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Vodafone Smart 4 Mini review

Katharine Byrne
4 Aug 2014
Vodafone Smart 4 Mini
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
50
inc VAT SIM-free

The Smart 4 Mini is a cheap phone with good web browsing performance, but it falls short everywhere else

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Specifications

Processor: Dual-core 1.3GHz Mediatek MT6572, Screen size: 4in, Screen resolution: 480x800, Rear camera: 3.15-megapixel, Storage: 4GB, Wireless data: 3G, Size: 121x64x12mm, Weight: 117g, Operating system: Android 4.2.2

Good, cheap smartphones typically cost at least £100, with the Motorola Moto G being a fantastic example of a budget smartphone done well. The Vodafone Smart 4 Mini, however, costs just £50 on Vodafone's Pay As You Go service, which makes it one of the cheapest smartphones around.

You can see how Vodafone has kept the price down, though, as the Smart 4 Mini's chunky plastic chassis flexes when you press the back panel. It's a far cry from the solid build quality of the Motorola Moto G or the cheaper Motorola Moto E, and the Smart 4 Mini's meagre weight of 117g also makes it feel a little flimsy in the hand. Still, it’s perfectly comfortable to hold. There's a lot of extra bulk round the Smart 4 Mini's tiny 4in screen, which makes it easy to grip.

We were unsurprised to find that the 4in display only has a resolution of 480x800, but text and app icons looked fairly sharp on the phone's home screen. Android 4.2.2 also ran very smoothly, although you'll probably want to get rid of a lot of the preinstalled Vodafone widgets to help free up some space on the phone's five main home screens.

As you'd expect from a budget phone, the Smart 4 Mini's screen quality wasn't great. With a measured peak brightness of just 270.17cd/m2, we found it difficult to see the screen clearly when we were outside in bright sunshine and the screen's mediocre sRGB colour gamut score of 64.6 per cent also meant that colours lacked depth and vibrancy.

The screen looked much better indoors, but even here we had trouble seeing the finer detail in some of our test images due to the Smart 4 Mini's contrast ratio of 781:1. This ratio isn't terrible for a budget phone, but the screen's narrow viewing angles also made it difficult to see clearly unless we were looking at the phone straight on. Setting it down on a table, for instance, produced a noticeable shift in brightness, and text became almost illegible.

Web browsing on the Smart 4 Mini was surprisingly smooth. Its dual core 1.3GHz processor scored a respectable 1,622ms in our SunSpider JavaScript benchmarks using its default browser, which puts it on par with the Motorola Moto E. The phone completed the test more slowly when we used the Dolphin browser, though, taking 1,861ms.

Remarkably, the Smart 4 Mini coped with desktop-based web pages very well for such a cheap phone. Panning round a web page that was still loading proved jerky, but we only noticed a very small amount of delay between us scrolling down the page and the phone responding accordingly. The Moto E is a fraction smoother in everyday use, but we only noticed the difference when comparing them side by side.

The Smart 4 Mini isn't cut out for demanding apps, though, as its graphics performance is abysmal. The only graphics test it passed was the 3DMark Ice Storm test, where it scored a mere 1,833, which roughly translates to an average frame rate of 8fps. It failed to run both the Ice Storm Extreme and Ice Storm Unlimited tests, and Epic Citadel crashed every time we tried to load it. You'll still be able to play basic 2D games, though, such as Angry Birds and Jetpack Joyride, but anything more demanding and that requires 3D graphics may prove troublesome.

We weren't impressed with the Smart 4 Mini's battery life either. Its 1,400mAh battery lasted just 7 hours in our continuous video playback test with the screen set to half brightness, which is only a 10 minute improvement on last year's Vodafone Smart 3 handset. The Moto E, on the other hand, lasted almost 10 hours under the same conditions.

Vodafone Smart 4 Mini rear

The Smart 4 Mini’s 3.15-megapixel camera also disappointed us. We expect budget phones to have at least a 5-megapixel sensor on its main camera, so the Smart 4 Mini was always going to perform poorly by comparison. Unsurprisingly, images were severely lacking in detail, and it struggled to expose the sky correctly. Admittedly, shots were a lot brighter than the images we took on the Moto E at the same time, but noise was present throughout large areas of the same colour on the Smart 4 Mini, and colours in general looked very drab and cool. You certainly wouldn't want to use it as your main camera, and it's really only good enough for quick snaps that you want to keep and view on your phone.

The Vodafone Smart 4 Mini is certainly very cheap, but its good web browsing performance is one of its few redeeming features. Its screen, camera and battery life are all beaten by the superior Motorola Moto E, and you're also locked in to Vodafone's Pay As You Go service. If your budget really doesn't stretch to £90, the Smart 4 Mini is a decent phone for its price, but spend and you'll have one of the best budget Android phones money can buy. 

Hardware
ProcessorDual-core 1.3GHz Mediatek MT6572
RAM512MB
Screen size4in
Screen resolution480x800
Screen typeLCD
Front cameraNone
Rear camera3.15-megapixel
FlashNone
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage4GB
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
Wi-Fi802.11n
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0
NFCNo
Wireless data3G
Size121x64x12mm
Weight117g
Features
Operating systemAndroid 4.2.2
Battery size1,400mAh
Buying information
Warrantyone-year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£50
Price on contract (inc VAT)N/A
Prepay price (inc VAT)N/A
SIM-free supplierwww.vodafone.co.uk
Contract/prepay supplierN/A
Detailswww.vodafone.co.uk
Part codeVodafone875

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