Alcatel OneTouch POP S9 hands-on: LTE and a huge screen at a "smart price"


Alcatel's OneTouch POP range of Android devices just got even broader today with the announcement of the new, LTE-enabled OneTouch POP S handsets. Among them is the Alcatel OneTouch POP S9, which stands firmly in the phablet phone category thanks to its large display. How large is large, you ask? Well, you're getting no less than 5.9 inches of space to fiddle with. And the screen itself is pretty decent, too, with an acceptable resolution of 720 by 1280 pixels. Since the panel is of the IPS LCD kind, we're not surprised to see that it exhibits wide viewing angles and pleasing color representation. 

The handset itself is pretty large, as you can probably tell already. Needless to say, using the Alcatel OneTouch POP S9 with a single hand is challenging and uncomfortable, if not impossible. At 182 grams, it is not light either. But these are the trade-offs that one has to live with if large-screened phones are their cup of tea. Plastic is what the smartphone is made of, with matte, fingerprint-resistant finish. The back cover can be removed and swapped with one of a different color, which is a nice-to-have customization option. Still, the battery of the device is not user-replaceable. 

Hardware-wise, the Alcatel OneTouch POP S9 comes with a quad-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz and 1GB of RAM. Our guess is that the chip is made by MediaTek, but we're not entirely sure at this time. Either way, the SoC should be powerful enough to handle the basics, although it might struggle with heavier apps and games. We'd rather not comment on the performance of the demo unit we handled since the software still had a few kinks that needed to be ironed out.

Speaking of software, the Alcatel OneTouch POP S9 ships with Android 4.3 pre-loaded, and on top of it lays Alcatel's custom user interface. The UI is fresh and colorful, adding a few transparency effects here and there, some extra settings and tweaks, as well as the new single-finger zoom built into a number of apps. In the gallery, for example, one can double-tap on the screen and then swipe up to enlarge the image, kind of like how zooming works in Google Maps. 

On the back of the Alcatel OneTouch POP S9 resides an 8MP camera with auto-focus and an LED light. The camera app can be quickly accessed from the lock screen thanks to a shortcut placed there, which is nice. HDR and Panorama are among the modes supported by the snapper. It should have no troubles recording 1080p video. The 2MP front-facing cam makes video calls possible.

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As we mentioned above, the Alcatel OneTouch POP S9 is an LTE smartphone, but naturally, it is fully compatible with HSPA+ networks as well. Of course, Bluetooth, GPS, FM radio, and NFC are also supported. A dual-SIM variant of the device is in the works, for those who might need this functionality.

Last but not least, we must say that we're impressed by the battery capacity of this big guy. Inside the Alcatel OneTouch POP S9 is packed a 3400mAh battery, which is rated for 23 hours of talk time on a 4G network. You should be able to get more hours of usage out of this phone if you're not using it on  a 4G network, however.

And that's the Alcatel One Touch POP S9 in a nutshell. Clearly, because of its sheer size, this is not a phone for everyone, but those who need a relatively affordable large-screened phone for enjoying photos, videos, and maybe some light gaming, should like it. As far as pricing is concerned, we are not sure how much the POP S9 will retail for, but knowing the company's market strategy, it should be priced significantly below the competition's offerings.

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