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

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Unlike Samsung, HTC's and Sony's Android phones, which have a heavily customised version of Android, the Turbo's software is almost stock Android.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

That's a good thing for two reasons. Firstly, it means that it's easy to get to grips with, even if you're not well-versed with Android. It hasn't complicated things by forcing you to use proprietary image galleries or confusing you with multiple Web browsers or email clients. It also means it's less demanding of the processor, so in theory you'll have a swifter experience than if it was crammed with bloatware.

There are a few things preloaded, including a tips and tricks app for new Android users, and apps to track your phone usage. None are exactly crucial and they can be uninstalled, so feel free to completely clear out anything you don't want when you first get it home.

Processor and battery performance

The phone is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, which is respectable, if far from the kind of brutal power you see in flagships such as the Galaxy S5 , Sony Xperia Z2 or HTC One M8 .

Swiping around the interface seemed reasonably swift, however, with no real lag when pulling down the notification bar or diving into the app tray.

It handles simple stuff like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram without any hassle and streamed Netflix fairly well too. Asphalt 8 played reasonably well, although low-resolution displays don't take as much processing power to run, so I'd have been surprised if it struggled too much.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

It's running on a 1,880mAh battery, which doesn't put up much of a fight. From full, the power level had dropped to only 56 percent remaining after just 2 hours of video streaming, which is below average for this test.

With careful use you might be able to squeeze a day out it, but if you find yourself browsing the Web, using maps or streaming music, you can expect the battery to have drained away before the day is done -- particularly if you stream using 4G which is more power-intensive than 3G.

Camera

Around the back is a 5-megapixel camera. A meagre 5 million pixels might not seem like much when you compare it to the whopping 20-megapixel sensor in the Xperia Z2, but it's about what you should expect for this price.

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Vodafone Smart 4 Turbo camera test

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Although the results from the camera are far worse than the efforts of pricier phones, they're adequate for a little Instagram fun. On my first shot of these toys, exposure was decent and there's enough detail in the image to make it look reasonably crisp at full screen. The colours are rather cold though.

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Vodafone Smart 4 Turbo camera test

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Like nearly all budget smartphones, the Turbo's camera struggled in lower light. In this shot of our office, there's a lot of image noise in the shadowy areas and there's less clarity in the edges of the chairs and pillars. It's certainly no worse than what I've seen on other budget phones, however, and it's really all you can expect from such a cheap device. Keep to well-lit areas and you should be able to get snaps good enough for Facebook updates.

Conclusion

Although the Vodafone Smart 4 Turbo has an affordable price tag, its awful display, unimpressive battery life and dreary design mean it's still not a good buy. If you're not tied to Vodafone, you could opt for EE's own-brand 4G Kestrel phone , which offers a much more satisfying experience overall for £99 on pay as you go. Or you could splash a little more cash and get the superb Motorola Moto G, which now has 4G too.