Over the last few years, phones have gotten bigger and bigger. And their prices have increased to match their size. Seriously, who ever thought a premium phone would sell for over a $1000? Fortunately, phones like the Alcatel 3V have arrived. They are big, but at just $150, they don’t have a price that matches their size.
Before we dive into the Alcatel 3V, let’s talk about the feature that makes this phone so compelling. This is an unlocked 6” phone running Android 8.0 Oreo, with dual 12MP and 2MP rear cameras and a 5MP front camera and yet it is just $149.99. That’s, well, that’s simply remarkable. It means you could buy seven of these phones for less than I paid for my iPhone X. Now let me be clear, this is not a flagship phone. This handset isn’t rocking the breakout features you will find coming from Apple or Samsung on their current top-of-the-line devices. It isn’t waterproof. It doesn’t have a screen that will blow you away. It doesn’t offer wireless charging. But it is no slouch either.
In the box you’ll find, a quick start guide, a 5V 1A Charger, a data cable, a SIM Tool, headphones, a clear case, a screen protector and, of course, the Alcatel 3V.
The phone is large, measuring in at 6.38 x 2.99 x .32 in. It is, however, surprisingly light — weighing just 5.47 oz
The 6” display has an aspect ratio of 18:9. Alcatel describes it as offering “stunning clarity and vivid colors.”
I wouldn’t call it stunning but, so long as you don’t hold it up against a phone with a far higher quality screen, you won’t be disappointed. Images are clear. Text is sharp, and it gets the job done.
Ahead of the Curve: The Alcatel 3V is easy on the eyes and fits comfortably in the hand, thanks to the 2.5D curved glass display, and the sleek contemporary design.
The phone has an “ergonomic design with a sleek curved back.” Made of plastic, it doesn’t have the heft of a flagship phone, but there’s no creaking when you squeeze it, and the use of plastic helps keep it light. In fact, while it is larger than my iPhone X, it is far, far lighter. No, it doesn’t have the classy look or feel of my iPhone but, then again, you are a bit unrealistic if you expect a $150 phone to feel like one costing $1000 or more.
On one side of the phone, you will find the dual SIM slot (the phone can handle two SIM cards or one SIM card and a microSD expansion card) and a textured power button.
On the other side, you will find the volume rocker.
Along the top of the phone is the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Along the bottom is the micro USB charging port (yup, Alcatel went with the old standard rather than moving up to the incredibly ubiquitous USB-C standard) and two sets of drilled holes which, I assume, are for the small speaker and the microphone. It is worth noting that, while the phone has a decent 3,000 mAh battery that is good for about a day of use, it lacks the fast charging and wireless charging that is increasingly common on phones these days. That shouldn’t come as a surprise since Alcatel had to cut corners somewhere to keep the price down.
On the back, you’ll find the dual cameras, flash and fingerprint reader. The light, plastic case makes holding the phone comfortable, but it feels cheap and is a fingerprint magnet. That was a bit off-putting at first but, once I put the included clear case on the phone, that problem was largely solved.
As previously mentioned, the phone has dual rear cameras. One offers 12MP while the other is a 2MP. The two work together as “depth-sensing dual rear cameras with flash for advanced photos with bokeh effect.” They do a decent job of letting you capture images although, at this point, many of us have been rather spoiled by the images phones deliver. The Alcatel 3V is… fine. I was surprised to find a 5MP camera on the front and even more surprised that it offers the ability to create instant collages as well as providing photo booth and social square modes.
The main camera can shoot video at up to 1080p. It is good but not great. The front-facing selfie camera can shoot video at 720p and is, as one would expect, not as sharp as the videos taken with the back cameras. In other words, if you are looking to replace your DSLR, this is not the phone for you (not that any phone is really up to that task), but if you want to carry a device that will let you capture and share good photos on the go, I suspect you will be more than satisfied.
- SOCIAL SQUARE: Review, delete or share pictures as soon as they’re taken, all while the other half of your screen stays fixated on the action.
- EXPRESS YOURSELF: The 5MP front camera with flash lets you capture dynamic selfies, day or night.
- PHOTO BOOTH: Get personal photo booth shots, no cramming required. Strike your best poses in four pictures and instantly share with friends.
- INSTANT COLLAGE: Make your photos pop by creating a collage in real time with a layout of your choice.
Inside the phone, there is a 3000 mAh battery that Alcatel promises can deliver up to 9 hours per charge. It’s no slouch and, in my testing, I had no complaints about.
Security comes in a variety of forms. This too surprised me in a camera costing so little. It has face unlock so you can unlock the phone at a glance, but it also has a fingerprint sensor on the back that lets you instantly unlock the phone. Of course, if you want to go “old school” you can use Android’s touchscreen pattern unlock too.
The phone comes unlocked and is advertised as being compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile’s 4G LTE networks. Since I am on AT&T I can vouch for the fact that it works with their network, but I could not test if other networks worked in addition to those advertised.
The phone uses the non-standard nano-SIM, ships with Android 8.0 Oreo, has 2GB RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. This internal memory can be expanded significantly since the phone can accept Micro SD memory cards of up to 128GB in size. The 2GB of RAM and meager 16GB of internal storage is a bit of a disappointment. Also, while the phone has Android 8.0 Oreo, it also has an overlay that makes it look a bit cheesy. I wouldn’t say it is bad, but it does look a little immature, especially in this age of ever-more refiner mobile operating systems.
An additional area of surprise presented itself when I discovered that, in the box with a $150 phone Alcatel saw their way to include a clear case and a screen protector. They aren’t fancy, but the fact that they were included is pretty sweet. The included headphones are crap and should only be used in an emergency. And, by “emergency” I mean you are visiting your aunt who won’t stop talking and need some way to enjoy a few minutes of peace.
There is another feature worth mentioning: Split Screen Multitasking. It came as a surprise to me that this budget phone offers split-screen multitasking. That’s especially surprising considering the fact that the phone has just 2GB of RAM, but it works. The 6”X 1080 18:9 display (custom-built using TCL’s TV technology) is long and thin enough to allow for two apps to be displayed side by side. It works and, as someone who is making increasing use of this technology on his iPad, it strikes me as a nice, albeit not necessary, feature.
Of course, since this phone runs Android, there are a host of settings with which you can play.
- Slim Frame/OPVM Back/Premium Gloss Finish
- MEMORY: 2GB RAM/16GB ROM
- MicroSD Support: Up to 128GB
- Processor: MT8735A Quad-Core 4*A53 1.45GHz
- Sensors: GPS, Accelerometer, Proximity, Light, E-Compass, Gyro, Hall Switch
- Operating System: Android™ 8.0 Oreo
- Display Size: 6.0”
- Resolution: 2K FHD (2180x1080p) LTPS-IPS
- Rear Camera: 12MP + 2 MP Dual Camera
- Flash Type: Single LED Flash
- Rear Camera Video: 1080P@30fps
- Front Camera: 5MP stills and video at 1080P@30fps
- Wi-Fi Specs: 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4GHz & 5GHz on 802.11nn)
- Bluetooth: V4.2
- FM Radio
- USB Type: MicroUSB
- SIM Type: Nano 4FF
- Battery Size: 3000 mAh
- Standby Time: 370 hours (3G)
- Talk Time: 9 hrs (3G)
- Headset Jack Size: 3.5mm
- Speaker Size: 0.7 w
In 2017, we saw the prices of premium smartphones explode past the $1000 level, and there doesn’t appear to be any indication that this trend is stopping anytime soon. So when a phone like the Alcatel 3V comes along and is under $150, it is worth checking out. No, this phone doesn’t have the solid, refined build of my iPhone X, and it doesn’t have the degree of power of Apple’s flagship but, for under $150, Alcatel’s offering is worth consideration. It has solid cameras, a fingerprint reader, allows for split screen viewing, and more. It’s not the phone for people who love gaming or who are looking to make their phone their primary camera but, if you need an inexpensive phone that won’t feel like you had to make huge sacrifices, the Alcatel 3V is worth consideration. Check it out here, and you can purchase it on Amazon [affiliate link]
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Amazingly low price; Comes with a case, screen protector and headphones; Large screen; Full Android OS; Dual rear cameras; 3.5mm headphone jack
What Needs Improvement: Uses micro USB rather than USB C; Cameras do the job but will not wow you; Plastic body is a fingerprint magnet; Feels light and not premium; Fast enough but nowhere near the current speed of high-end phones