- Long battery life
- Plenty of storage
- Easy to navigate
- Poor-quality speakers
- Very reflective screen
- Unwieldy to handle
- 10-inch 1,920 x 1,200 LCD IPS screen
- 16GB storage, expandable with up to 64GB
- MSM8937 Octa-core Snapdragon 430 CPU
- 2GB RAM
- 2-megapixel selfie camera
- 5-megapixel rear camera
- Manufacturer: Vodafone
WHAT IS THE VODAFONE TAB PRIME 7?
The Vodafone Tab Prime 7 is the phone company’s third foray into the tablet market. It picks up the mantle from the Vodafone Tab Speed 6 launched earlier this year, and the Tab Prime 6 that kicked things off in 2015.
So far, questionable graphics, sound quality and gaming power have earned Vodafone’s budget tablet range a mixed reception – a disappointing trend that the Tab Prime 7 manages to buck in some respects. Along with a price hike to £175/$252 (the Tab Speed 6 is £125/$187), the Tab Prime 7 brings a more polished, seamless experience to casual tablet users.
The Vodafone Tab Prime 7 isn’t heart-meltingly attractive, but its design certainly isn’t offensive. The device is available only in silver, which at least gives it an air of being high-end.
Its spacious 10-inch LCD panel is flanked by two front-facing speakers and a generous black bezel that provides plenty of room for your thumbs to grip the device without obscuring the edges of the screen.
The outer couple of millimetres of the tablet are raised slightly to protect the screen from scratches if it finds itself face-down on a table, which also helps make the tablet feel more secure in your hands.
That last part is important, because the Vodafone Tab Prime 7 is a little on the unwieldy side. Handling that wide screen takes some getting used to, and figuring out which finger or thumb should press which button isn’t immediately intuitive – especially with the sleep/on button and the volume controls sitting all the way up on the top-left edge. Have fun with that one, right-handers.
It’s just as well, then, that the Tab Prime 7 is a little heavier than its predecessors, weighing in at 449g. It’s still lightweight compared to similarly priced tablets such as the Acer Iconia Tab 10 (520g), but its extra weight should allay any fears that you might have about it slipping out of your hands. It’s a sturdy build too, with minimal casing flex under pressure.
The micro-USB charging port sits on the right-hand edge beside the headphone jack. I noticed that the charging cable doesn’t snap pleasingly into the port, but has room to jiggle a little. It isn’t a huge problem – just another reminder that you haven’t paid a premium price.
Flip the tablet over, and you’ll discover a concealed flap that opens to reveal a SIM tray and a microSD slot. The Vodafone Tab 7 comes with 16GB of storage, but you can add up to a 64GB card for extra capacity.
The SIM tray allows you to leverage the tablet’s 4G LTE capabilities and use it like a phone for calls and texts. You get a PAYG plan of 6GB of UK data per 90 days bundled in if you pay the full price; pay-monthly deals start at £21 for 5GB.
The rear camera is positioned in the top-right corner as you’re looking at the tablet from the back. The lens has inherited a Tab Prime 6 and Tab Speed 6 design niggle: the camera juts out from the casing, leaving the lens vulnerable to damage.
The screen is where Vodafone begins to justify that £50/$75 price hike over the Tab Speed 6. With a pixel density of 224ppi and a 1,920 x 1,200 display, Vodafone is touting the screen as “Full HD” – and it isn’t half-bad. While not as impressive as Tesco’s Hudl 2, which managed to cram in 273ppi, it’s a significant improvement over the Tab Speed 6’s 189ppi screen.
Colour range is excellent, and contrast is sharp between dark and light colours. This is good news for those who want to use the Tab Prime 7 for casual browsing; the black font looks slick and readable against a white background on websites.
I did find myself wishing that the highest screen brightness level was a little more dazzling, however; its dull undertone gives certain websites – such as Facebook – a bit of an underwater look.
With Netflix and iPlayer, the Vodafone’s “Full HD” claim isn’t too far off. The lacking pixel-per-inch count was a little more evident when watching BBC’s Planet Earth series, however, with fine details appearing a little less sharp.
Be warned that the screen is pretty reflective, so using it outside or in bright sunshine is a definite no-no.
When it comes to screen size, I’m less enamoured. Since the tablet is so wide, you need the hand span of a chimpanzee to have any hope of reaching the central onscreen home button with your thumb while holding the tablet with two hands.
I’d never really thought about how I hold a tablet before I picked up the Vodafone Prime 7, but I suddenly found myself acutely aware. Annoying. That extra inch or so is great for elderly users or people who will just leave it in one place for streaming at home, but I’d gladly lose it.
The Vodafone Tab Prime 7 runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and as a result is incredibly easy to navigate. Swiping left on the homescreen automatically launches the Flipboard app; you can easily disable this function in the Settings, though, if you’re not a fan.
On-board apps include a Device Manager for Android devices, Google essentials such as Google Hangouts, Google Handwriting, Sheets and more. Of course, there’s also a phone-dialing app and a messaging app for calls and texts.
One lovely touch is the notifications panel, which you can access by swiping down anywhere along the top of the screen. A quick swipe down will reveal the time, date, battery status, Wi-Fi and network signal, and any notifications. Swipe a second time, and your basic settings appear.
The Tab Prime 7 isn’t the performance speedster I was hoping for when I saw its specs, but Vodafone is definitely inching closer. An Octa-core Snapdragon 430 processor holds fort at 1.1GHz, and there’s 2GB of RAM, which has doubled since the Tab Prime 6’s 1GB offering.
In the Geekbench 4 speed test, it clocked a lukewarm multi-core score of 1,759. That’s a far sight better than the Tab Prime 6’s 1,402 – but shamefully less than the £90 Amazon Fire HD 8’s Geekbench 3 rating of 1,950. Ouch.
I played MMX Hill Climb, Traffic Rider and Brain It On! on the Vodafone Tab Prime 7, and it put in a solid effort. Games sometimes took a little while to boot up, but the graphics looked incredibly sharp and vibrant. I didn’t find myself counting pixels or kicking my heels waiting for in-game features and menus to load. Avid gamers will be satisfied here
General tasks such as browsing using Google Chrome or using Google Sheets were fluid and seamless most of the time, with just a spot of lag here and there. Anyone needing a tablet that can occasionally double up for home-working purposes should be happy too.
Vodafone promises “superior 4G speed” when using the Tab Prime 7 with mobile data switched on, but obviously, this will depend on where you are and how good the 4G signal is. I’m struggling to work out who would want to pay to use a tablet for calls and texts if they already have a phone with a good data allowance, but it could be a great way to introduce an elderly family member to screen-based communication.
Impressively, the Tap Prime 7 doesn’t seem to overheat with prolonged use. In fact, it barely broke a sweat when I set it down on the sofa and left Netflix running for a good couple of hours. This is great news for anyone who likes to settle in for a bit of movie-watching in bed.
The pressure was on for Vodafone to come up with better audio solution than was evident on the Tab Prime 6. Sadly, it hasn’t succeeded.
The Tab Prime 7 has dual front-facing speakers on both the left and right-hand side of the screen, camouflaged by the bezel. Gaming sound effects on the Tab Prime 7 are nice and punchy, but switch to dialogue and voices sound a little caustic and tinny.
What’s more, the speakers are simply too quiet if you’re not holding the tablet right in front of your face. I played a film and put the tablet down on the kitchen worktop to make a cup of tea, and it was like listening to the TV from another room.
Don’t get me wrong – they do a job for casual tablet use, and they shouldn’t put you off if you’re not an audiophile. But there’s no excuse when the Tesco Hudl 2 has managed to nail audio in a budget device.
The Tab Prime 7 has a 5-megapixel camera at the rear, and a 2-megapixel front-facing unit. The main camera is fine for the odd snap around the house, but you won’t be ditching your smartphone in favour of it. The camera modes include HDR and panorama, and you can flit between manual and autofocus.
The front-facing camera is fine for selfies and Skyping. Flipping the tablet to portrait mode is best in both cases; otherwise, your face gets lost somewhere over to the right-hand side of the super-wide screen.
Vodafone appears reluctant to put an exact figure on what it describes as the Tab Prime 7’s “extra long-life battery”, which is weird considering the 5,830mAh Li-Po battery is one of the tablet’s best features.
I played MMX Hill Climb for 20 minutes with maximum brightness and the volume on full whack, and it sapped only 9% of the battery. Streaming Netflix for just over two hours with the brightness at around 80% consumed only 23%. Based on those figures,the Tab Prime 7 should easily see you through eight to nine hours of streaming.
The battery stood up well to browsing the internet and casual app-hopping, providing around three days of life if I stuck to checking the news and scrolling social media feeds.
Charging isn’t particularly speedy, however. With the tablet at 0%, it took around 5 hours for the Tab Prime 7 to reach 100%. Note, too, that the charging cable in the box is frustratingly short, so prepare to be tethered annoyingly close to a wall socket if you want to use the tablet while it’s charging.
SHOULD YOU BUY THE VODAFONE TAB PRIME 7?
That really depends on what you want to do with it, because the Tab Prime 7 definitely isn’t a great performer across the board. But in the areas it gets right, it excels.
If you want a solid gaming performer with a speedy OS and above-average specs for a low budget tablet, it won’t disappoint. First-time tablet buyers, keen gamers and elderly tech users will welcome the easy navigable Android Marshmallow OS, long battery life and powerful processor.
That big screen is a definite bonus if you’re looking to upgrade from a smaller tablet, and it does feel nice to hold, despite its button layout taking some getting used to.
On the other hand, if stellar audio quality and a noteworthy HD display are a priority then you’d better look elsewhere. Surprisingly, in the direction of a much cheaper tablet such as the Tesco Hudl 2.
If Vodafone could match the Vodafone Tab Prime’s 7 powerful Octa-core processor with knockout audio and a few more pixels to boot, it would be a nigh on perfect budget tablet.