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Vodafone's first attempt at a premium smartphone is an unqualified success. The Smart Platinum 7 offers decent build quality, strong performance, near-stock Android 6.0 and a great screen – all for just £300.
Vodafone has boldly labelled its latest phone 'premium', and it's largely worthy of the description. The Smart Platinum 7's design is all metal and glass, representing a big leap forward in quality from previous efforts.
But the phone's stand-out feature has to be its 5.5-inch QHD Super AMOLED display. Large, crisp and vibrant, it's one of the better screens at this price point.
That display is the perfect canvas for a virtually stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS. There might be plenty of Chinese phones with similar specs and prices, but few offer such a pure user experience.
A few small niggles betray the Vodafone Smart Platinum 7's low price, and the network's lack of experience at this end of the market.
Its fingerprint sensor, for example, is somewhat hit and miss – it's both difficult to locate in a pinch and not quite consistent enough to slip seamlessly into your regular routine, and it's occasionally annoying.
Also, while Vodafone has avoided tinkering too much with the Android OS, it has still included some substandard apps and irritating widgets that need to be dealt with early on.
Vodafone has delivered on its promise of a premium smartphone experience for a less-than-premium price. The Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 might not be up there with the top performers in any one area, but it's far closer to the top flagships than it is to the mid-range also-rans in the areas where it really matters.
The design is solid, if somewhat unremarkable, it's fast and responsive, and the Smart Platinum 7's screen is one of the best you'll get for the money. Meanwhile, small touches like front-facing stereo speakers and a dedicated camera button help it stand out from the crowd.
The only downsides, really, are related to the usual misgivings we have about any network-restricted phone. That said, Vodafone has kept its tinkering to a minimum in this well-judged package.
First reviewed: July 2016