With a mini QWERTY keyboard on board, the Alcatel OT-980 sounds like it is ideally suited to anyone keen on email or SMS based messaging. Add in the on-screen keyboards and you've got plenty of options for getting text into the handset.
The trouble is, none of them really cuts the mustard very well.
Let's start with the qwerty. Its keys are pretty small. They're separated from each other and they are domed. They've got a rubbery finish and they depress well, giving off a click which you can only hear if everything around you is silent.
All this should mean the keyboard is easy to use at speed – and it is, providing you've got small fingers. We found we were able to type reliably with it. But it isn't actually all that fast.
Now, since we've brought up the subject of on-screen keyboards, it's worth noting that you get both tall and wide on-screen options with the Alcatel OT-980. But there are problems with both.
They're both really small – remember the screen is only 2.8 inches and 320 x 240 pixels. In tall mode in particular we found it really quite difficult to hit keys accurately.
And then there's the fact that the screen is resistive. You could hardly expect anything else, really. A smartphone of this price has to be made within constraints, and resistive technology is less expensive than capacitive.
Still, the resistive technology means you can use any object, not just your finger, to tap at an on-screen keyboard, and we resorted to the end of a pen on more than one occasion because it was much more accurate than even our small fingertips.
Messaging services run to the usual SMS and email range, and you also get Facebook, MySpace clients and the Twitdroid application for all your social networking needs.