This phone costs less than $250, but has a sleek design and a few features we've never seen before

This phone costs less than $250, but has a sleek design and a few features we've never seen before
Come for the price, stay for the sleek design.

That's how we'd sum up our short, but memorable first encounter with the new "affordable flagship" Alcatel 5.

What does affordable flagship mean? Well, it's a phone that costs just €230, so it is by no means a traditional flagship: this is a phone with a low-res 720p display after all, but here is the thing. We kind of like and it's the best one that Alcatel has got, hence the flagship name.

First, it's about the looks. Styled to look like metal, the Alcatel 5 is actually made from plastic and while it looks kitsch-y in pictures, it somehow is not so in real life. With an elegant, thin body and a slightly curved back it is certainly one of the nicest plastic phones we've seen in the recent past.

The display has almost no chin and a slim side bezel, but it has a big "forehead" of a top bezel. The screen is 2:1 and it's taller and narrower, but here is what's most important: colors on it don't look terrible. We're saying this because many cheap phones go with terribly bluish screens that do not have proper colors. Despite its low resolution, the 5 has good looking colors. Not perfect, but still good.

Innovation in a super cheap phone

But it's not just the looks. The Alcatel 5 has at least two features that are innovative.

The first one is a fingerprint scanner that can recognize up to 5 different fingers. You can assign a shortcut to each one, so you can go directly into Facebook Messenger with one of your fingers, open Uber with the other, launch the camera with yet another, simply unlock the phone with the fourth one and - of course - go straight into the browser and into to check the latest tech news. You can fully customize these shortcuts to your liking.

Secondly, this phone has two front cameras, with a wide-angle secondary one and it will automatically switch to that camera when it detects three or more faces in a selfie picture. This is something so simple and straight-forward, we are surprised it's Alcatel that is the first one doing it.

A couple of other new tricks have made their way to this phone: an automatic collage creation tool and a photo booth camera mode, as well as a social photo mode that lets you have half the screen occupied with one photo and the other have acting as a viewfinder for you to take a picture that complements the first one.

There are a few quirks with the 5: the old Android 7 Nougat version on it is one and we have no good explanation for it. The low-res screen is the other. And then there is the MediaTek chip and the run of the mill specs (but actual performance was not too sluggish, definitely not super smooth or fast, though).

Final words

But those are probably not dealbreakers and we are surprised to say, but we quite like this new Alcatel 5. With a new chief designer at the top, this phone might actually compete against its rivals in more than just a specs war: it packs some cool innovations as well. Finally, the Alcatel 5 is already available in some markets in Europe, while the company is still not saying whether it will sell this phone in the US and if so, at what price.

Related phones

  • Display 5.7" 720 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 13 MP front
  • Processor MediaTek, Octa-core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(18h 3G talk time)



1. Seany

Posts: 94; Member since: Sep 28, 2012

Those ugly icons though yuck

7. TheOracle1

Posts: 2331; Member since: May 04, 2015

You can change the icons to whatever you want. Why do I even need to tell you that?

14. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Because his phone cant?

2. sgodsell

Posts: 7430; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The Moto G5 right now blows this one out of the water. However the new Moto G6 is roughly the same price, has dual cameras with one camera being wide angle, and the other a 12 mp camera. It has a selfie 16 MP camera. Plus a full HD+ display 2160x1080, and a much better SoC.

3. KingSam

Posts: 1466; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

720p is just ew. The 3 has a 1080p display. They think people on a tight budget care about some dumb wide angle front camera? They should choose specs wisely. That's why honor and Moto are winning.

10. Cat97

Posts: 1921; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

And the Moto G6 will cost 60% more...

12. Sparkxster

Posts: 1238; Member since: Mar 31, 2017

True and it's worth the extra cost.

4. audibot

Posts: 649; Member since: Jan 26, 2017

what is innovative about taking the mate phones ability to put apps to different fingers, research victor come on phonearena doesn't even pay me and i remember that from android authority

5. BuffaloSouce unregistered

Seems like a big step down from the 4S

8. jsjammu

Posts: 169; Member since: Nov 13, 2014

Who still makes 720p? At least throw in a 1080p and a decent SD 660. No Mediatek crap.

9. An.Awesome.Guy

Posts: 636; Member since: Jan 12, 2015

I think 720p is easier for cpu and battery and in the same time it is an HD screen after all, it is not bad at all for a cheap phone.

15. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

720p is perfectly fine for this price range, don't forget that there is a flagship that still use 750p screen at $700 pricetag

11. jerahm

Posts: 6; Member since: Oct 02, 2012

huawei p10 can also automatically switch to wide angle selfie when it detects more people.

13. UglyFrank

Posts: 2194; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

What is that top bezel?

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