Alcatel OT-995 Review

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

The Alcatel OT-995 doesn’t come from the well established names in the industry like say Samsung, but you might be surprised that the French company Alcatel has been around for quite a while and definitely has the experience to make a respectable device.

Is this device such, though? In the One Touch 995 Ultra (OT-995), Alcatel delivers a spacious 4.3-inch display for an extremely affordable price. If you are hunting for specs, it looks like a bargain. But the bland design and aesthetically dull interface, make it a very utilitarian device even for its bargain price. Are you all about the specs and should you overlook this? We need to look into more detail before answering those big questions.


Design:

The Alcatel One Touch 995 Ultra won’t surprise anyone with its appearance. It looks and feels like just another smartphone from China - your typical plastic slab with rounded corners; it screams “ordinary” with every detail. It’s not too thick at 0.39 inches (9.8mm), nor too heavy at 4.37 ounces, or 124 grams. It lays in the hand with a nice weight, though, and is comfortable to hold with the clean soft touch plastic back. Also, the back cover is practical - the soft touch plastic won’t catch smudges. If we had to sum it up in a few words, those would be solid build and dull looks, utilitarian.



You can compare the Alcatel OT-995 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The front side, all encircled with plastic siding doesn’t impress. The device comes with the four standard capacitive buttons for Gingerbread. An issue we had is the buttons are lit unevenly, as if the designers didn't have the time to finalize the device.



One thing we noticed out of the ordinary is that the screen lock button was tucked too deep, making it a bit hard to press.



Display:

The biggest highlight of the One Touch 995 Ultra is the 4.3-inch WVGA LCD capacitive display. That resolution is definitely a great asset for the price and we were pleased with the brightness and quality of the display. As on most LCD displays, whites look impressive, contrast is good and blacks look a bit on the gray side. Viewing angles are also decent with colors getting washed out slightly only at extreme angles.



Interface and Functionality:

The handset ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread which is hard to swallow even for lower priced devices. Alcatel has pre-loaded the SPB 3D Shell on top of Gingerbread to beautify it, but it seems to add more of a visual flare and less of practical usage improvements. Default icons are spectacularly ugly and saying they are utilitarian would be a huge compliment. Overall, interface aesthetics on the device were clearly not in the focus and that’s disappointing.


No Ice Cream Sandwich also starts to mean more and more as the Android platform evolves. A lot of apps that we find truly make Android shine are missing - you won’t get apps like Chrome, Flipboard and Instagram, all of which require ICS or a later version.

Basic functionality is what you’d expect of Android - contacts can be easily synced with Google and you get the rich options of the Android phone book. Typing messages on the pre-loaded keyboard was also a breeze on the big screen.



Processor and Memory:

Performance is one area we are particularly picky about, especially when it comes to lower-end devices that have to cut some corners. We’ve seen that infamous Android lag way too often to tolerate it. Luckily, here it’s barely seen and Gingerbread ran smoothly for the most part. An occasional stutter here and there was still noticeable, and animations didn’t move perfectly smooth, but that would be picking the nits. We also got good framerates on most of our favorite games (we played Angry Birds and Temple Run mostly) and were generally happy with the performance.

Under the hood, the device features a second-gen Snapdragon chip, the Qualcomm MSM8255A, with a 1.4GHz single-core Scorpion processor, a reasonable 512MB of RAM and Adreno 205 graphics. The high clock speed however also comes with a slight downside - the device heats up noticeably when put through the paces.


Quadrant StandardAnTuTuNenaMark 2
Alcatel OT-9952700365229,3
Samsung Galaxy Ace 21953409532,4
LG Optimus L51470266514,2


The Alcatel One Touch 995 Ultra has 2GB of internal storage, of which 860MB are available to the user. Luckily, it comes with a 4GB microSD card on board, but you can replace it with up to 32GB card for even more storage.


Internet and Connectivity:

On Gingerbread, you have Android Browser as the default browser. Google has picked Chrome as the default browser for Android 4.1, but it requires at least the ICS update, so you can’t install it here. The Android Browser is still a speedy solution that has withstood the test of time, but when compared to Chrome, its interface definitely looks dated and not so convenient. On the flipside of things, you still have Adobe Flash enabled and running. And surfing the web was a pleasure on the roomy 4.3-inch screen with scrolling and pinching in and out perfectly responsive.

In terms of connectivity, it has European-only 3G, so it is not suitable for the States; it supports speeds of up to 7.2Mbps on the downlink which should suffice for the average user.

We appreciate the presence of a dedicated HDMI port on the Alcatel One Touch 995, allowing you to easily stream your phone’s content on a bigger screen.



Camera:

The Alcatel One Touch 995 Ultra features a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash on the back. Sadly, the images it takes are below average with colors tending to be unnaturally cold with a greenish tint. Images have little resolved detail and are a bit too sharp for our taste. We also wish you could disable the annoying shutter sound.




The rear camera shoots 720p video at 30 frames per second. It’s nice to see that the camera quickly and automatically focuses on objects while shooting video. And while we were disappointed with the quality of still pictures, video recording actually turned out quite decent. The mic filtered out noises well enough, and colors look punchier and more natural.

Alcatel OT-995 Sample Video:



Alcatel OT-995 Indoor Sample Video:



Alcatel is also including a front-facing VGA camera, which is great for video calls on apps like Skype.


Multimedia:

When it comes to media playback, the Alcatel OT 995 Ultra has one big advantage over its rivals and that’s the big, 4.3-inch WVGA screen. The handset played back 720p HD video easily. If you want to throw 1080p videos at it though, it won’t muscle them up. The speakerphone on the back backs up the picture with crisp and clear sound, but is a bit on the quiet side.



Call Quality:

The call quality on the phone is good with both our callers and us hearing each other well. Voices sound natural and clear, but the earpiece is a bit too quiet, so in very noisy environments you’d have trouble making out what people on the other side of the line say.


Battery:


The device ships with a 1,500mAh battery (it’s easily removable) which in our experience lasted us through the day on average use. Getting that charger ready at the end of the day is our general advice for this phone.


Conclusion:

The Alcatel One Touch 995 Ultra price differs across markets, but on average it should cost you between $250 and $270, which is very affordable.

If we had to mention rivals, we’d look at last year’s LG Optimus Black for an Android alternative, coming with a slightly smaller but brighter screen and a more alluring design. The Nokia Lumia 710 costs almost the same and will let you experiment with Windows Phone, a truly great camera and buttery smooth performance, but also has a smaller, 3.7-inch display.

On its own, the One Touch 995 Ultra fails to differentiate from other Androids. It looks like a bargain and it is if you hunt for pure specs such as the 4.3-inch screen. But in reality it’s the whole package that matters and when it comes to the actual experience, the phone leaves a lot to be desired. Design is bland and dull, the user interface borders with horrific and lacks aesthetics, and the camera is rather mediocre. For strictly utilitarian purposes, the device will definitely do, but if you want a bit more than that, you should look elsewhere.

Alcatel OT-995 Video Review:





Pros

  • Good screen for its class
  • HDMI output

Cons

  • Gingerbread
  • Ugly interface
  • Mediocre camera

PhoneArena Rating:

5.5

User Rating:

5.6
5 Reviews

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