Vodafone Smart Mini review
|Review: July 2013|
In a nutshell: The Vodafone Smart Mini is a supercheap Android smartphone that over-delivers on value by the bucketload.
An Android handset for £50 on pay as you go? We weren't expecting much, but how wrong we were!
The Smart Mini is a compact handset, but it doesn't feel cheap. In fact it feels very strong and solid. It's the kind of phone that could probably be dropped from a height and escape with only minor bruising (disclaimer - please don't try this, it might not work.) It's made of plastic for sure, but there's nothing wrong with its simple design and assured build quality. The phone is available in Black, with a Pink version to follow.
Let's examine that "Mini" name. It's certainly a compact handset, but by no means the smallest smartphone ever. It's significantly smaller than Vodafone's Smart 3 handset, but just a couple of millimetres bigger than an iPhone 4S. It's pocket-sized and lightweight, and can easily be used one-handed.
The screen fills most of the available space and measures 3.5 inches from corner to corner. Although that's quite small for a smartphone, it's the biggest screen you can buy for the price, and is a much better option than any other £50 phone we've ever tested. Pixel resolution isn't bad either, with 320 x 480 pixels giving it a pixel density of 165 ppi. Viewing angles are tight though, and it isn't very easy to read in sunlight.
Android Jelly Bean
Despite being an entry-level phone, the Smart Mini comes with version 4.1 (Jelly Bean) of Android, giving you access to the Google Play Store for downloading apps, games and content, and the Google Now intelligent assistant system. The user interface is fully integrated with social media, with Facebook and Twitter pre-installed, so it's ready for social networking. Sharing photos, etc with friends is very easy.
The phone has been customised with some shortcuts to Vodafone services and updates, and some handy monitoring apps that show how much memory you've used. There's also Gesty, which lets you create hand-drawn gestures that act as personalised shortcuts.
In addition, all the essential smartphone apps are here ready for use - email, a virtual QWERTY keyboard, a web browser, GPS with Google Maps and YouTube.
Hardware- not so mini
For a budget phone, the specs are pretty impressive. For starters, it runs a fast 1GHz processor with 512MB of RAM. This is typical of phones costing twice as much, and is plenty to power the phone's user interface and a range of apps. The built-in storage of 4GB is plentiful, and you can add an extra 32GB of space with a microSD memory card. This will give you ample storage for your music, apps and videos.
Camera & music
The camera is a different story, however. It's one of the most basic cameras you'll find on a phone, with a tiny 2 megapixel sensor and no autofocus or flash. It can record video at a crude VGA resolution, but it's really only suitable for taking funny snaps of your cat and sharing them on facebook. Hey - isn't that what most users do with their phones anyway?
Music is a much better experience, with the usual Android music player and a 3.5mm headphone socket. The memory card option allows plenty of room for storing music. There's also an FM radio included. You'll need to use the headset supplied if you want to hear anything.
The Smart Mini supports quadband GSM (2G) and dual-band 3G, with HSPA and Wi-Fi for fast data access. It also has Bluetooth 4.0 and has a micro-USB connection, as well as a headphone socket.
The battery is large for such an unassuming phone. Rated at 1400mAh, it should be enough to last most users a few days between charges, and Vodafone's figures suggest that it can supply up to 7 hours of talktime.
Conclusion - lots for the money
The Vodafone Smart Mini is absolutely the best smartphone you can buy for £50. In fact it competes with phone costing up to £100. We're wondering why Samsung can't deliver a truly outstanding Android phone for under £100, when Vodafone and its manufacturer, Alcatel, clearly can. And, if you buy a Smart Mini before the end of July, you can use as much data as you like free for 30 days.
This is the perfect phone for anyone who wants a low cost smartphone. It would be perfect for a teen, a casual user, or anyone who wants a cheap phone to take on holiday or to a festival.
Its top selling points are:
- Crazy low price
- Compact and lightweight
- Good screen
- Fast; plenty of memory; good connectivity
Its only weakness is the basic camera.
At the end of a review, we usually list some alternative choices, but in the case of Vodafone's Smart Mini, there really aren't any. You could spend a lot more and end up with less.
Vodafone Smart Mini features include:
- Operating system: Android Jellybean 4.1
- 2 megapixel camera with 4x digital zoom
- Video recording (VGA @ 30 frames/second)
- Display: Capacitive touchscreen with 320 x 480 pixels (3.5 inches)
- GPS receiver with digital compass and Google Maps with Turn-by-Turn Navigation
- Music player
- FM radio
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, Email, Google Talk (Instant Messaging)
- Processor: 1 GHz MT6575 single core
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, micro USB, 3.5mm headphone jack
- Memory: 4GB plus microSD memory card slot (up to 32GB supported)
- Quadband GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) plus HSPA/WCDMA (900/2100 MHz)
- Size: 115 x 62.3 x 12.2 mm
- Weight: 118g
- Battery: 1400 mAh
- 3G talk time: 7 hours
- 3G standby time: 300 hours
Vodafone Smart Mini user reviews
Love this product? Hate it? Please share your experiences to help other people choose the product that's best for them. Please do not review this product if you have not used it. This is a review site, not a forum, so please don't just ask questions. Please do not use swear words or offensive language, and please, no advertising!
Average rating from 21 reviews:
Reviewed by Joel christian
on 22nd Feb 2015
I like the phone for its price but it has a habit of pocket dialing people if I lock I then put it in y pocket does anyone else have this problem at all?
Reviewed by simran
on 19th Feb 2015
Love the phone.but volume of ringtones are very low, so I miss important calls . but apart from that its a great phone. Bought it for my 10yr old too. And he loves it too.
Reviewed by Rachael
on 26th Dec 2014
I brought this phone for my partner and neither of us can get it connected to the play store. We have spent hours trying and each time we end up with "Can't establish a reliable connection to the server. This could be a temporary problem or your Android device may not be provisioned for data services. If it continues, call customer care." If anyone has any idea why it is doing this please reply! But other than this problem we love the phone!
Reviewed by stuart wilson
from u k
on 4th Nov 2014
fantastic value would expect to pay much more for an item of this standard
Reviewed by Dave west
on 16th Sep 2014
Good value as we use this a mobile on site for our business. It's the third mobile we have had on this number and the only one that has poor reception/signal. It drops the signal even on voicemail, which proves the fault is with the phone and not our customers' phones.
Reviewed by klejvi
on 16th Aug 2014
its a great phone,but I want to upgrade it but i don't know how
Reviewed by shukuru
on 8th Jul 2014
I bought my Vodafone smart mini two days ago. It fails to connect to camera. Once I try to open it, I get a message that there is oy fails to connect the camera. How to fix this problem?
Reviewed by Phil
on 1st Jun 2014
Purchased in May 2014. My first touch screen phone. 4 weeks late it is back in it's box. The touch screen is inaccurate, sometimes moves very sensitively, or not at all. Don't bother with the QWERTY keyboard, totally inaccurate selection. I agree with reviewer Carolyn from United Kingdom on 29th Oct 2013. So wish I had read this first!!
Reviewed by Pcs
on 12th May 2014
I love this phone, battery life is important to me and this little beauty will lst me 4 days between charges. I found the volume of the ring tone ok, no problems there. I bought my Smart Mini from Argos for less than £40. It connects to my in-car system without any problem
For £40 this has proved to be one of the best little I've had so far
Reviewed by Bob
from N Ireland
on 3rd Apr 2014
the qwerty keyboard is hard to work as it is 'off' - i.e. depending on 'the phone'... whether it wants to work... sometimes it will pickup the right keys you press, other times it point blank refuses and may even be 2 keys over from the one you pick.
seems to work of 3g... which is rubbish... I used my existing sim card and the difference from reception of my old phone is unreal.... most times the phone call will just not connect.
Also cannot seem to re-write/correct you contact details taken across from my last phone... I had to go back to my old phone.. write down the correct numbers.. go into the new phone.. delete the (wrong) existing contact and make a new one.... time consuming and extremely frustrating when using it the first time not knowing the numbers were brought over from my existing sim card were wrong.
Reviewed by zs
on 5th Feb 2014
Amazing, durable, etc, and it is quite fall-proof (about 1 and a half metres, doesn't switch off). Great for younger people, outstanding battery life, but has problems pairing with bluetooth devices like Beats Pill.
Reviewed by Robert
from South Africa
on 29th Jan 2014
Had the phone for a week so far, the ringing tone volume issue, have been trying to play around with the higher tone ringing tones and being at a place that is not very noisy am sure you can hear it ring, am worried about where to get the pouch, I went almost every corner of JHB CBD could not find one please help
Reviewed by st
on 27th Dec 2013
RINGING VOLUME IS TOO LOW,I CAN NOT HEAR IN MY POCKET,EVEN ON TABLE IF I AM 5 METERS AWAY
Reviewed by Anthony Lewis
from England, SW London
on 16th Dec 2013
Totally blown away by this phone : I've been like a 'kid with a new toy' so to speak. My sister has a smartphone already, I had my doubts previously, but all that changed when I bought this, the only downsides (so far) to it is I HAVE to charge the battery up everyday, also the desktop/QWERTY keypad when messaging. Besides that there's not much to complain about, anyone looking for a smartphone that doesn't require 'deep pockets' their search is hopefully over.
Reply by Christine bailey
on 8th Jan 2014
Love the phone but a little disappointed I cannot get a phone case to fit only a pouch anyone know of any that is comparable please
Reviewed by FRANK
on 8th Dec 2013
I have bought this mobile, it is good for it`s price, however i have noticed that the compass does not work, I have downloaded the sofware gps test from google play, it will show the satellites in use, and it is quite fast, but the compass does not show the direction. it remains still.
Is something wrong with my mobile. did any one notice this.
Reviewed by Norman
on 2nd Dec 2013
Love it, Kit Kat update working well, rooting has been completed, installed vertu custom rom, best fifty quid I have ever spent.
Reply by nader
on 6th Dec 2013
do u have Vodafone mini smart 875 and make update to android kitkat ? how???????????????
Reviewed by Ntombekhaya
from South Africa
on 30th Oct 2013
I recently got myself one. I must admit im happy with the fone, but there is just one small problem the battery does not last I have to charge it every night and the volume is way too low I can hardly hear it ring.
Reviewed by Carolyn
from United Kingdom
on 29th Oct 2013
Bought this phone one day, took it back the next. The touchscreen is so impossibly inaccurate to use, it took an age to write one text, despite the useful/vital predictive facility. I do not have large fingers at all and anyone with thick fingers, well, don't even bother. Since my main reason for a phone is to make calls and use the querty keyboard, I decided that all the other positives were outweighed by this huge negative.
Reviewed by M. Zammit from Malta on 23rd Sep 2013
It's amazing. Great phone
Reviewed by Sharon from England on 18th Aug 2013
I bought this phone 24 hours ago, for me it is like asking a child to pilot an aircraft!! Did not realize a small upgrade would be such a technological leap! Hence have been busy perusing the booklet and going on the net looking for advice on using some of the apps. Apparently I have chosen large text for the screen but am struggling with the print that seems too small for me. Every time you use an app, you have to make sure you shut it down after you have used it, to save battery life etc. Does seem over complicated for me at present, but want to stick it out, as it is good to keep up with the changing technology. Am sure I have got a bargain here. Just so much to learn, and a bit daunting, especially for a dinosaur!!
Reviewed by Pauline from New Zealand on 15th Jul 2013
I bought this phone a week ago and so far am pretty impressed. Yes the camera is not that great but using it for snaps to send as a PXT or upload to FB it's adequate enough. Not a priority for me as I mainly use my digital camera. Battery is very good, easy to use, good screen and call quality is good too. I am what is classed as a light user so for anyone looking for a great little phone at an amazing price, I highly recommend this one. One very pertinent point for me though is the coverage is the best, why this is I don't know but I have tried the same sim card in other smartphones and struggling to get reception even phones that cost twice as much. Maybe the antenna quality/construction? I am happy :-)