Reviewed: Vodafone Smart Tab 2

The Smart Tab 2 has a less impressive specification sheet than the original Smart Tab it replaces, but with prices starting at £149 on PAYG or £29 up front on a £20-a-month contract, the Smart Tab 2 hopes to offer a compromise between price and performance.

Made in partnership with laptop maker Lenovo, the Vodafone Smart Tab 2 is fronted by a glass-covered 7in screen, with an off-centre front-facing camera at the top for video calls.

The left edge is completely blank, the right side has a volume rocker, and the top houses a headphone jack, power button and microUSB port for charging and transferring files.

Compared to the 8GB or 16GB of its rivals, the Smart Tab 2 is let down by its lack of storage, but with 32GB microSD cards costing less than £15 online, it’s an easy and cheap fix to give the device more storage than a £350 iPad mini.

At 400g, the Smart Tab is almost 100g heavier than the iPad mini, 60g more than the Google Nexus 7 and just 5g heavier than the Amazon Kindle Fire HD.

Moving from my iPad mini to the Smart Tab was a very noticeable difference, but it’s surprising how quickly you get used to the extra weight, and the 122mm width and 11mm thickness make it easy enough to hold in one hand.

The Smart Tab is the cheapest tablet on the market with a 3G connection, but for the £20 contract you only get access to 2GB of data each month, so watching iPlayer on your daily commute isn’t possible without incurring a huge bill.

General web browsing, email and social networking are all fine though, and on my commute the Smart Tab performed well, staying connected almost throughout and returning useable speeds.

Problem is, 2GB isn’t enough for you to use the tablet on 3G all the time, so why not tether to your smartphone’s 3G connection with a Wi-Fi tablet instead? Most iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices let you do this and, while the phone’s battery takes a kicking, it’s an easy way to get a tablet online for short periods.