A cheap Android smartphone for just £70
At just £70 on pay as you go, the Vodafone Smart II is one of the cheapest Android phones we've ever reviewed – one of the cheapest mobile phones, in fact.
Despite the very low price, the Smart II doesn't feel cheap and nasty. The chunky case is made entirely from plastic but has a rounded shape that fits comfortably in the hand.
The back panel pops off in two pieces for access to the SIM and microSD card slots, but you will need to remove the battery to get at them.
The current trend is towards phones with increasingly large screens, but the Smart II goes in the opposite directio with its 3.2in display. This obviously keeps the price down, but it also makes the Smart II extremely pocketable.
Web browsing and other apps are no less usable compared to, say, the 3.5in screen on the Apple iPhone 4, with one notable exception: the onscreen keyboard is a bit too cramped at this size, but you can download free alternatives from the Google Play store.
Unfortunately, the screen has another problem that can't be fixed so easily: its resolution. At just 320x480 pixels, this is far from the sharpest screen around and the lack of display space creates a few issues of its own.
Android's Home screens, for example, are of limited use when it comes to using text-heavy widgets, since there isn't enough room to show enough text on the widget to make using it worthwhile.
Small text is also unreadable unless the screen is zoomed in, which means web browsing involves more screen-tapping than usual. The screen's poor visibility in bright daylight is also a big concern.
With just an 832MHz single-core processor at its disposal, the Smart II isn't the snappiest of smartphones and it sometimes felt sluggish and unresponsive when browsing complex web pages.
Games and other apps ran smoothly enough though, and mercifully Vodafone hasn't altered the standard Android 2.3 interface to burden the processor still further. Sadly, we couldn't measure actual performance, since the benchmarking app we use for testing wouldn't run properly on the Smart II.
The quality of images from the three-megapixel camera is barely adequate. Call quality is clear though and the Smart II is otherwise reasonably well-specified for the low price, with GPS, a digital compass, FM tuner, and 1GB of onboard storage. 1GB isn't much, but some costlier smartphones have even less.
Sadly, battery life is the real weak spot, with the Smart II lasting a mere five hours in our video playback test. The rival Huawei Ascend G300 costs just £30 more on pay as you go, has a battery that lasts twice as long and a much better specification, which makes it our recommended smartphone if you're on a tight budget.
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The Vodafone Smart II is very cheap but too many compromises have been made to get the price so low. The Huawei Ascend G300 costs just £30 more and is a much better budget buy
Well made; Bargain price
Very low resolution screen; Poor battery life
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