Vodacom Smart Tab 3G – A tablet in every pocket

image0029Vodacom’s second branded Android device, behind the Smart Kicka entry-level smartphone, is the Smart Tab 3G, a 7-inch tablet that comes in at a price point that just about everyone can afford. If you’re looking to go pre-paid then Vodacom’s hardware will set you back a grand, otherwise it’ll start off at R59 per month on a 500GB Top-Up contract (up to a max of of around R160pm for 3GB of data a month).

Read More: Entry-level Android Phones

Vodacom are obviously hoping to put more tablets in the hands of users in SA and this pretty darned low-cost effort is their delivery method. It’s not the highest spec piece of hardware you’ll encounter but it’s definitely one of the cheapest.

Made for SA

Encased in black plastic, the only available colour for this 7-inch tablet, the Vodacom Smart Tab 3G actually feels like an oversized smartphone, putting us in mind of the early Galaxy Note phablet devices. The feel isn’t premium, in the traditional sense but it’s well enough made for its price.

Lightly-textured backing, a slight bulge over the camera lens and a flap-covered pair of ports for the microSIM and microSD cards adorns the right-hand side. The audio jack and charging port live at the top of the tablet while the left-hand side is home to the volume rocker and power button.

Vodacom Smart Tab 3G

Tech Specs

Display: 7-inch TFT (960 x 540), 157ppi
Chipset/CPU: 1.3GHz dual-core (512MB RAM)
Storage: 4GB, up to 32GB external
Camera: 2MP/0.3MP (front)
Connectivity: , WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, 3G
Battery: 2,840mAh Li-Ion
Operating System: Android 4.4.2
SIM Card: Micro-SIM
Features: Zulu language support
Dimensions: 190mm x 107 x 10 (approx. values)

Internal Processes

The low-end CPU and RAM allocation are a contributor to the screen lag that we’ve seen in the Smart Tab 3G. Something as simple as swapping between menus will have a noticeable lag, though in all fairness this doesn’t happen all the time.

There’s a mere 4GB of storage fitted to the tablet from the outset, with 2GB available for use. We can upgrade that if we wish, with another 32GB using the microSD port. The battery is an all-day 2,840mAh lithium ion affair that should get you through whatever tasks you want to put the Android 4.4.2 system through.

WiFi and 3G access is speedy though, this is an area that matches up to other, more, expensive hardware. Since the main aim of a tablet is to allow you to browse the web from any room in the house (streaming everything on the planet is optional), this makes a lot of sense. But even thought the other hardware isn’t from the top of a roster it’s still suitable enough to power this little 7-incher.

Camera for U and I

If we were going to be complaining about anything it’d be the UI and that’s mostly the fault of the drop-down menu and the Home button setup. The Smart Tab 3G doesn’t feature dedicated Home buttons and will alter with the screen orientation in a way that always seems to put them under our fingers.

And then there’s the drop-down notification bar, which doesn’t span the screen or drop down enough to cover the entire display. It’s not a deal-breaker but we’re not keen on the aesthetics – we’re used to better from our user interfaces. The camera isn’t great either, a mere 2MP that’s okay for average snaps but nothing really artistic is possible.

Otherwise the Android 4.4.2 interface is surprisingly clean. Vodacom have obviously included a lot of their own software but the rest is just the usual run of Google-provided functionality. As always you can add your own but the low specs mean that you’ll be limited in terms of useful software – even if the Android version will play nice with that tasty game you’ve had your eye on.

Verdict

We’ve seen better. Far, far better in terms of tablets but we can’t really compare Vodacom’s second branded device to the likes of Samsung or Apple. For one, there’s the fraction-of-the-price factor and Vodacom have given the Smart Tab 3G some spiffy performance for relatively little cost. There’s some lag, true, but not as much as you’d expect from a R1,000 tablet.

Stuff South Africa's online editor and print assistant editor, Brett Venter has churned out more words on more titles than most journalists will in a career. He's kind of shy.

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