Vodafone Ireland very kindly sent us out their latest own brand Smart 3 device which is geared towards those who can’t afford the monstrously prices high end devices. The Smart 3 will set you back €99 on PAYG and can be purchased here.
The Smart 3 is a similar looking device to the HTC One S but with a raised bezel, on the lower part of the device just off the screen is a red notification light which looks well. There are also your typical 3 capacitive buttons, all standard issue.
The entire frame of the device actually peels away to reveal the inner back cover which can be removed to find the battery, sim card and SD card slots. Vodafone are also provided two plastic inserts which change the look and feel of the device, this back to Nokia Xpress-On covers. This is a nice touch and may go somewhat to luring in the 13-17yr old demographic.
The Smart 3 is running Android Jelly Bean 4.1 and its the stock edition with no skins or anything like that, this is a good thing in this lower end hardware.
Vodafone of course have added their own apps to the device for aiding you in keeping up to date with all your Vodafone account services.
Lining the Smart 3 up side by side with any of the more main stream Androids and you will see that at least on paper the Smart 3 is completely under powered and out gunned. There’s a 1GHz processor (single core), 512MB of RAM and just 4GB of storage so you will not be installing a huge amount of apps on here. But if you think about it, the Smart 3 has a lower resolution screen at 800×480-pixel and one that never really gets that bright so performance is snappy enough.
When you first boot the device however you will notice considerable lag until everything is fully up and running, think Windows 95 days when you had to wait for all the processes to wake up.
But for a single core device with only 512mb of Ram which is really close to the Android limit its not too bad.
In terms of bench marking the Smart 3 scored a terrible 4751 and AnTuTu which puts it second last only just slightly ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S. We did find however that coming from a similarly priced device such as the Nokia Lumia 520 apps felt really slow especially Twitter. This is not so much a problem with specs on the hardware but more an OS issue, Windows Phone is slick and performance rock steady no matter what the spec.
The screen as mentioned is 4″ and has a resolution of 800×480 pixels which is enough to keep things looking just about crisp enough but just don’t get too close.
Many of you may find the virtual keyboard very cramped as we did but we are very used to 4.5″ screens at a minimum these days, and you can always install a different keyboard if needed.
We found that the screen was very dim even when taking the settings to full brightness, this may help the battery life but does not lend to a nice looking eye popping screen.
The Smart 3 features a 5mp camera which can shoot video at 720p but does not feature a front facing camera so this is not for those of you who like to Skype or use video chat services.
The image quality is just okay, you wont be replacing your standard point and shoot but remember this is a €99 device.
Video play back is not too bad at lower resolutions but the phone can’t really handle playing back 720p and sound, the frame rate will get very choppy.
The Smart 3 has a 1500mAh which is not too bad but it is limiting your on time but considering that this device is not top end and is only single core then you should at least make it from 8am to 10pm with light to moderate use.
So the Vodafone Smart 3 on PAYG with Vodafone Ireland for €99, a budget phone packed with Android Jelly Bean goodness but limiting hardware.
But who is this phone for, its for people who are entering into the smartphone sector for the first time or upgrading from much older low end Androids.
My own thoughts on this device is that if you have never owned a smartphone and this your first time, spend a little bit more and get a Lumia 520 from Vodafone for €109.99. The Smart 3 is very much aimed at the Lumia 520 as a competitor but despite similar specs Android just does not perform as well as Microsoft’s OS at this level.