Budget smartphones rarely provide much to get excited about, offering diminutive specs and outdated software. The Smart Mini, a handset from UK carrier Vodafone, improves upon the latter of these issues, offering a more up-to-date version of Android than much of the competition, and coming in at just £50 (US$78).
Most of the specs on the Smart Mini are about what you'd expect from a device this low on the food chain. The handset is powered by a 1 GHz MediaTek chip, offers 4 GB of expandable storage, a 2-megapixel rear camera, and comes with 3G, Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11n WiFi connectivity. The handset's 3.5-inch HVGA display has a resolution of 320 x 480, giving it a pixel density of 165.
The design of the device is nothing to shout about, but it's also not ugly, featuring a black or white plastic aesthetic that's not a million miles from the Nexus 4's sharp looks. The handset is 12.2 mm (0.48 in) thick and weighs in at 118 g (0.26 lb).
What really stands out about Vodafone's low-end handset is its operating system. The handset runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, giving it a significant boost over other budget smartphones. The Smart Mini boasts full access to the Google Play Store and is just about the cheapest way of getting access to Jelly Bean features such as Google Now.
We've seen similar wallet-friendly devices in the past, but they tend to run on older versions of Google's OS. The Archos 35 Carbon, for example, comes in at a pricier $100 and runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
While the Smart Mini certainly doesn't offer anything to tempt high or even mid-level smartphone owners into a downgrade, its extremely low price tag and Jelly Bean OS make it a tempting option for first-time and budget-conscious buyers.
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