The sturdy plastic case can withstand some punishment, and is surprisingly light in the hand. You can't ask for any more at this price
The keyboard feels a little cheap but allows quick and easy texting when you're used to it. While the 1.8-inch screen is compact, it serves its purpose well
As with all budget phones, expect basic. Calendar, notes, calculator and other fan favourites are all present. A VGA camera is a nice addition, but not for everyday use
The basic OS runs perfectly and we didn't notice any glitches, although webpages took a while to load in the WAP browser
If you don't hammer the music player or make constant calls, you'll get days of use from a single charge
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,4/12/2012 1:00:59 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Well-designed keyboard, simple menus, lots of useful basic features
Very basic VGA camera, no 3.5mm audio jack
Alcatel has grabbed itself a decent chunk of the budget smartphone market, with a broad range of appeal – from the oldie-friendly One Touch 282, to the social networking One Touch 602. The One Touch 355 (a.k.a. OT 355) falls somewhere in the middle, with a decent physical keyboard that's ace for texting and emailing, but a simple interface showcasing a basic set of features.
The One Touch 355 is compact yet chunky, with a tiny 1.8-inch screen. It's surprisingly light in the hand, and sports a glossy plastic case that's tougher than you'd think, easily able to withstand an undignified trip to the ground. The back plate can be easily prised off to insert your SIM card or remove the battery.
One of the best features of the One Touch 355 is the physical keyboard, which a lot of budget phones shun for a numeric pad. It does feel cheap and plastic, especially compared to the likes of the BlackBerry Curve 9360 and the Motorola Pro Plus keyboards, but given the comparatively teeny price this isn't a surprise.
We found the board comfortable to use and adapted to it very quickly, after a few early mis-keys. The keys are logically laid out and you get handy shortcuts to smileys, basic punctuation and even ‘.com' for when you're typing in web addresses.
As well as POP/IMAP email functionality (easy to set up, with special menu options for Gmail, Yahoo , AOL and Hotmail users), you also get basic web access using a WAP browser. As with all WAP browsers, it's deathly basic – you can set up bookmarks and check out special WAP pages, to get the latest BBC headlines for instance. But pages take a while to load, while standard websites are unreadable or bring up errors.
You get lots of handy basic functions, including an alarm clock, calendar, notes and a calculator/currency convertor. Two basic games called Panda and Chicken are also included, which can certainly keep youngsters and bored adults entertained for a short while. One of our favourite features was the ‘fake call', which makes your phone ring after a pre-set delay, complete with false name. It's a great way of ducking out of annoying conversations.
Older users will appreciate the ICE feature, which allows you to set three quick-dial numbers in case of emergency. You can even enter your blood type and other medical info, in case you have an accident and are unable to speak – although this obviously relies on people checking your phone, on the off-chance the info is there.
You also have a basic music player, but as there's no 3.5mm audio jack you'll have to make do with the bundled Mini USB earphones, or the tinny built-in speaker. We obviously don't recommend enjoying your tunes on the bus using the latter, unless you want to be glared at by your fellow commuters. The One Touch 355 has next to no built-in storage, so you'll need to insert a microSD card to carry any music around – cards up to 4GB are recognised. An FM radio can be used instead, if you've got no memory card.
The VGA camera is a ‘there for emergencies' effort, capturing low-res images. There's a lengthy 2-3 second wait between pushing the shutter button and your photo taking, and our photos were blocky and ugly, while the lack of flash makes evening shots impossible. However, if you're only after basic functionality, this is unlikely to be an issue. A handy menu pops up after each shot, so you can quickly share it via MMS, or set as your wallpaper or a contact's profile photo.
With such basic features, the battery life lasts a long time. Providing you aren't constantly listening to music or making calls, you'll get days of use between charges.
Users on a tight budget who prioritise texting, calling and emailing will be well served by the Alcatel One Touch 355. That physical keyboard may feel cheap but it's much better for bashing out text than a ropey touch-screen or those annoying numeric keypads. If you're looking to get online or enjoy lots of music and movies on the go, we recommend upping your budget.