Vodafone Smart 4 Turbo review: A cheap 4G Android phone that cuts too many corners

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8

The Good The Vodafone Smart 4 Turbo packs 4G data speeds and doesn't cost the Earth.

The Bad The screen is unpleasant in every respect, the battery life isn't great and it's not exactly pretty to look at either.

The Bottom Line Although the Vodafone Smart 4 Turbo provides 4G on the cheap, the big red network has made too many sacrifices elsewhere on the phone. Even at this low price, your money can be better spent elsewhere.

Visit for details.

5.3 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 7
  • Performance 4

Review Sections

Budget smartphones have changed dramatically over the past couple of years, with technology once found only inside the most expensive mobiles now available on bog-standard, entry-level devices.

The Vodafone Smart 4 Turbo is just such a device, boasting a 4.5-inch display, a quad-core processor, 4G LTE and Android KitKat software. You can pick the Turbo up now only on Vodafone for £135 on pay as you go, or free on Vodafone's 4G plans from £26.50 per month.

Oddly, you can't buy the Turbo on Vodafone's online store. Instead, you'll have to march down to one of its high street shops like it's 2004. Still, at least you can grab a coffee on the way.


There's no escaping the fact that the Turbo is a budget phone. Its back is a single expanse of dark grey, rubberised plastic that's very plain. The front is a single piece of glass, broken only by the speaker grille, and with only the touch-sensitive navigation keys providing any visual interest.

At 10.4mm thick, it's pretty chunky. Together with the wide bezel surrounding the display, the Turbo is a thoroughly uninspiring piece of kit all round. It certainly won't appeal to the fashion-conscious among you.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Its beefy body does at least feel quite sturdy. There's little flex from the chassis and the back panel's rubberised coating can take attacks from the keys and coins in your pocket without showing up every single scratch.

The phone comes with only 4GB of built-in storage, which you'll blow through extremely quickly -- particularly if you store your music locally. Some games too, like the popular racer Asphalt 8, can take up over 1GB of space. Although you're unlikely to go for this phone if you're a dedicated app addict, I'd still recommend splashing out on a cheap microSD card to store photos from the camera, reserving the limited on-board space for apps.

You can move some apps to an SD card once you've run out of built-in storage, but in my own tests, when I moved a large app across it didn't seem to free up any space in the phone. It appears as though it's copying the app across, keeping both sets of install files, meaning there's no actual benefit in moving the app in the first place. This could just be a bug, but it's going to be a problem if you're keen on downloading apps and games.


The 4.5-inch display has an 854x480-pixel resolution -- right at the bottom of what I'd expect to see, even on a budget phone. It results in a disappointing density of 217 pixels per inch. By comparison, the Motorola Moto G 's 4.5-inch screen has a 720p resolution, giving it a much sharper pixel density of 326ppi.

The Turbo's display, then, is underwhelming. Icon edges and text in menus and in Web pages are far from sharp and lack the same crisp, easy to read presentation that you find on higher resolution screens like the Moto G's. It's not particularly bright either, meaning it's not great at countering reflections -- I was often left staring at my own face when swiping around.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Its colours are acceptable, although I've seen better on similarly priced phones, and it doesn't have good viewing angles either -- it really doesn't get anything right. It's exactly the sort of screen you should be afraid of getting when buying a budget phone.

Sure, it can display the basics like the phone dialler and messaging app, but it doesn't make anything look good and when you can get a fantastic display on the Moto G for similar money, there's really no excuse for such a miserable screen.

Android software

It's running on the fairly recent Android 4.4.2 KitKat. It's not the most bang up to date version -- that honour goes to 4.4.4 KitKat -- but it's more recent than 4.3 Jelly Bean, which still crops up on budget phones from time to time, so I'm reasonably satisfied.