We review the Flash 2!
To call Alcatel’s Flash Plus a success is an understatement. Months after its release, it’s still difficult to get a hold of in Lazada, and is easily one of the fastest selling phones that the online shopping destination has ever offered in the PH. What’s more telling is the phones’ performance here in the PH compared to other countries – Alcatel says that the Flash Plus sold better here than the other ASEAN countries it was offered in, which is why the company decided to launch their newest bang-for-the-buck phone, the Flash 2, in the Philippines ahead of bigger countries like Indonesia and Malaysia.
Alcatel OneTouch Flash 2 specs
- 1.3GHz Mediatek MT6753 octa-core processor
- 2GB RAM
- 5.0-inches IPS HD display, Dragon Trail glass protection, 1280 × 720 resolution
- 16GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
- 13.0-megapixels Samsung ISOCELL camera with Auto Focus, Dual LED and Dual Tone Flash
- 5.0-megapixels secondary camera with LED Flash
- 3G, HSPA+, LTE
- Dual-SIM, dual LTE
- WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, aGPS
- 3,000mAh Li-Ion battery
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
- Php 6,190
With the Flash 2, Alcatel has gone and addressed many of the issues that the Flash Plus had, which shows how committed the company is to their fan base. While the Flash 2 compromises a little bit on hardware to get the changes that were required, it’s still an awesome smartphone through and through, and we dare say it is a better package compared to the Flash Plus.
Swanky design and premium build
One of our biggest complaints with the Flash Plus was its generic looking body. While the phone was well built, it never really had that visual oomph to make it stand out from the thousands of Android phones out in the market today. That’s been rectified with the Flash 2 – the overall design of the Flash 2 is pleasing to the eye, and overall build quality and aesthetics of the phone belie its budget price tag.
While the phone still uses a primarily plastic body, Alcatel has put in a few visual touches to make the device look and feel more premium than it actually is. A plastic, subdued silver trim runs on the bottom, top and sides of the phone. There’s a single visible green button at the bottom of the phone’s 5-inch display that acts as the Android home key – touching it lights up the other navigation keys flanking it. The top of the phone holds the 5-megapixel front camera, LED flash (that can be used as a flashlight for illuminated selfies in clubs and other dark environs, and a notification light.
On the right side of the device is the power key, volume rocker and a dedicated camera button. Once you turn the phone over, you’ll see the 13-megapixel rear camera with dual LED flash, along with the textured back of the phone that’s similar to the one used in the OnePlus One. The speaker grille is located on the back as well. The green color motif extends to the lens of the camera. You access both SIMs (phone uses a micro SIM) and microSD slots by removing the back cover though the 3,000mAh battery is non-removable.
What’s nice about the Flash 2 is that Alcatel is also throwing in a very nice looking leather flip case that’s infinitely nicer than the default cover that attaches directly onto the back of the phone. The leather flip case is soft to the touch, and while we’re under no illusions that Alcatel used faux leather to make this, it feels like a real, leather case. The only downside is that the display doesn’t adapt to the flip case, as it still displayed information on the whole display when the flip case was closed instead of the small window for quick notification peeks.
The size of the Flash 2’s display is a downgrade from the Flash Plus, coming in at just 5-inches compared to the latter’s 5.5-inch. The resolution is still HD though Alcatel has said that the display is protected by Asahi’s Dragon Trail glass. The smaller size of the phone endeared it to us in the past week – there’s really something to be said about being able to use your phone one handed without it feeling awkward or forced. As far as display quality goes, the Flash 2 is better in our eyes compared to the Flash Plus – bright with punchy colors. We did notice a lot of backlight bleeding on the corners and ends of the Flash 2’s display when the phone tries to show a black screen.
Stock Android love
Another big issue we had with the Flash Plus was that it came with LeWA OS, Alcatel’s take on Android. It’s not unusual for Chinese companies to stuff the phones that they sell with their own UI on top of Android to differentiate themselves from the competition. Huawei, OPPO and Xiaomi regularly put their own spin on Android all the time. What is unusual, however, is the fact that Alcatel listened to its users and completely stripped the UI from the Flash 2. You’re left with unadulterated Android, and whatever apps you do find installed on the Flash 2 when you get it can be completely uninstalled. We have to applaud Alcatel for the move, as not many companies are willing to admit that their re-interpretation of Android isn’t working for a particular audience.
A little bit of a downgrade on hardware, but it’s still plenty powerful
Just like what Meizu did with the M2 Note, Alcatel has slightly downgraded the Flash 2 in terms of hardware. You’re looking at a MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor as opposed to the MT6752M on the Flash Plus (1.3GHz vs. 1.5GHz) and an ARM Mali-T720 GPU vs. ARM Mali-T760 GPU. While the reduced clock doesn’t bother us as much, the slower GPU does – it means that the Flash 2 is going to be less capable in gaming compared to the Flash Plus, on paper.
That’s exactly what happened – just like the similarly specc’d M2 Note, the Flash 2 had a little trouble in playing games, and we ran into a few lag spots when playing Marvel’s Future Fight when there’s a lot going on screen. On casual games like Clash of Clans, the Flash 2 had no trouble at all.
As for actual, non-gaming use, the Flash 2 held up quite well, with the phone zipping through regular apps without any issues. We did notice that the Flash 2 took longer to lock onto GPS sattelites than Qualcomm-equipped phones, and took a longer time to acquire an LTE signal compared to the competition. Until MediaTek improves on their antennas and modems, that’s going to be the case for MediaTek-powered phones moving forward.
Better camera than the Flash Plus, but still has room for improvements
We have good news and bad news for the camera on the Flash 2. The good news is that it’s definitely an improvement compared to the camera of the Flash Plus. Instead of Sony, Alcatel has gone with Samsung’s ISOCELL sensor on the 13-megapixel rear camera of the phone.
Photos are punchier and overall look better compared to the Flash Plus, and there’s a variety of shooting modes included in the phone. Low-light performance has also been improved, and while there’s still some detail lost in environments where lighting isn’t the best (just like the bar we shot the majority of the low-light shots in) the phone’s camera is still capable of delivering photos that are perfectly acceptable for social media.
The bad news for the Flash 2’s camera is that it struggles when it comes to white balance, especially the selfie cam. We shot a series of selfies inside the Promenade theater in Greenhills and we found that there was a distinct blue hue to the photo. While you can fix this via the white balance setting in the phone, it was a little bit of a hassle, to be honest, as most people shoot primarily in automatic and can’t be bothered to change the settings every time they start up the camera.
Excellent battery life
Just like the M2 Note, the Flash 2 managed to record long run times on a single charge even though it has a smaller battery than the Flash Plus. The Flash 2 managed to rake in a score of 7 hours and 26 minutes in PCMark’s battery test. In actual use, the Flash 2 was capable of going around a day and a half on a full charge with moderate use. It’s safe to say that the Flash 2 is capable of tackling your busy workday with enough juice left in the tank before you go to bed at night.
Verdict: Easily one of the best value for money smartphones in the market right now
Alcatel’s Flash 2 really is an improvement over the Flash Plus that was offered a few months ago. They managed to address many of the concerns that we had with their price-busting smartphone, and as a result, the Flash 2 is easily one of the best value for money smartphones you can buy today. The premium build and fast performance alone is well worth the price of admission already. While the camera isn’t the best, the snapper on the Flash 2 has been greatly improved from the Flash Plus and is rather good for the price.
Speaking of price, the Flash 2 will retail for Php 6,190 when it goes on sale in Lazada on Sept. 30. If you didn’t get a Flash Plus before or are upgrading to a better phone, you really can’t do any better than the Flash 2 at that price range.