Alcatel A7 review

The perfect phone if you've got low expectations

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.

Interface and Software

  • Android 7 isn't the latest software

With Android 7.0 calling the shots, the Alcatel A7 isn't as cutting edge as it could be – Android 8 Oreo is the latest and greatest version of Google's mobile OS, but only a handful of phones currently have it, and most of those are found at the top section of the market. 

Alcatel has kept things relatively clean when it comes to UI design, choosing to maintain the core look of "stock" Android Nougat while making tiny adjustments and embellishments which aim to improve the overall user experience.

Some of these hit the mark, such as the lock-screen wallpaper randomizer which mixes static and live images to good effect, even allowing you to pick out your favorites or hide ones you don't like. 

The ability to select different themes is also welcome, even if it's less unique these days than it once was. 

Unfortunately, there are a few bum notes as far as apps are concerned; Alcatel has included a bespoke Music player which based on the design of Google Music, but doesn't connect to tunes stored in Google's cloud – instead, it links to Deezer. 

If you already use Deezer then you're better off downloading the official Android app; for everyone else, Google Play Music – which is ironically installed right out of the box – is a far superior option.

There's more needless replication of functionality with the web browser, gallery app and curated app store, all of which are best being disabled as soon as you get the phone so you can use Google's far better alternatives. SwiftKey is the default keyboard, but we quickly found ourselves swapping this out for Google Keyboard. 

There's nothing inherently wrong with OEMs like Alcatel filling their phones with bespoke apps, but we'd much rather they just use Google's offerings instead (the A7 does, to its credit, come preloaded with Chrome, Gmail, Drive, Google Maps and Google Music all pre-installed, it should be noted).

Beyond these minor tweaks, Alcatel has been remarkably restrained when it comes to the UI on the A7. Unlike manufacturers like Xiaomi or Samsung, it offers a pretty vanilla Android experience which is sure to appeal to Google purists, even if the small amount of bloatware is mildly irritating.

Movies, music and gaming

The Alcatel A7's 16:9 ratio screen means that it's not quite as well-suited for movie consumption as devices like the Galaxy S8 or Xiaomi Redmi 5, but there's still enough display real estate on offer to make portable watching enjoyable. 

It's just a shame that there's only a single front-facing speaker instead of two; stereo sound would have enhanced the experience. The mono speaker is also somewhat timid and lacking in bass; it also distorts a little at high volume. 

At least music lovers can take solace in the fact that the phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Given its entry-level specs, we weren't expecting much from the Alcatel A7 when it came to gaming, but we came away surprised.

Real Racing 3 is a good benchmark for 3D performance, despite being a few years old now, and the A7 handled it well – there was still some slowdown when a lot of cars were on-screen at once, but generally, it offered a smooth and fast experience. 

Tekken – which only launched very recently and is one of the most graphically stunning fighters available on Android – also runs well.

Specs and performance

Like a great many mid-level Android handsets, the Alcatel A7 sports a MediaTek chipset – the octa-core MT6750T, to be precise. 

There's 3GB RAM to keep things ticking over, which is pretty much standard on a handset in this price range these days.

Running AnTuTu Benchmark yields a score of 55610, which is pretty lackluster by modern standards. 

Geekbench gives a single-core score of 613 and a multi-core score of 2607. Again, this is hardly groundbreaking when compared to other 2018 Android phones. 

Roughly speaking, the A7 is on par with handsets running the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset, which was considered to be cutting-edge around three years ago.

It's obvious that the Alcatel A7 isn't going to challenge the big boys of the smartphone arena, and despite the disappointing benchmarks the phone ran well enough during our review period. 

Granted, it began to struggle when multiple activities were taking place at once – such as downloads and video running simultaneously – but for casual users, the lack of horsepower is going to be less of an issue.