The Vodafone Smart’s 2.8in screen isn’t just limited in size, it’s also fairly light on pixels. It has a 240×320 pixel display, resulting in a low dpi rating (dots per inch). This makes everything on-screen look more blocky than usual, but games and web browsing are particularly affected – as the source images tend not to be tailored for this resolution.
Typical of a budget panel, viewing angles aren’t perfect. Tilt the screen left or right and you can still see what’s on-screen, but move it up and down and the image degrades. In normal usage though, this won’t be a big problem. It does put final nail in the coffin of the Smart’s video-playing potential though – along with the small screen and lack of video support (it’ll only the Android basics of H.264 and MP4).
The built-in camera is similarly lacking. It uses a 2-megapixel sensor, has no flash and no autofocus. It’s the kind of camera often bolted onto these budget phones, as an obligation rather than a feature with much oomph behind it. Photos are predictably poor – enough to snap a wallpaper for your phone, but not nearly good enough to print out.
It will capture video too, in H.263 at 352×288 pixels. As with photos, quality is poor, with very limited detail and jittery movement when panning.
The Vodafone Smart won’t play many other types of video either, just the Android basics of H.263, H.264 and MP4 – no Divx or MKV here. It’s not a feature black hole to mourn too much though, as the 240×320 pixel 2.8in screen isn’t good enough to make movie-watching pleasurable.
These lacking media features are things we could have pegged as soon as seeing the Vodafone Smart’s £60 price tag. They’re the most sensible features to cut too, as relatively few smartphone users watch full-length movies or TV episodes on-the-go – much as hardcore users may protest that they do.
In spite of the small screen, the 1200mAh battery doesn’t excel beyond the standard Android battery life. Keep Wi-Fi and 3G enabled and you’ll need to charge the Vodafone Smart every day to avoid hearing its vibrate death rattle come day two.
If you’re willing to spend just a little more, you can usually snap-up a previous-generation Android with better specs and a better screen, such as the Samsung Galaxy Apollo. However, right now you won’t find anything cheaper running Android 2.2.
Vodafone Smart is ridiculously cheap, but as the price slips down towards pocket money territory, more features have to be cut down. The capacitive touchscreen is a major upgrade over older budget Androids but the low-res, small display makes us think it’s worth spending a little bit more for a more pixel-packed model.
If you’re cash-strapped and in love with Android though, this will pick up emails, connect to Facebook and tweet away with the best of them.
Score in detail