Hands on: Alcatel 5

Premium specs aplenty, but for less money

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

With an almost bezel-free display, this 18:9 ratio phone does similar tricks as a lot of the big flagship devices, but for less. If everything here works well, the Alcatel 5 could be a great handset.


  • Attractive
  • Almost bezeless display
  • Face unlock technology


  • Only 32GB of storage
  • Not running Android Oreo

Top-end features often take a while to filter down to more affordable handsets, but with the Alcatel 5 the company has managed to bring an 18:9 ratio display to a cheaper handset just a year after we saw the first phones toting the display type debut.

With a much more affordable price point than the Galaxy S8 or LG G6, the Alcatel 5 may be the phone to go for if you don't want to spend much but want the different sized display.

With lots of other spec - including facial recognition tech - packed in too, it's difficult to call this a budget handset.

Alcatel 5 price and release date

Watch our hands-on video above!

We don't know exact pricing yet for the US, UK or Australia, but Alcatel is planning to sell this handset in Europe for €229.99 (about $280, £200, AU$360). 

In select markets you can buy it right now, but again we don't know release date details for those in the US, UK or Australia.

Design and display

Although Alcatel is toting the 5 as a bezeless phone, you do immediately notice it's not when you spot it. That said, it's a gorgeous looking device that looks different to the devices other companies are introducing that play around with this same 18:9 aspect ratio.

There's minimal bezel along the bottom or the sides of the phone, but along the top there's a thicker line to house the selfie camera and a few sensors.

It looks great and there's a brushed metal-look unibody that genuinely makes this feel like a handset that should cost a lot more money. Though, start to tap around the phone's back and you'll realize it may not be as premium as you first thought. That's a sacrifice you apparently need to make for the lower price.

You've got two color choices here with a Metallic Gold being the standout design alongside the more generic looking Metallic Black. The phone only weighs 144g too, which makes it feel a little light in the hand but it shouldn't be an issue unless you're used to premium phones.

On the rear below the camera is a fingerprint sensor, which we didn't get the opportunity to test for speeds but it feels like it's in a comfortable position.

You may not use it much though as Alcatel has debuted its own Face Key technology that works in a similar way to facial unlocking tech on the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

Again, this isn't something we've been able to test but watching a short demo it seemed to work speedily and efficiently. Whether it's secure, we'll be sure to push it to its limit during our full review.

For the display, Alcatel has gone with a 5.7-inch 18:9 HD + display. It looks bold and bright, but you will notice the 1440 x 720 resolution on the display if you pay a little more attention to it.

Considering Alcatel has just released a the Alcatel 3V with a 6-inch 2160 x 1080 display, it's a bit of a shame it has opted for a lower resolution on its more expensive device. If you put these two phones together, you'll surely notice the difference in screen quality.

All of that said, if you're not too worried about the screen resolution you won't likely notice and it will suit well for watching clips on YouTube or social networks especially.

Camera and specs

Our time playing around with the phone was limited, so we can't comment too much on the power at play here but the phone features a MediaTek MTK6750 octa-core chipset that seemed snappy at first glance.

Inside is a 3,000mAh battery, but we've yet to see any estimates from Alcatel. Considering the screen resolution here, we have high hopes for the battery inside this phone, but it probably won't last much over a full day if that.

There's only one configuration of this phone that comes with 32GB of storage, but if you want more you can always use microSD cards up to 128GB.

When it comes to software, it's a little disappointing to hear it's running Android Nougat rather than Android Oreo right out of the box. Alcatel hasn't guaranteed the latest from Google's software will land on the phone, but we hope it will one day be ready for the Alcatel 5.

Alcatel debuted a dual-rear camera in its new line up of phones, but it's missing from the Alcatel 5. Instead the company opted for a single 12MP shooter on the rear that didn't particularly impress us during our testing.

There's a dual front shooter here though if you're looking for a selfie machine. It's a 13MP and 5MP combo, which allows for 120 degree wide angles selfies so you can fit in wider groups of friends without having to carry around a selfie stick.

Early verdict

Despite a few strangely missing features like the dual-rear camera and super high resolution display, the Alcatel 5 still looks to be a great handset especially when considering its price point.

Being able to get a good quality 18:9 ratio display, secure facial recognition technology and a dual selfie camera isn't currently available at this price from any other brand.

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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.