Reviewed by David Savage
The days of only one phone in the house, which would have been a fixed landline are long gone. In fact, landlines in the home are becoming less and less – I can’t remember the last time mine rang or I picked it up to make a call, the mobile is generally at hand and just far more convenient. Everybody has a mobile phone and in most cases a smartphone (or pocket computer if you prefer, as most of them they are fast, powerful and do more than just make phone calls). With the days getting darker earlier I think it is a good idea for high school children to have a phone in their bag for emergencies, especially when they start to gain a bit more independence and start walking to and from school on their own. With lots of mobile phones costing up to £1000, you don’t really want to be giving them something so expensive that may get lost, broken or even stolen. As I wouldn’t dream of giving a child such an expensive phone, I have been looking at phones that have similar capabilities but without the hefty price tag and think I have found one that is perfect for the job – the Alcatel 3V.
The Alcaltel 3V (Model no: 5099y) is a smartphone that would be considered to be in the budget/mid-price range. That said, it is packed with a whole host of features, some of which you would only expect to find on more expensive phones. It has a super-sleek look with the 6” display taking up a large proportion of the front, and the bezel being relatively small. There are no physical buttons on the front to spoil the modern, sleek look and you could be forgiven for thinking it was a far more expensive phone than it is at first glance – perfect for any style-conscious teenager.
Some of the main features are:
- 6” 18:9 HD 2K Touchscreen with a screen resolution of 2160 x 1080 pixels
- Quad-core Processor @ 1.45Ghz (Mediatek MT8735A)
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB Storage (can be expanded up to 128GB via MicroSD card)
- Dual Sim capabilities
- 3000mAh battery (500 hours standby / up to 14 hours talk time depending on whether using 2g/3g/4g)
- Front and Dual Rear Camera
- Android 8.0 (Oreo) Operating System
Above are just the main functions but it is packed with others that you might find on its more expensive counterparts such as: phone unlocking with a fingerprint scanner and face unlocking, hot swapping of sims – no need to turn off the phone to put in/take out other sim cards, dual rear camera that uses a Bokeh effect (allows you to blur the background image), hotspot and tethering, WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS and even the ability to mute incoming calls by turning the phone over.
The phone measures 162 x 76 x 8.05mm, weighs 155g and features a 6” 18:9 2K touchscreen with a resolution of 2160×1080 that we found to be bright, fast and very responsive.
It has a dual rear camera 12MP (Interpolated to 16MP) + 2MP and LED flash. The front camera is 5MP (Interpolated to 8MP) and LED flash. The images are good quality and vibrant and the Bokeh function allows you blur the background image using a sliding scale (perfect for teenagers and their social media channels). We found the camera on still images to be very good without using Bokeh effects, even in some low light conditions. With Bokeh effects they weren’t perfect, but we are still getting used to using the slider to get the best images, so this may be down to practice (you can even tweak the burred effect after the image has been taken), and the kids will certainly spend more time playing with and tweaking photo effects than I ever would!
The battery life is reasonable. It has a 3000mAh battery which can last up 500 hours on standby or up to 14 hours talk-time using a 2G network, although it’s rather less when using a 4G network. With Wifi and Bluetooth turned on the battery life should last all day, but if teenagers are hitting YouTube and social media channels constantly as they seem to do it may need charging more. The charging port is Micro USB and the phone doesn’t support fast charge so it’s probably one that you’ll want to put on to charge overnight.
Overall, the Alcatel 3V is a budget phone with mid-range features. Whilst it doesn’t compete with the all-singing / all-dancing features found on high-end phones such as Samsung or iPhone it is a perfect phone for people who want a phone for a little more than just calls, texts, internet access and apps, but who don’t need budget-blowing performance.
The phone does everything we need it to do. The screen is very responsive and we have experienced no lag or delay, even switching between apps. The camera is a reasonable quality and the security features are great. The battery life could be better (but don’t we say that with all our devices?).
As a smartphone under £150 it is very good choice for a Christmas gift idea this year. It does everything a phone needs to do and would be great for teenagers as they can take their pictures and post on social media easily. It also has features that I wouldn’t expect to find on a budget phone such as the face unlocking security feature and hot swap dual sim functionality.
Alternatively, if you want something a bit smaller, cheaper and just as easy to use, the Alcatel 1 is a good option to consider. This budget option still doesn’t skimp on spec; having a 5” 18:9 touchscreen display for a phone priced at under £60 is almost unheard of and whilst it’s not going to win any performance awards, it’s very respectable if you’re looking for a simple phone for calls, texts and basic internet usage. Under the bonnet is:
- a quad-core CPU
- 5MP (interpolated to 8MP) rear camera
- 2MP (interpolated to 5MP) front camera
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB storage
The Alcatel 1 only has a 2000mAh battery but the smaller screen doesn’t use as much battery as a larger, brighter one would so the battery life is similar to that of the 3V. Whilst the Alcatel 1 is an Android based phone, it uses the Go Edition of Android Oreo, which is a cut down version of Android Oreo, optimised for more basic smartphones. It has less clutter, fewer bundled apps and whilst it doesn’t provide the same Android experience as users of more expensive phones would be used to, it is simple to use and ideal first time users. Available for only £59.99 from Carphone Warehouse.
As budget smartphones go the Alcatel 3V is a great fully functional smartphone with some great features that won’t break the bank. The Alcatel 1 is a cut down version that would make the perfect entry level phone for users that just need basically functionality. Either would make a great Christmas gift idea.
RRP: £130 (SIM free)