Channel 5

Vodafone Smart III

Friday 07 June 2013

G-Rating

Rating of 4

The basics

While Samsung, HTC and Apple are slugging it out with their pricey flagship super phones, there’s another battle raging: the one to be crowned king of the affordable smartphones - low price mobiles with similar software but just a few corners cut here and there to keep the price down.

The latest entrant: the Vodafone Smart III, an Android phone with a four-inch screen, the speedy 4.1 Jelly Bean OS and a price tag of just £95 on Pay As You Go. Is it worth it? Or can other efforts from Huawei, ZTE, Samsung and even Nokia win out? Let’s take a look.

How to get the new Android update now

The good

The Vodafone Smart III’s design isn’t so much good as adequate - but hey, you get what you pay for. It’s solid enough, if plasticky, but the screen is big enough to type comfortably on, and that’s more than can be said for some of its competitors. The software is its usual, glorious Googly self: Android is easy to use and stuffed with apps, and with the latest update to Gmail, with clever Priority Inbox sorting, even more essential for busy gadget fans.

Android 4.1 itself hasn’t been tweaked too much, but it does come with one clever addition we like on the Vodafone Smart III: Kikin, a clever app that lets you instantly search for words that you highlight if you want to know more. It sounds intrusive, but it works very well, and doesn’t stop you from highlighting a word just to copy and paste. If you’re the inquisitive sort who’s always looking stuff up on Wikipedia, you’ll love this feature.

The bad

At this point, you probably know what to expect from a cheap smartphone - the five megapixel camera is poor, and while it’s powerful enough to run most apps on the Google Play store, including the newly launched Vine, you can forget about most of the the newest 3D games, which either run like golden syrup on the 1GHz processor, or aren’t even available to download on the device.

That’s a problem that all budget smartphones suffer from, but in this case there’s also the network issue. While that price is cheap, the Smart III is only available on Vodafone. If you don’t fancy switching networks for whatever reason, do be aware that you have other options - there’s ZTE’s impressive Blade 3, and the newly launched Huawei Ascend Y300 through Carphone Warehouse too, with very similar specs and software - and a lower price.

Is the Samsung Galaxy Fame the budget smartphone of choice?

The bottom line

If you’re already a loyal Vodafone customer, and you’re looking for a cheap option that still packs plenty of apps, the Vodafone Smart III is certainly a great choice, especially on Pay As You Go, so you don’t tie yourself down to a lengthy two year contract. It’s far from the only Android option in this price range - and not even the only smartphone OS option - though, so don’t be afraid to shop around for the one you want, there’s an incredible amount to be had for under £100 these days.

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Vodafone Smart III is tagged with Vodafone, smart III and Android. Select a tag (Vodafone, for example) to find everything on The Gadget Show about the subject.

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