Vodafone Smart 2 review: Vodafone Smart 2

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good

Average User Rating

2.5 stars 8 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Solid design; Low cost; Some useful widgets pre-installed.

The Bad Poor camera; No Ice Cream Sandwich; Average battery life.

The Bottom Line A step forward from its predecessor, the Vodafone Smart 2 offers Android 2.3 on a shoestring. It's the ideal handset for novices or younger users but there are several glaring shortcomings that impact the overall user experience.

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The original Vodafone Smart certainly wasn't the most powerful Android phone on the block, but for what it cost, it was relatively easy to turn a blind eye to its faults. The same can be said of this sequel. Manufacturer Alcatel (taking over from Huawei, the firm behind the original), has at least attempted to enhance what has gone before with beefier specs and a larger display.

The Vodafone Smart 2 is available for £70 on pay as you go and is exclusive to Vodafone.

Should I buy the Vodafone Smart 2?

When you're shopping at the cheaper end of the smart phone spectrum, it goes without saying that you shouldn't expect the cream of the crop when it comes to power and features. Still, for a modest asking price, the Vodafone Smart 2 offers a reasonable amount of tech.

Vodafone Smart 2 build quality
There's not a hint of brushed metal anywhere but it still feels solid enough.

Despite the plastic casing, build quality is solid, which could make it popular with parents of younger users who treat their handsets roughly. The compact 3.2-inch display is also more suited to smaller hands.

Improvements on the original Vodafone Smart include a better camera, a faster CPU and a higher-resolution screen. All very positive, but before reaching for your piggy bank, consider that the low-cost Android market has become incredibly crowded of late. There are a great many phones available with superior specs for around the same price.

Vodafone Smart 2 camera
The Smart 2's 3-megapixel camera isn't the best in the low-priced end of the Android market.

Design

While the original Smart didn't turn any heads with its looks, it felt like it could withstand a nuclear assault. No doubt this meant it found its way into the pockets of many an unruly and clumsy youngster.

While the Smart 2 doesn't radiate quite the same dependability, I'd be willing to bet it could withstand a few knocks and bumps. The entirely plastic casing doesn't emit any unpleasant creaks when squeezed, despite the fact it's removable. The Smart 2 has an unusual two-stage battery cover, with the centre detaching from the surrounding plastic when it's completely removed from the main body of the phone.

Vodafone Smart 2 battery cover
The strange two-stage battery cover seems unnecessarily complicated.

Why this has been done, I'm not entirely sure, although the original Smart did offer the possibility of buying personalised covers for a custom look.

With its innards exposed, the Smart 2 reveals some rather cack-handed design. The microSD card slot resides beneath the battery, which means you have to power down the phone and take out the power cell before you can remove or insert a card. It's unnecessarily fiddly. I'd hate to have to perform this delicate procedure when switching tiny SD cards on crowded public transport.

Vodafone Smart 2 battery
Annoyingly, you have to remove the battery to get to the microSD card slot.

The Smart 2 is light on physical inputs, with just a power key, volume rocker and camera button breaking up the rounded contours of the case. You'll also find the 3.5mm headphone jack on the top edge of the phone and a micro-USB port at the opposite end. Fairly standard stuff, but I'm pleased that a dedicated camera key has made the cut -- too many phones omit this useful feature.

Vodafone Smart 2 side
At just over 12mm thick, the Smart 2 is a chubby chap.

Display

The screen on the original Smart was pretty dismal -- it measured 2.8 inches and could only muster a pitiful resolution of 240x320 pixels. To make things worse, it lacked support for multi-touch gestures. Mercifully, the Smart 2 rectifies these complaints.

Vodafone Smart 2 buttons
The buttons on the front are touch sensitive, rather than physical keys.

The screen on this successor measures 3.2 inches from corner to corner and there's a rather more impressive resolution of 320x480 pixels to stare at. Granted, we're still not talking HD standard here but it's a definite improvement on the previous model. It's also worth noting that the touch panel is surprisingly responsive, reacting swiftly to pokes and swipes. It boasts two-point multi-touch, which means you can pinch and zoom to your heart's content.

Sadly, the quality of the screen is workmanlike rather than visually striking, with washed-out colours, poor vertical viewing angles and lacklustre performance in direct sunlight. The small size also makes typing a little difficult if you possess sausage-like fingers, although the wise inclusion of Swype text input goes some way to mitigating this.

Vodafone Smart 2 size
The Smart 2's small size makes it ideal for younger users.

Processing power and internal storage

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Where to Buy

Vodafone Smart 2

Part Number: CNETVodafone Smart 2

Typical Price: £70.00

See manufacturer website for availability.