Alcatel 1B Review
The Alcatel 1B aims to provide the essential smartphone experience at a fraction of the cost. It runs Android 10 Go edition, which is intended to use less RAM than the full operating system – a key requirement when budgeting a smartphone device at $100. While nobody should expect top-tier performance from a budget device, there must conversely exist enough function on these more affordable devices for them to provide any value whatsoever. That being said, where does the Alcatel 1B stack up? Let’s dive right in and find out!
In a world where smartphones are a central part of daily life for most of us, it can be easy to forget how many people either do not have access to them or do not have a base level of knowledge or comfort with their function. For some of these people, whose only options are deciding between shouldering the significant cost of buying a full-price smartphone outright or committing to a 2-year plan on a device they aren’t even sure that they want, it just doesn’t make any good sense to invest in a full-price smartphone.
If any evidence is required for how much this market has grown, one needs only look at the number of lower-budget phones hitting the shelves to realize that companies are only making what is in demand, and that includes alternatives to top-tier and full-price devices. The Alcatel 1B is one of the most ambitious of these devices, claiming to deliver the ‘essential smartphone experience’ at an applaudable $100 USD MSRP. In my mind, this is an extreme example of min-max’ing cost and functionality with cellular devices. This simply means that sacrifices will have to be made, and in the exact right places, to achieve this precarious balance between price and power.
While not exactly top-of-the-line, the Alcatel 1B does sport a Quad-Core QM215 processor, meaning it does have the power to support most apps and games on the Google Play store, even if it is not as quick when navigating menus or loading the apps themselves. In our testing, we experienced a few issues running intensive games, mostly due to long load times and slow download speeds, even on high-speed Wi-Fi. While this is not a game-breaker for a device of this pricepoint, regular fans of mobile gaming should beware.
While the screen itself is slightly smaller and lower-res than your top-tier iOS and Android devices, a 5.5″, 1440 x 720 screen in an ultra-value smartphone is nothing to scoff at. The video quality of the screen is pleasantly surprising as well, as we were able to enjoy hours of Netflix seamlessly and without any contrast issues. The audio feels a little flat, and it is clear that the speaker (yes, there is only one speaker, located at the top of the device) was one of the areas where sacrifices had to be made. In my mind, this is a really smart move on their part, as this can easily be overcome by connecting a Bluetooth headset and enjoying the full benefits of its audio quality.
While the Alcatel 1B claims to have a battery life of 14 hours of browsing, this must not include using any apps as we found after about 8-10 hours of consistent usage would drain the battery pretty low. The standby time is very, losing only a few percent each day it was left unattended. While it is unlikely that anyone considering this phone as an option would be looking to make use of a smartphone for more than 8 hours a day, this is still a slight disappointment in our eyes. Bear in mind, always, that we are dealing with a $100 smartphone and that anyone accustomed to a full-price device will find a disappointment or two in any of the ultra-value devices.
This leads me into the seemingly biggest performance-limiting factor of this phone, the RAM. Even using Android Go edition, the system uses almost half of the provided 2GB before you even open an application. What this means for the end-user is that keeping multiple apps open at the same time will quickly bog down the system. So, while the 1B may perform most or all basic smartphone functions, you certainly to not want to attempt them all at once, or one after the other, without closing the other apps in between. The significance of this will vary by person, but it is certainly worth mentioning here.
Overall, the Alcatel 1B greatly exceeded our expectations and we have no qualms in recommending as a viable option for anyone in the market for an ultra-value smartphone. These types of devices are especially useful for an elderly or non-tech savvy relative or loved one, as a kid’s first phone, perhaps used as an exercise to determine how responsible they are with such a device, or as a stop-gap for anyone who wants to save up for a new phone or lost their current phone and is waiting out the existing contract. Either way, there is plenty of space in the market for the Alcatel 1B.
For more information, visit: https://www.alcatelmobile.com/product/smartphone/alcatel1/alcatel-1b-2020/