Vodafone have done quite well with their own-branded smartphones. I have been living with the Smart Platinum 7 which is something different from Voda. This is pitched more at the mid-range rather than entry level devices.
We had a look at the Smart Ultra 7 and was impressed by its design and price tag combo.
The Smart Platinum 7 gives the specs a bump but still tries to maintain its affordability.
Has Vodafone managed this tricky tightrope act?
Smart Platinum 7 design
Unpacking the Smart Plat 7 I was impressed by its initial look and feel. I actually handed it over to a work colleague and asked him to guess the maker. His jaw dropped when I revealed its from Vodafone’s own stable.
The Smart Platinum 7 is a sleek and stylish 5.5-inch screened smartphone. It certainly has a premium feel thanks to its metal and glass chassis.
The rear of the phone has a carbon-fibre effect patterning. Perhaps not as slick as the Honor 8 but it still looks good. At least it saves it from the bland, flat back of all the rest.
Whilst at the rear you’ll notice the fingerprint scanner below the camera. I love this placement.
There are neat design touches such as the antenna lines merging into the metallic black edges. Also, the texture on the buttons. This just goes to prove what can be, and needs to be, done to get yourself noticed in such a packed arena.
A favourite feature of mine, the device is packing a pair of front-facing speakers. These are located at the top and bottom, hidden behind mesh grilles.
Size and weight
The Smart Platinum 7 tips the scales at 155g. To me this is a reassuring weight as I can tell I have a phone in my pocket and it feels sturdy.
The phone measures 154 x 76 x 6.9mm. So it is smaller and thinner than one of the most popular 5.5-inch displayed phones, the iPhone 7 Plus which is 158 x 77.9 x 7.3.
Smart Platinum 7 performance
The octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor is straight out of the mid-tier cookbook.
The chipset comprises four A72 1.8GHz cores and four A53 1.2GHz cores, complemented by 3GB of RAM.
Granted, I am comparing it with 2015 handsets, but I know a number of people still rocking the S6, as well as the used prices being asked for them.
Performance is as slick as the phone looks. There is no lag when flicking between apps and screens. All transitions are nice and smooth.
Multi-tasking was also handled deftly.
The speakers did a sterling job here.
The fingerprint scanner is on the back which I think is the ideal placement. The scanner is the same size as the Honor 8‘s but there’s no recess. This makes aiming your finger at the pad a tad tricky for the first few times. Other than that, I had no real issues with using it to unlock the device.
The handset includes NFC, so contactless payments are possible using Vodafone’s Tap & Pay. It also made setting up a breeze as tapping my Nexus and the Smart Plat 7 together transferred most of what I needed.
The QHD (2,560×1,440 pixels) AMOLED display is vibrant and sharp (534ppi). The blacks are impressively deep. This was another feature that wowed all that saw it.
Here you get ‘adaptive’, ‘vivid’ and ‘natural’ display modes to choose from.
Vodafone’s version of an always-on display (ambient display) lights things up when the phone’s in standby mode. This means you can see notifications and the like without having to wake the phone up completely.
Images taken in daylight are rich and full of detail thanks to the generous 16MP f/2.0 lens. Low light is handled fairly well too in most cases, as long as you have a steady hand.
There is some noticeable lag when using HDR but this is not really a deal breaker for me.
The lack of optical image stabilisation (OIS) is the biggest trick that the Smart Plat 7 is missing. If you’re used to having this then your pics with this device can come out a bit blurry. This is sorted by taking a little more time with your photos.
The snaps above are all taken without flash in mostly low-light environments. I have not tweaked them at all just so you can see how the camera handles sub-optimal lighting conditions.
The front-facing 8MP camera is pretty decent. The camera will pick out details well in decent levels of natural light, but did struggle in low or diffused light.
I do like the gesture control for selfie mode though. The shutter countdown is triggered by holding your palm towards the lens.
Vodafone has bundled a selection of its own apps and functionality, such as enhanced calling and integrated messaging.
Smart Lock is quite neat as it keeps the handset unlocked when it knows it’s safe about your person.
This app makes calls more interactive and personal by letting you add content as you speak.
- Mark your call as important
- Notify the recipient of the reason for your call
- Add your current location
- Include photos and videos
- Switch to a video call
- Send voice notes or post-call messages
- Use call logs to access any of the messages, photos and videos you’ve shared during previous conversations
Vodafone Message+ is a hassle-free way to stay in touch with your friends through text, chat or group conversations.
If you use Whatsapp or similar then Message+ might not be that useful for you.
The Smart Platinum 7 boasts a very clean take on Android 6.0 Marshmallow despite the Vodafone-specific features. I actually prefer this to Sammy’s TouchWiz.
Vodafone Red Value bundle
If you grab the Vodafone Smart platinum 7 and a Vodafone Red Value Bundle – you can choose from Spotify Premium, Sky Sports Mobile TV or a NOW TV Entertainment Pass and watch some of this month’s hottest entertainment at home or on the go.
The front-firing speakers do pretty well with both movies and music.
Battery and storage
The Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 comes with a long lasting 3,000mAh battery. This will get all but the heaviest users through a full day.
The Smart Plat 7 has 32GB of storage which is pretty much standard. You can boost that by another 128GB via microSD if should you need more.
Smart Platinum 7 review conclusion
Vodafone should be pretty pleased with themselves. The Smart Platinum 7 is a real jewel in the own-brand crown.
It looks and feels great and it does not skimp on the spec sheet either.
The Smart Platinum 7 will certainly give other sub-£300 smartphones a good run for their money.
Smart Platinum 7 price and availability
The Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 comes in at a very affordable £295 (SIM-free).
As mentioned before, the Red Value Bundle is £30 per month for 24 months with no upfront cost. That gives you 2GB of data, unlimited texts and calls including roaming. You also get 6 months at half price.
If you get the 5GB Red Value Bundle (£34 per month) then you get 6 month’s subscription to Now TV, Spotify or Sky Sports, Netflix, etc. This entertainment pack is worth £9.99 per month.