By June 30, 2011

Vodafone 858 Smart Review

Vodafone 858 Smart The Vodafone 858 Smart is an entry level Android device from the network itself. The phone is entering a seriously crowded market with competition from the Samsung Galaxy Europa and the Orange San Francisco but what sets the device from the crowd is it’s extremely competitive price of £60.

The small Huawei-made handset may be cheap but does the price offset some of the relatively poor specs or is it worth spending a little more on a higher-spec device? Read on to see!

 

What’s in the box:

  • Vodafone Smart Device
  • Battery
  • Mains Charger
  • USB Cable
  • Wired Headset
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty Information

 

The Ten-Second Review:

  • Device: Vodafone 858 Smart
  • Price: £60
  • Summary:  A competitively priced device with great aesthetics and customisability with good build quality.
  • Best of: Android 2.2, Value for money, Build quality
  • Worst of: Camera quality, Screen
  • Buy it now from: Vodafone

 

Vodafone 858 Smart (Huawei U8160) specification:

  • Dimensions: 56.8 x 103.8 x 12.6 millimetres
  • Weight: 104 grams (battery included)
  • OS: Android 2.2
  • CPU: 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM7225
  • RAM 256 MiB,  ROM 512 MiB (accessible: 130 MiB)
  • Display: 2.8 ” Transflective TFT, Capacitive Touchscreen, 240 x 320 pixels
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Cellular_Networks: GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900, UMTS2100
  • Cellular:Data-Links: CSD, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA
  • microSD, microSDHC, TransFlash
  • USB: USB 2.0 client, 480Mbit/s
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1
  • Wireless LAN: 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n
  • Analog;Radio_Receiver: FM radio (87.5-108MHz) with RDS
  • Built-in GPS-module
  • Camera: 1.9 MP fixed focus
  • Battery Capacity: 1200 mAh

 

General:

On the left side we find nothing except a glimpse at the inwards angle that slopes at the bottom of the phone.

Vodafone 858 Smart-left

On the top there is 3.5mm Audio jack for headphones and power/lock button.

Vodafone 858 Smart top

To the right we find a volume rocker and small hole for a lanyard.

 Vodafone 858 Smart-right

The bottom houses the Micro USB port for charging and transferring data.

VodaSmart-bottom

The back contains the 1.9mp camera, without a flash, and a speaker grill.

VodaSmart-back

The front holds a speaker grill and below the 2.8″ screen we find four capacitive buttons and a small hole where the microphone is housed.

VodaSmart-front

 

Review

When hearing the phone would be priced at £60 it sent some worrying thoughts around my head about how they have saved money to make this device so cheap. However not all of these thoughts have materialised.

As you first pick up the device you notice its ergonomic design with its tapered edges make holding the device easy and as it has a very low weight, it’s not a huge weight in your bag or pocket. Although the device may be light, it’s worth noting that the build quality seems very good. The device does not creak went slightly bent and the plastic that the phone is constructed from feels sturdy and will probably withstand the occasional drop.

After going through the usual Android set up screen we are greeted with the standard Android lock screen and when unlocked a similarly standard Android home screen but what immediately stands out is the screen quality.

Lock

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Colours do not seem to pop from the screen and 320 x 240 pixels are inadequate as the wallpapers in particular are quite pixilated, however this may not be a huge deterrence as usually you won’t be staring at the wallpaper for hours on end.

The Smart comes with all the normal widgets that would be expected for Android 2.2 but Vodafone has added some such as the ‘Updates’ and ‘Manage connections,’ the first of which shows which applications have an update available on the Android Market and ‘Manage connections’ is a simple widget that allows you to turn off the Wi-Fi, mobile data and Bluetooth and also allowing you to adjust the brightness from the home screen which although useful, are not necessarily always co-operatives. Similarly Vodafone have added a couple of simple static wallpapers but as previously mentioned, these seem to exaggerate the poor screen. Also, live wallpapers are very much a no-go, the processor just cannot keep up with them sufficiently.

When using the Vodafone Smart for simple task such as messaging or just having a look around Facebook it perfectly adequate, although when using the device for heavier duties such as multi-tasking for example, browsing the web and loading a video on the YouTube application the device seems to slow to almost a snails pace but we have to keep in mind that as the device is only £60.

The browser is perfect for this type of device, simple and unobtrusive. Its easy to enter a website or search in the address bar at the top and a small option next to it to add the page your currently on as a book mark.

As a result its very easy to organise and view your book marks and re-arrange them to how you please. Your most visited pages and history is also available to be viewed and deleted.

040 042 045 browser

When the device is rotated the screen flips into landscape view allowing web pages to be viewed a little more easily. As pinch to zoom is not supported the tabs at the bottom are used which are perfectly fine although they will be frequently used as when its completely zoomed out the webpage is un-readable because of the low pixel count and the small screen.

Even though the device is on Android 2.2 it does not support flash which is mild disappointment but even if it did, I doubt the processor could keep up. Finally, the browser attempts text re-flow but does not always successfully achieve this.

The Vodafone Smart comes with both Facebook and Twitter already installed which are both great mobile version of the social networking sites.

Firstly the Facebook application includes most, if not all, of the features you would expect to find on the site itself. The application works from a central screen where you can view notifications and navigate to friends and to the news feed but what it also includes, which not all Facebook on Android applications have, which is the chat and places function so you can chat and log into an area. It also comes with a basic widget to write a status and view your friends recent status updates.

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The twitter application is a welcome addition to the phone, as it is not always found on devices although it is free on the Android market. The simple application includes a feed of all the latest tweets as well as mentions and the ability to write a new tweet.

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As the Vodafone smart runs Android it comes with the outstanding Google Maps application which has the entire globes mapped from a choice of views, examples of which can be satellite view or traditional view.

With the aid of the GPRS, the native Google navigation software is a breeze, allowing the user to easily replace the usual satellite navigation device. Bad luck TomTom.

maps maps2 maps3 maps4

Music is tackled with a very simple, yet functional, application. Towards the top we find four tabs which contain artist’s, albums, songs and playlists which allows us to search via each of these options. A shuffle feature is also available including an extra option of ‘party shuffle’

music

The Gallery application is where we can view pictures and videos on the device. It’s easy to categorise them for example mine are, Camera pictures, Camera media (videos), All pictures, and Facebook Pictures.

Once viewing the pictures it’s easy to upload to sites such as Facebook with just a quick press of a button. Also available are features such as ‘set as’, zoom, and delete functions.

Video playback on the YouTube client can also seem a little slow and can often lead to the audio being out of time making the whole experience a little frustrating. Also the small screen does not help as it seems to make everything a little out of scale.

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The Vodafone Smart comes with a very handy FM Radio which when connected to the headset is relative clear but can sometimes loose signal a little too easily for my liking. The software is simple and allows the user to quickly find a station.

radio

The Gmail application is standard on all Android devices, it is a very functional application however not everyone has a Gmail account as their main email. Despite this, it includes the capability to view your inbox and send e-mails, it’s even possible to manage more than one account which is very useful.

The second email app on the device is a more standard one, where you can enter pretty much any email and after a quick set up, you’re away. It comes with useful features such as viewing and sending emails.

mail

The calendar has a great look and feel to it, with options to the day week and month whilst adding reminders, including alarms, to remind you of your schedule. A very useful feature.

cal cal2

In my area, I tend to usually have low signal but the Vodafone smart has impressive antenna, improving my signal from usually a 2G one or two bar signal, to a outstanding four bars with 3G. Very good. The calling software is very easy to navigate, with large numbers and the ability to view the call log, contacts and your favourite contacts.

When actually calling someone, the quality is good, not outstanding but good. The voice on the other end can sometimes seem a little muffled but I guess its not all the phones fault.

dialer

Messaging can be slow and painful if using the ‘TouchPal’ keyboard that comes as standard on the device as it seems to be over complicated, however this is easily solved by switching to the default Android keyboard. The messaging software itself is simple yet effective, allowing to view in conversations and view information about the person that’s sending that text which is a useful feature to have.

kb keb

In short, the camera is what you would expect from an entry level phone; unimpressive. The pictures can often seem a little grainy and unclear, probably as a result of the lack of autofocus. However it does eliminate that frustrating wait for the picture to take, as it takes it very quickly although I would have preferred a dedicated camera shutter button opposed to the on screen button.  Video is also unsurprising, it’s not great and is almost pointless as the fixed focus camera can often just send everything into an uncontrollable blur.

cam test 2 cam test

On the other hand the software is pleasant surprise, it’s easy to use and extremely simple so when in a situation where you want to take a picture quickly its very good. It’s easy to zoom and there is also the option to change the white balance and picture size. Although, there is a pointless bezel that wastes valuable space on such a small screen.

cam UI

The news and weather application is a very welcomed addition to the handset. The application is made up of two tabs, one for weather and one for news. The weather side of it is very good looking, providing a six day forecast on your location, found by using the GPRS. The second tab holds the news side which shows links to the latest stories.

The battery life of the device is surprisingly impressive, with moderate use you can easily get two days off the device, but if a heavy user you’ll probably run out of just half way through the second day so could be worth charging every day. The 1200mAh battery is very suitable to this type of device.

In my opinion, this device is clearly aimed at a younger audience, because of the aesthetics and low cost. To make the device more appealing Vodafone has allowed the user to customise the back with pretty much anything they like for small cost of £10 pounds, a great accessory in my opinion, also could help if you lose it, for example putting your name on it would be a sensible thing to do.

VodaSmart-angled-right

Conclusion

Keeping the £60 price tag in mind, the Vodafone 858 Smart is very impressive. With great looks and surprising battery life it would be great for a teenager just starting out in the Android side of phones, a good step up from a feature phone also. The £60 price tag also allows it to become a spare phone, those who still need the features of Android if their main phone goes wrong. Overall I’m very impressed with device, although some quite major disappointments such as the camera and screen but still, I believe this device will sell very well.

 

Reviewed by: Charlie

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
Tags: , ,

About the Author:

Five year veteran of the site. BlackBerry specialist, but experienced in most operating systems. Enjoys flower arranging and cross stitch.
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