Vodafone Smart E8 setup and in-depth hands-on review

Our hands-on Vodafone Smart E8 review takes a detailed look at this £50 smartphone, one of the most affordable Android mobiles to be found in 2017.

The Vodafone Smart E8 is exceedingly easy on the wallet, costing just £50 if you pick it up SIM-free from the UK provider. Despite this you get the latest version of Android, as well as all of the usual smartphone functionality. Web browsing, media streaming, video recording; it’s all possible on the Smart, for about the same cost as your average round in a London pub.

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You might be considering this Voda-exclusive handset as a backup phone for festivals and other trips, or perhaps to give to your young ones to keep in touch. So is the Smart E8 actually a dependable mobile, despite that cheap asking price? Or should you consider the more expensive, but better-specced, Vodafone Smart N8 instead?

Check out our in-depth Smart E8 hands-on video at the bottom of this review, where you can see us unbox, setup and take a full tour of the phone. And if you want more recommendations for affordable smartphones, have a gander at our best budget mobiles round-up.

Hands-on Vodafone Smart E8 Review: Design

Unsurprisingly at this price point, the Smart E8 offers quite a simple, plastic design. That chunky blue frame weighs around 165g and measure 9.1mm thick, meaning you’ll immediately notice its heft and thickness when you pick it up. It’s not ungainly or anything, however, and certainly doesn’t feel cheap. There’s no flex or other weak points, for instance.

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The smooth plastic backing can be prised off, to reveal a battery that can also be removed and replaced. In addition you’ll find the SIM card and microSD memory card slots here, tucked neatly out of the way.

Overall, the Smart E8 doesn’t exactly scream sex. At the same time, given the £50 asking price, it’s hard to complain about the look or feel of Voda’s budget phone.

Hands-on Vodafone Smart E8 Review: Screen and media

That 5-inch LCD panel is pretty good for the price, offering a bright and reasonably crisp view of whatever you’re up to. You don’t get high-def visuals (the FWVGA resolution gives 195 pixels-per-inch), although images are still more than sharp enough for the occasional bit of YouTube action or some light Netflix viewing on the go.

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Of course, colours are quite muted and there’s no kind of night mode, for a more comfortable viewing experience in the evenings. Not too surprising at this price point. However, you do get full adaptive brightness, so the screen’s output is always clearly visible.

Although the Smart E8 offers a miserly 8GB of storage space, most of which is used up by the OS and pre-installed apps, Vodafone has thankfully added microSD memory card support. That means you can boost the available storage by a further 128GB, for your media and other files. Phew.

Hands-on Vodafone Smart E8 Review: Features

Despite the cheap asking price, the Vodafone Smart E8 boasts the latest version of Google’s Android OS, namely 7.1 Nougat. Check out our full guide to what is Android, as well as our Android Nougat review, to see all you need to know.

This is definitely a good handset choice for smartphone noobs and anyone who’s rather technophobic. Helpful tutorials talk you through every aspect of the Android interface, while there’s a Tips app that acts as a full virtual manual, if you need more help. You can even change to a ‘simple’ desktop if desired, with big icons and simplified functionality.

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If you want more premium features such as a fingerprint sensor, you’ll need to up your budget to £85 for Vodafone’s Smart N8 handset. The E8 has no such security support. The Smart N8 also boasts some really great parental control features, including the ability to remotely track the handset and set limitations on what your kid can get up to. These are missing in action on this cheaper phone, so again parents should perhaps consider spending a little more.

However, the Smart E8 does at least offer 4G connectivity. So you can browse the web at a nippy pace and stream video without staring at a spinning buffer animation for ages.

Hands-on Vodafone Smart E8 Review: Cameras

On the back of the Smart E8 you’ll find a 5-megapixel fixed focus camera with single-tone LED flash, which can capture basic everyday snaps as well as up to 720p HD video.

The camera is a reasonably quick snapper, with a few bonus modes and features built in. For instance, you get a timelapse video mode, for shooting greatly speeded-up clips. You also have filters to play with and a full manual mode, to tweak the likes of white balance and ISO levels. There’s even an HDR mode, which can help out with tricky contrast.

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Around the front of the Smart E8 is a 2-megapixel shooter that can capture basic selfies on demand. Not bad for a simple snap to share online.

Hands-on Vodafone Smart E8 Review: Unboxing, setup and full tour

We’ve shot a lengthy video of our first half hour or so with the Vodafone Smart E8, which shows the full setup process and the general everyday experience. We take a tour of the user interface and some of the main phone features, including the camera tech and the settings.

Check it out below.