Mid-range smartphones today have become flagships of yesterday, you may hear familiar numbers and specs that were once available on flagship devices, 13-megapixel camera, HD display, octa-core processors and LTE connectivity, we have come a long way and there are times I asked myself, do I really need to shell out close to almost RM3000 for a flagship smartphone? The Alcatel OneTouch Flash Plus answered my question to my basic smartphone needs, the phone doesn't have the most premium build quality, nor does it have the fastest processor and the most amount of RAM, however this mid-range phone just can't stop impressing me during the review period, and I shall explain why in this detailed review.
Hardware and Design
I have not been a fan of Chinese phones, as I have written back then on my opinions of Chinese devices and I wasn't fond of Alcatel OneTouch devices, just as you know my first impressions of this particular device isn't a good one. First, those flimsy flaps that takes my SIM card and Micro SD has truly annoyed me in the very first place because the spring loaded slots are so difficult to deal with when you don't have nails, there have been some occasions that I accidentally ejected the flap that I took some time to fix it.
I am satisfied with the grip of the device and the polycarbonate material that Alcatel has opted for the phone's body, the overall design language reminds me a lot of Samsung's Galaxy S4, while being slimmer and a little bolder, the Flash Plus is nonetheless a good looking device and fits in the price tag that it is asking for.
As mid-range devices don't usually incur any design effort from the manufacturer, I still have to commend Alcatel for taking care of some details. First, the phone's 5.5-inch screen estate is one handed operation friendly thanks to reduced bezels; the power button and volume rocker placements are within my hand's reach, and the spacious capacitive functional buttons is a welcome feature if you do not favor on-screen buttons.
Alcatel's software is kind of random depending on phones and on the Flash Plus, you will find Lewa OS launcher representing the user experience, expect the same common set of features found on Chinese smartphones, such as a theme store, gesture controls, and lots of sensor features. Build on the foundation of Android 4.4 KitKat, Lewa OS is a Chinese fan made community ROM just like MIUI, you are set to receive timely updates from the manufacturer from time to time once there are feature updates from the community itself.
Fortunately as a mid-range device, the phone works snappily most of the time while there are some occasional hiccups which is commonly found on MediaTek powered devices. During the review period, I had most of its gesture features turned off so that I could save up on battery life and avoid the screen being turned on without me noticing, I am glad to report that the device behaved properly and didn't have any weird random actions as I have encountered in many other Chinese smartphones.
So, a 13-megapixel main shooter on a mid-range phone and Alcatel seems to be extremely proud of that, the PR did include a couple of sample photos in our review package and I daresay they looked pretty impressive on print. In my tests, the camera software features a comprehensive set of modes that you can play with which is considerably decent for a mid-range device, I can adjust the exposure point to get correct lighting, and there's a picture in picture (PIP) mode that I could use to take pictures from the main and front camera at the same time. Overall, images turn out to be quite decent with naturally saturated colors, but definitely not the best in class, check out the images down below.
Benchmarks and Battery Life
The MediaTek MT6752M octa-core chip is a pretty high performance chip for a mid-range device and competes directly with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 615 processor and judging from the phone's benchmarks, it matches with some great Snapdragon 615 devices that we've used before, which also explains why the phone's responsiveness in my review period, graphics performance is also impressive in Epic Citadel when rendering Ultra High Quality settings on the phone's HD resolution.
Even though Alcatel hasn't allowed removable batteries on the Flash Plus, its 3500mAh battery delivers every percentage of usage extremely well even when used heavily, its so good that you might forgot to recharge your phone daily until it sounds that critical battery tone, I like it.
Having reviewed tons of mid-range devices, I have to give it all to Alcatel's Flash Plus, this is one of the best performing mid-range smartphone in its price range with a blazing fast processor, reliable software and superb battery life which not many Chinese smartphones could come as close. Otherwise, I am sincerely hoping that Alcatel would at least offer support for at least Android Lollipop on the phone in the near future, but as a device retailing at RM549, you really can't ask for more.
- Great smartphone performance for the value
- More than a day battery life
- Fast LTE connectivity
- Decent camera software
- Flimsy flaps and inconvenient slots
- OS updates limited by community ROM