Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 Review
Released at the middle part of 2016 the Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 (pretty much the same spec as the Alcatel idol 4s) was perhaps one of the most surprising handset’s I tested last year, as I did not expect it to have as many great features for the contract price! Granted you will need to switch over to Vodafone to take advantage of the product, but for those looking for a quality handset - that won’t break the bank - this phone could deliver...
It took me a while to appreciate the design of the Platinum 7, which for the most part Vodafone have done a pretty good job with, in terms of the overall aesthetics and button placements adorned on the handset.
The first thing you will notice is the front of the handset, as it looks like it has been placed inside a protective case until you realise this double layer effect is down to the front facing stereo speakers; which sit at the top and bottom of the screen, a feature I will talk about later.
At the front you will also find the front facing 8MP camera and at the base of the handset a solitary microUSB port.
Unfortunately for me the supplied USB cable that comes with the handset is too short and it does not fit the port correctly, as it is a tad loose and this had an adverse affect on charging.
At the top of the handset you have a 3.5mm headphone port, but if you switch the handset over you will also notice a glass backing which does give the handset a more premium feel. I suppose the only draw-backs with the glass is it can be a little slippery to hold and it can also attract finger prints, but on the whole I still think it looks pretty cool!
For me the main negative comes from the finger print scanner at the back of the phone because it sits just below the camera lens (which is also placed in the middle of the handset). I lost count of the times I placed my finger on the camera lens instead of the sensor. On a positive note the camera lens position at least prevents your hand from getting in the way during shots.
What do I like is that Vodafone have supplied a dedicated physical camera shutter button, so for those who want a more tactical feel you will get it. I also liked that the buttons on the whole, such as the right sided volume and power buttons are ridged so this makes them a lot easier to press and to grip.
Finally you have a removable sim draw (that you need to open with the supplied tool or a paper clip) which also houses the microSD card slot (supports up to 256GB cards). The downside is when you pull the draw out to change the microSD card it will also deactivate the sim, so not so ideal.
Yet for me taking the niggles aside it’s a handset that I am slowly starting to adjust to and like. The 5.5” AMOLED 1440P screen is a great combination, but with the black finish the handset seems smaller than it is.
Out of the box the device can take a little bit of time to go through the initial setup routine because you have the optional finger print sensor to setup and for me I had the choice to restore from a previous handset associated with my Google Account.
However out-the-box the default OS is sporting Android 6.0 and I recommend you do a quick check of the Settings About > Software update section to upgrade this to 6.0.1; mainly because it fixes a few niggles including the camera’s interface and the option to record video footage up to 4K (without Android 6.0.1 you can only shoot at QHD 1440P.
I’ll talk more about this in a moment. For now I’ll just mention that for the most part Vodafone have left a vanilla Android experience in place, with the option to install a few of their own apps if needs be, thus you won’t be overloaded with bloatware which is good to see.
Like the LG G5 I reviewed a few months back you can also lock the handset with a pass-code so even before you get into the OS (like a BIOS entry in the PC motherboards) you will require a password to gain access to the phone.
You only seem to get the one default Home interface (split into 5 screens for shortcuts etc) but this provides access to the familiar App draw and a few more simple-but-effective options for improving the functionality of your experience. Such as being able to swipe right from the main Home screen to launch a favourite App.
You can also set various shortcuts on the lock screen for quick access to your camera, composition of emails or access to your contacts.
Additionally you can re-arrange the on-screen Home, Back and Recently used App keys to a different order or use the camera button I spoke of in the Design section to launch the camera with a double press or disable this option and assign the button to something else i.e. launch a favourite app, take a screenshot or clear all notifications on the lock screen.
Finally you can also add multiple profiles to the phone so each person in your household could have their own Google Account setup and their own individual Apps.
So there are a fair few touches that I found really helped me enjoy the Android experience and the latter actually runs pretty well given the 3GB RAM and Octa-core CPU (4x1.8 GHz Cortex-A72 & 4x1.2 GHz Cortex-A53).
I also found the on-screen icons were vibrant thanks to the AMOLED screen and 1440P resolution 2160 x 1440.
Before I forget the phone even comes with a few built-in apps that allow you to tap into Google’s Cardboard VR implementation, which is a cheap way to get into Virtual Reality. You have the option to setup the device with the Google Cardboard viewer (which is an optional extra) to view VR content or create your own VR clips with the supporting Cardboard Camera App; basically it captures 3D panoramas that you can experience in VR.
Speakers are top draw!
However one of the stand out features for me was the Vodafone Smart Platinum 7’s Stereo speakers which as I mentioned earlier are front facing. This means when you place the handset down on the desk the sound does not get muffled. Likewise they also sit slightly apart so your hands don’t hinder the experience either when playing games.
However the quality of the speakers is perhaps the most immersive I have ever heard from a smartphone, to the point I was completely taken by surprise when running the 3D Mark Benchmark test and I heard the musical score come through the speakers. To me at first it sounded like the audio had engulfed the entire room! It’s really impressive in my opinion and I have to admit that I did not expect it to be this good.
This of course also translates well into YouTube streaming, movie playback and games, with movies especially standing out. Plus with plenty of storage to tap into, not to mention the larger battery and colourful AMOLED screen, you have a great partnership for those who like to watch movies on the fly!