Introduction

Alcatel is one of the survivors on the mobile scene and the company definitely has a proud history behind its back, dating from when feature phones were the norm. Sadly since then a lot has changed and major power-shifts have happened in the smartphone market. Alcatel is still around and has found a way of its own to stay in business with what seem like a lot of compromises with the brand name.

Nowadays the company has adopted a strategy of catering to carrier device needs, rather than end users. Think of it this way - when your local operator needs some inexpensive devices to fill the gaps in it on-contract lineup, Alcatel is there to help, venture outside this market and things get confusing. Very, very, very confusing. Seeing how the manufacturer has to cope with radically different demands from various regional operators, customization is key, which is why Alcatel has adopted the habit of frequently pumping out new devices, by the truck load, each with a gazillion hardware, connectivity and software variations and, to make things worse, usually under the same name.

Alcatel PIXI 3

Most of these devices never see the light of day due to no carrier interest, but the ones who do get produced or demoed are almost impossible to distinguish and decipher. This is precisely the case with what Alcatel did at this year's MWC.

It started off with their flagship, the OneTouch Idol 3. Alcatel announced not one, but two smartphones under the OneTouch Idol 3 moniker, both packing as many differences as similarities. One has a 4.7" screen, while the other - a 5.5" screen, explicitly targeting different users. The differentiation shows up in the specs as well, with the two versions packing chipsets on opposite ends of the midrange.

It all continued with the announcement of 10 other new devices, including 5 (two phones and three tablets) all under the name PIXI 3.

Walking by their booth only confused us further, as what we found there were more PIXI 3 devices, still different from the ones in the presentation and press release.

We can definitely understand Alcatel's side of the matter, but it is definitely not making our job any easier. In any case we played around with the company had brought to the venue and from what we were able to gather all of the devices have already been announced, about a month ago and are still not up for sale. We realize that most of these never will, but let's take a look at the devices for a first-hand impression. We'll start from the top and work our way down.

Follow us on the next pages while we try and make sense of them all.

  • Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (5.5)
  • Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (4.7)
  • Alcatel Pixi 3 (5.0-inch)
  • Alcatel Pixi 3 (4.5-inch)
  • Alcatel Pixi 3 (4.0-inch)
  • Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5)
  • Orange Klif
  • Alcatel Pixi 3 (8)
  • Alcatel Pixi 3 (7)

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (5.5) hands-on

We'll kick off with the bigger brother, the 5.5-inch FullHD model. The Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (5.5) packs powerful midrange hardware, headlined by the Snapdragon 615 chipset with octa-core CPU and 2GB of RAM. You get a 13MP rear camera, paired with an 8MP front shooter.

Alcatel MWC 2015

The FullHD 5.5-incher has good resolution, but doesn't impress with contrast, at first glance. Viewing angles are okay, and the display remains readable, even if there's a marked color shift when viewed from the side.

Alcatel claims great sunlight legibility, but we obviously didn't have the tools to test that in the field. That said, with all the spotlights around, the screen performed well and wasn't overly reflective.

Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (5.5) in the hand

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (4.7) hands-on

The smaller 4.7-inch version has a lower resolution, but at 720p it's sharp enough stretched at this diagonal. It comes with an inferior Snapdragon 410 chipset and has only 1GB of RAM. The front camera is also a step back, but 5MP is still a good selfie unit.

Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (4.7) in the hand

What we said about the display of the bigger brother is equally true of the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (4.7). The smaller screen doesn't disappoint either, and possesses adequate contrast and legibility at an angle.

Both phones sport a solid plastic build and materials are pleasant to the touch. They offer very good handling, thanks to the grippy back surface. The slim profile also adds to the positive impression in the hand.

Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (4.7) details

The choice of sizes on Alcatel's part reminds us of one other manufacturer, but there's a good reason for those form-factors. Many buyers refuse to sacrifice pocketability and draw the line at 5 inches or lower, while power users enjoy the added screen estate of a larger diagonal. Hence the 5.5" model to ensure that the vast majority of smartphone users have something in Alcatel's lineup to draw their attention.

Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015

4.7" model sized up against 5.5" big brother

However, the greatest feat of both OneTouch Idol 3 versions is their reversibility, that is, you can pick up the _phone_ upside down and still have a successful conversation. There's no magic here, Alcatel has just fitted the smartphones with a speaker and a mic on each end. It's an ingenious move to help avoid mistakes when handling symmetrical devices, but then again, devices don't need to be symmetrical in the first place.

It's unclear whether this feature has resulted in dual stereo speakers, or Alcatel fitted the speakers and decided to one up them with something unheard of. Either way, no harm is done when you get both.

The smartphones will hit the global market in May or June and in Europe will command a retail price of €200/€250 for the smaller and larger model respectively. The first wave of availability will cover 30 countries in North and Latin America as well as Europe and Africa.

Alcatel is very serious about its smartphone business, and plans to invest $100M for marketing, which should hopefully allow them to sell 10M units of the OneTouch Idol 3. It's not impossible, given the company's intentions to make the smartphones available in as many as 100 countries.

Alcatel PIXI 3 (5.0-inch)

From the looks of things, this should be the company's top offer, or at least from the bunch, or if not that, at least on the table at the venue. At least one of these has to be true. In any case it offers the biggest screen (5-inch) we saw there, not counting the tablets, of course.

From what we know the _phone_ can be equipped with either a dual-core Mediatek MT6570 in the 3G version, running at 1.3GHz, or a quad-core Qualcomm MSM8909 in the 4G one, clocked at 1.1 GHz. RAM can range from 512MB to 1GB, so can the internal storage - 4G or 8GB, needless to say, this is barely adequate by 2015 standards. Our research also shows, that the main camera is an 8MP model with an LED flash and there is also a 5MP front-facing camera.

Alcatel PIXI 3
Alcatel PIXI 3
Alcatel PIXI 3
Alcatel PIXI 3

5-inch Alcatel PIXI 3

But we are almost certain that if you ask nicely and make a bulky order the S0C can easily be swapped to your desire. The same goes for almost all of the specs, so they are more of a suggestion, rather than a given. We are not going to focus too much on performance and hardware, as they seem kind of randomly selected in the floor models. Instead will look at design and build quality, as that should be a bit more representative of the overall worth of the devices.

The 5-inch PIXI 3, the largest of the bunch, looks good enough in terms of design. It is clean with nothing really impressive or characteristic about it. This, in itself, is quite tolerable, but that is more than what can be said for the screen. It has a resolution of 480 x 854 pixels, which is painfully low at 5-inches.

Materials are also quite disappointing. The white plastic back looks sturdy enough, but definitely feels cheap. The front panel is definitely void of protection and gets smudged quite easily. Again we have to bear in mind that we are looking at phones which will, at best, end up as on-contract units at a very low price.

Other than that this particular unit was running a skinned version of Android 5.0.2, which is definitely a nice touch. Sadly, with so little RAM, even the lighter Lollipop struggles badly with multitasking.

Alcatel PIXI 3 (4.5-inch)

Moving on to the smaller 4.5-inch PIXI phone on display. The hardware sheet, we managed to attribute to it, features either a dual-core Mediatek MT6572M at 1GHz for the 3G model or a quad-core MT6735M at 1.1 GHz for the 4G-enabled one. RAM is much the same here - either 512MB or 1GB, but internal storage is only limited to 4GB.

Alcatel PIXI 3
Alcatel PIXI 3
Alcatel PIXI 3
Alcatel PIXI 3

4.5-inch Alcatel PIXI 3

Both cameras on the device are 5MP models, but there is no flash. The build quality is also very similar. The phone definitely feels cheap, but also quite sturdy, so it has that going for it. Interestingly enough the black finish on the back of this unit felt a bit better than the one on the previous phone, but that might be a coincidence. The screen also looks a bit sharper, which is only natural, as it has the same 480 x 854 pixel resolution in a smaller form factor.

As far as software goes, this unit was still stuck on Android 4.4 KitKat and generally had a more flat and simplistic UI.

Alcatel PIXI 3 (4.0-inch)

Digging further down the PIXI 3 barrel we find a 40ich device. This one also comes in a 3G or 4G variant with either a dual-core Mediatek MT6572M or a quad-core Qualcomm MSM8909. Interestingly enough, this one was also running Android Lollipop out-of-the-box. There is some sort of pattern forming here, but we can't quite put our figure on it, but at least it seem SoC variants are a finite number with the PIXI 3.

Alcatel PIXI 3
Alcatel PIXI 3
Alcatel PIXI 3
Alcatel PIXI 3

4-inch Alcatel PIXI 3

This PIXI version, once again, comes with only 512MB of RAM and 4GB of memory, this time with no officially listed upgrade option. Cameras have also been brought down a notch and now offer 2MP, again with no flash.

Alcatel PIXI 3
Alcatel PIXI 3
Alcatel PIXI 3
Alcatel PIXI 3

4-inch Alcatel PIXI 3

Materials, design and build quality all seem to be identical to the 4.5 model. Even the volume and power buttons on the right side look and feel the same. It is almost like Alcatel shrinked the bigger phone down, just a little bit and managed to fit the same buttons, for good measure. The 4-inch display also looks roughly the same in terms of quality. The specs sheet suggests that it was brought down to a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels for this model.

Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5) hands-on

The Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5) is much the same thing, except with Android 4.4 KitKat. The processor is the same 1GHz dual-core, however some versions of the phone come with 512MB RAM. KitKat was tuned to run okay on 512MB, plus you get a lot more storage - 4GB, of which 2GB available to the user.

Orange Klif and Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5)
Orange Klif and Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5)
Orange Klif and Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5)

Matte back of the Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5)

The hardware is otherwise identical down to the 3.5" HVGA screen. The Pixi 3 (3.5) has three Android below the screen, making it easy to tell apart.

Orange Klif hands-on

Mozilla, Alcatel and Orange have partnered up to bring an ultra-affordable, Internet-connected smartphone to developing countries and so the Orange Klif was born. The specs will not impress a living soul, but the phone will be sold for $40, which also includes calls, texts and 500MB of 3G data for three months, courtesy of Orange.

The Orange Klif comes with Firefox OS 2.0, the most current version, and runs it on very modest hardware - a MediaTek chipset with a decent dual-core 1GHz processor and a paltry 256MB RAM. There's also only 512MB of built-in storage, though thankfully there's a microSD card slot.

Orange Klif and Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5)
Orange Klif and Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5)
Orange Klif and Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5)

Orange Klif has modest hardware and price tag

Firefox OS is designed to run on very low-power hardware with as little as 128MB RAM, though don't expect any feats of... anything, really, from the Klif.

The screen is similarly a throwback to a simpler time with a 3.5" diagonal and 320 x 480px resolution. It's no use to talk image quality when the screen is limited to 256K colors and doesn't even support multitouch.

The Orange Klif is a dual-SIM phone, so you can pop in an extra card besides the one you get from Orange. Mobile data is handled by a decently fast 21Mbps 3G HSPA connection.

Shrugging off the western mindset of "LTE is a must," the Klif can do a reasonable job of keeping someone connected to the Internet for half an year at a cost of $40 total. The limited chipset and RAM don't make browsing easy, but the key here is that it's possible at all.

Orange Klif and Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5)
Orange Klif and Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5)
Orange Klif and Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5)

A 2MP camera and LED flash on the back of the Orange Klif

There's a 2MP camera with LED flash and a Torch app, plus an FM radio receiver so the Klif can double as a flashlight or a radio in a pinch. You're limited by the 1,300mAh battery, which even for these specs isn't much. Anyway, there's also a GPS receiver so you can navigate around. Firefox OS is light on SatNav apps though.

Orange Klif and Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5)
Orange Klif and Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5)
Orange Klif and Alcatel Pixi 3 (3.5)

The 3.5" HVGA screen won't impress anyone

Alcatel Pixi 3 (8) hands-on

Alcatel's low-cost Pixi line continues with an 8" tablet. The Alcatel Pixi 3 (8) costs €130 and is already available in some regions.

The tablet is made out of a pleasant enough plastic and feels fairly light in the hand (it weighs 300g). At this price it even comes with 3G connectivity and runs Android 4.4 Lollipop, however the rest of the specifications are pretty Spartan.

Alcatel Pixi 3 tablets
Alcatel Pixi 3 tablets
Alcatel Pixi 3 tablets

The Pixi 3 (8) is powered by a dual-core processor and runs Android 4.4 KitKat

The 8" screen has 1,280 x 800px resolution and decent enough angles and the bezels around the screen are thinner than we would have expected. There are no hardware keys on the front, but there's a VGA front-facing camera. The camera on the back is a 2MP shooter.

The tablet is powered by a 1.3GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. That's enough to keep KitKat chugging along, but these days even entry level phones bring quad-core processors.

Alcatel Pixi 3 tablets
Alcatel Pixi 3 tablets

Alcatel Pixi 3 (8)

The tablet can make voice calls, which is a nice perk - Alcatel point out that you can pair it with a Bluetooth headset or phone. The company has just that, a phone-like Bluetooth device that gives you a familiar calling experience.

Alcatel Pixi 3 (7) hands-on

The 7" Pixi 3 tablet comes in three distinct flavors - Wi-Fi only, 3G and 4G LTE. The basic model will cost a meager €70, another €20 gets you 3G connectivity and finally €130 (same as the 8" Pixi 3" 3G) gets you 4G LTE.

Note that the three versions have different chipsets and software. The LTE one justifies the big price bump with a Snapdragon 210 chipset - quad-core Cortex-A7 at 1.1GHz, 1GB of RAM and Adreno 304. Better yet it runs Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Alcatel Pixi 3 tablets
Alcatel Pixi 3 tablets

The Wi-Fi and 3G versions run KitKat, the LTE version are on Lollipop

The Wi-Fi and 3G models are more modest with a 1.3GHz dual-core processor and only 512MB RAM (MediaTek chipset). They run the older Android 4.4 KitKat too. That's what you get for €70/€90 apparently.

Anyway, all three tablets have a 7" 1,024 x 600px screen with iffy viewing angles. The 2,820mAh battery is barely enough to impress a 5" phone, let alone a tablet.

The 7" Pixi 3 tablets have a 2MP main camera, VGA selfie camera and 4GB built-in storage plus a microSD card slot. They will launch in May in select regions.

Alcatel Pixi 3 tablets
Alcatel Pixi 3 tablets
Alcatel Pixi 3 tablets
Alcatel Pixi 3 tablets

2MP on the back

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (5.5) hands-on

We'll kick off with the bigger brother, the 5.5-inch FullHD model. The Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (5.5) packs powerful midrange hardware, headlined by the Snapdragon 615 chipset with octa-core CPU and 2GB of RAM. You get a 13MP rear camera, paired with an 8MP front shooter.

Alcatel MWC 2015

The FullHD 5.5-incher has good resolution, but doesn't impress with contrast, at first glance. Viewing angles are okay, and the display remains readable, even if there's a marked color shift when viewed from the side.

Alcatel claims great sunlight legibility, but we obviously didn't have the tools to test that in the field. That said, with all the spotlights around, the screen performed well and wasn't overly reflective.

Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (5.5) in the hand

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (4.7) hands-on

The smaller 4.7-inch version has a lower resolution, but at 720p it's sharp enough stretched at this diagonal. It comes with an inferior Snapdragon 410 chipset and has only 1GB of RAM. The front camera is also a step back, but 5MP is still a good selfie unit.

Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (4.7) in the hand

What we said about the display of the bigger brother is equally true of the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (4.7). The smaller screen doesn't disappoint either, and possesses adequate contrast and legibility at an angle.

Both phones sport a solid plastic build and materials are pleasant to the touch. They offer very good handling, thanks to the grippy back surface. The slim profile also adds to the positive impression in the hand.

Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (4.7) details

The choice of sizes on Alcatel's part reminds us of one other manufacturer, but there's a good reason for those form-factors. Many buyers refuse to sacrifice pocketability and draw the line at 5 inches or lower, while power users enjoy the added screen estate of a larger diagonal. Hence the 5.5" model to ensure that the vast majority of smartphone users have something in Alcatel's lineup to draw their attention.

Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015
Alcatel MWC 2015

4.7" model sized up against 5.5" big brother

However, the greatest feat of both OneTouch Idol 3 versions is their reversibility, that is, you can pick up the phone upside down and still have a successful conversation. There's no magic here, Alcatel has just fitted the smartphones with a speaker and a mic on each end. It's an ingenious move to help avoid mistakes when handling symmetrical devices, but then again, devices don't need to be symmetrical in the first place.

It's unclear whether this feature has resulted in dual stereo speakers, or Alcatel fitted the speakers and decided to one up them with something unheard of. Either way, no harm is done when you get both.

The smartphones will hit the global market in May or June and in Europe will command a retail price of €200/€250 for the smaller and larger model respectively. The first wave of availability will cover 30 countries in North and Latin America as well as Europe and Africa.

Alcatel is very serious about its smartphone business, and plans to invest $100M for marketing, which should hopefully allow them to sell 10M units of the OneTouch Idol 3. It's not impossible, given the company's intentions to make the smartphones available in as many as 100 countries.

post from sitemap