Vodafone Smart 4 Max review

A 4G-ready smartphone at a friendly price

Vodafone Smart 4 Max review

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As mentioned in the intro, the key selling point of the Vodafone Smart 4 Max is its unique combination of size and affordable price.

At £125 on PAYG, the Smart 4 Max is £25 cheaper than our current top budget smartphone pick, the Motorola Moto G. Despite this, the Smart 4 Max comes with a significantly larger 6-inch display.

You can complain all you like about the ballooning size of smartphone displays. The fact remains, people like large-screened phones, and with more and more phone owners using their device as their primary means of web access, I can understand why.

Vodafone Smart 4 Max review

That being said, I found the Vodafone Smart 4 Max's 6-inch display to be over the top. I have longer than average fingers, but I couldn't stretch my thumb across to the other side of the display when holding it in one hand. Needless to say, my straining digit fell far short of the top area of the screen, too.

That's my own personal preference for how large I like my phones, of course, and your mileage will no doubt vary. If you're happy to use both hands to operate your phone at pretty much all times, then this won't be an issue.

Of course, the side-effect of having such a large screen is that the pixels are more stretched out than in a 'normal'-sized phone. Sure enough, the Smart 4 Max's display isn't very sharp at all.

Vodafone Smart 4 Max review

We're talking about a 720p resolution here, which would be perfectly adequate in a 5-inch display, and could even still be considered a high-end spec in anything smaller than that (see the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact or the Samsung Galaxy Alpha).

Here, though, everything feels a little indistinct and fuzzy, with a pixel density of just 245ppi. That's particularly noticeable when you boot up one of those web pages that are presumably meant to sing on such a big phone.

Colours and viewing angles are fine, thanks to the fact that this is an IPS display, but the maximum brightness setting feels a little miserly. You'll want to crank it right up from the off, particularly if you spend any amount of time outside.

Another key feature of the Vodafone Smart 4 Max – which again needs to be placed in the context of that price – is its 4G capability. Admittedly, being able to connect to the UK's growing LTE network is no longer a particularly big deal, even for a cheaper phone.

Vodafone Smart 4 Max review

Still, it's a welcome feature in a £125 phablet – which, as I've discussed, is intended for web and media consumption on the go. Just what you want a 4G network for, in other words.

As mentioned in previous Vodafone Smart reviews, the very fact that this is a Vodafone handset might limit this 4G capability somewhat. While it's improving all the time, Vodafone's 4G coverage isn't as good as EE's, so if you're looking to sign up (particularly in rural areas), check the network's coverage first.

Another component that you don't often find on affordable phones is NFC. While mobile payments haven't quite taken off as we all hoped, it makes sharing contact details and pairing with devices that much easier if you or the other party have the gear to match.

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