Review: Vodafone 858 Smart PDF Print E-mail

The Vodafone 858 Smart is a sweet phone; the kind that should be named Trixie or Tibbles. An iPhone is trendy, a Blackberry is suave, other Android devices are geeky... this smartphone is sweet.

What makes the 858 Smart sweet is partly the size – it measures just 103.8 x 56.8 x 12.6 mm with rounded corners and bevelled edges to fit comfortably in the palm of the hand or in a back pocket. 

When you switch it on for the first time, the little Android robot waves at you and proceeds to give you a lesson in how to use the phone, including how to type messages and set up your Google services. 
 
The Android 2.2 user interface is also sweet – lots of round-edged icons on the touchscreen that react with a gentle buzz when you touch them. You can change this setting if you so desire, make it vibrate more sharply, turn on sound, switch both off. 
 
The screen size, unfortunately, is also sweet. Dinky in fact. The display is only 2.8-inches. If you’re planning on doing much besides watching YouTube videos, listening to the latest tunes or checking Facebook, you might become frustrated – because no amount of great tactile feedback is going to help you hit the “L” on the keyboard instead of the “K”, “M”, “O” or “P” - even if it does automatically re-orientate itself when you turn the phone horizontal. By all means, the Smart really should come with a stylus – unless Vodafone’s target market is pre-schoolers (which in this day and age is not impossible).
 
Unfortunately there's no multi-touch support either, so you'll have to use in browser/app zooming functions to get anything to appear bigger when trying to read and since the resolution is only 240 x 320, that probably won't help very much.
 
The phone has a good range of “widgets” pre-installed – including all Google services: mail, news, talk, maps, etc. Facebook and Twitter were also pre-installed on the review model. You can also download an extensive range of apps from the Android store through the phone. 
There are four different “screens” that you can easily slide between, and you can have at least one widget running constantly on each – although this will drain the battery. 
 
 
In terms of how they run though, you might need some patience. In fact “run” might be a bit optimistic. Walk is probably more accurate. The 528MHz processor with 256MB RAM would have been fantastic a few years ago, now it battles a bit to keep up. 
 
As for battery life, it varies depending on which “widgets” you have going. Running Facebook, email, Bluetooth and a news service we managed to get enough juice for a day at work, but there needed to be a charge waiting at home to see it through the night.
 
It's not all bad though. It's not particularly fast, but it doesn't need to be. One gets the feeling that it doesn't aim to be that kind of phone – it doesn't want to be a powerhouse business tool or an innovative prototype gadget. It seems to aim for cute and funky. The fact that it comes with a range of coloured covers and offers custom cover design online seems to be proof of this. 
 
The 858 Smart comes with a standard 3.5mm earphone port so you can plug in a set of standard earphones, and an SD card slot in case you'd rather listen to MP3s than FM radio. The sound quality is fantastic. 
 
It also contains a camera that can do both still and video. The camera is 2MP with a few good features: you can adjust the light specs and zoom digitally and easily send the picture to friends or upload it.  Adjusting these features is fiddly due to the tiny screen, but the phone gets kudos for having them. 
 
It also gets kudos for the price – R999 on prepaid. If you're after a smartphone but can't quite afford that HTC yet, then the Smart is a great option. It will provide easy access to social networks, email and the news while you're on the go and entertain you when you're not. 
 
SPECIFICATIONS
 
Display: 240 x 320 pixels, 2.8 inches; TFT capacitive touchscreen
Size: 103.8 x 56.8 x 12.6 mm; 104g
Memory: 130MB internal; MicroSD up to 32GB
Connectivitiy: 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth, Micro USB
Camera: 2MP; geo-tagging; video recording
OS: Android 2.2 Froyo
Other: FM radio, games, HTML browser, A-GPS support.
 
IN SUMMARY
 
Good: User interface, widget functionality, audio quality
Bad: Tiny screen, a little slow
Rating: 6/10
Price: R999
Contact: Cellular outlets nationwide

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