It isn’t perfect, but Vodafone’s budget-friendly phone is too good to be overlooked, says Noel Campion.
Vodafone own brand phones continue to improve in both quality and specs and yet maintain their budget-friendly prices. I’ve been checking out the Vodafone Smart V10 and Smart N10 over the last few weeks and although these are budget phones, the Smart V10 definitely punches above its weight.
Of course, these are Vodafone only phones, so you’ll have to be on their network, but at €150 for the Smart V10 and €110 for the Smart N10 on PAYG or for free on bill pay, you’re getting a lot for your euro.
Neither phone can compete with top-end flagships, so don’t look at these as an alternative. Just bear in mind that most flagships cost anything from €800 upwards.
Yes, they’re more powerful, have premium materials and incredible cameras, but not everyone will see a benefit in spending all that extra cash. If you’re one of these people then keep reading.
The Smart V10 is a modern looking phone with a stylish design that features a dew-drop cutout for the front facing camera, a red power button and a dual camera system on the back with LED flash.
Unlike a lot of flagships, it does have a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top edge. Although this is a 5.9-inch LCD display, the bezels are pretty small although there is a large chin beneath the bottom of the screen. The body is plastic composite with a chrome finish that looks great and my review unit is the Chrome Pewter finish.
The HD+ 5.9-inch screen is in the 19:9 aspect ratio and it’s one of the brightest displays I’ve used on a budget phone. It also looks sharp and has punchy, vibrant colours.
On the back is a dual 13-megapixel and 5-megapixel rear camera array and the phone is powered by the Snapdragon 429 processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of expandable storage. This can be increased via a microSD card if you need more storage.
The phone feels great in the hand, but is slippery, so a case is a must. It’s tall aspect ratio means it’s narrow, but as a result those with smaller hands will find it more difficult to use one-handed because it’s difficult to reach from the top to the bottom with your thumb.
Even though the V10 is a budget phone, I’d prefer to see a USB-C charging port rather than the micro-USB that’s present. We’re seeing most devices move to USB-C now and the benefits of faster charging, a reversible connection and faster data transfer speeds are hard to ignore. To be fair, this isn’t a deal-breaker for most, but it would have been nice.
Although not the most powerful, the Snapdragon 429 processor does a great job of running Android 9 smoothly as long as you don’t leave tons of apps open and make sure you leave enough spare space on the 32GB of internal storage.
Of course, there are advantages of using a less powerful processor in a phone and the main one is battery life. For a phone of this type a 3,400mah battery is on the large size and I didn’t have a problem getting through a heavy days usage.
With light use, you should be able to take this to nearly two days before reaching for the charger.
Where most budget phones take the biggest hit on quality is in the cameras, but the V10 manages to pull off having two cameras on the rear for improved portraits using the second camera for depth sensing duties.
The results in good light are decent, but like any budget phone, it will struggle in lower light. The front snapper is 8MP and it too has a portrait mode.
Overall, the rear cameras do a good job at capturing pleasing images that have good detail and manage to get the exposure correct. In low light, it really struggles and the results are generally soft, thanks to aggressive noise reduction being applied.
Video is also above average and although there’s no 4K you can capture up 1080p at 30fps.
If the Smart V10 is still too expensive for you then check out the Smart N10, which sports an impressive 5.7” HD+, 19:9, notched, edge-to-edge display and a nice grippy back that won’t slip out of your hand easily.
The rear camera has a more than capable 8MP sensor while the front selfie shooter is a 5MP.
With only 2GB RAM, a MediaTek quad-core MT6761 processor the N10 isn’t as fast or as powerful as the V10. It only has 16GB of internal memory and an additional SD card slot for up to 256GB, but the 2,900mAh battery will see you through two days of use.