Alcatel launched a slew of new phones at MWC this year, all in the affordable price bracket, and I have been slowly reviewing the range since.

The top model for this year’s models is the Alcatel 5 which is priced at £179.99 on Amazon, though now technically the top model is the Alcatel 5v.

Specification

The phone comes with a 5.7-inch display running at 720 x 1440 pixels giving an 18:9 ratio and has a 77.4% screen to body ratio. Curiously the cheaper Alcatel 3v has a larger screen with a higher resolution of 6-inches and 1080 x 2160 pixels.

It is physically smaller and lighter than the 3v I previously used and the overall design is quite unique as far as phones go nowadays. It has slim bezels on 3 sides but then a huge bezel on top, on the rear you get a pleasant brushed metallic effect rear. The overall dimensions and weight of the phone make it very comfortable in your hand and easy for one-handed operation. The phone is made out of plastic as far as I can tell, but I don’t see this as a bad thing, it feels nice in the hand, keeps weight down and is less prone to breaking than materials such as glass.

Alcatel 5 Review 1

The rest of the specification includes:

  • MediaTek MT6750 SoC which has an Octa-core (4×1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4×1.0 GHz Cortex-A53) CPU and a Mali-T860MP2
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32GB of storage upgradable via MicroSD
  • Single rear camera with 12 MP (f/2.2, 1/2.9″, 1.25µm)
  • Dual front camera with 13 MP (f/2.0, 1.4 μm) + 5 MP (no AF, depth sensor)
  • USB Type C
  • NFC
  • 3000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0

It is a bit of a curious specification when you compare it to the Alcatel 3v, the SoC is better being octo-core and higher clock speed, with more RAM and storage. There is also a dual front-facing the camera with a much higher resolution. You also get USB-C.

However, quite a few areas are worse than the 3v which costs close to half the price this includes the display which is 720 x 1440 on the 5 and 1080 x 2160 on the 3v. The 3V has a better rear camera with dual 12 MP (f/2.2, 1/2.8″, 1.25 μm, PDAF) + 2 MP (f/2.4, 1/5″, depth sensor). The main issue for me is that the Alcatel 5 ships with Android 7.0 compared to Android 8.0 on the other model, we are in mid-2018 now, and I don’t think any new phone should ship with an OS over a year old regardless of how cheap it is.

Performance and Software

For day to day tasks the MT6750 SoC was more than adequate for my use, everything feels snappy, and there appears to be no significant lag when loading up apps.

While I think it is poor that the phone is running Android 7.0 it does not appear to hold it back for regular use.

As always with Alcatel, the five comes shipped with the Joy Launcher which has a slightly cartoonish look to the design and I find it OK myself, but it is frequently criticised online. I am not sure why Alcatel insist on keeping it. Again, as with other models you get a few apps pre-installed, two including the file explorer and super cleaner, which have both in the past pushed annoying notifications to me that you can’t remove. Again, these are criticised online. During my review period, I suffer any of these issues, so it is possible Alcatel has listened to the complaints and removed them.

While I found the software experience fine during the review, I feel like it would make more sense to offer Android One on these devices. Surely it would mean less software development and maintenance for Alcatel, while also boosting sales.

It is not all bad with the Joy launcher there are a couple of useful settings which include an app cloner allowing you to run multiple social media accounts, and a face unlock function.

 

One area I did have a problem with is the screen, it is great indoors, but outdoors I struggled to see the display in bright conditions. The issue appears to be partly due to the adaptive brightness which you have to go into the settings to switch off then turn the brightness all the way up to make it useable. I appreciate all phone suffer from this problem, but this seemed worse than normal.

Camera

The camera performed well for me, it wasn’t as quick as the Mate 10 pro, but for a phone in this price bracket, it was good enough. I had a few issues with the 3v giving blurry shots, and with the five this was not present.

You get a few modes including HDR, the ability to apply filters, and panoramic. There is no bokeh style which is likely due to the single lens.

From recent reviews, I have found all budget phones have surprisingly decent cameras that are more than adequate for the average user and for posting to social media.

Battery

This has the same 3000mAh as the 3v, and it performs reasonably well. I managed to get a full days’ worth of use out of it without starting to stress about needing to charge it. The lower resolution screen will help with the screen on time, but there was no noticeable improvement over then 3V.

Overall

This phone is a bit of a mixed bag; I think it looks great and feels well made. It fits great in my hand and is lightweight so slots into my pocket without weighing things down.

It performs perfectly well, with no major issues experienced, and the improved processor, RAM and storage go some way to justifying the extra cost over the 3v.

That being said, even though it is affordable it is twice the price of the Alcatel 3V and almost as expensive as the Huawei P Smart. There are numerous other phones around this price point to with notable options being the Motorola Moto G6 Play, Honor 9 Lite, and the Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus. Most of the competing models also ship with Android 8.0

So overall, while it isn’t a bad phone, it struggles to compete in a crowded marketplace at this price point. Conversely, while the 3v had a few issues, you can’t really fault it when it costs £90, and if I were after a budget phone, I would take the 3v over the Alcatel 5.

Alcatel 5 Review

Product Name: Alcatel 5

Offer price: 179.99

Currency: GBP

Availability: InStock

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