Hands on: Alcatel 3 (2019) review

Flagship features on a shoestring

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Early Verdict

The Alcatel 3 (2019) could be one of the budget hits of 2019 with what appears to be a great balance of features, power and style for a price that is hugely attractive.

For

  • Attractive design
  • Lots of storage
  • Decent power

Against

  • Old version of Android
  • No fast charging
  • Camera just okay

The new Alcatel 3 (2019) is a key device for the firm, as it's a core mid-range offering which should appeal to value hunters. 

Alcatel has made sure the handset is well equipped, with a 5.94-inch display, octa-core processor, plenty of storage, a fingerprint scanner, face unlock and even AR emoji. 

These are features usually seen in high-end phones, but Alcatel is pushing ahead with offering more than you'd expect from its affordable range. 

Alcatel 3 (2019) release date and price

The Alcatel 3 will be available in two models, with the 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage option setting you back €159 (which converts directly to £138, $181, AU$254), while the 4GB/64GB configuration is €189 (£165, $215, AU$305). 

That's a lot of storage space for the money, and on paper at least, makes the Alcatel 3 look like an intriguing budget buy. 

We've not got an Alcatel 3 release date yet, but we'll update this article as soon as we know more. 

Image Credit: TechRadar

Image Credit: TechRadar

Design and display

The first time you see the Alcatel 3 you'd be forgiven for thinking its price tag is double - if not more - than what is being asked for.

The rounded design with a large screen dominating the front of the phone is only interrupted by a small teardrop style notch at the top of display. 

On the rear a glossy two-tone casing provides a finish akin to pricier Honor and Huawei handsets. 

There are two color options, black fading to blue and purple fading to blue, and on the top there's a headphone jack. Rejoice. 

Pick up the Alcatel 3 and you'll quickly realize this isn't a flagship device, as the body of the phone is shiny polycarbonate rather than glass or metal. 

Image Credit: TechRadarImage Credit: TechRadar

Image Credit: TechRadarImage Credit: TechRadar

Still, it sits nicely in the hand and feels solid, although it doesn't offer up much in the way of grip. 

The power and volume keys on the right are easy to reach, as is the fingerprint scanner on the rear. 

The 5.94-inch is tall, with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and features a HD+ (720p) resolution. On close inspection you can see the lack of clarity in the display, but this is to be expected at the price. It's still perfectly usable with clear, bright images and text. 

The notch, the size of the single front facing camera, is centrally located in the notification bar and doesn't really get in the way. 

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Camera

The Alcatel 3 (2019) packs a dual camera setup on the rear, with the main 13MP sensor sitting above a 2MP depth sensing lens. 

This provides a portrait mode background blur feature within the camera, and during our time with the phone we found it to be serviceable. 

It's not going to take award winning snaps, but the camera is good enough at this price point. 

A more surprising addition is AR emoji, allowing you to control the facial expressions of on-screen characters. There are three animals and two humans to pick from and the face tracking works surprisingly well for a budget device. 

The quality of the AR emoji isn't as good as the experience you get on the iPhone XS or Samsung Galaxy S10, and the characters appear to have a slightly more limited range of movement, but it's nevertheless fun to use. 

Another feature packed into the new Alcatel 3 camera is automatic scene recognition. It can detect 21 different scenes and adjust settings to give you the best shot for your situation without you even knowing. 

We were unable to try this out during our hands on time with the phone, but look out for how it performs in a full review. 

Image Credit: TechRadar

Image Credit: TechRadar

Specs and performance

Under the hood the Alcatel 3 packs in a Snapdragon 439 chipset and either 3GB or 4GB of RAM depending on which model you opt for.  

That's a decent slug of power for a budget device, and means you should be able to run most apps without issue. We'd advise staying away from graphically intensive games, but general usage was fluid during our time with the device.

As we've already mentioned, you also get a choice of storage - either 32GB or 64GB, which again is an impressive amount for the price. You can build on this as well, with a microSD slot supporting cards up to 128GB in size.

The Alcatel 3 does run an older version of Android though - 8 Oreo - and it's not clear when (if at all) it will get an upgrade to Pie.

Rounding off the Alcatel 3 is a sizable 3,500mAh battery, although there's no fast charging support.

Image Credit: TechRadar

Image Credit: TechRadar

Early verdict

The Alcatel 3 (2019) could be one of the budget hits of 2019 with what appears to be a great balance of features, power and style for a price that is hugely attractive.

It remains to be seen if it can cope when loaded with apps and games, and the camera is passable at best, but with AR emoji, face unlock, a fingerprint scanner and large display there's little not to like.

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What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.