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Vodafone Smart Tab N8 review: The cheapest 4G tablet

Christopher Minasians
21 Aug 2017
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
129
inc VAT

At £129, the Smart Tab N8 has 4G connectivity and a 10.1in screen, but its disappointing display and performance let it down

Pros 
4G connectivity
Screen size
Android 7 Nougat
Cons 
Sluggish performance
Disappointing colours
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So, you thought tablets were dead? Well, I did too, until this summer rolled around. Not only have we seen Apple release one new tablet and revamp another, but we’ve also had Samsung release the Galaxy Book and Tab S3 devices, Microsoft overhaul the Surface Pro and Amazon unleash new versions of its budget slates. And it’s not over, either: the latest to join the new-tablet party is the Vodafone Smart Tab N8.

READ NEXT: Best tablets: Buying guide & the best tablets of 2017

Vodafone Smart Tab N8 review: What you need to know

The Vodafone Smart Tab N8 is a 10.in tablet that runs Android 7 Nougat. But it’s hardly the last word in high performance, top-end hardware. With a pixel-tastic 800 x 1,280 resolution, poor display colour accuracy and sluggish performance, it’s hard to see its target audience – even if it does have 4G connectivity.

If you’re looking to get something for the kids, get the smaller, cheaper Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet. If you want something for yourself, consider the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 10.1in for £170 or the Acer Iconia A3-A40 for £180.

READ NEXT: Amazon Fire tablet review: Cheap, cheerful, and highly commended

Vodafone Smart Tab N8 review: Price and competition

At £129 on pay-as-you-go from the Vodafone store, the tablet isn’t as cheap as some of its competitors, although none of them offers 4G connectivity or a pay-monthly contract. You can get the Smart Tab N8 with a 24-month 4G plan starting at £12 per month (£80 upfront) for 2GB per month, rising to £31 per month with no upfront costs for 50GB of 4G data.

The 8in £80 Amazon Fire HD 8 and the 7in £50 Fire are its cheapest competitors. Up the screen size and the price and you’ll find the 10.1in Amazon Fire HD 10 that starts from £180. Then we have the 8in Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 costing £170, the 10.1in Acer Iconia A3-A40 at £180 and the incredibly hard-to-find, yet impressive Nvidia Shield Tablet K1.

READ NEXT: Amazon Fire HD 10 review

Vodafone Smart Tab N8 review: Design and build quality

The Smart N8 has two forward-firing speakers, which is somewhat of a rarity on a budget tablet. Vodafone has also included a front-facing 2-megapixel camera and a rear-facing 5-megapixel shooter. I don’t expect many to use the tablet to take photos, but having the option to do so, albeit at a low resolution, is still handy.

Turn the tablet over, and you’ll notice a textured black plastic finish. This makes it easy to grip and prevents the tablet from sliding around on surfaces you put it down on. Around the back you’ll find a latch that gives access to the 128GB microSD expansion and micro-SIM slot. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack and micro-USB port at the top of the device.

At 465g and 9mm thick, the Vodafone N8 is easy to hold, although it is a touch thicker than the 7.8mm Amazon HD 10.

READ NEXT: Amazon Fire HD 8 review: The new Alexa tablet is the best budget tablet in 2017

Vodafone Smart Tab N8 review: Display

The Tab N8’s display is large (10.1in) and pretty low in low resolution, which means a pretty low pixel density of 149ppi. Reading text on the tablet is a little blurred and when compared with the Nvidia Shield K1’s 1,920 x 1,200 display, the difference is noticeable.

When tested with a colorimeter the Tab N8 achieved a 75.7% sRGB gamut coverage, which results in colours appearing a little dull and ditch-watery. Its colour accuracy isn’t great either, with an average Delta E of 4.82 (lower is better, 0 is perfect and 1 is very good), and some colours, especially red, purple and dark green shades are completely off-piste. Its viewing angles aren’t great, either with the screen changing tint noticeably if you look at it away from the vertical.

At 366.6cd/m2 maximum brightness, it’s bright enough for indoor viewing, but you’ll struggle to watch the football in the garden. Its 1,156:1 contrast ratio (0.3cd/m2 black level) is good for a budget device, though.

READ NEXT: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 review

Vodafone Smart Tab N8 review: Software

Vodafone ships its tablet with Android 7 Nougat out the box. As with its smartphone range, the mobile operator hasn’t tinkered with the Android experience; it’s the pure, unadulterated Android Google wants its users to experience, with only a handful of Vodafone apps preinstalled.

In comparison with the Amazon tablet range that runs FireOS (based on Android), the Tab N8 has a clear advantage. It’s likely to receive quicker updates, offers much more customisation and has access to Google Play and the full range of core Google apps, including Google Maps.

READ NEXT: Nvidia Shield Tablet K1 review: Now with Android Marshmallow

Vodafone Smart Tab N8 review: Performance

The Tab N8 is sluggish. With a 1.1GHz quad-core Cortex-MediaTek processor and 2GB of RAM inside, it struggles with multitasking and is slow to respond to input. Opening up Google Maps and swiping around is a painful experience.

Put through the multi-platform Geekbench 4 benchmark, the Tab N8 managed a measly single-core score of 461 and 1,319 in the multi-core benchmark. This is one of the lowest scores I’ve seen in recent times, narrowly beating Vodafone’s own £50 Smart E8 and £85 N8 smartphones.

While playing very basic games such as Candy Crush won’t be a problem on the tablet, it will struggle with fast-moving games such as Temple Run. With only 3.1fps in the onscreen GFXBench Manhattan 3 benchmark, you won’t be doing much gaming on this tablet.

A 4,600mAh battery is housed within the Tab N8’s shell and this achieves a decent 9hrs 44mins in our battery test. It’s far better than the 6hrs 26mins achieved by the Acer Iconia Tab 10, but not as good as the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3’s 14hrs 49mins.

^ Vodafone Smart Tab N8 battery life

READ NEXT: Acer Iconia Tab 10 (A3-A40) review: A great Android tablet for less than £200

Vodafone Smart Tab N8 review: Verdict

The Smart Tab N8 is a mixed bag. On one hand, it offers the cheapest 4G tablet you can buy at only £129. On the other hand, if you’re not interested in connecting to the internet on the go, then other tablets offer more for your money.

The cheaper and more portable Amazon Fire HD 8 or Fire tablets lead the way, but there’s also the 8in Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 at £170, which has better performance, and the 10.1in Acer Iconia A3-A40 at £180, which has a far better screen.

Hardware
Processor
1.1 GHz Quad-core Mediatek MT8735B
RAM2GB
Screen size10.1in
Screen resolution800 x 1280
Screen typeIPS
Front camera2 megapixels
Rear camera5 megapixels
FlashN/A
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage (free)16GB
Memory card slot (supplied)
MicroSD (128GB)
Wi-Fi802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth4.0
NFCN/A
Wireless data4G
Dimensions
260 x 155 x 8.95 mm
Weight465g
Features
Operating systemAndroid 7.0
Battery size4600mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£129

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