Hands on: Alcatel 3 review

Budget phones get 18:9 displays, too

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

The Alcatel 3 offers a lot of features considering it's an affordable handset, but it doesn't impress us as much as the Alcatel 3V or 3X, so it's a tough one to recommend right now.


  • High quality 18:9 display
  • Impressive design


  • Not enough storage
  • Least exciting in range

Alcatel has taken the opportunity presented by MWC 2018 to completely redesign its range of phones from top to bottom and include 18:9 displays across the board.

That means all the way through from the Android Go toting Alcatel 1X to the top-end  Alcatel 5 you'll find 18:9 displays of varying quality.

Sitting slap bang in the middle is the Alcatel 3, a phone that doesn't offer the headline-grabbing features of the 1X, 5 or even other phones like the Alcatel 3V, but there's still something to be interested in here.

Alcatel 3 price and release date

As with the other Alcatel devices we've seen here in Barcelona, there's no official pricing or release date for the US/UK or Australia. In European markets you'll be able to pick up the Alcatel 3 for €149.99 (about $185, £130, AU$235).

The phone will be released in March, but in terms of the markets we'll be seeing it in, that hasn't been announced just yet. We'll be sure to update this when we hear more.

Design and display

The Alcatel 3 is a much more compact handset that recent phones from the company, or at least it feels that way in the hand. That's mostly down to the 18:9 display that allows the company to fit in more screen without increasing the size of the handset.

It has dimensions of 147 x 69 x 8.5mm and a weight of 145g, which means the handset isn't heavy in the hand and this will be suitable for those who like smaller phones despite the 5.5-inch screen.

That display has a HD+ resolution (1440 x 720) and while it doesn't look as beautiful as the screen on the Alcatel 3V, it does still look bright and reasonably sharp. It's a shame the brand hasn't opted to put 2K displays in all of its mid-range products, but the Alcatel 3V doesn't have as slick design as the Alcatel 3 because of it.

The rear of the phone is very reminiscent of the Honor 9 with a shiny casing and 3D curved back that will grab the eye when you take it out of your pocket. You've got three color choices here too; black, blue or gold.

We particularly liked the gold version of the phone, but all three colors look more premium than you'd expect at this price point.

There's a fingerprint sensor in an easy to reach position on the rear of the phone, but you may not use this much as the Alcatel 3 comes with Face unlock technology so you can just look at your phone to open it up.


Inside the Alcatel 3 is an MT6739 chipset, which we don't have much experience of in other handsets. With a little bit of quick testing it seemed to be speedy enough to run the normal apps you'll want, but don't expect this to be a powerhouse handset. 

There's 2GB of RAM here to power it along, and sadly you've only got 16GB of internal data to use. Alcatel reckons that'll mean you have 10.5GB of space after software, but that's still not much for apps and media so you may want to put in a microSD card, which you'll be able to do up to 128GB.

On the rear of the phone is a 13MP shooter, which we had a little play with and it looked okay but not as interesting as the cameras on the Alcatel 3V or 3X. Those phones feature either a bokeh or a wide angle lens on the rear, and that's something that'll be missing if you get the Alcatel 3.

On the front of the Alcatel 3 is a 5MP selfie shooter, which again didn't blow us away but should be suitable for your average quick shot for your social media presence.

The phone is running Android Oreo software right out of the box with Alcatel's own overlay on top of it. That means you'll get up to date features from Google without having to update right away.

In terms of battery, there's a 3000mAh cell inside which we expect will do okay with a mid-range processor and 5.5-inch screen to power. We'll be sure to dive into this further when we published our full review.

Early verdict

Storage issues aside, the Alcatel 3 looks like a standard budget handset that embraces features that are usually only for the high-end like Face unlock and 18:9 ratio displays.

That said, Alcatel has made some other impressive affordable and far more interesting phones in the form of the Alcatel 5, Alcatel 3V and Alcatel 3X that may be more up your street.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2018 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone. 

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.