It is hard to imagine life without a smartphone. From staying in touch to snapping photos, the smartphone occupies a prominent place in our daily lives.
Yet for many, the reality is that a smartphone still costs a bomb. Aware of this, Vodafone launched a new range of house-branded affordable smartphones aimed at buyers on a budget.
I spent some quality time with their most affordable (the Vodafone smart mini 7, keep your eyes peeled for my next review on the Vodafone Smart Ultra 7) - here's my thoughts.
Vodafone Smart Mini 7
The first thing you notice about the Smart Mini 7 is that it is petite. Its 4” WVGA LCD display feels tiny, especially when compared to today's XXL sized phablets. This said, it does have the added advantage of being easy to operate one-handed. Throwing it into a pocket or purse also won't result in the sound of tearing fabric.
The Smart Mini 7 isn't unattractive, even although its budget roots are clear thanks to its plastic chassis. It does feel solid and lacks that flimsy and creaky build that is all too common to budget handsets.
Lacking a physical home button, the Smart Mini 7 has its buttons screen printed on its lower bezel. Spinning it around reveals a textured back which adds to its “grippiness” which also aids with one handed use.
Under the Hood
Considering its $79 sticker price, the Smart Mini 7 is well equipped.
Vodafone's smart handsets are all SIM locked and will only work on the Vodafone network. They are unlockable for $30. The Smart Mini 7 has a MicroSD slot. This is definitely a good thing as the Smart Mini 7 only has 4GB of storage and a mere 512MB of RAM.
Most budget smartphones ship with older versions of Android. Not the Smart Mini 7. It comes with Android Marshmallow. This provides some future proofing plus “ok Google” detection and built-in encryption. Marshmallow's Doze feature also helps prolong the Smart Mini 7's battery-life.
Its RAM and storage may be meagre, but the Smart Mini 7's CPU is capable. Most sub budget devices ship with underpowered dual core CPUs. The Smart Mini 7 packs a quad care Mediatek MTK6580M CPU, clocking in at 1.3GHZ. It mightn't have the muscle for decoding the human genome, but is ample for casual games.
A bonus with this CPU is that it is frugal with energy consumption. Battery life usually exceeds 2 days. Considering the Smart Mini 7 only packs a 1500mAh battery, this is impressive.
The Smart Mini 7‘s 2MP rear camera is fine for casual Facebook photos, but lags behind the more capable shooters of most flagship hardware. The only other real negative is that the Smart Mini 7 isn't 4G capable. While this might be a deal breaker for some, it does support 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi.
The Smart Mini 7 isn't aimed at power users. It is ideal as a first smartphone or even as a low cost backup smartphone. Retailing for a wallet-pleasing $79, the Smart Mini 7 is great value.