The Vodafone Smart II is the ideal entry-level smartphone for users who want to make the transition from a feature phone.

It offers basic features, and is fairly small in size, so I’d say it would suit a teenager or university student. And for that particular target market, the additional colourful back covers in the box is a bonus.

The phone has a power button on the top, a volume adjuster on the right, and beneath it, a camera button. The only two inputs on the phone are the 3.5mm audio jack on the top, and the micro USB charging slot at the bottom. The phone allows for expandable storage via a microSD slot, which is situated inside the phone, underneath the battery. I think the left hand side of the phone would have made a better location for this.

The 3.2-inch display has a 320×480 screen resolution, and two point multi-touch capacitive screen (for pinching and zooming). I found the screen surprisingly quite responsive, noticeable when scrolling through social network feeds. For its size, I wouldn’t recommend a lot of reading – example, Flipboard. It’s more suited to flipping through headlines + summaries, rather than going into a story because then you’d have to scroll through a lot of pages just to read one article. The small screen also means a slightly narrow keyboard.

The handset is powered by a 832MHz Broadcom processor with 512MB of RAM. The built-in storage available to the user for apps is about 130MB (from the 170MB total). If you want to use the 3.2-megapixel camera (with LED flash), you will have to insert a microSD card first (supports up to 32GB), as well as for app downloads because 130MB probably won’t last very long. In terms of connectivity, the handset has 3G HSDPA, WiFi, Bluetooth and options to tether or create a portable hotspot.

The Vodafone Smart II runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Yes, it’s two versions behind, but it is an entry-level handset and the user won’t notice. I was prompted to update to the Google Play store before updating any apps. Basic pre-loaded apps include Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Google+, Maps, OfficeSuite, Sound Recorder and YouTube (as an aside, Google Voice Search works pretty well too!) You can find popular apps like Instagram (some versions of Android don’t support it), Flipboard, as well as Vodacom exclusive stuff like Unlimited Music and access to the Vodacom App Store.

Inside the box

While the Vodafone Smart II handset is by no means a power house, it s a very good entry-level smartphone, considering that the recommended retail price for it is R1,299. Straight out of the box, you are able to do quite a bit before having to download anything. Battery life is average, and just like any other smartphone, the more 3G browsing you do, the faster the battery goes. Highly recommended for the youth market.

The Vodafone Smart II is a Vodacom exclusive handset.