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Android, but with more gradients
- Android 8.0 Oreo
- Garish overlay
- Some bloatware
One of the things that stood out to us when we first tried this phone was the unsophisticated software overlay, and while we did get used to it with increased use, it will inevitably put some people off.
It's not terrible, and we've certainly seen worse, but Alcatel's aesthetic is very bright and cartoony, which combines with the lightweight, plasticky handset to give a cheaper feel than was necessary.
It helps to change the lock screen and wallpaper, but you're stuck with the primary-color, gradient-happy icons - unlike rival overlays including EMUI, where you can change the theme to something that suits you better.
That said, it is impressive that the Alcatel 3V runs Android 8 Oreo, the most recent iteration. At this price, it could have got away with an older version, especially with the overlay to disguise it.
The 3V does come with a bit of bloatware, including a 'rewards and discounts' app called Enjoy.Now, an optimizing app called Super Cleaner, Mobisystems' OfficeSuite app and Netflix.
You can uninstall some of these, including OfficeSuite and Enjoy.Now, but Super Cleaner and Netflix are there to stay. Honestly, considering the price, it could have been a lot worse - and a decent proportion of people buying this phone will likely install Netflix anyway.
However, Super Cleaner is quite annoying and will randomly pop up to safety check apps (like that known virus, Twitter). As with several notifications on this phone, the help text is written in fairly poor English, which doesn't help much to sweeten the pill.
Bright movies and light gaming
- Huge HD screen for games and movies
- Solo speaker and weak earphones
- Gaming performance is okay
There are two sets of five drilled holes on either side of the charging port on the bottom edge of the Alcatel 3V, but don't be fooled - only one is a speaker. The left-hand set of holes put out decent sound: a little thin, a little directional, and quite easily muffled, but perfectly workable.
On higher-bass songs and at louder volumes, the output isn't great quality and the back panel vibrates, but realistically, no one's going to be DJing a party with this handset. It's plenty good enough for showing your co-worker the weird noise your cat made at the weekend.
The Alcatel 3V comes with a black, Alcatel-branded set of earphones. These are earphones of the last resort.
In other words, you'll be grateful for them if you're on a two-hour train ride and realize you've forgotten your good ones, but otherwise, avoid: they're plasticky, uncomfortable, and leak sound like nobody's business. On the bright side, they use a 3.5mm plug because the 3V has a proper headphone port.
The big, beautiful screen on the 3V is ideally suited to movies and videos. However, you will notice the phone getting quite warm after streaming for a while. Similarly, it gets pretty toasty when you're playing games - 15 minutes of Pokémon Go left us with a handset that felt like it could fry an egg.
Gaming performance from the MediaTek MT8735A chipset is okay, but the 2GB of RAM does show. There's a noticeable lag sometimes, both in-game and when switching between apps.
Also, that 16GB of storage will run out FAST, especially considering around half of it is spoken for out of the box. If you want to keep photos, videos and other media on this phone, you're going to want a microSD card.
- Low benchmark scores
- Comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S4
We ran the Geekbench 4 CPU test on the Alcatel 3V and got an average single-core score of 639 with a multi-core score of 1799. Comparing this with the Android benchmarks table, the 3V's computing power is roughly on a par with the Samsung Galaxy S4.
In other words, what was considered flagship performance in 2013 is now, 5 years later, available for under $200/£100.
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