Hands-On: New Cricket Phones
The Alcatel Authority is a bit of an odd duck. Alcatel doesn't have too many devices available in the U.S. market, and the Authority enters the midle of the smartphone space.
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The Authority is a larger phone in part thanks to its 4.3-inch display. The Authority uses gray tones -- no blacks -- and has a textured skin. The overall look of the device is somewhat plain, but not in an unattractive way. It simply looks like what it is: a mi-range smartphone for a prepaid carrier.
The Authority is a little thicker than I'd like my smartphone to be, but it is not egregiously thick, not by any means. It is tall and wide, but still managed to fit comfortably in my hand. My thumb was able to reach all the way across the screen without and trouble.
As with the ZTE Engage, the Alcatel Authority we spent time with was a pre-production unit. Understandably, the fit and finish was not as sharp as I'd like it to be. On the plus side, the materials felt much nicer than those used by ZTE for the Engage. I liked the textured battery cover, as it gave the Authority some much-needed grip in the hand.
The 4.3-inch screen has 800 x 480 pixels. It was not as nice a display as the Engage's. Using the same pixel count in a larger space means lower pixel density, and it was obvious when the two devices were held side-by-side. Again, the Authority's display matched its status as a mid-range device.
The button placement was good, but the volume toggle and lock buttons both had minimal travel and feedback. We hope this will be corrected once production units become available.
The Authority runs Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread, and the 1.4GHz processor had no problem providing enough oomph to keep the user interface speedy. Screen transitions were smooth, apps opened quickly, and I didn't see anything bog down the performance of the Authority while playing with it.
The Authority has a 5.0-megapixel camera and flash, and can of course record video. The key selling point for this device will likely be the selling price. Cricket Wireless will announce pricing for the Authority by mid-October.