Alcatel 3X review

Some budget phones don't show their price. This one does.

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Nougat with toppings

  • Android Nougat with Alcatel overlay
  • Badly-written interface
  • No update to Oreo yet

As is often the case with inexpensive phones, you don’t get the latest version of Android on the 3X. Technically, you’re actually two versions behind – it has neither Android Pie nor Android Oreo, but Android 7.1 Nougat.

It’s also not vanilla Nougat (mmm, sounds delicious) – Alcatel has slapped its own look and feel on top.

Sadly, its aesthetic includes typos, very clunky grammar and even some places where the company forgot to finish writing the content.

Admittedly it doesn’t affect functionality, but shipping a phone with typos and missing information is really not good enough, and doesn’t fill us with confidence that this phone is built with enough care to be worth your hard-earned cash. 

It has been out since May 2018, so there’s been plenty of time to fix this kind of thing.

Again, as expected on a budget phone, the Alcatel 3X comes with a sprinkling of bloatware. This includes games like Dragon Mania, Disney Kingdoms, and Spider-Man: Ultimate Power.

However, thankfully they can be uninstalled, unlike the included Alcatel ‘,’ Support Center and Super Cleaner apps that are also present.

Past the typos and bloatware, the differences between Alcatel’s version of Android and the standard are mostly aesthetic. Menus all look pretty similar, although icons have the cloying cartoonish look of other Alcatel devices. 

Screenshotting inexplicably gives you a horrible static pattern in the background, like an untuned TV. Apparently someone at Alcatel thought that was cool – perhaps the same person who designed the back cover.

Not quite 3X the sound

  • Good-sized screen for gaming
  • Solo speaker, thin sound
  • 32GB of storage with microSD expansion

Audio quality on the Alcatel 3X leaves a lot to be desired. Only one of the two sets of drilled holes on the bottom edge is a speaker (the one on the right) and its output is far from clean.

Music sounds noisy and thin, and the speaker is ridiculously easy to muffle with your hand when you’re holding the phone, because of where it’s placed.

If you don’t have anything else available, it will do the job, but you won’t want to turn the volume up to max because it really starts to sound like you’re listening from a loudspeaker in an empty corridor. And not in a good way.

The earphones that come in the box are much the same: okay if there’s nothing else on offer, but never a first choice. They’re black and plasticky, cone-shaped, and leak more than an unreleased iPhone.

There’s a mic if you want to do hands-free calls, but no play/pause controls on the lump of plastic it’s housed in. However, at least you do have a proper 3.5mm headphone jack to plug the headphones into, unlike many phones these days.

Storage-wise, you get 32GB, which is realistically the minimum you should ever go for (16GB phones can go jump in a volcano). You can also top that up with microSD cards up to 128GB.

You get 3GB of RAM, which again is the minimum realistic amount – 2GB just isn’t enough, yet many budget phones only offer that much.

It’s good to see Alcatel being a bit more realistic about the experience on this phone, and it pays off: while it’s never going to be a ‘gaming phone’ per se, the 3X runs most popular mobile games perfectly well, and they look pretty good on that 5.7-inch HD screen.

The phone is also an ideal size and weight for handheld gaming, so it’s comfortable to hold (despite that back panel texture) for long sessions.

Paired with the MediaTek MT6739 quad-core A5 chipset (with cores clocked at 1.28GHz), the phone performs well during both gaming and intensive use, plus general day-to-day app-switching and multitasking.

We had next to no crash or lag problems while using the 3X as our daily driver, although it’s worth noting that it is naturally slower than higher-end phones at things like fingerprint unlocking.

Speaking of unlocking, the 3X includes face unlock (or ‘face key’ as Alcatel calls it). As ever with this phone, the instructions (or ‘disclamer’ as they’ve spelt it – no clams for you) are terrible, and somewhat alarmingly you’re warned that your phone can be unlocked by a ‘thing’ that looks like you.

That said, the feature itself mostly works fine and unlocks fairly quickly. We’d still stick with fingerprints for security reasons, though, especially when the manufacturer can’t promise your phone won’t be unlocked by a cardboard cutout.