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Vodafone Smart Tab 4G review

Vodafone takes another shot at the budget connected tablet market – but have they got it right this time?

The Vodafone Smart Tab 4G isn’t Vodafone’s first connected tablet. In fact, the Vodafone Smart Tab 4 (note the subtle naming difference) was released earlier this year and while it wasn’t awful, its Mediatek processor was a little underpowered, spoiling an otherwise pretty decent device.

The Smart Tab 4G then is effectively its successor. One of the key changes is clearly indicated by the name – this tablet has LTE connectivity. The other major change is that the CPU has been swapped out for a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, a much more capable processor.

With those tweaks, there is a lot to like about the device. It has a 8” 1280×800 IPS screen which, while not a particularly high resolution, looks sharp and clear. It’s under 8mm (7.99mm to be precise) thick and is considerably smaller than the 8.3” screened Hudl 2. 8GB of ROM is backed up by 1GB RAM and thankfully the storage space is expandable courtesy of a microSD slot. On the back sits a surprisingly capable (for a tablet) 5 Megapixel auto-focus camera without flash, complemented by a 2 Megapixel unit on the front for selfies.

The Smart Tab 4G is a rebranded Alcatel Pop 8S and impresses in its solid construction, in hand feel and with it’s great software build. Vodafone branding is kept to a minimum, both on the device itself (a subtle logo on the back is the only evidence this is an own-brand device) and by way of customisations to the KitKat 4.4.4 operating system (all the custom Vodafone apps can be uninstalled or disabled if desired).

All of the above adds up to a really great experience. The device is as quick in use as you can reasonably expect from a low cost machine and there are little features around the device that really delight when you first use it, such as the built in IR remote control from Peel, double-tap to wake, palm to sleep and the excellent pre-installed Swiftkey keyboard. The lack of a light sensor for auto brightness is disappointing, but a third party app such as ‘Lux’ allows you to use the front facing camera to replicate the functionality.

At the £124.99 price, the Smart Tab 4G really is a steal – you are rarely reminded that you’ve bought a budget device and the inclusion of LTE connectivity is unheard of at this price. Frequent travellers should note that the device is SIM locked to Vodafone as you would expect, preventing use of local operator SIMs when abroad, however you can purchase an unlock code for £19.99 from Vodafone.

The hudl2 is a slightly better device if you don’t need that data connection, but if you buy a Smart Tab 4G, you won’t be disappointed.

For the latest tablet reviews, make sure to check out the new issue of Android Magazine.