With Vodafone near on dominating the cheaper end of the mobile industry with their sleek, moderately powerful handsets, it’s no surprise that they wanted to have some kind of shift to a more premium look and feel to their 2016 models.  The Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 has definitely taken influence from its cheaper brother the Smart Ultra 6, but has improved on the specifications somewhat to appeal to their customers who want to match the higher tier Samsung’s and iPhones, without paying the price.

So let’s talk about the design. It’s essentially covered in Gorilla Glass, with a silver metal banding wrapped around the outside of the handset. It has a very similar look to the Samsung S6 series. The deep black colour looks absolutely stunning, but be warned, this phone is an absolute fingerprint magnet. The black colour doesn’t do well to hide that fact. But apart from that, the Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 looks stunning.

When the phone is locked it looks like one solid colour. There are no protruding buttons on the front of the phone. The only buttons that stick out is the power/lock and volume up and down switch on the side of the phone. These side buttons are covered in a mesh-like pattern so your finger doesn’t slide when trying to press them. On the top left side you will find a button used as a shutter button for your camera. Double press the button on any app or screen and it will automatically open the camera app. On the left you will also find a port for your microsim and microSD card for expandable memory, which is a negative found in most handsets on the market at the moment. It’s nice to see that Vodafone has listened to complaints and included this feature in their phone.

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A very similar feature to the Samsung S6 we’ve found is actually holding the phone. Being completely coated in glass makes for a very slippery handset. It will require some concentration keeping this handset secure in your hand. The shame is that it looks so good. It’ll be a shame to wrap it in some kind of skin or case for ease of use. There is a finger print sensor on the back of the device just under the camera. Now while this is great for fast unlocking, placement I found was a little awkward coming from a Samsung S6 where the sensor is on the front. It required me to bend my finger unnaturally to reach it, which can put the phone at risk of drops.

While the design is on point, it’s no surprise that Vodafone has continued this trend into the internal specs. The display boats a resolution of 2560×1440 with a 534 ppi density. They’re using a QuadHD technology which means colours pop and text is super sharp to read. If you’re a video buff then this is definitely one of the best handsets at this price point on the market. Even HD video through YouTube looked surprisingly sharp, even after the compression that YouTube puts on top of their uploads.

For a mid-range phone, performance wise the Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 worked really well. There were on odd occasion a micro-second of stutter while everything caught up with itself, especially during gaming. However, this wasn’t at all intrusive, and the phone went on with its smooth motion almost instantaneously after a stutter. Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 running with eight cores at 1.8 GHz. Graphics processing is put on the shoulders of an Adreno 510 chip. So not bad. GeekBench 3.0 threw back a score of 682 on a single-core and 2238 on multi-cores. GFXBench 3.0 Manhatten gave us a score of 316.7 frames at 5.1 frames per second. Even our testing of Real Racing 3 showed smooth motion.

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Camera performance was extremely surprising for a mid-range handset. The 16-megapixel sensor built into the Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 may not be the most dense sensor on the market, but the phone, when it works captures some nice quality shots. Although this doesn’t happen every time. In some instances we found that colours were dulled down and lost some sharpness. Most of the time it was on point but some instances were just not good. HDR technology does help with most photographs though. We used this mode most of the time throughout our testing because it produced some great results.

Low-light photography in all honesty is an absolute write off. If you’re wanting to take pictures in dark settings, then this phone definite isn’t for you. The photos we produced were very noisy, probably due to the slower shutter speed the Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 decides to use combined with the higher ISO levels. The font-facing 8-megapixel snapper will work well enough for a sharp Instagram selfie, but don’t expect to get a photography style portrait quality from it.

A nice feature is the 4K video ability. Colours pop and are balanced really well and quality is generally there most of the time. Videos look smooth and the built-in image stabilisation worked well enough for someone who wants to pull out their phone and start shooting. Timelapse and slow-motion settings are also fun to play around with, especially at higher resolutions.

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The Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 for us lasted easily a day of moderate use with a little juice left for the morning. Having the Qualcomm processor means Vodafone has taken advantage of a quick-charge technology. The phone managed to get from 0-50% within 30 minutes and to full charge it took around an hour and a half. Very quick for those of you who would charge your phone over a coffee in Starbucks.

Vodafone has done a pretty good job on this smartphone. Retailing at around £300, or £30 on a Vodafone contract, people who don’t want to spend the earth on a new mobile this is a handset I would look into. It handled all the apps we threw at it very well, and even the higher-quality games we played were smooth. It’s fast enough for the most common needs out of a mobile phone. The camera was a little disappointing at times, but if you can look past that, Vodafone has developed one of the best mid-range phones on the market at this time. All prices we quoted are correct at time of writing this review, so bear that in mind.

 

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Stef Murphy

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