This year has been a great one for techies on a budget. Several international companies have stepped up to the plate to challenge the devices of local brands under 10K – a price point that have been traditionally held by homegrown phone brands. The arrival of Meizu’s M1 Note, Huawe’s Honor 4X, Lenovo’s A7000 and the subject of today’s review, the Alcatel Flash Plus have completely disrupted the local marketplace. Today We’ll be taking an in-depth look at Alcatel’s Flash Plus, and see if it really does deserve all of the hype that it is currently enjoying.
Alcatel Flash Plus specs
- 1.5GHz MediaTek MT6752M octa-core processor
- 2GB of RAM
- 5.5-inch HD IPS OGS display, 1280 x 720 resolution
- 16GB of storage, expandable via microSD
- 13-megapixel rear camera, Sony IMX214 sensor
- 8-megapixel front camera
- Dual-SIM, dual LTE
- 3G, LTE
- WiFI, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, USB OTG
- 3,500mAh battery
- Android 4.4 KitKat
- Php 6,490
A design that won’t rock your socks off
The Flash Plus is a modestly designed phone made mainly out of plastic, sporting curved sides and a flat back. It’s a simple and uncomplicated design that may not be for everyone. While the Alcatel Flash Plus isn’t ugly, it definitely won’t impress you either.
All the physical controls are located on the right side, along with the SIM 2 slot. The SIM 1 and microSD slot are located on the left side of the phone. Up top, you’ll see the 3.5mm jack, while the bottom of the phone holds the USB port for charging. We like the fact that you don’t need to use a separate SIM ejector to get the SIMs out, as you can simply open the covers (they are hinged) to access the SIM and microSD slots.
Flip the phone over, you’ll see the slate grey back, as well as the 13-megapixel rear camera with its rather small LED flash. While the Alcatel Flash Plus has a microSD slot for more storage, it has a sealed body which means that you won’t be able to change out the battery.
Because of the relatively light weight of the Flash Plus, it feels flimsy in our hands, even though it’s actually pretty solid. As long as you avoid sitting on it or applying undue force on the body, it should check out.
The 5.5-inch display uses an IPS panel, and sports HD resolution. While the display is quite decent, it’s not as nice as other more expensive bang for the buck phones. Right below the display is the physical capacitive keys that unfortunately do not light up, making the Flash Plus a bit more difficult to use in low light.
Much like other handset manufacturers, the Alcatel Flash Plus utilizes a custom UI laid on top of vanilla Android. While Alcatel did not confirm it, it looks to be the Lewa OS. We’re not entirely sold on Lewa, simply because it looks rougher around the edges compared to Flyme, EMUI or the Vibe UI but truth be told, it functions much in the same way that those other overlays do – it strips the app drawer and takes all your apps out in the open, gives you access to several themes to replace the stock one with and adds additional functionality to the phone – namely double tap to wake and custom screen gestures.
Fast, responsive and more importantly, affordable
The biggest draw for the Flash Plus is its 1.5GHz MediaTek octa-core processor paired with 2GB of RAM. It’s the same processor that’s running in the hearts of its other rival, namely the Lenovo A7000. Not only does it manage to score high on our benchmark tests, it’s also paired with 2GB of RAM and has LTE capability out of the box. It’s also worth noting that our review unit is slightly clocked higher than the retail devices sold, so you should knock two thousand points off of the AnTuTu score to get a good read on the final benchmark results.
As a result of the speedy processor and the generous heaping of RAM, the Flash Plus is capable of speeding through the otherwise unremarkable Lewa OS. It’s also capable of running most games and apps without any issues – it absolutely flew through WWE Immortals, a very demanding 3D game that taxes most phones to the limit.
If there’s one thing that we’ll hit MediaTek with is the performance of the LTE modems attached to their SoCs. While the Flash Plus is capable of fast LTE speeds when there’s enough of a signal, we noticed that it takes a longer time for the phone to attain that magical 4G icon compared to other devices. It’s not surprising really, because other manufacturers like Qualcomm and Huawei are now in their fifth or sixth generation of LTE modems, while MediaTek is only on their third.
Camera is nothing special
Phones like the Flash Plus are a delicate balancing act in terms of performance, features and cost, but sooner or later, the manufacturer has to sacrifice something so that the price of the phone won’t bloat. In the Flash Plus, that something is the camera. The f/2.2 aperture lens on the camera isn’t the best to be honest, and while it’s perfectly fine for brightly lit environs, it struggles in low light.
Looooooooong battery life
We weren’t expecting much from the Flash Plus in terms of battery life – MediaTek’s SoCs are known for a lot of things, but power efficiency isn’t one of them. So we fired up our standard HD loop test (streaming via WiFi, 50% brightness, 50% volume) to see just how long the Flash Plus could last. Lo and behold, we managed to record around 12 hours and 40 minutes of streaming, which is very, very impressive to say the least. That translates to more than 2 days of useful battery life. Even better, our battery drain test was conducted with the faster, hungrier 1.7Ghz processor on a pre-production device – retail devices will probably manage to get even more out of the more efficient 1.5Ghz version.
Verdict: A must buy if you need a powerful phone for cheap
At the end of the day the Alcatel Flash Plus is one of the best phones you can buy at its price range. At a mere Php 6,490, you would be a fool to pass the phone up especially at the price they are asking for. While Alcatel had to sacrifice camera performance and the design of the phone, the rest of the package is simply too good to pass up, especially if you’re looking for a device that’s powerful and more importantly, affordable.
The Alcatel Flash Plus is exclusively sold in Lazada, and will go on sale (again) on June 5.