodafone Smart 4 Mini plays catch-up, whether you’re typing on the keyboard or just trying to flick around the interface. The phone doesn’t help itself either, as there’s even a bit of (unnecessary, we assume) delay in the vibrating haptic feedback that kicks-in when you press a key.
Fingers crossed this lag will be improved in future updates (don’t hold your breath), but it’s unlikely to disappear. The Vodafone Smart 4 Mini has a pretty low-end CPU/GPU/RAM combo – the team that determines how powerful any computer is, more-or-less.
The phone has a dual-core Mediatek MT6572 chipset, which uses a dual-core 1.3GHz CPU. In theory it shouldn’t be much worse than the pretty snappy Snapdragon 200 CPU of the Motorola Moto E. Benchmarks seem to suggest this too – the phone comes out with 572 points in the Geekbench 3 benchmark, which is close to the result you get from the Moto E.
But combine the entry-level CPU with the lowly 512MB RAM plus whatever poking around Alcatel has done in the Android software and you end up with a phone that can be quite frustrating to use. It even struggled playing our standard 720p MP4 test video, which was a surprise.
It’s not much use for flashy games, either, but more because of its limited storage than the processor. There’s simply not enough room to install the 3D games we use for performance testing, and you can’t just use the microSD slot for these installs in most cases. For casual games, though? The Vodafone Smart 4 Mini will be perfectly fine for those.
Vodafone Smart 4 Mini – Camera
The Vodafone Smart 4 Mini has a very basic camera in just about every respect. It’s low-res with a 3-megapixel sensor, there’s no flash and no front camera. There’s also no autofocus, limiting the sorts of photos you can take.
It keeps its camera app simple as well. There are hardly any buttons on show, and even when you dive further into the menu system, you won’t find a great deal on offer. There are panorama and night modes, and some ISO/exposure controls, but no fun filters and no HDR mode.
Outdoors screen visibility is another issue when shooting photos
As easy to use as it may be in one sense, it’s also limited and pretty slow. Expect very little and you won’t be disappointed.
The actual photos the Vodafone Smart 4 Mini takes are fairly poor, with little detail compared to a more expensive phone. But we still think they’ll do the job for the odd photo to put on Facebook or Twitter. We have certainly seen worse 3-megapixel phone cameras.
Detail at the edge of the frame is rubbish and it’s a bit dull-looking, but exposure metering could be a lot worse, given the cloudy scene
This gives you an example of the detail and grain to expect. For a 3-megapixel camera, detail at the centre of the frame is decent.
Surprisingly enough, video actually fares a bit better. You can shoot videos at up to 720p resolution, detailed enough to be worth uploading for your friends to watch. Don’t expect too much, though – while better than the VGA quality you often get at this price, footage is still quite noisy-looking.
Vodafone Smart 4 Mini – Battery
We can live with a poor camera, but will the phone last through a day? In our experience, just.
The Vodafone Smart 4 Mini has a 1400mAh battery, a fair bit smaller than the units used in most rivals. While the phone seems to use some smart measures to ensure not too much charge is used when the phone’s in standby, battery level free-falls as soon as you start using the phone.
When left playing a video, the battery lasts for just four and a half hours. For some wider context, the £90 Moto G manages eight hours and the £70 Alcatel One Touch Pop S3 around five hours. It’s among the worst-performing smartphones in terms of video stamina.
Vodafone Smart 4 Mini – Sound Quality
The phone’s speaker is similarly basic. You get a single speaker on the back, whose grille sits right next to the camera lens.
It’s not hugely loud and is bass-free, but it is at least able to go to top volume without becoming a crackly, distorted mess. And it certainly has the power to wake you up reliably using the inbuilt alarm.
In a similar vein, call quality is perfectly fine – nothing to get either excited or upset about. There’s the usual secondary microphone on the back of the Vodafone Smart 4 Mini for active noise cancellation, but this just shows you get it in just about any phone these days.
Should I buy the Vodafone Smart 4 Mini?
The Vodafone Smart 4 Mini is a phone we could recommend much more happily if it wasn’t for one thing – those annoying performance issues. They suck some of the fun out of this phone, and mean it needs a bit more patience than we’d like.
There are other issues too, like how little storage there is and quite how scratched your Vodafone Smart 4 Mini screen will probably get after a few months’ use.
However, it is proof that you can’t yet get a great new Android phone for £50. Just make sure you know about the compromises involved before buying.
The Vodafone Smart 4 Mini is a very affordable phone that’s among the very best you can buy at the price. However, its quite slow and cuts across the board mean you need more patience than you’d need with a slightly more expensive mobile.
Score in detail
Battery Life 5
Calls & Sound 5
Screen Quality 6
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