Review: Vodafone Smart Platinum 7

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Vodafone have been pushing out their own devices for awhile now, and by that, we’re talking mostly custom branded devices that are actually manufactured by a third party, who most likely release the same device under a different name.

None the less, Vodafone are taking things pretty seriously with their own branded devices, and we have already seen a couple of decent devices release from them in the past year or so. This year, things are stepping up a notch with the release of the Smart Platinum 7. Yeah, the name needs some work, but the specs have us quickly forgiving them on it.

Let’s take a look at the official specs below.

  • Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow)
  • Display: 5.5 inches, 1440 x 2560 pixels, AMOLED
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 650 (2x A72 + 4x A53 cores); 3GB of RAM
  • Memory: 32GB, expandable with microSD cards
  • Rear Camera: 16 MP, f/2.0, phase detection autofocus, 1.12 µm pixel size,
  • Front Camera: 8 MP, 1080p
  • Networking: W-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, hotspot, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, standard microUSB 2.0 port, GPS receiver, 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Dimensions:  142.7 x 69.4 x 7.9 mm
  • Battery: 3,000mAh

Okay, so most notably is the impressive 1440p AMOLED 5.5-inch display that pretty much makes it on par with most flagship devices avaialble. The 16MP camera is likely to catch a few peoples attention. Lastly we have the Snapdragon 652 chipset from Qualcomm, which isn’t exactly Qualcomms best, but does pack some decent performance. All and all it’s an impressive looking spec sheet.

Let’s not waste anymore time and check out the devices itself.

The Smart Platinum 7

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The Vodafone Smart Prime 7 is most definitely a premium design with a very similar material choice as a lot of current flagship devices from other manufacturers.

The back and front of the device are completely glasss, with a metal frame around the device.

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The metal frame is solid, with brushed chambered edges to give a nice comfortable feel in your hand.

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Another great feature and design aspect is the front facing stereo speakers, which really do provide excellent audio quality.

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Here we have the glass back with camera sensor/flash and fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor works while the device is asleep as well, meaning you can use it to wake the device, and unlock it. The combination works extremely well.

Phone UI

The included UI is mostly vanilla Android, but does include some app from Vodafone that can take care of messaging and such, but these can be quickly replaced with standard or third party Android apps.

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It’s always great to see a stock Android UI, which makes for easier customisation if you wish, but also gives you a very smooth experience. Sadly the included Vodafone apps can’t be removed completely, but can be disabled. Fortunately, their not much different than stock apps anyway.

Camera UI

The camera UI is pretty easy to navigate and offers a decent amount of control over the camera when using the manual mode.

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Behind the settings menu has the normal resolution options. Oddly enough, the option for turning EIS off when recording 1080p/30fps doesn’t seem to do anything, as it simply turns back on after leaving the menu. Not sure why, perhaps an update in the future will fix the issue. Using anything above 1080p@30fps will disable EIS anyhow, so using it during 1080p30fps is probably best.

Photos

Now let’s take a look at some pictures taken using the Smart Platinum 7. The below photos were taken using the auto mode, with the second images taken with HDR turned on.

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Like most smartphone cameras now, balance is an issue, but thankfully HDR comes to the rescue and restores a lot of details in the image. Sadly there is no HDR auto mode, and users will have to chose whether to use it or not. Using HDR does require a second or so of steadiness and a blurry photo is much easier to come by when using HDR.

Videos

The camera does come with 1080p@60fps and 4K support, so let’s check out some of the videos and see how they look.

1080p@30fps

1080p@60fps

1440p@30fps

4K@30fps

We can see some decent quality coming from the 1440p and 4K videos,  but overall there are some balance issues that we could see in some of the videos that were causing some pretty big jumps in exposure. This is either a software issue, or the camera simply can’t handle the changes of exposure smooth enough.

Benchmarks

Of course you can’t have a flagship device with the performance to back it up. Let’s take a look at the numbers and see what the device has to offer.

3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited 18170
Antutu 6 80654
Geekbench 3 Single-Core 1462
Geekbench 3 Multi-Core 3117
Vellamo Metal 2637
Vellamo Multicore 3297
Vellamo Browser (Chrome) 5143
PC Mark 6197

It’s a large leap from the top performing devices avaialble, but throughout usage, we found the Platinum 7 just as smooth as the best devices. Performance may become an issue with extensive tasks in the future, but currently everything works buttery smooth.

Battery life

Another hugely important aspect of any device, and probably more so than most. The included 3,000mAh is a common battery size for devices with this screen size. We expect to see decent performance, and hoping the included Snapdragon 652 uses less power than the 820.

Below is breakdown of our 12 hour period of testing and are usage happens. We typically aim for a more heavy side usage,

Phone Calls20-30 Minutes
Text message/Chat/EmailsThroughout the day(checking) and 20-30 sent
Photos10-20
Video recording20-30 Minutes
Internet browsingThroughout the day(around 30-40 minutes total)
Gaming30 Minutes
YouTube/Netflix30-40 Minutes
ConnectivityWiFi and 4G; mostly 4G
Screen Brightness50-percent

A great results here as we arrived at the end of our testing with over 45-percent battery life left. Thankfully this means the device should’t have any problems stretching to 2 full days full usage between charges. The included 652 chipset most likely uses less power than the more beefy 820 brother chipset.

Conclusion

Now it’s time to wrap up our review and conclude our thoughts on the Smart Platinum 7 from Vodafone. As always, we break down our conclusion into sections with Design, Display, Camera, Performance, and then finally overall,

Design

While the device is manufactured by a third party company, Vodafone made sure to include their logo and statement on the back of the device reading ‘Designed by Vodafone’. It’s very clear why Vodafone wanted you to know that.

The design comes across as very premium with the glass back with underlining texture that has a subtle effect and truly gives the phone a beautiful look. The metal sides are a common trait for a premium device, and go well with everything else.

Vodafone also included some nice features on top of their design with stereo speakers and front facing flash for those dark selfies. Sadly we don’t have any removable battery or water-proofing, but overall the design is impressive and very much worthy of a flagship device. Also not to forget, we have a MicroSD slot as well, Vodafone made sure not to remove important specs for their design.

Display

The included 1440p AMOLED display is crisp, clear, colourful, and bright. It’s gorgeous and a pinnacle aspect of the phones impressive specs list. It’s definitely one of the best parts of the devices and along with the front facing stereo speakers, makes for a great video and gaming experience.

Camera

The 16MP offers some great features including HDR and Phase detection auto focusing. Video quality is also something worth noting with 4K and 1080p@60fps supported, however the quality only became decent when we started using 1440p and 4k resolutions. 1080p just came across as low resolution.

We’re happy to see most users will be very pleased with the camera. While it doesn’t beat the top smartphones camera’s available, it does definitely offer superior performance than most devices at this price point.

There were some issues with exposure balance, but only in certain situations. We’re hoping that’s a bug that will be ironed out in the future, but worth noting just in case it’s not and is more down to the camera not being able to smooth out exposure transitions.

Performance

The Snapdragon 652 doesn’t reach the same level of performance that we get from the beefier Snapdragon 820 chipset, but does closely match the 810 from last year, and does it while being more efficient.

The chipset handled pretty much everything we threw at it and didn’t show up any hiccups or exhibit any signs of being overwhelmed. The camera app had no problem recording 4K video, and the device’s heat never rose to a level of concern, and was mostly just slightly warm when doing anything intensive.

Large devices also include large batteries, possibly the reason why were seeing so many more of them. Thankfully the included 3,000mAh battery provided well over a days full usage and would easily provide us with enough battery to last 2 days should we need to forgo charging for a long period of time.

Overall

Vodafone have been pushing out devices under their own brand for some time now, but recently they have stepped things up a notch. What’s impressive is their pricing that has brought impressive specs to budget level devices.

The Smart Platinum 7 includes mostly flagship level specifications wrapped in metal and glass with a beautiful finish. While the Platinum 7 doesn’t beat any of the current flagship devices available, it most certainly does on pricing, with the device cost set at €399 out right, or free on contract.

While we’re very impressed with what the device offers, it’s the pricing that truly sets it apart. Vodafone are offering a flagship experience for a lot less than what’s currently avaialble. That being said, the design does include front facing stereo speakers, which are a subtle, but great addition to excellent design, great camera, smooth performance and remarkable display.

The included Snapdragon 652 chipset instead of the better performing 820 is the only thing that really separates the device from most flagship phones avaialble. While we didn’t notice any drops in performance, it’s possible that future updates may show signs of less performing chipset.

The Smart Platinum 7 ticks all the right boxes and offers mostly flagship level specs and design, but without the hefty price tag. The CPU and Camera aren’t the best available, but offer well above standard performance. Everything else is definitely on par with the best avaialble. The display and design are easily the best part of the device and really make the overall phone a great device with amazing price tag.

We gladly award the Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 with gold and recommend it to anyone looking for a flagship experience without the flagship price tag. With flagship prices becoming increasing more expensive and €700-800 price tags becoming the norm, it’s great to see such a spec heavy device being offered at a more reasonable price. Let’s hope this is the start of a new trend.

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