Vodacom recently launched the Vibe 4G – a “smart feature” phone with LTE support.
The device is priced at R299, making it one of the cheapest 4G handsets on the market.
You are not getting a fully-fledged smartphone for this price, but Vodacom states that the Vibe 4G supports Facebook, WhatsApp, and an Internet browser.
It boasts a 2.8-inch display, ultra-long battery life, and a 2MP camera in addition to a physical keypad on the bottom half of the handset.
Impressively, the device can also act as a Wi-Fi hotspot with fast connection speeds thanks to its 4G capabilities.
Vodacom supplied us with one of the new Vibe 4G devices, allowing us to test out its capabilities.
Almost a smartphone
At first glance, the Vibe 4G looks like a standard feature phone – it has a physical keypad complete with accept and end call buttons, a small screen with a thick bezel on the top half of the device, and a single camera on the back.
Once you start it up, however, you are presented with the interface of its proprietary operating system, which is simple but accessible.
The display is not a touch screen, of course, meaning that you will need to navigate the device’s interface via the directional pad and home button on the physical keypad.
Three shortcuts were immediately presented on the main display when we booted up the device – WhatsApp, Facebook Lite, and Vodacom.
There is no app store available on the device, but it is equipped with an FM Radio app, a sound recorder, and a fully-fledged Internet browser.
It is a good smart feature phone that enables the use of advanced applications through a simple interface familiar to feature phone users.
For a smartphone user, however, returning to a T9 keyboard may feel like typing in morse code, and you should prepare to spend a solid minute inputting a URL if you are unpractised.
4G Wi-Fi hotspot
The experience of browsing and social apps is great considering the limited functionality of the smart feature phone, and it is here where the device’s true capabilities are unveiled.
The Vibe 4G provides access to a version of WhatsApp which offers basic messaging functionality in addition to voice notes and the ability to send media.
Facebook Lite is also installed on the device – it works perfectly and is reminiscent of old mobile versions of Facebook which shipped with early smartphones.
The Internet browser is surprisingly easy to use and even offers multi-tab browsing.
Navigating to www.speedtest.co.za in the device’s mobile browser and putting the 4G connection through its paces, we were stunned at the speed achievable by the device.
In its first test run, the Vodacom Vibe 4G reached download speeds of 32.49Mbps and upload speeds of 24.01Mbps with a ping of 40ms – not bad for a R299 “smart feature” phone.
This high-speed connection highlights one of the device’s other major features – the ability to function as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The addition of this feature elevates the Vodacom Vibe 4G from a decent smart feature phone for the lower-end market to a great enabler of mobile connectivity for all users.
For just R299, you can get a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot that delivers speeds of around 40Mbps, has great battery life, and can run both WhatsApp and Facebook.
The Vodacom Vibe 4G is available to purchase from Vodacom stores and selected retailers across South Africa.