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Vodafone Smart 4 Mini review
Skrimping on features to save you money

It's hard to invest emotion in the Vodafone Smart 4 Mini in the same way as you would the HTC One M8 or iPhone 5S.

This budget handset fills a completely different need and, truth be told, fills it quite well. There's no need to sign up to a lengthy contract and because of the extremely low up-front cost, it's unlikely you'll suffer any buyer's remorse after you've bought it.

This isn't a phone you treasure and use every day, but it is a suitable alternative during a trip abroad or for a child to use as their first phone. Everything revolves around the low price tag and I think it's great to see that smartphones have become so affordable.

We liked

The price tag on the Vodafone Smart 4 Mini makes it particularly attractive, as does the decent battery life and the fact that it has full Google certification.

The addition of a microSD card slot is also a very positive inclusion because if Vodafone hadn't offered the extra space then the 4GB on-board storage would be a huge hindrance to using this phone. And, apart from Vodafone's own apps, the lack of preinstalled bloatware is also refreshing.

The design, while basic, isn't hugely off-putting and the build quality isn't bad either. The phone is light and the 4-inch screen means you can use it easily with one hand.

We disliked

Unfortunately, that same 4-inch screen also means that using the keyboard and certain apps is a bit frustrating if you're used to larger screens on more premium handsets.

I also disliked the camera and the lack of a flash, although given the price point, I'm happy to overlook the omission of a front-facing camera. Nokia has shown that a budget handset doesn't have to compromise on the camera and the Finnish firm's excellent Nokia Lumia 520 is a good reminder of this.

Verdict

The Vodafone Smart 4 Mini is far from the best Android handset on the market. The £50 price tag should tell you all you need to know about this phone. It offers just enough in terms of performance and features to make it a worthwhile investment as a second handset or an emergency stopgap between models.

The real difficulty lies in the fact that, if you're on a budget, there's any number of similar handsets, like the Moto E, ZTE Blade Q Mini or Samsung Galaxy Fame to choose from. Then, if you're willing to spend a little more you can get the Motorola Moto G which is better in every single way.

Ultimately then, you won't be disappointed by the Vodafone Smart 4 Mini as long as you pick it up with the full understanding of what the £50 is buying you.

If you need a spare, practically disposable, handset for making occasional calls, browsing or giving to the kids so they can check Facebook then there's nothing about the Vodafone Smart 4 Mini that should put you off.

First reviewed: May 2014