I was approached by Vodafone who wanted to know if I’d like to try out their latest tablet, the Smart Tab 4G. As I always enjoy
playing with testing new technology I said “yes please”. Vodafone were keen to promote the fact that the Smart Tab 4G is available on their Red 4G plans, which are currently offering a NOW TV Entertainment pass to new customers. So this opportunity gave me the chance to try out two new things – the tablet and the NOW TV service. This review will focus on the tablet, and I will talk about the NOW TV service in a future post.
As far as specifications go, the Vodafone Smart Tab 4G looks good on paper. It has an 8 inch multitouch HD display, with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels. It is powered by a 1.2 GHz Quad-Core processor, and runs Android 4.4 (KitKat) – not the most recent version of Android, but still perfectly acceptable. It has two cameras – a rear-facing 5MP one and a front-facing 2MP. It comes with 8Mb of storage built in, but this can be supplemented by adding a micro SD card with up to 64Mb. Interestingly for a tablet of this class (but not surprisingly, given that this is produced by Vodafone) the tablet also has a SIM card slot, and will support the highest network speeds available in the UK – 4G.
What will probably interest my readers the most is the price of this tablet. It is available from Vodafone on either a Pay Monthly or a Pay As You Go (PAYG) plan. Pay Monthly prices vary based on the amount of data allocation you want per month, and start from £17 per month for 1Gb data, with a £19 up front cost. But where I think this tablet gets interesting is the Pay As You Go Price – you can buy this tablet from Vodafone with no ongoing contract commitment for just £125, which includes 6Gb of data allocation (valid for 60 days). This puts this tablet into a very affordable price bracket, and actually makes it slightly cheaper than the popular Hudl 2.
In operation this tablet feels very much like any other Android tablet. It comes with a few Vodafone-specific apps pre-installed, but they’re not invasive and can mostly be uninstalled if you don’t want them. All the Vodafone-specific content is rolled into the Vodafone Discover app, which gives you the ability to check your data usage, key device status information and Vodafone promotional information. Also pre-installed on the tablet are a couple of productivity apps – Peel Smart Remote which turns the tablet into a remote control for your television, and Kingsoft Office which brings Microsoft Office compatible document editing to the tablet.
Most importantly for me, the tablet accesses the Google Play store, which means you have access to the huge number of apps there.
The Vodafone Smart Tab 4G definitely doesn’t feel like a budget tablet in use. It is responsive, and coped with everything I could throw at it. My “go to” test game for Android devices is Extreme Car Driving Simulator, which played well enough on this tablet for the geekdaddy to waste most of an evening “testing”!
My only slight disappointment with the tablet is that the Android multi-user support introduced in the Jelly Bean operating system is not enabled. Having done some reading around this I would guess it is because the tablet has the 4G functionality, and therefore counts as a “cellular device”, and for some reason cellular devices aren’t able to use the multi-user accounts in Android. However this doesn’t mean this wouldn’t make a good family tablet – as I’ve mentioned before I like the Kid Mode app to provide parental controls on an Android device, and that app works with this tablet.
Overall I have been pleasantly surprised by the Vodafone Smart Tab 4G. It feels well-made and sturdy, and is lighter than some other tablets in its class that I have handled. It performs well as a budget Android device. My general advice to people has been to stay away from tablets with built-in 4G because you can usually use free WiFi or tether the device to your phone to avoid having multiple data contracts, and you can save money by buying a WiFi-only model. However, Vodafone have managed to price the Smart Tab 4G very competitively including the data connection. I think the PAYG option is a great buy – a well-priced tablet, with the option of adding a PAYG data SIM as and when you need it.
You can find out more about the Smart Tab 4G over on the Vodafone web site.
Disclosure: I was loaned a Vodafone Smart Tab 4G and given a month’s free access to NOW TV for review purposes. All opinions are my own.