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Vodafone Smart review: Vodafone Smart

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The Good Bespoke battery cover designs; solid construction; low price.

The Bad Slow processor; no Flash support; poor camera.

The Bottom Line The Vodafone Smart is a ludicrously cheap Android smart phone. When you consider that it retails for almost a tenth of the price of some top-range Android devices, it's easy to forgive its shortcomings.

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6.5 Overall

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The war at the budget end of the Android market is rapidly intensifying, and the remarkably cheap Smart represents Vodafone's latest salvo. This pay as you go smart phone boasts a capacitive screen, bespoke battery-cover designs and a solid construction. It offers a great way to join Google's mobile revolution on a shoestring, provided you can live with a few compromises.

The Smart costs £60 on a pay as you go deal. It's exclusive to Vodafone.

Bespoke budget brilliance

Despite its humble price tag, you can't accuse the Smart, made by Taiwanese manufacturer Huawei, of feeling cheap or nasty. The phone's dinky frame may lack flair, but it has a thoroughly reassuring weight and solidity to it, making rival budget blowers seem rather lightweight in comparison.

The Smart is relatively light on preinstalled apps, but the bundled 'pay as you go manager' is genuinely useful.

One of the most unique aspects of the Smart is the fact that you can personalise the back plate with your own design. Using Vodafone's online design package, it's possible to cook up a bespoke creation with very little effort. The procedure costs a very reasonable £10.

Another area where the Smart scores points over the competition is the welcome inclusion of a capacitive touchscreen. Many low-end Android phones, including the T-Mobile Pulse Mini and Acer beTouch E210, are saddled with frustrating, pressure-sensitive resistive displays.

The only fly in the ointment is that the touchscreen doesn't support multi-touch gestures, so pinch-to-zoom commands in applications such as Google Maps and your Web browser are out of the question. Boo.

Like the Google Nexus S, the Smart doesn't have any physical buttons on its front. You have the traditional bank of Android-specific commands, but they're touch-sensitive rather than keys you press. The only physical buttons on the phone are the power switch and the volume rocker.

Although ours came sadly unadorned, it's possible to have your own unique design printed onto the battery cover.

There's no dedicated camera key, but that's not too much of an issue, because the dreary 2-megapixel snapper on the back of the Smart isn't going to win any awards for picture quality. Images are dull and washed-out, with plenty of noise in low-light situations.

There's no LED flash, so shooting in anything but broad daylight is only going to produce photos you'll loathe. Video recording is supported but the clips are acceptable for multimedia messaging and emailing only.

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