Vodafone Smart Tab N8
Take this magic tablet and you’ll save money – but things will slow down
This new Android tablet is the cheapest to include a SIM slot, so you can use the internet anywhere with a mobile-phone signal rather than only where there’s Wi-fi. It supports 4G networks as well as older protocols.
Of course, Vodafone’s reason for throwing in this feature – up to £100 extra with other tablets – is that it wants to sell you a mobile-data contract. This starts at £12 a month for 24 months, which adds up to at least £288 and throws the whole ‘budget tablet’ concept out of the window. Opt to pay as you go instead, though, and you can top up five or 10 pounds at a time just to cover those situations away from home when you really need to get online and can’t find Wi-fi.
Like Vodafone’s smartphones, the Smart Tab N8 comes locked to the network, but if you pay as you go and top up once for £10, then wait 30 days, you can unlock it free of charge and shop around for a Sim-only data plan from another network. Alternatively, forget the whole 4G thing, switch off Mobile Data under Data Usage in Android’s Settings, and just enjoy your £129 Wi-fi tablet.
For this price you can’t expect many corners to go uncut, but first impressions are good. The textured black plastic chassis is easy to grip and reasonably solid, and there are basic cameras front and back as well as two speakers. The touchscreen is bigger than an ipad, at 10.1in, but the display is very coarse, with less than Full HD resolution and colours that are both dull and inaccurate. Contrast is decent, but it’s not bright enough to use outside on a sunny day.
The current Android 7 Nougat is installed, and as usual Vodafone has avoided messing about with it too much, which we applaud. But the ploddingly slow processor can’t really manage multi-tasking and struggles with more demanding apps like Google Maps. Candy Crush is about the level of game that will run smoothly. Battery life is fairly good, at least, lasting nine hours 44 minutes in our video-playback test.
All this means it’s a usable tablet for basic tasks, if you’re patient, and standard Android makes it more versatile than Amazon’s Fire HD 10, which hasn’t been upgraded this year and seems to be disappearing. On the other hand, 4G is its only major advantage over Asda’s cheaper RCA Saturn 10 Pro (£109 with keyboard from www.snipca.com/25264, see our review, Issue 509) or Argos’ Alba 10 Inch Tablet (£90 from www.snipca.com/ 21040, see Issue 480).
A usable, versatile tablet if you’re patient, with options to use without Wi-fi