Alcatel have always generally stuck to the bottom of the pile, the budget handset of choice for those wanting a back up phone. However, with the new Alcatel 3V, they’ve managed to pack in some features that you would generally find on flagship models such as the dual-camera setup on the back, a nice 18:9 aspect ratio screen and even face recognition ID to unlock the device. However, it comes with a price tag of only £129 here in the UK from the likes of Carphone Warehouse, so we’re not expecting much from this flagship wannabe.
The entire product is extremely light to begin with, which doesn’t exactly scream quality to me. It looks nice, with its shiny blue tone gloss back which unfortunately picks up finger prints like nobody’s business. Overall it does feel a little plasticy, which doesn’t fill me confidence if this was to take a tumble from waist height. You do get a plastic case included in the box which will help alleviate some damage if dropped, or at least stop your finger grease from ruining your shiny new phone. Be aware, there’s no Gorilla Glass here, so pick yourself up a screen protector.
The volume rocker can be found on the left hand side, while the unlock button on the left which is easily reachable by your thumb with one handed operation. There’s also a finger print scanner on the back just below the camera which feels different enough not to get it confused with the camera. On the bottom you will find a micro USB port which is a tad disappointing now that phones are fully embracing USB Type-C, yet on top the Alcatel 3V retains a headphone jack so bonus points there. Unlocking the phone using the rear fingerprint scanner works relatively quickly and very accurately. Much better than the face ID feature that’s for sure which I found to not pick me up, especially if I was wearing my glasses. There’s a pin and pattern unlock too if that’s more your security bag.
The screen itself comes with a resolution of 1920 x 2160 with a pixel count of 402 which falls into the FHD+category thanks to the extra wide aspect ratio. You do have a separate program named MiraVision to fine tune your colour profiles, things like contrast, saturation and brightness which is unexpected from such a cheap handset. I set mine to a vivid colour profile and turned on dynamic contrast to bring out more detail in the highlights and shadows. It uses IPS technology too so viewing angles are actually quite good. It’s nice and bright and colours look vivid. I’ve seen far worse from handsets at this price.
Apart from that, the other settings are pretty basic so I didn’t mess around with what was set as default. Things like sound settings which basically means set your ringtones, Google profile and accessibility options. You know, standard Android stuff.
The Alcatel 3V covers Android 8.0 Oreo in its very own overlay skin to show the various different app icons. There’s no way of changing it either the same with most mobile phones. It’s nice and big with really clear text. The font is also quite a comfortable size, especially for someone like me who wears glasses to look at screens. However it’s all just very basic to look at. There’s nothing that really stands out about the way the skin looks. It’s basic, yet functional. I found the pre-installed apps to be a little unneeded for most phone users, they can’t be uninstalled either. Also, things like the Netflix app which comes with the phone can be hidden, but not uninstalled all together.
Being a budget phone means that you’re also going to be getting a budget specification. Inside is a Mediatek Quad-core processor clocked at 1.4GHz paired with only 2GB RAM. It’s enough to get you through your working and social media apps, but don’t be expecting to play a smooth round of Fortnite or PUBG Mobile on this thing. A Geekbench 4 test came back well under par for modern day handsets, with slightly more expensive handsets running circles round the Alcatel 3V. On a single core processor we got 650 and on a multicore score we got 1834.
Storage on the device is also severely lacking, with only 16GB. A true saving grace is the fact you can stick a microSD card up to 128GB in it, which will help for sure. Unfortunately 16GB will run out quickly, especially if you’re downloading your Spotify playlist or Netflix movie to save your data.
The dual-camera is where Alcatel are trying to keep up with the competition, and if you’re going to be taking every day snaps in auto mode, then it’s pretty good if your photos are going to be going no further than your Instagram account. However, don’t expect game-changing photography here. Photos come out a little dark, which will need a quick touch up in something like Snapseed or the Instagram editor to recover. The camera is said to be a 12mp+2mp, though some software trickery does something to increase the pixels to 16mp. There are a number of different features to choose from like panoramic, timelapse and night photography. The portrait mode I found struggled to really find the edge of my subjects, often blurring them into the background itself. The f/1.0 simulated aperture only really blurs the background of the top half of the image.
Video shoots at 1080p and again, isn’t the sharpest or even smoothest on this phone as there is no image stabilisation. Again, if these videos are going to be living on your social media accounts, then fine. But if you’re expecting to make a family holiday video, with some quality to show off on the big living room TV once you’re home, you’re going to be disappointed. There’s also no slow motion here to capture unmissable moments.
The Alcatel 3V is a very basic handset, that will do what you need it to do. Okay, it may not play the latest mobile games, and multitasking is a little slow too. But if you’re needing a cheap second handset for work, or want something to access your social media apps on a budget, then the Alcatel 3V phone is a contender in the sub-£200 market.