Vodafone Smart Prime 7 review: The best budget phone under £50

Christopher Minasians Katharine Byrne
22 Jan 2018
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Vodafone Smart Prime 7
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT (PAYG, as of 15th May)

It's not very fast, but the Vodafone Smart Prime 7 is a beautifully designed smartphone with a gorgeous screen and great battery life

Beautifully designed
Impressive display
Excellent battery life
Lacks grunt

Vodafone Smart Prime 7 review: Performance

Admittedly, the Smart Prime 7's quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 chip and 1GB of RAM can't quite match the same speeds of Motorola's pair of Moto phones, both of which come with a more powerful Snapdragon 410 chip. It put in pretty good innings in our benchmark tests for the money, though.

In Geekbench 3, it scored 330 in the single core test and 1,046 in the multicore test, putting it on a level playing field with the HTC Desire 530. This can make using the phone feel a little sluggish at times, but I wasn't left waiting when loading up new apps and navigating Android felt reasonably smooth and responsive. CPU-Z was reporting the clock speed at up to 1.27GHz, rather than the usual 1.1Ghz for this chipset. We can't say whether it's the version of Android used or the overclocked processor, but the Prime 7 felt quicker than the Desire 530 - which also costs more at around £120. Either way, but this still isn't a phone intended for intensive use.

Web browsing can prove taxing if you tend to visit lots of media-heavy web pages, for example. With a Peacekeeper score of just 384, trying to browse websites like The Guardian with any degree of urgency can often be quite frustrating, as even scrolling up and down the main homepage can be rather stop and start. Articles with fewer images fared better in daily use, but it still stumbled over adverts, particularly when pages were still loading.

It's gaming where you're likely to run into trouble, as it managed just 102 frames (or 1.6fps) in the offscreen Manhattan 3.0 test in GFX Bench GL. Admittedly, this isn't any worse than the 3rd Gen Moto G and 2nd Gen Moto E's scores, but it does mean it will struggle with more demanding 3D titles. Trying to play a game of Hearthstone, for instance, was rather jittery, but simpler games like Threes! and Alphabear ran perfectly fine.

Vodafone Smart Prime 7 review: Camera

Still, this is to be expected on a cheap phone, and it's really my only main sticking point about the entire phone, as even its 8-megapixel rear camera was surprisingly decent. Pictures can be rather soft on detail, but overall our outdoor images looked fantastic. Colours were bright and clear, there was an excellent level of contrast and exposures were well judged.

Vodafone Smart Prime 7 camera test

^ There's not a lot of crisp detail, but the Smart Prime 7 can still produce surprisingly good shots

The Smart Prime 7's camera coped well indoors as well. Again, images could be a tad soft here and there, with noise starting to become prevalent when I switched off our bright studio lights, but there was still plenty of highs and lows on show and colours looked rich and vibrant throughout.

Vodafone Smart Prime 7 camera test indoors

^ Indoors, there was quite a lot of noise in low light, but colours still looked rich and vibrant

However, I did tend to notice that it can be quite slow to focus at times, particularly when you tap the screen. This sometimes resulted in some rather odd photos where certain parts of the picture would be in focus, such as one half of a street lamp, but the rest of it would be all blurred and soft. HDR mode tended to make things worse, too, so just be careful the camera's finished focusing properly before you hit the shutter button. In this sense, the Moto E's camera is arguably the better choice, as despite only having a 5-megapixel sensor, you can always count on it delivering sharp-looking snaps.

Vodafone Smart Prime 7 camera test HDR mode

^ The Smart Prime 7 can be quite slow to focus, so pressing the shutter button before it's finished can result in some rather odd shots

Vodafone Smart Prime 7 review: Verdict

The Prime 7 has a good display and with its slimline design, it goes head to head with the more expensive Motorola rival, which makes the Smart Prime 7 my choice of handset for anyone looking for an ultra-cheap smartphone. It's a significant step up over Vodafone's Smart Speed 6, and even if it doesn't quite topple the mighty 2nd Gen Moto E overall, Vodafone's latest pre-pay handset still comes highly recommended.

ProcessorQuad-core 1.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 210
Screen size5in
Screen resolution1,280x720
Screen typeLCD
Front camera5 megapixels
Rear camera8 megapixels
Storage (free)8GB (3.98GB)
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0
Wireless data3G, 4G
Operating systemAndroid 6.0.1
Battery size2,540mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price on contract (inc VAT)Free on £16-per-month contract
Prepay price (inc VAT)£75
Part codeVFD 600

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