At first glance, the Vodafone Smart V8 could pass for a flagship smartphone, but in reality it is just a great-looking budget-range smartphone. The Smart V8 is a great follow-up of the previous gen Smart V7 Plus — Vodacome looks to be hitting the upgrade mark here.
This smartphone has the outer appearance of a flagship phone, but we’re not quite there yet. Yes, it packs a couple of decent specs but there are a few things that hold the Smart V8 back. But not too far back – in this price bracket it’s an amazing handset.
Design – Sleek and Sturdy
Vodafone has moved away from the plastic-y look of the Smart V7 Plus by making a very shiny statement. The whole handset is very well made, and the slim metal body presents a classy appearance. The edges are framed with a silver rim, with the back being predominantly silver metal with the exception of two plastic caps on the bottom and top. These caps are textured to help with grip and slanted surfaces. They might look a little tacky but they do serve a purpose.
With a large 5.5in HD-display up front, the Smart V8 isn’t small. It measures 155mm in length, is 76mm wide and is 9.7mm thick but boasts pretty large bezel, similar to the older-gen iPhones. A big plus is the LCD capacitive touchscreen which presents brilliantly and reacts well to quick interactions.
The Smart V8 has two down-facing speakers on the lower panel which really don’t have much power. It does have a headphone jack on the top which makes up for the low-quality sound. You can still jam out on this budget phone with a decent set of cans, at least.
Unlike its predecessor, it does not have a home button (like most new flagships), and you will only be able to use the touch screen to interact. The Smart V8 comes equipped with a fingerprint sensor around the back of the device which works very well. It also has an unlock button on the left side of the device and volume control on the right.
One downside is that the Smart V8 feels pretty heavy (weighing in at 166g) and clunky. Yes, it looks very sleek but it does not feel completely at home in one hand. This device would probably not suit a person who likes more compact phones.
Vodacom would just want you to know this device is made by Vodafone. Everywhere you look it’s Vodafone. somewhere. The Smart V8 comes loaded with Android 7.1.1 Nougat – which seems like a normal, vanilla Android, until you start to dig a bit deeper.
Vodacom has loaded a skin over the standard Android which includes a few features that could possibly work for some people but we would really prefer standard Android. The first example here is the left-swipe action from your main home screen panel doesn’t open the trusty Google Assistant, but rather a Vodafone feed with ‘Expert Tips’ on how the device works. A long-time smartphone user would definitely not need this, but you can very conveniently disable this feature in the settings menu.
They have also loaded a boatload (bloatload?) of bloatware onto these devices like the Vodafone App Store, DTSV, Super Sport, Private Space and Vodafone’s own Messenger app and VideoPlay. Of course you can just uninstall all of these and install your own management apps but you shouldn’t have to make even that effort.
Elsewhere, the rest of the device is largely stock Android. You won’t find many other nasty skin-related surprises leaping out at you.
Camera & Video – Clear, clear skies
The Smart V8 has a 16-megapixel rear shooter, which may not sound very impressive, but the images produced by this little phone looks fairly decent (provided images are snapped in natural light). It captures accurate colours and plenty of detail. If you’re shooting landscape scenes we would suggest turning on HDR. Without it images look dull and lack detail in the shadows.
The Smart V8 is able to capture a lot more detail than other devices in its price-bracket, like the Moto G5. Images are sharper and its colour reproduction is more accurate. Getting back to the HDR mode, without it enabled, the V8’s images are much darker than we would like them to be.
In low light or indoors the sensor doesn’t perform well without the flash and you lose a lot of detail in images. When you enable the dual-LED flash, it definitely brings out a lot of the missing detail in low-light conditions.
The camera includes a few modes that help with some of the problems you might encounter, like super night, multi exposure, slow exposure, time-lapse, slow motion and manual modes. In manual mode you can adjust the shutter speed, ISO, exposure, white balance, focus and image interval. Super Night mode does help with brightening certain objects in lower-light conditions
The camera can also shoot video up to 1080p at 30fps. At the front there’s a 8-megapixel camera for all of your selfie needs.
Performance – Ahead of the curve
The Smart V8 definitely runs Android mostly smoothly, helped along by an octa-core 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 435 processor The 3GB of RAM provides enough room for your multitasking needs (just don’t get too carried away).
We played through a range of Plants vs. Zombies levels without any lag or buffering, even when the final wave started and loads of zombies hit the screen at once. The screen resolution is absolutely brilliant and you are able to switch among apps seamlessly. This little guy definitely does not need time to think about its life, and runs very smoothly. Again, though, don’t expect these results if you’re the sort to never close any app ever.
Battery life should be one of Vodacom’s selling points here, especially with the powerful 3,000mHz battery. We charged the device up before testing commenced and this is one of the longest lasting devices in its category. After 24 hours of medium usage it is still going strong with 40% of charge time remaining.
The only step back here is the micro-USB port. Yes, a blast from the past. The micro-USB port is not long for the cellphone world, but it does work. Charging takes a tad longer than we’ve gotten used to with the USB-C handsets, but it does the job, and it does it well. There is no need to slam Voda on this one.
You will receive 32GB of internal memory out-of-box and it has expandable memory up to 128GB. Where did we leave that microSD…?
Vodafone Smart V8 Verdict
The Smart V8 is a well-built device and it is apparent that Vodafone is getting some tips from the flagship compeititon when it comes to design. It looks very cool and sleek from the outside, and the insides aren’t that horrible either.
It does not seem quite like budget-spec to us, but long term-use may promise something completely different. We were very impressed by the screen resolution and the computing power when running some basic day-to-day apps.
You can get the Vodafone Smart V8 from R3,300 at selected online retailers and on contract from Vodacom outlets.