Look and feel
The Alcatel One Touch 903 is a solid, surprisingly hefty smartphone. The glossy front is a magnet for fingerprints and scuffs, but the physical buttons are responsive
Ease of use
The 2.8-inch touch-screen is rather compact for typing and browsing the web, but it’s also perfectly responsive. Android Gingerbread runs well, even though it’s a little creaky
Considering the price, it’s hard to expect much from the One Touch 903. The two-megapixel camera comes with a physical shutter button but takes hazy photos, while the video suffers from distorted sound
Aside from the occasional stutter when opening or closing apps, we had no issues using the One Touch 903. Simple games run perfectly well, but more complex titles will slow things to a crawl
Use the One Touch 903 for texting, emails and the occasional call, and it’ll last you days on a single charge. However, streaming video and playing with apps drains it much faster, and you’ll need to charge it every night
You might be a smartphone virgin who’s intrigued by the prospect of surfing the web and enjoying music, games and TV shows on your mobile, but don’t want to invest big. You might be a student who needs a social media phone but is strapped for cash. Or you might have dunked your usual mobile in a cup of tea and need a cheap replacement. Whatever your situation, if you’re after a sub-£50 Android smartphone, the Alcatel One Touch 903 is a great little option.
It’s easy to find a cheap smartphone these days, with the likes of the Orange San Francisco and Samsung Galaxy Y setting you back well under £100. However, the Alcatel One Touch 903 is one of the cheapest we’ve seen, offering full smartphone functionality for just £40. Obviously you have to make some sacrifices given the low cost, but the One Touch 903 is a sturdy little mobile that can survive a drop or two. It’s a little chunky but compact enough to live in a pocket. You get the usual Menu, Search and Back buttons beneath the screen, plus a huge Home button that stretches the length of the phone. Our only complaint is the glossy front, which instantly picks up fingerprints and dust, but that’s annoyingly common for smartphones these days.
The One Touch 903 runs Android Gingerbread 2.3, a creaky OS these days. You get five desktops to fill up with shortcuts to your favourite apps, as well as a slim selection of basic widgets – for example, a Google bar that lets you search the web without having to open up the browser. You can also customise the look of your desktops with different wallpapers, including the famous live wallpaper that animates in the background (picture swirling stars and smoke). Compared to the latest version of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich), Gingerbread seems rather quaint and is missing some excellent features, but at least it runs smoothly on budget phones such as the One Touch 903 aside from the occasional stutter when opening or closing down apps.
It’s easy to set up your email account, especially if you use Google’ Gmail service. The One Touch 903’s compact 2.8-inch screen makes it tricky to type out lengthy messages on the virtual keyboard, but thankfully it’s a responsive screen and the excellent auto-correct (which predicts what you’re trying to type even if you make mistakes) really helps out. Browsing the web can also be a little awkward, especially when you try to click tiny close-together links. Fortunately you can zoom in and out by double-tapping or pinching your fingers, and the responsive screen once again comes to the rescue. The One Touch 903 has built-in GPS, which tracks your location when using Google Maps – another great feature for the price.
Media and photos
The screen is rather low-res, so videos and photos unfortunately look blocky. A square aspect ratio also meant our videos looked stretched when played full-screen, but we had no trouble streaming video using the YouTube app. It’s perfectly possible to load the 2GB microSD card (which came bundled with our review sample) with TV shows or movies to keep you going on a lengthy commute, which is impressive for a £40 phone.
The One Touch 903 also packs a bog-standard two-megapixel camera on the rear. You won’t be able to take any arty photos as the camera’s features are limited to switching between still shots and video, and the incredibly loud shutter noise when taking photos is a little terrifying. Many of our photos came out hazy and the sound on our test video was distorted, making us sound like Lucifer’s offspring, but we expected nothing less considering the price. You do at least get a physical button for taking snaps, but we’d stick with the compact camera for family photos.
Use the One Touch 903 for texting, emails and the occasional call, and it’ll last you days on a single charge. However, streaming video and playing with apps drains it much faster, and you’ll need to charge it every night.
Consumers have to make some compromises with the Alcatel One Touch 903, including a very basic two-megapixel camera and a low resolution screen, plus the ancient Android Gingerbread OS. However, for just £40 you get a fully-fledged smartphone that can browse the web, run apps and play all of your media, which is mighty impressive indeed.