It's fast, has a great screen and excellent battery life, but the Smart Platinum 7's camera just falls short of perfection
Processor: Octa-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 652, Screen Size: 5.5in, Screen resolution: 2,560×1,440, Rear camera: 16 megapixels, Storage (free): 32GB (23.5GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 154x76x6.9mm, Weight: 155g, Operating system: Android 6.0.1
Vodafone’s been on a bit of a roll with its own-brand Smart handsets recently. After last year’s excellent Smart Ultra 6 nearly knocked the 3rd Gen Moto G off its perch, we’ve just had the equally brilliant Smart Prime 7 show the 2nd Gen Moto E that you can still make a beautifully crafted smartphone for under £100.
Now we’ve got the Smart Platinum 7 rounding out the roster at the other end of the scale, offering top-class specs for either £295 on Vodafone’s Pay As You Go service, or £5 upfront on a £32-per-month contract. It’s certainly not cheap, but you do get a free VR headset thrown in for your trouble while stocks last. The Smart VR headset wasn’t available for review sadly, so I can’t comment on the quality of its VR experiences, but when it would normally cost you £49 to buy separately, it’s certainly a nice extra if you manage to get hold of one.
Even if you don’t end up using or getting the VR headset, the Smart Platinum 7 certainly makes a great first impression. With its glossy, glass back, there’s something very reminiscent of the Galaxy S7 in the Smart Platinum 7’s design, but its angular, chamfered edges actually make it much easier to hold than its Samsung rival. The textured power and volume buttons are also nice touches, and the dual front-facing speakers are another welcome addition to the Platinum’s rather impressive set of specs.
Just like Vodafone’s other 2016 Smart handsets, the Platinum 7 runs vanilla Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but here it’s presented on a stunning 5.5in, 2,560×1,440 AMOLED display. Covering a full 100% of the sRGB colour gamut, the Platinum’s screen looks fantastic, producing rich, vibrant colours that look much more true to life than those on the OnePlus 3. Likewise, its high contrast ratio and perfect 0.00cd/m2 black levels give images plenty of depth, and it’s easily one of the better smartphone displays you can buy for £300. It’s certainly one of the sharpest, as both the OnePlus 3 and Nexus 5X only have 1,920×1,080 resolution displays.
The only slight downside is that it’s not particularly bright, as I measured a peak brightness of just 358.20cd/m2. This is fairly typical of AMOLED displays, but when some AMOLED panels like the one on the OnePlus 3 can hit over 400cd/m2 on its max setting, you do start to wonder if Vodafone could have done a little more to help increase the phone’s overall practicality. Still, it’s a small complaint overall, as it’s still just about bright enough to see clearly outside when you’re standing in direct sunlight.
Its octa-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor also gives it a significant speed boost compared to other £300 smartphones, as it scored 1,535 in Geekbench 3’s single core test and an impressive 4,926 in the multicore test. It’s still not quite as quick as the OnePlus 3, which has an even more powerful Snapdragon 820 inside it, but it’s miles in front of the Nexus 5X and Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo, and it also beats the more expensive HTC One A9 as well, so it’s well-placed to compete with its similarly-priced rivals.
Android 6.0 certainly felt extremely responsive during everyday use, and apps and games were very quick to load as well. Web browsing was smooth, too, although I did notice a couple of hiccups here and there when it was loading pages with lots of images and adverts. Still, scrolling up and down sites at speed was largely free of juddering interruptions, and its Peacekeeper score of 1,160 puts it more or less on par with the OnePlus 3.
The Platinum 7’s graphics performance was pretty impressive as well. Again, the OnePlus 3 is streets ahead in this department thanks to its more powerful processor and built-in GPU, but the Platinum’s score of 923 frames (around 15fps) in GFX Bench GL’s offscreen Manhattan 3.0 test still provides enough grunt for most types of games. Hearthstone was a little jerky in places, but it was far from unplayable, and 2D titles ran perfectly well without any hitches whatsoever.
|Processor||Octa-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 652|
|Front camera||8 megapixels|
|Rear camera||16 megapixels|
|Storage (free)||32GB (23.5GB)|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||microSD|
|Wireless data||3G, 4G|
|Operating system||Android 6.0.1|