Alcatel OT-980 in-depth review -

Look and feel

The overall build of the phone feels dated, while the assembled slide-out QWERTY keyboard feels loose and flimsy

Ease of use

Though the Android OS is familiar, the overall use of the phone is let down by a very poor resistive touch-screen

Features

A decent feature set that includes A-GPS, Wi-Fi, HSDPA and a two-megapixel camera, as well as a slide-out QWERTY keyboard

Performance

Again the frustrating touch-screen has a detrimental effect on the entire performance of the Alcatel OT-980, though web pages were quick to load and the A-GPS fix was both fast and accurate

Battery life

An impressive talktime of 600 minutes, 245 hours standby and a music playback of 35 hours.

 Alcatel OT-980 Review -
2

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 4:00:27 PM

4

out of 10

Performance

4

out of 5

Look and feel

4

out of 5

Ease of use

6

out of 5

Features

6

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

A near flawless mapping experience with a fast and accurate A-GPS with the added bonus of Layar being pre-installed

Cons:

Alcatel may have been able to keep the cost down by using a resistive touch-screen but it results in a wholly frustrating experience

Alcatel the entry-level affordable mobile specialists. But what's this? An Android handset? Ok so it still comes with an eye-catching price tag (under £100) but this is a step away from Alcatel's usual no frills handset. Yet does the Alcatel OT-980 prove to be a step up?

Look and feel

The Alcatel OT-980 is no slim shady due to the slide-out QWERTY keyboard that nestles under the front fascia. We suppose it most resembles the BlackBerry Torch, but while we had issues with that particular design, the Alcatel OT-980 makes the Torch look like a work of art. The rubber jacket looks dated and the two parts of the phone feel loosely assembled. As for the keyboard itself, the keys weren't raised enough for our liking and felt too rubbery to really perfect our typing groove.

Resistive touch-screen

But not too worry, there's a touch-screen to refer to instead. Well that's if the touch-screen didn't leave us wanting to bang our head against a wall. It's of the cheaper resistive variety, but that's no excuse for the unresponsive, temperamental experience we endured. Pressing icons were unreliable and often required more than one key press while even the most simple of tasks, unlocking the phone (sliding the virtual padlock from one side of the display to the other) proved problematic.

 

The Alcatel OT-980 is a Vanilla Android device (running on Éclair 2.1) meaning it has remained skinless and as basic as they come. Of course this means that anyone that has used Android in the past will be familiar with its user interface. There're five customisable home screens with both a pull down notification bar and a pull up menu. However, as all of these manoeuvres rely on the touch-screen, it led to a frustrating experience.

Browsing experience

However, as irksome as the touch-screen is in terms of these procedures it's the browsing experience that really grated. Speed-wise and the Alcatel OT-980 is well-equipped with both Wi-Fi and HSDPA, the former being a breeze to set up. However, there's no cursor or arrow keys to navigate around the display which means, yes you've guessed it more touch-screen. Frustratingly the volume keys found on the side of the phone don't double up as zooming keys. Instead you'll need to press on the virtual zoom keys found in the bottom right hand corner of the display. A double tap of the screen will zoom in a tad realigning the text to fit within the display, but images will still overrun the screen so you'll still be required to swipe your finger accordingly. Being an Android 2.1 device you can open up multiple webpages and copy and paste text though the latter needs to be done through the menu option and we found it very difficult to highlight the correct text.

Sat nav credentials

It's not all bad news for the Alcatel OT-980. We found the sat nav credentials to be a real breath of fresh air. The A-GPS fix was fast and accurate to the correct door number - displayed on the ever reliable Google Maps - even when tested inside. Layar is also pre-installed. This augmented reality app utilizes the onboard A-GPS, camera and digital compass to help you locate and navigate to POI's. It's gimmicky but it also works really well.

 

Talking of the camera, it's a mediocre two-megapixel offering. You need to open up the keyboard to use it and with no dedicated camera key your best bet for speeding up the time it takes from firing the snapper up to capturing a shot is by setting up a shortcut on one of the home screens. Our results proved to be pixilated and drained of colour and though you can upload directly to the likes of Facebook we're not too sure why you would.

Conclusion

At under £100, our assessment of the Alcatel OT-980 may appear a tad harsh. However, the affordable Android market has been getting better and better and Alcatel's foray just can't compete. Though we weren't enamoured with the cheap feeling build, there are plenty of features that should have saved the device. However, the fact that you'll be relying on an extremely poor resistive touch-screen has a detrimental effect on the phone as a whole.

Danny Brogan