Here at Hypertext we adore affordable tech that performs well above the expectations made by the price tag.
Feature phones fall squarely in that bracket but for the most part these handsets are very basic and there isn’t always a feature worth writing home about.
The latest handset from the halls of Vodacom is the Vibe 4G and despite having 4G capabilities, that’s not the best feature in this feature phone.
Let’s explore the handset and explain why we think this might be the best product of the year.
Battery life for days
Out of the box the Vibe 4G boasts four days of battery life but in practice that comes closer to three days with calling, browsing and messaging. More battery power can be pried from the Vibe 4G but it requires switching off mobile data and WiFi which renders the handset rather useless.
Charging the 1 600mAh battery takes just over two hours thanks to a lack of fast charging. Given the low cost of the Vibe 4G, this is an omission we can forgive.
The daily experience
There are two apps available for the Vibe 4G – Facebook Lite and WhatsApp. While we would love more apps (like YouTube) we understand the handset is rather constrained in terms of its internals.
Despite the handset looking as if it’s running a custom version of Android, we can’t confirm exactly which version of Android has been adapted.
That is neither here nor there though as the operating system runs well.
This is thanks to a Mediatek MT6739 chipset running at 1.3GHz and 512MB of RAM. Apps do take a while to load up but with specs this low, we expected that.
Coming from a premium Samsung Galaxy S10+, the performance dip is noticeable, but not as noticeable as you might think. While I find things do take longer to load, once loaded performance is snappy and we’re able to scroll through our Facebook timeline without having to wait for the device to realise its meant to be loading the next batch of content.
A browser is also installed on the handset and through it you can view YouTube videos although the experience leaves much to be desired. For basic web browsing however, the experience is serviceable.
What really makes this handset a joy to use is 4G. For those who have never experienced the speed of the connectivity standard, the Vibe 4G is a wonderful way to try it out and get hooked on speed.
WhatsApp downloads are snappy and web pages load quickly. Honestly, the 4G functionality of this device is worth the price alone.
Our only concern is that there is no way to switch to 3G/2G only for those who are in areas where 4G isn’t available just yet. That having been said, we found that the device is able to flit between 4G and 3G/2G without problems, something we can’t say for some of the premium devices we’ve used in the past.
The final feature that should be mentioned are the cameras.
At the back of the handset is a 2MP snapper and up front is tiny 0.3MP sensor for selfies.
The results are nothing short of awful by today’s standards and even if Instagram was supported, it’s likely you wouldn’t want to post the snaps to the social network unless you were doing some sort of artsy project.
Is the bad camera a deal breaker? No because the value of the Vibe 4G is its connectivity support.
The Vibe 4G is – by modern definitions – a burner phone but this handset is better suited as a backup handset that can double as a 4G modem.
The battery life is spectacular for those who plan on putting this in their laptop bag or their car cubby-hole for emergencies. Being able to remove the battery is great so you can even pick up a spare battery.
For the person who simply needs a cheap handset for connectivity purposes, the Vibe 4G is excellent.
However, for all our adoration of the Vibe 4G it has one massive problem – the device is locked to the Vodacom network.
Is this an egregious problem? It really depends on where you fall on network preference but we understand how folks may be put off by the fact that they won’t be able to use their network of choice.
With all of that in mind however, we can’t help but recommend the Vibe 4G. The battery life is superb and having a 4G device as a backup internet source when loadshedding strikes has proved valuable over the last week.
For readers looking for an alternate device to use for lazy days at the beach or simply a better feature phone, the Vibe 4G is spectacular.