The Vodafone 858 Smart is a Vodafone branded smart phone running Android 2.2.
When you think smart phone you may well think iPhone – and if you were to compare those to this you would be very disappointed. But of course this phone is not designed to be anything like the market leaders. This is an entry level smart phone, a basic one, aimed at the pay as you go market where price is important. But it appears to offer all the functionality you would expect from a smart phone including GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
First impressions for me were that this phone is small and light, and is a nice shape to hold. The 2.8 inch capacitive touch screen fills most of the front, but there are fixed navigation buttons at the bottom which are useful (and vibrate slightly when activated which is a nice touch). I had the white version although you can buy customised covers for it from Vodafone – they replace the back of the phone much like you used to do with the old Nokias and mean you can have a phone that is obviously yours.
The display is very low resolution (just 240×320) which makes text hard to read unless you zoom in a long way – the edges of letters and images are not sharp. Oh and you can’t pinch to zoom, you have to use the fixed button at the bottom, which is a bit more clunky than I’d like. The whole display feels quite cramped, there just doesn’t seem to be enough space on the screen for everything, especially when you’ve got the keyboard open because it takes up at least the bottom half.
The controls and menus are intuitive and easy to use. You can’t go wrong finding your way around. But the phone is slow. One particularly frustrating thing was that it took 2.5 seconds to change the orientation of the screen when going from landscape to portrait. Far too slow to be useful. I also found that typing was hugely delayed in some apps – such as in messaging – it seems to take an age for the phone to catch up with the letters you are tapping. But in notepad there is no delay, much better.
Having said that, other things are surprisingly responsive such as Androids normal menus and the notifications screen. Vodafone have not customised the operating system much so you are getting Android “proper”, which is good, and there are a number of apps ready-installed on the phone such as Twitter and Facebook. You also have access to Android Market of course where there are many (many many) downloadable apps, but you are quite limited on storage because despite the expandable memory via a Micro SD card slot apps need to put some information directly on the phone, which soon fills up.
I downloaded a few games and decided time would be well spent trying to play Angry Birds. I admit I was expecting the Vodafone Smart to fail miserably at running the game, but actually it didn’t do a bad job. Not being able to pinch to zoom was a pain, but the phone managed to let me get through a good number of levels before I got bored. The issue the phone did have was playing the music – it was the thing the phone dropped when it was using all its processing power to make the graphics work. So not totally successful but ok.
I took a few photos with the build in camera which like the other built in apps is easy and intuitive to use. It has a miniscule 2 megapixel camera which really is an apology for quality – I’m sure Vodafone could have done better even with the low price point aim. Getting the pictures onto my computer was easy using the included USB cable (which also connects the phone to the mains charger) and equally as easy to email by using the share button within the camera app. The photos I took weren’t totally rubbish (the two above haven’t been edited in any way), but not focussed well and very noisy. I definitely wouldn’t bother in low light as the noise takes over the shot. They are probably ok to share on twitter or Facebook, but they’re not good enough for a photo book.
When I used the phone on and off the battery seemed to last a few days, and when I used it for a full day instead of my own phone I found it just about made it to bed time. I think that’s pretty standard these days – we expect a lot from our batteries – and I would be happy to charge it each night.
Unfortunately I can’t comment on the phone’s 3G capability because it wasn’t working on the loan model I had, but it was easy to connect to Wi-Fi and happily remembered passwords and connected automatically whenever I was in range. Signing in (and out of) my Gmail account (which is needed for some apps and to use the Market) was really easy, likewise with Facebook and twitter and other accounts.
And because it’s a phone I should mention voice calls… Clear and easy to make, but I had to unlock the phone to hang up – a bit silly.
Splodz Blogz Verdict
The Vodafone 858 Smart is a nicely designed entry level smart phone, ideal for those who haven’t had a smart phone before or those who are looking for something at a low price point (just £65 on pay as you go). But it is slow, lacks storage, and don’t bother using the camera if you want decent photos. The covers mean you can have a truly personalised handset on the outside, and the Android operating system and apps mean you can do just about everything you want on the inside. It’s a basic smart phone that does the job it sets out to do with no bells and whistles. This is not going to help anyone wanting a phone for work or heavy use, but would be ideal for teenagers wanting a first smart phone without spending a fortune.