Vodafone Smart Tab N8 review

4G tablets don’t get much cheaper than this

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The Vodafone Smart Tab N8 is a very affordable 4G tablet, but not a great one. Its performance is compromised, the screen is pixelated, the design typical entry-level fodder and the cameras are uninspiring.

No-one ever claimed this was a disruptive master among tablets that could blast rivals twice the price, though. If you must have 4G it’s one of the cheapest options around, and the whole price isn’t that much greater than the 4G upgrade for an iPad.

However, it makes us miss the good old days of real bargain tablets like the Nexus 7 and Tesco Hudl 2. We don’t seem to have made much progress since then.

Who’s this for?

Want a cheap tablet? Demand 4G? Vodafone has its eyes on you. The cheapest iPad with 4G costs £469, showing why mobile internet tablets have remained a bit of a niche interest.

So this tablet is aimed at anyone who’s on a tight budget but wants speedy mobile data and a sizeable screen.

Should you buy it?

There are currently no fantastic 10-inch tablets at this price. The Acer, Asus and Lenovo models all have their issues, and none has 4G as standard.

We can’t give the Vodafone Smart Tab N8 a full recommendation because it’s not really any better than some models several years old. Tablet progress in this area is static. However, if you limit your expectations it can still be a lot of fun, and a good partner for boring journeys.

The Vodafone Smart Tab N8 isn't the only budget tablet you might want to consider. The following four are alternative options.

Lenovo Tab A10-30

The Lenovo Tab A10-30 is not a desperately interesting tablet. It has the same so-so power as the Vodafone tablet, dull design and a low-resolution screen. And it doesn’t have 4G to give it an edge either.

However, its battery life is much better, with a 7,000mAh cell that claims to last for up to 16 hours of video. That will be with the screen set to a fairly dim level, but it will easily outlast the Vodafone Smart Tab N8.

Amazon Fire HD 10

Amazon’s Fire HD series tablets are now known for their good value. The 10-inch version isn’t too much of a bargain, though. It’s more expensive than the Vodafone tablet but doesn’t have a higher-resolution screen or mobile internet. And not everyone likes the heavy-handed Amazon software.

It does have more power on tap than the Vodafone tablet though, as while its cores are from an older generation, it uses a couple that used to be the bedrock of high-end mobile device performance.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1

If you want to take the step up from the Vodafone Smart Tab N8, the biggest-name option outside of a far more expensive iPad is the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1. The 4G version is twice the price, but shows what you get with the next level up.

It has a far sharper 1200 x 1920 screen, an octa-core chipset, a much larger battery and better rear camera.

Huawei T1 Pro 8

This is an ancient tablet but is currently being sold at EE as the low-cost option for those who want a cheap connected tablet. It’s old and mostly past it, though.

Screen resolution is as low as the Vodafone tablet, the version of Android used is out of date and the CPU is even weaker. Due to the old Android version it may function reasonably well, but it’s hard to recommend a tablet with several old parts.

First reviewed: July 2017

Andrew Williams

Andrew is a freelance journalist and has been writing and editing for some of the UK's top tech and lifestyle publications including TrustedReviews, Stuff, T3, TechRadar, Lifehacker and others.