Alcatel A3 XL phone: Full, in-depth review
A sub-$200 6-inch Android smartphone? How cheap is too cheap?
- Very cheap
- Good big screen
- Good stills camera
- Good speaker
- Front camera is mediocre
- Responsiveness is below average
It's just $179 and yet we struggled to criticise this 6" Android smartphone. Enthusiasts will find it a bit slow, but cash-strapped casual users will love it.
Price$ 179.00 (AUD)
[Update: Our initial review of this phone used a review model with old software (and some lesser hardware) that was particularly slow and laggy. We've since used an updated model and found that things were much improved. The overall score has increased accordingly.]
We’ve been flooded with new phones over recent months and the differences have all been relatively minor. But now here’s Alcatel with a six-inch smartphone that makes the $300 Moto G5 look expensive. But how cheap is too cheap?
6in, 720 x 1280 (245ppi) LCD screen, 2GB/16GB RAM, 1.1GHz quad-core A53 CPU, Mali-T720MP2 GPU, 8MP rear and 5MP front cameras, microSD, microSIM, Micro USB, Android 7, 3000mAh battery, 165 x 83 x 8mm, 145g. Full specs here.
Design and Handling
We don’t expect too much at this price but the A3 XL still punches above its weight. The front screen with its rounded corners looks similar to most other phones and the textured, grey back looks business-like. It doesn’t look like a cheap phone.
The six-inch screen gets bright and colours are impressively vibrant. While the 720p HD resolution is down on many rivals and the relatively-large size means that there are only 245 pixels per inch, at least icons and text appear larger than usual which will be a boon for those who are fed up of squinting at the minuscule lettering of small, Ultra HD screens.
The Operating System is a basic Android 7 and is simple enough to use. But it doesn’t take long for the limitations of the 1.1GHz quad-core processor to rear their head. Basic apps can take a moment or two longer to open than we've been used to and responsiveness is a bit low compared to the rest of the market. Loading mail apps can take an extra second or two but scrolling through them is fast enough.
A high-end, computationally-demanding game like Need For Speed No Limits takes an age to load but the well-optimised coding meant that it was still playable albeit with a few frame drops. Dropping down to Angry Birds, loading times were a bit slower than usual but not by much and the game was very playable. Pokemon Go (with its new gym update) took a long time to load up. It can be a bit juddery and laggy at times but it’s very playable.
There’s a fingerprint reader on the back which is an impressive feature at this price. However, it’s not the fastest or most reliable unit we’ve seen. It frequently took a few attempts to recognise our finger but at least the feature is there and you don’t have to use it.
All in all, we were impressed. An early version of the software on this phone led us to believe it was annoyingly slow and laggy but really, while it's not as responsive as more-expensive models, it's still usable for most smartphone applications (forget about VR though!)
We were actually impressed with the speakers. Regular phone quality was decent and conference calls were loud and clear – more so than some pricier rivals.
Playing our treble-rich test track, Bjork’s Play Dead, demonstrated an impressive amount of volume, clarity and even a little punch – despite an almost complete lack of bass. Indeed, performance here exceeded many top phones.
Switching to the bass heavy Army of Me, we were again greeted with an impressively-rounded and loud sound despite the lack of bass. We should also note that the speaker is located on the back and sound is much better when turning the phone over and listening to it that way rather than it bouncing off a table or whatever.
Ultimately, though the Arkamys-optimised speaker does a very good job compared to any phone at any price.
Alcatel A3 XL camera review
The main camera is only 8-megapixels but it’s capable of sharp and colourful pictures in good lighting – up close and at distance.
Things can fall off a cliff in low light but even so, some mediocre-lit indoors shots still came out usable. In the dark though, there’s not much to see.
Panoramas are just about acceptable but you wouldn’t want to print them out. They’re low resolution and some lighting blending transitions can be verge on harsh.
Landscapes looked better with HDR but using this did mean there was a few seconds wait while image processing occurred.
Selfies were a mixed bag. The front camera is only 5-megapixels and it’s not great in low light per se. However, there's a small LED flash that can make up for mediocre lighting. This can also make you look a little palid but Beauty Mode can add some colour to those cheeks (if required) without making you look ridiculously airbrushed. Nonetheless, many of our shots came out looking soft or had colour casts. It's not the best phone for Narcissists.
Video is captured at 720p (HD). It’s naturally a bit fuzzy on high resolution screens and gets grainier when in low light. It’s poor in very low light and background noise can be sound a bit robotic. But for undemanding users it was all still (just about) usable. It helps if lighting is good and everyone is still, though.
Next: Battery Life and Conclusion
Join the newsletter!
WD MY PASSPORT™ Gaming Storage
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-77EZ1000U
Nespresso Creatista Coffee Machine
cloudandco Smart Cane
WD MY PASSPORT™ X Gaming Storage
Bang and Olufsen BeoVision 14
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-55EZ950U
Apple iPhone X
Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44
SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™
Toys for Boys
Bose SoundLink Micro
LaCie Rugged USB-C Portable Hard Drive
Lego Mindstorms EV3
Onyx Smart Walkie Talkie
Google Daydream View VR Headset
Ubiquiti Network’s Front Row Camera
Leica M10 Digital Rangefinder Camera
UBTech First Order Stormtrooper Robot
Propel Star Wars T-65 X-Wing Drone
Amazon Echo Bluetooth Speaker
Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K
Belkin Pocket Power 10,000mAh
Toffee Bags Commuter Satchel
iRobot Roomba 980 Vaccum Cleaning Robot
Xbox One X
Panasonic Hi-Fi - SC-UA7GS-K
WD MY CLOUD™ HOME Personal Cloud Storage
Dearear Endear In-ear Wireless Earphones
Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm
PETKIG Go Smart Dog Leash
Raspberry Pi Starter Kit
Tile Pro Bluetooth Tracker
Fallout Geeki Tikis
Urbanworx Full HD Action Camera
Lexon Flip Alarm Clock
Logitech Doodle Collection Wireless Mouse
3SIXT 3-in-1 Smartphone Lens Kit
Panasonic Portable Splashproof Fun - RF-D20U
Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse
Ikea NORDMÄRKE Wireless Charging Pad
Kogan Bluetooth Soundbar
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 LG 65E7T Ultra HD OLED TV review: The South Korean thoroughbred is still first past the post
- 2 Hisense takes the fight to home entertainment heavyweights with flagship Series 8 and 9 ULED TVs
- 3 Sony's latest Ultra HD OLED debuts in Australia
- 4 Panasonic Ultra HD OLED TV Review
- 5 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
Latest News Articles
- Final Fantasy XV's PC port needs up to 155GB of storage space
- CES 2018: Hisense's 2018 TV Lineup Is 'A Whole Other Story' For Australians
- Garmin Announces New Vivofit 4
- Microsoft is shutting down its free upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 in 24 hours
- Garmin Introduces the Forerunner 645 Music GPS Running Watch
PCW Evaluation Team
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.
The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic
- CES 2018
- CES 2018: Belkin go big on wearables accessories and wireless charging
- OPPO Load Up A73 Smartphone With Flagship Features
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCNetwork Engineer (Juniper)VIC
- FTSenior PMO AnalystOther
- CCBusiness AnalystQLD
- CCCRM Business AnalystQLD
- TPICT Project ManagerWA
- TP3 x Change and Adoption Managers | Health | 12 month contractsQLD
- FTService Desk Operators (Part Time and Full Time)SA
- FT.Net DeveloperACT
- CCAIX System Administration ? UNIXVIC
- FTSenior Technical Delivery ManagerACT
- FTData AnalystOther
- CCWeb DeveloperNSW
- FTProject Manager - Finance and Loan Implementation SystemOther
- FT.NET Developers (Perm and Contract)WA
- CCHelpdesk TechnicianNSW
- FTNatural/ADABAS ProgrammerNSW
- CCIteration Manager - TelcoVIC
- FTLead PHP DeveloperNSW
- FTProject Manager | Onsite ParkingOther
- FTMedication Management Support - PermanentQLD
- CCSystem Access Administrator - TelcoVIC
- FTGun Java Developers wantedVIC
- CCSystems Administrator - not for profit organisationQLD
- FTGenesys ConsultantACT
- CCProject ManagerQLD