Vodafone Smart mini; is this the affordable accessible phone that we all have been waiting for?

Note that I have compiled the below after having read various forum posts and reviews. I will update tis post if there is anything new to report.

What is the Vodafone Smart Mini?

The Vodafone Smart Mini is a true budget phone. It’s available for r799.00 on a prepaid basis from Vodacom South Africa, which gets you a phone with a 3.5-inch screen, 1GHz single-core processor, 4GB of built-in storage and a 2-megapixel camera running on Google’s Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS.

Where can I get my hands on one?

Vodacom launched the device today, 7 August 2013 at r799 but, warned that the price may vary from store to store.

Vodacom South Africa indicated that customers that sign up on a “Top Up 135 plus” contract at R149 per month will receive two Vodafone Smart Mini handsets for the price of one.

According to the MyBroadband forums, the deal includes R135 worth of airtime, 100MB of data per month, and a free Starter pack for the second phone.

Key Features

Budget r799 price tag; 1GHz single-core processor; 3.5-inch, 480 x 320 touchscreen; 4GB built-in storage & microSD card slot
Manufacturer: Vodafone

Design

According to various online reviews, the Vodafone Smart Mini is not much of a looker. It is a squat, square, plastic phone that looks exactly what you would expect from a r799smartphone
– cheap materials pieced together in a simple, unassuming manner. The phone is only available in black and, can’t be customised.

The Vodafone Smart Mini has just two physical buttons (power/sleep and a volume rocker), both of which are surprisingly sturdy in their housings and offer a reassuring amount of resistance during use, according to Reviews.

I can already see issues here for those of us blindies who are thinking of relying on this phone in any way.

Without a physical home button, I don’t want to imagine what a challenge it would be for anyone who uses TalkBack, to answer a call. If the screen doesn’t always register gestures, this may be the area that will be a key factor in deciding if this phone will be suitable for totally blind persons to use.

Screen Quality

The Vodafone Smart Mini’s 3.5-inch screen might be the same size as the iPhone 4S, but that’s where the similarities end.

It’s not especially bright, sharp or colourful, and the ambient light sensor is slow to adjust brightness when required.

It has a 480 x 320 pixel resolution, which equates to a 165 pixels-per-inch image density. Although this is not particularly conducive to enjoyable video playback or image viewing, neither is it dreadful. There is some visible pixelisation and colour contrasts are weak.

Disappointingly, the screen looks slightly recessed from the rest of the phone, which does nothing to help its low quality appeal and acts to further emphasize the already dire viewing angles. The Mini’s touch panel is not the most responsive or accurate either, with attempted presses of one area of the screen often causing reactions elsewhere. This becomes increasingly apparent when browsing the web where multiple links are often grouped in close proximity, while multi-touch gestures are slow and sometimes glitchy.

Should I buy the Vodafone Smart Mini?

If you are thinking of using this phone with Talkback as a totally blind person, my answer is no. I will update this entry if my opinion changes though. however, if you have some useful vision left, it would be worth a try.

It wouldn’t serve as a backup phone either if you are totally blind. You’d probably do better with a cheap secondhand Nokia with NSR installed.

Final thoughts

If you have expected a miracle, this is unfortunately not it. I must say though that, this phone is well priced for what it offers and there are not many phones in the same price range that offers the same functionality.

If you are looking to buy a phone for your kid, this is a safe bet.

Should you be looking for a cheap accessible speaking phone though, I would rather recommend the Samsung Galaxy Pocket plus, or Pocket Neo or even the Galaxy Y Pro with its nice qwerty keyboard.

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