Device reviews
    25 October 2017

    Ami Kapilevich

    Review: Vodacom Smart N8

    On the face of it, security and ease of access seem to be mutually exclusive – choose one or the other. But fingerprint identification changes all of that at a reasonable price

    When Apple launched it’s latest iPhone X, there was a lot of noise made about its facial recognition technology – FaceID – and not all of it was good.

    Some critics berated the company for making it too easy to allow ‘sneak authorisations’, whereby a thief can simply hold the phone up to a restrained victims face to unlock, while Huawei even went so far as to poke fun at it with a clown emoji and the tagline: “Let’s face it, facial recognition technology isn’t for everyone.”

    Apple responded by saying that FaceID wasn’t supposed to be a game-changing replacement for other forms of security. It’s just another option. Like it? Use it. Don’t like it? Use fingerprints or punch in a code.

    Fair enough.

    But the furor around facial recognition seemed to say less about this new technology and more about an older one. For all the fuss and bustle around FaceID, the winner was actually fingerprint identification.

    Fingerprint identification

    Let’s face it – fingerprint ID is by far the simplest, fastest and most convenient method of unlocking a phone that smartphone manufacturers have devised.

    Punching in numbers is too clunky (although favoured by those paranoid enough to not want to risk the 50,000–1 chance that someone else’s fingerprints can unlock your phone), facial recognition is yet to prove itself (and is a bit creepy). Fingerprint ID is just right.

    The reason for this is that fingerprint tech fits seamlessly into the way we use a phone. We pick it up and touch it. Of course, the same can be said for facial recognition, but there’s a sense of control – of choice or command – with fingerprint technology that facial recognition seems to intuitively lack.

    Admittedly, the Smart N8’s fingerprint sensor is around the back of your phone but after a few days you’ll be able to master the gesture of unlocking and flipping the phone with one hand. It actually feels kind of cool to do it!

    Until now, however, the fingerprint unlock function has been expensive. The Smart N8 is the first mid-range phone to offer the convenience of fingerprint security at the best price in the business.

    And not a moment too soon.

    Battery life

    Ask anyone what the most important feature they would upgrade on their phones would be, and battery life would top the list eight times out of 10. The Smart N8’s compact 2400Ah battery proves that dynamite comes in small packages.

    A single charge will give you up to 9-and-a-half hours of juice, and a full length feature film will use up less than 20% of the battery life.

    Bonus features

    The Smart N8 runs the latest Android 7.0 operating system, which has been tweaked to offer even easier access to the most important features – like the 13 megapixel camera – while allowing some customization to suit your lifestyle. And with 16GB of memory, you don’t have to worry about deleting any photos or music.


    The Smart N8’s 720p, 5-inch display comes hugged in a sleek and pretty casing, with the rear of the phone providing extra grip in an aesthetically pleasing manner by sporting angled ridges.

    As for aesthetics, the Smart N8 won the N8 a product deign award at the iF Design Awards – one of the oldest and most prestigious deign awards in the world.

    And that’s just the cherry on the top.

    Ami Kapilevich