At £159, the Smart V8 is a fantastic budget phone with a good camera and a rear-mounted fingerprint reader
- Rear-mounted fingerprint reader
- An unbelievably bright display
- Solid build quality and design
- A little chunky
- Camera isn’t brilliant in low light
Vodafone is on a spree of new phone releases at the moment and the Vodafone Smart V8 is the most expensive and powerful addition to the 2017 lineup. At £159, though, it’s still very reasonably priced, though, and on paper, it offers an attractive roster of specifications.
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Vodafone Smart V8 review: What you need to know
For such a paltry sum you’re getting an awful lot of phone: the phone comes with a Full HD, 5.5in display, an octa-core Snapdragon 435 processor, a rear-mounted fingerprint reader and a 16-megapixel camera. Plus it’s beautifully well-made for a phone this cheap.
The 5.5in size might put off a few who may prefer to wield their phone one handed. It has neither the best battery life nor the best performance but it is a very, very decent alternative to the main-brand opposition.
Vodafone Smart V8 review: Price and competition
The Smart V8 costs £159 from Vodafone on PAYG and is quite a step up from the other Vodafone handsets we’ve reviewed previously (the Smart N8 at £85, the Smart E8 at £49 and last year’s Prime 7 at £59, which is now approaching end-of-life).
Its main rivals are the Moto G5 from £165, the G4 from £150, Nokia 3 from £130 and the new Honor 6A from around £145; there’s also the Lenovo P2, which is the best budget smartphone for under £200, although finding one is a challenge. At the time of writing, it can be found for £176 through Gearbest.
Vodafone Smart V8 review: Design and build quality
At £159, I’d expect a more premium build than Vodafone’s lower end handsets, and the Smart V8 doesn’t disappoint. Manufactured by Chinese smartphone specialist, ZTE for Vodafone, its metal unibody design makes it look and feel more like a flagship phone than one that costs less than £200. The only anomalies are the odd, textured plastic panels at the top and bottom of the phone’s rear. Still, these do add some extra grip.
With a large 5.5in display up front, the V8 isn’t small. It measures 155mm in length, is 76mm wide and is 9.7mm thick. It’s reasonably hefty, too, at 166g, although that isn’t a huge amount heavier than most 5.5in smartphones so you’ll probably not notice the difference in your pocket.
Also at the front is an LED notification light and an 8-megapixel selfie camera. The volume rocker is located on the right-hand edge, while the power button is located on the left next to the nano-SIM and microSD card tray. The latter lets you add up to 128GB on top of the phone’s 32GB internal storage. The phone’s 3.5mm headphone jack is at the top and it has a micro-USB port at the bottom (no USB Type-C here).
Around the back is a 16-megapixel camera with a dual-LED flash and a circular fingerprint reader; I prefer this positioning to putting the reader on the front, but it does mean you have to pick up the phone to unlock it, which is occasionally irritating.
On the negative side, it’s not possible to swap out the 3,000mAh battery due to the phone’s unibody chassis and the there’s no dust or water resistance.
Vodafone Smart V8 review: Display
The Vodafone V8 has a 5.5in Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) LTPS IPS display, which results in a pixel density of 404ppi. This is slightly lower than its rivals, such as the 5in Moto G5, which sits at 441ppi but still perfectly sharp. Unlike the cheaper Smart N8 and E8, the V8 has an oleophobic coating, which makes it easier to clean and prevents smudges from appearing.
And it’s a ridiculously bright screen, too. I measured it at 529 cd/m2 max brightness with the office our colorimeter, a figure that puts it up there with the best flagship smartphones around and means the phone will be viewable in the brightest of conditions. By comparison, the Moto G5 Plus achieves a 401cd/m2 maximum brightness, while the Lenovo P2 achieves only 326cd/m2.
Contrast is impressive as well, with a measured ratio of 1,717:1 and, in general, colours appear both vibrant and well balanced, although at 86.4% coverage of the sRGB colour gamut, the screen doesn’t look quite as punchy as the AMOLED display on the Lenovo P2.
Vodafone Smart V8 review: Software
Vodafone maintains a largely vanilla installation of Android across the full range of its smartphones and the Smart V8 is no different. It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat out the box, has no annoying launcher or skin to get in the way and only a small handful of Vodafone apps are pre-installed.
Vodafone Smart V8 review: Performance
It runs Android mostly smoothly as well, helped along by an octa-core 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 435 processor, while 3GB of RAM provides enough headroom for your multitasking needs. Pitted against its competitors, the Smart V8 is on-par with the Moto G5 but is outpaced by the Lenovo P2.
^ Vodafone Smart V8: Geekbench 4
None of the budget phones I’ve come across is able to cope with graphically intense games and the Smart V8 is no exception. It’s a little faster than most sub-£100 phones, though, achieving 8fps in the Manhattan 3.0 benchmark and roughly equivalent to the Moto G5’s 7fps. Casual games like Candy Crush work without any hitches, though.
^ Vodafone Smart V8: Battery life
Battery life is good. It lasted 11hrs 9mins in our video rundown test and should last a day’s worth of medium usage. If you’re a heavy user or a Pokemon Go fanatic you’ll need to carry around a power bank or top throughout the day. By comparison, the Moto G5 achieved 11hrs 51mins in the same test, but it’s the Lenovo P2 that leads the way with a staggering 28hrs 50mins.
Vodafone Smart V8 review: Camera
The Smart V8 has a 16-megapixel camera shooter on the rear, which captures accurate colours and plenty lot of detail. If you’re shooting landscape scenes I’d suggest turning on HDR, since without it images look dull and lack detail in the shadows.
In comparison to the Moto G4 and Moto G5, the Smart V8 is able to capture a lot more detail. Images are sharper and its colour reproduction is more accurate. However, without HDR enabled, the V8’s images are much darker than the ones captured on both the G4 and G5 – they aren’t hindered with a dark tint, which negatively affects the image quality.
In the sample photograph below, the white coloured van looks grey and the owners of the vehicle can barely be made out. The brickwork on the building on the left-hand side has a dark tint, which results in an inaccurate representation of the sunny conditions.
^ Without HDR enabled, colours have a dark look to them and clouds are lost in the sky
With HDR enabled, colours are more accurate, the clouds in the sky have more definition, the green foliage at the foreground is vibrant, the owners of the van at the bottom left-hand side and their vehicle’s colour can now be distinguished, and the brickwork on the buildings in the background and on the left-hand side aren’t over-dark.
^ With HDR enabled, the image is a lot more vibrant and more accurately represents the scene at hand
In low light, however, the sensor doesn’t perform as well, with plenty of detail going amiss, although colours do at least remain accurate. Enabling the dual-LED flash brings out a lot of the missed detail in low-light conditions, though, for subjects close to the camera and the fact that it doesn’t add a blue tint is a bonus.
The inclusion of super night, multi exposure, slow exposure, time-lapse, slow motion and manual modes are welcome additions. In manual mode you can adjust the shutter speed, ISO, exposure, white balance, focus and image interval. The camera can also shoot video up to 1080p at 30fps. At the front there’s a 8-megapixel camera.
Vodafone Smart V8 review: Verdict
For £159, the Vodafone Smart V8 is a fantastic phone, and with a good camera, rear-mounted fingerprint reader, unbelievably bright display, excellent build quality and design, it’s definitely one to consider. It might not have the best performance or battery life for under £200, but all told it’s a very strong package and a decent alternative to the Moto G4, which is now getting somewhat long in the tooth.
It’s on the large side and as it’s a Vodafone-branded handset, it’s locked to that network. If, however, you’re looking to watch HD content on a bigger screen and want more freedom to browse the web, the Smart V8 is one of the best phones you can buy below £200.
Octa-core 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 435
|1080 x 1920
|Memory card slot (supplied)
155 x 76 x 7.9 mm
|One year RTB
|Price SIM-free (inc VAT)