- Has a funky light up back which can be customised
- Camera not as bad as expected
- Unbelievably sluggish with heavier use apps
- Battery life is poor
There’s something to love about the quirky Alcatel A5 LED mobile phone. Okay, it’s not the fastest phone out there, and it struggles when trying to fight against similar budget smart phones like the Motorola G5 for example, but still, it’s different. And we’re all about different here.
The Alcatel A5 LED was originally going to be shipped as just a standard black phone. The LED panel for the rear of the phone was an afterthought to try and separate this phone from the competition. Good job they did, because I don’t think it would have held up otherwise. As soon as I opened the box, the LED panel was installed. And it’s way cool! Like a mobile disco in your pocket.
The LED rear is diffused. The LED lights are in between the back of the phone and the mesh housing you can find in them. It’s as tasteful as it can be, but the lights are always still going to be bright and shining in your face. They fire off every time you get a phone call, notification or when you play music. And the patterns they create can be set by you. They can be fire, raindrops making their way from top to bottom or even rhythmic, so they flash, literally like a wedding reception DJ setup when you play some music. Gimmicky? Probably, but it’s one we like.
And it’s such a shame that the specification of this phone isn’t very good. Because with the wildly different back, this could have been a wonderful phone to use. The phone is bulky when compared to similarly priced handsets on the market, and the majority is made from plastic. It’s not overly expensive either. The Alcatel A5 LED was found around £100 online. There is glass that covers the screen giving it a nice shine.
The screen actually comes in at 720p, which in this day and age with phones now hitting 4K resolutions is a little disappointing, but it’s sharp enough to read small text on a web page still. I never struggled with using the phone. The phone’s brightness and contrast is reduced if you’re not looking at the phone screen dead on which is a little bit of a shame.
It’s rocking Android 6.0 which is a whole version older than Android’s latest Nougat software. There are some design changes that Alcatel has implimented, but these aren’t going too far away from stock Android which is nice. There are themes that can change this up though, but it’s way more fun to use the ColourCatcher. Fire your camera at a colourful surface and the camera will select the most prominent colours and create a custom theme from them. That’s neat. Fully customisable looks to your phone in an instant.
The biggest let down is the phone’s performance. Inside you can find a MediaTek MT6753, an octa-core 1.3GHz CPU with Cortex-A53 cores which is paired with 2GB of RAM. There’s even s and a Mali-T720 GPU processor inside too. This phone should be good, but it’s not. It feels very sluggish and hangs a lot when switching apps. I even often found that my text had to catch up with me when typing on the keyboard. However it scored 2603 on a multi-core benchmark through GeekBench4 which is a little lower than the popular Moto G5 at 2841 on some tests.
I just don’t know why this phone suffers so much in terms of performance. Playing games seems to work well, but every day applications and even typing really lags behind the competition. As I said before, it’s such a shame because with consistent performance, this phone could definitely be up there on recommendation lists, especially for the price of the handset too.
And please, don’t get me started on battery life. It’s bad, and I think it has something to do with the LED lightshow this phone gives you. With the LEDs, and some use to work, you’ll be lucky to get a day’s use out of it, let alone until a 5pm home time. If you decide you want the boring plastic back without the lights, you’ll probably get a day out of it, but only just. Make sure you carry a powerbank with you wherever you go.
One redeeming factor is the camera, and after the slating I’ve just given this phone, it’s not as bad as you may expect. Just slow. Slow to take a photo, slow to check that photo after you’ve taken it, and don’t even bother trying to put the HDR mode on, the phone battery will probably die before it accepts the input. Of course I’m exaggerating, but you get my point. Photos however don’t look too bad. They’re not as sharp or colourful as the Sony XA1, but it’s still passable and can look reasonably nice on your mobile phone screen. Layout is relatively clean, taking inspiration from the iPhone layout with the options on a black bar at the bottom.
The Alcatel A5 LED phone is fun, but is let down by its slow performance. I love the idea this phone has a full light up rear. It’s a lot different to pretty much all other mobile phones on the market right now, and adds a level of customisation that’s pretty unique to this phone. It’s just let down by its quick to die battery life. I hope that Alcatel can get a software update soon, to optimise some of the workings inside the phone. If they can, then this phone would definitely be on another level for the budget handset. But for now, there are other options out there. You can find the phone from various vendors online including Vodafone.