When I visited MWC 2018 this year, Alcatel was one of the very first companies to make announcements on new smartphone releases, I visited the company’s booth and was told that they would be revisiting the Malaysian market after several exits with the Alcatel Onetouch and Flash branding. Little did we know, the company made its debut here again two months ago with a number of smartphones, with the more interesting one being the Alcatel 5V, which I was rather keen to review and have received a unit to do so.
Most can easily dismiss the Alcatel 5V as another typical Android phone at first impressions, because its got the familiar front face with the controversial notch that devices this year tend to adapt, but once you actually hold up the phone, it actually feels pretty good that I really don’t mind it looking like the rest.
However, let’s get to the great essentials that TCL, the company that manufactures Alcatel phones, has done well on this device. First, I like the fact that the phone’s display has very thin side bezels and a not so thick chin, the 6.2″ LCD panel uses a 2.5D Dragrontrail glass that’s laminated, it produces great colors and contrast, though it only has a 720p resolution, I actually thought it was a much higher resolution display until I revisited the phone’s spec sheet.
Aesthetically, I was surprised that the phone isn’t too hefty to handle, as it has a huge 4000mAh battery inside, which in most mid-range devices you would have realized an unbalanced weight distribution that causes discomfort to your hands, the lightweight form factor can also be attributed to the glass-like plastic cover, which unfortunately is a pretty bad fingerprint magnet if you decide not to use it with a case.
Other than that, there’s noteworthy details on the Alcatel 5V’s hardware, such as the textured power button, the symmetrical design on the dual camera module and fingerprint scanner, these details are things that makes anyone think that it’s a flagship device, which brings us to the phone’s specs.
The Alcatel 5V is by all means no power house, but it doesn’t have bad hardware either, it is powered by a Mediatek MT6762 Octa-Core processor that uses a similar architecture to the Snapdragon 625, there’s 3GB RAM and 32GB of onboard storage, which you can expand up to 128GB if the latter isn’t sufficient.
Unlike some other Chinese phones, I’m glad that the phone ships with a rather clean version of Android 8.1, though Alcatel uses its own launcher which fortunately comes with an app drawer, it didn’t come preinstalled with non-removable bloatware. Alcatel has also kept most of the UI elements close to vanilla Android, hence you won’t find any unnecessary and complicated configurations throughout the experience. Things aren’t entirely boring on the phone’s software too, as it supports face unlock that works well in good lighting and dual accounts on selected social and messenger apps.
The Alcatel 5V’s dual camera comprises of a 16MP main sensor supported by a 2MP depth sensor, a pretty standard setup used by many other competing mid-range devices, image quality is acceptable for its standards with accurate colors and sharp details in good lighting, low light performance is however limited by its f/2.2 aperture and it generates an amount of noise even in brightly lit street shots at night.
Although the camera features AI scene recognition that automatically enhances picture quality based on the objects it detects, I don’t notice much difference apart from having more saturated colors in some instances. Interestingly, the camera software has modes that lets you conveniently take photo collages in the square format, and there’s a micro video mode that lets you take videos like you do in Instagram videos, these two modes are available for both the main and front camera.
I have no issues on getting more than a day of battery life with a full charge, all thanks to the huge 4000mAh battery, however it does take an extremely long time to charge once you reach single digit percentage, which I wished Alcatel could have at least allowed a 9V2A charging rate. If you are thinking to use this as your daily communications device, I’m glad to report that the Alcatel 5V has excellent cellular and GPS performance as I haven’t encountered any signal drops when making phone calls, it also supports VoLTE on certain networks.
The Alcatel 5V may not have all the bells and whistles you are getting on some other devices, but that’s not to say that it isn’t a great device, it will work well for the average user, but the limited set of features and gimmicks it has puts it at an disadvantage against other manufacturers, especially the RM898 price tag, it makes it a very difficult device to recommend. Nonetheless, this is a great comeback device for the company, and we’d definitely love to see more of what it has previously achieved with its Flash branded devices, and the company is sure going to have a hard time catching up with devices from ASUS, Xiaomi, Vivo, OPPO and Samsung.
- Aesthetics and design
- Surprisingly good display quality
- Clean software
- Good battery life
The Not so Good
- No fast charging
- Unattractive price tag