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New KaiOS Feature Phones for US Offer Google Assistant, App Store

Thursday, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Alcatel today announced the Go Flip 3 and SmartFlip, two variants of essentially the same clamshell-style feature phone. The phone runs KaiOS, and for the first time in the US, supports both Google Assistant voice control and the KaiStore for downloading third-party apps such as WhatsApp. The hardware is otherwise similar to previous KaiOS phones by Alcatel for the US, such as the Go Flip, MyFlip, QuickFlip, and Cingular Flip 2. Like those models, it has 4G LTE, a large screen and keypad, HD Voice, 2-megapixel camera, HD video capture, music player, memory card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and a color outer display. The model branded Go Flip 3 is for T-Mobile and Metro, and supports mobile hotspot, band 71, and Sprint bands; it replaces the original Go Flip. The model branded SmartFlip is for AT&T and Cricket; it supports band 14 (FirstNet) and replaces the Cingular Flip 2 and QuickFlip.


TCL Launches First TCL-Branded Phone

Sep 5, 2019, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

TCL Communication — the company behind Alcatel, BlackBerry, and Palm phones — is branching out with a new line of phones under its own TCL brand. The first model is called the Plex and is higher-end than most Alcatel-branded phones. TCL will also introduce 5G and folding phones under the TCL brand next year, making it a decidedly higher-end brand for the company. The Plex has a full-HD+ 6.53-inch display on the front and triple rear cameras. The display is a "Dotch" LCD panel made in-house by TCL; it achieves 90% screen-to-body ratio thanks to a hole-punch design for the selfie camera. The display also automatically adjusts to ambient light color. The main camera is a 48-megapixel Sony sensor. It's assisted by a dedicated 2-megapixel (1080p) low-light sensor for video. The third camera is a 16-megapixel wide-angle camera. The unique dual flash design puts a separate LED on each side of the camera lenses. The Plex is powered by a 3,820 mAh battery, Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 processor, 6 GB of RAM, and comes with 128 GB of storage plus a memory card slot. It also has a fingerprint reader on the back, headphone jack, and USB-C connector supporting Quick Charge 3.0. The version announced today features Cat. 6 LTE supporting European frequency bands. It will launch by the end of this year "starting with select markets" in Europe at a recommended retail price of €329.


Verizon Picks up Alcatel Go Flip

Jul 11, 2019, 7:30 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 11, 2019, 10:19 AM

Verizon today started selling the Alcatel Go Flip V, a close cousin of the similar-looking feature phone Alcatel offers on other US carriers as the Go Flip, MyFlip, QuickFlip, and Cingular Flip 2. Unlike those other models — which run KaiOS — the Go Flip V runs custom software based on AOSP (open-source Android), with more memory (both RAM and storage) to support the more-demanding software. (Like other feature phones based on AOSP, it cannot run third-party Android apps.) Other than the software and memory, the phone's features match related models on other carriers, including the large 1.44-inch outer color display, 2.8-inch main display, large buttons, 2-megapixel camera, HD video capture, memory card slot, mobile hotspot, 3.5mm audio jack, and Wi-Fi. The Go Flip V also supports HD Voice, Voice over LTE, Voice over Wi-Fi, RTT, TTY, and M4/T4 hearing-aid compatibility.


Verizon Launches its First Alcatel Phone

Apr 18, 2019, 7:30 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 18, 2019, 8:09 AM

Verizon today started selling the Alcatel Avalon V, an entry-level Android phone that marks the first Alcatel phone to be offered by Verizon. The phone is similar to the Alcatel 1x Evolve already on sale with Metro by T-Mobile, but has a Snapdragon 425 processor instead of a MediaTek chip, and lower-resolution cameras (5 megapixel main and 2 megapixel selfie). The phone is notable for its tall (2:1 aspect ratio) display, which is still uncommon in truly entry-level phones such as this. The phone has a memory card slot, 2.5mm audio jack, and comes with Google Lens image recognition. It's available today for $100.


TCL Shows Off Foldable Concepts

Feb 24, 2019, 11:00 AM   by Rich Brome

TCL Communication — the company behind Alcatel and BlackBerry phones — is planning to launch one or more foldable phones with a flexible display in 2020, and showed off several of its current concepts at the MWC trade show this week. The company has been actively working on the project for a couple of years already, the result of which is a proprietary, patented hinge design that the company calls DragonHinge. A TCL sister company manufactures the custom flexible AMOLED display. A TCL spokesperson said the company aims to make its foldable phones more affordable than competitors like the Samsung Galaxy Fold. The company also hinted that it's considering launching its foldable phone(s) under the TCL brand, or a new brand, instead of the Alcatel brand which is associated with less-expensive models. Several concepts were displayed, including tablet-style devices — both with and without an outer display — and phones that look like a tall smartphone but fold in half like an old clamshell phone, leaving a small strip of display exposed for notifications. The company is exploring additional new form factors as well, using the same hinge and display technologies.

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Alcatel Refreshes Affordable Lineup

Feb 24, 2019, 11:00 AM   by Rich Brome

The new Alcatel 1s, 3, and 3L improve the specs of Alcatel's most affordable Android phones with features like more RAM, and taller displays with a notch. Although these specific models aren't coming to the US, such models often come to the US as carrier-exclusive models with minor spec changes.

  • 1s: Similar to the 1x announced at CES, (which came to Cricket as the Onyx,) but with 3 GB of RAM, automatic scene detection in the camera app, an octa-core processor (Spreadtrum SC9863A), and Android 9 (Pie). Like the 1x, it has a 5.5" tall (2:1 ratio) HD display, dual rear cameras, and a fingerprint reader.
  • 3: Has a taller (19.5:9) display thanks to a small notch for the selfie camera. It's also HD and measures 5.9 inches. It comes in two mirrored gradient finishes: blue-purple and black-blue. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 processor and 3 GB of RAM. It has dual rear cameras, a fingerprint reader, and a 3,500 mAh battery. It also has both a memory card slot and 3.5mm audio jack.
  • 3L: Identical to the 3, but with 2GB of RAM and a textured back. Some versions leave out the fingerprint reader as well. (not shown)


Alcatel Onyx for Cricket Offers Dual-Camera for $120

Jan 25, 2019, 9:33 AM   by Rich Brome

The Alcatel Onyx for Cricket has a fingerprint reader, dual rear cameras, a tall 2:1 display, and sells for $120. It's based on the Alcatel 1x that was launched at CES a few weeks ago. The Onyx does have a fingerprint reader (not all versions of the 1x do). The Onyx also has 32 GB of internal storage instead of the standard 16 GB on the 1x. Otherwise, the Onyx is identical to the 1x. The phone has a 5.5-inch HD display, 3,000 mAh battery, memory card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, and FM radio. Its 13-megapixel main camera is aided by a 2-megapixel depth camera for portrait effects, the focus of which can be adjusted after the photo is taken. The front camera is 5 megapixel. The Onyx comes with Android 8.1 (Oreo). Alcatel and Cricket announced the Onyx today and it's available now, in "Suede Black".


Hands On with the new Alcatel 1x

Jan 8, 2019, 11:15 AM   by Rich Brome

For 2019, Alcatel has refreshed its 1x model with an updated design and updated specs. Despite its entry-level price, it sports camera and display features normally found only on much higher-end phones. It also has unique design touches that set it apart from other entry-level fare. Read on for our first impressions.

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Alcatel 1x for 2019 Offers Mid-Range Specs, Features for $120

Jan 8, 2019, 11:15 AM   by Rich Brome

TCL today announced the Alcatel 1x (2019), an update to last year's 1x with significant upgrades and new features, including dual rear cameras. Like the original 1x, it has a 2:1 display shape and fingerprint reader (some versions, depending on region). The display has been upgraded to HD resolution and enlarged from 5.3 to 5.5 inches. The (non-removable) battery is 22% larger, now 3,000 mAh. While last year's 1x ran Android Go, the new version has 2GB of RAM and a full version of Android 8.1 (Oreo). The distinctive design has a rough texture that wraps around the sides on the bottom half. The rear camera has been upgraded to 13 megapixel and is aided by a second camera for depth, offering a portrait mode with focus adjustable after the shot has been taken. The 1x is powered by a MediaTek 6739 processor. It will ship globally — including North America — in the coming weeks, for around $120.


TCL Launching Headphone Lineup in US

Jan 7, 2019, 3:57 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 7, 2019, 3:57 PM

TCL — maker of Alcatel and BlackBerry phones as well as TVs under their own brand — is getting into the affordable headphone business. The company today announced its first lineup of TCL-branded wired and Bluetooth personal audio devices for the US, with four sub-brands. ELIT are the top-end models; some have drivers as large as 40mm and/and active noice canceling, ranging in cost $25-80. The ACTV line includes two models with sweat resistance and over-ear loops to keep them in place during workouts. The wired model is $20 while the Bluetooth is $40. The SOCL line are colorful and start at $10 for the basic wired model. The six models top out at $60 for the top-end Bluetooth 5 model with neck band and 18-hour battery life. The MTRO series has more conservative designs, and includes four models: in-ear and over-ear, each available wired or with Bluetooth. They range $20-50. The first models will launch February 1st, with the full lineup available by summer.


Metro to Sell the Alcatel 1X Evolve as an Exclusive

Dec 4, 2018, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Dec 4, 2018, 9:41 AM

Metro by T-Mobile and Alcatel today announced the 1X Evolve, an update to the compact Alcatel 1X from earlier this year. The phone has curved, 2.5D Dragontrail glass on front and a soft suede finish on the rear. The phone features a 5.34-inch display with a 2:1 aspect ratio and minimal bezels along the outer edges. The 1X Evolve has an 8-megapixel camera on back and a 5-megapixel camera on front. Camera tools include Alcatel's Social Mode for editing and sharing, Social Square for previewing images on half the screen, and Instant Collage for merging photos into shareable collages. The 1X Evolve is powered by a quad-core processor and supports T-Mobile's 600 MHz (Band 71) spectrum for better LTE 4G performance. It packs a 2,460mAh battery and ships with Android 8 Oreo. The Alcatel 1X Evolve reaches Metro stores on December 10. Pricing was not immediately disclosed.


T-Mobile Revs Up Low-Cost Offerings with the Revvl 2 and Revvl 2 Plus

Nov 13, 2018, 10:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced the pending availability of the T-Mobile Revvl 2 and T-Mobile Revvl 2 Plus (pictured). These low-cost Android phones are rebadged variants of the Alcatel 3 and Alcatel 7, respectively. Shared features between the two phones include 18:9 displays, mirror black finishes, fingerprint sensors and facial recognition, 32 GB of storage, and Android 8 Oreo. Each supports T-Mobile's Band 66 and Band 71 LTE.

  • Revvl 2: The smaller of the two phones has a 5.5-inch HD+ display with a 1.5 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6739 processor with 2 GB of RAM. The Revvl 2 has a 13-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel selfie camera. It includes a 3,000mAh battery.
  • Revvl 2 Plus: The larger of the two phones has a 6-inch full HD+ display with a 2.5 GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6739 processor with 3 GB of RAM. This phone has a 12-megapixel rear camera with 2-megapixel secondary camera for portrait shots. The Revvl 2 Plus has an 8-megapixel selfie camera. It includes a 4,000mAh battery.
T-Mobile says the Revvl 2 and Revvl 2 Plus will be available online and in stores November 16. For a limited time, the Revvl 2 with be free and the Revvl 2 Plus will be $84 when adding a line. T-Mobile didn't announce the full retail price of either phone. Metro by T-Mobile already sells the Revvl 2 Plus as the Alcatel 7 for $180.


Alcatel Tetra, A Low-Cost Android Phone, Lands On AT&T Prepaid

Sep 10, 2018, 8:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today announced the Tetra, an entry-level device that's being sold by AT&T's prepaid business. The Tetra features a 5-inch display with 480 by 854 pixels for FWVGA resolution. The display is protected by 2D Dragontrail glass. The Tetra is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6739WM processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone supports microSD memory cards up to 128 GB. The 5-megapixel camera on the rear has an LED flash and can capture 720p HD video with time-lapse and stabilization. The 2-megapixel selfie camera on front has a screen-based flash and can also record 720p HD video with face beautification. Other features include Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, WiFi, LTE, and a 2,050mAh battery. The Tetra runs Android 8.1 Oreo. AT&T Prepaid is selling the Alcatel Tetra for $39.99. It is available online today and will reach stores on September 14.


MetroPCS Lands the Big-Screened Alcatel 7 with CloserTV App

Aug 13, 2018, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel and MetroPCS today announced the Alcatel 7, a large Android phone that focuses on entertainment. The Alcatel 7 has a 6-inch, full HD+ screen at a 2:1 aspect ratio. Alcatel says it kept the bezels to a minimum. The phone is powered by an octa-core MediaTek MT6763T processor with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. Alcatel opted for a dual-camera system on the rear with a 12-megapixel main sensor and a 2-megapixel depth sensor to provide features such as bokeh and re-focus. The front-facing 8-megapixel camera boasts its own, dedicated selfie flash. Other hardware features include a fingerprint reader, Face Key unlocking, 4,000mAh battery with rapid charging, and support for microSD memory cards. On the software front, the Alcatel 7 runs Android 8.1 Oreo and includes Alcatel's CloserTV app, which is a single place for users to watch their favorite online streaming services and cable TV content. Alcatel says users can log in to their various video providers via this one app and then cast it to their TV. MetroPCS is selling the Alcatel 7 beginning today for $180. Customers who port their number to MetroPCS and subscribe to an unlimited plan can get the Alcatel 7 for free. Customers who open a new line of service or have an upgrade can get the phone for $129.


FreedomPop's Unreal Mobile MVNO Launches with $10 Plan

Jun 20, 2018, 10:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 21, 2018, 1:01 PM

Unreal Mobile officially launched today after signing up some 50,000 beta users over the last month. Unreal Mobile is a new MVNO from FreedomPop. It is offering unlimited service that includes a VPN, mobile ad blocking, and the ability for customers to use their Unreal phone number on tablets, phones, and computers. All three Unreal service plans include unlimited talk, text, and 2G data. The entry-level plan costs $10 per month and includes 1 GB of LTE, while the $15 plan includes 2 GB and the $30 plan includes 5 GB. The MVNO also lets subscribers carry unused data over to the next month and offers live support. The first three phones being sold by Unreal are the Alcatel Dawn for $50, a certified pre-owned Samsung Galaxy S6 for $150, and a pre-owned iPhone 7 for $300. The carrier says customers will be able to bring their own phone later this summer. Consumers interested in Unreal Mobile can sign up via Unreal's web site.


Alcatel 1x with Android Go Hits US Retail Next Week for $100

May 31, 2018, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

TCL today announced that its Alcatel 1x phone, an entry-level Android device that runs Android 8.1 Oreo Go Edition, will be available from Amazon.com starting the first week of June. The unlocked device is priced at $99. It will reach Best Buy and Walmart later in the month. The 1x has a 2:1 ratio 5.3-inch screen with 960 by 480 resolution and it is powered by a quad-core MediaTek processor clocked at 1.28 GHz. The phone ships with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor, while the user-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Other hardware features include Cat 4 LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi; microUSB and memory card slot; and a 2,420mAh battery. The Alcatel 1X includes a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. It includes Go-optimized versions of core apps, including Google Assistant Go, Google Go, Files Go, Google Maps Go, YouTube Go, and Gmail Go, as well as performance optimizations to Chrome, Google Play, and Gboard. The Android Go platform is designed to run on low-spec'd hardware. The Alcatel 1x includes modest support for AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS, though it lacks the newest LTE bands.


Best Certified Phones for Verizon Wireless

May 25, 2018, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Have your eye on a shiny new phone, but it isn't sold by Verizon Wireless? Did you know that Big Red allows you to bring your own device to its network? There are a few things you need to know, though.

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Alcatel's 3V to Go On Sale in the US for $150

May 22, 2018, 7:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

TCL today announced that its Alcatel 3V phone, first revealed earlier this year, will be available for sale in the weeks ahead. The Alcatel 3V has a 6-inch, 18:9 display and includes a quad-core MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The rear camera has a 12-megapixel main sensor and 2-megapixel secondary sensor for bokeh-style photos. The phone includes Social Mode photo tool, such as quick editing, and side-by-side comparing in the 2:1 screen. Instant Collage lets people combine their best pix into a single image, and Photo Booth acts like an old-school photo booth by creating four images in a strip. The 3V includes a fingerprint reader and runs Android 8 Oreo. The Alcatel 3V is unlocked to GSM networks and will be available in the U.S. in black for $149.99 on Amazon next week, with availability at Best Buy and Walmart stores to follow in the coming weeks.


Researchers Suggest Phone Makers Mislead Consumers About Security Patches

Apr 12, 2018, 1:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Security Research Labs says Android phone makers often miss security patches but still tell owners the phones are up-to-date. Researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell examined the code of some 1,200 phones from more than a dozen phone makers for every security patch released during 2017. They discovered phones from nearly all makers missed at least some patches. Phones from Google, Sony, and Samsung ranked fairly well, missing an average of just one patch. Phones from Xiaomi, Nokia, and OnePlus missed between one and three patches per update, while devices from HTC, Motorola, LG, and Huawei missed three to four, and phones from TCL (Alcatel) and ZTE often missed more than four patches per update. High-end devices with processors from Samsung or Qualcomm were more likely to updated properly, while low-cost devices with processors from MediaTek were less likely to be updated properly. Nohl and Lell say what's worse than the missed patches are the phone makers' claims to the contrary. "We find that there's a gap between patching claims and the actual patches installed on a device. It's small for some devices and pretty significant for others," said Nohl to Wired. "We found several vendors that didn’t install a single patch but changed the patch date forward by several months. That’s deliberate deception." The researchers claim this lulls consumers into a false sense of security, though they admit that hacking into Android phones through any of the missed patches is a difficult task at best. In response to the data, Google argued that not all the devices researched were Android certified, and that modern Android phones have other security measures in place to protect them. "Security updates are one of many layers used to protect Android devices and users," said Scott Roberts, Android product security lead at Google. "Built-in platform protections, such as application sandboxing, and security services, such as Google Play Protect, are just as important." Still, Google said it would work with Security Research Labs to investigate Nohl and Lell's findings.


Alcatel Says 1X with Android Go and 3V to Hit US In Coming Months

Mar 16, 2018, 1:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 19, 2018, 12:14 PM

TCL today announced that it intends to sell the Alcatel 1X with Android Go and the Alcatel 3V in the U.S. at some point over the next few months. Both phones were announced earlier this year. The Alcatel 1X (pictured) is a small, entry-level device with the Android 8.1 Oreo Go Edition on board. Android Go is intended for low-powered phones and includes optimized Go variants of core apps such as Gmail, Maps, and YouTube. The 1X has a 5.3-inch, 18:9 screen with a quad-core MediaTek processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, 8-megapixel main camera and 5-megapixel selfie camera. The U.S. version, priced at $100, will include a fingerprint reader. The Alcatel 3V has a 6-inch, 18:9 display and includes a quad-core MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM and at least 16 GB of storage. The rear camera has a 12-megapixel main sensor and 2-megapixel secondary sensor for bokeh-style photos. The 3V comes in black, gold, or blue with a fingerprint reader, and runs Android 8 Oreo. TCL said more details will be made available soon.


Hands On with Alcatel's new 3 Series Phones

Feb 24, 2018, 1:03 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Feb 24, 2018, 2:58 PM

Alcatel has a new lineup of very affordable Android phones with 2:1 displays. They come in three sizes. Some have curved-edge glass on the front, and one has a dual camera setup with a wide-angle lens. Read on for our first impressions of the newly-announced 3 and 3x models.

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Alcatel 5 Series to Serve As TCL's Budget Flagship Phone

Feb 24, 2018, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

TCL today announced the Alcatel 5 Series, an Android handset that TCL describes as an "affordable flagship." The phone has a brushed metallic unibody design with a rear-mounted fingerprint reader and face ID for rapid unlocking. Core features include a 5.7-inch display with HD+ (1,440 by 720) resolution and the 18:9 aspect ratio. TCL opted for an octa-core MediaTek processor with four cores clocked at 1.5 GHz for high-power tasks and four clocked at 1.0 GHz for low-power tasks. The phone comes with either 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage, or 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. Both variants support microSD cards up to 32 GB. The device has a single 12-megapixel camera on the rear at f/2.2 with EIS, HDR, and panorama. TCL added new editing tools called Social Mode, which allow owners to take and review square images at the same time, create instant collages, and apply filters through the Photo Booth mode. The 5 Series is unique in that it has two front-facing cameras, one at 13 megapixels and the other at 5 megapixels. The secondary lens offers wide-angle selfies. Other selfie tools include face beautification, face recognition, and video stories. TCL says the Face Key identity tool takes less than half a second to recognize the owner's face. Further, the fingerprint reader can be customized to take different actions depending on which finger unlocks the phone, such as the camera with an index finger or Facebook with a middle finger. Rounding out the specs, the Alcatel 5 Series has a 3,000mAh battery, Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, GPS, Cat 4 LTE, USB-C, and an FM radio. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat and comes in black or gold. It is available immediately in select markets for about $250.


Alcatel 3 Series to Come In Three Different Sizes

Feb 24, 2018, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today announced its 3 Series smartphones, part of its larger family of new Android handsets. The 3 Series encompasses three phones that will offer screens measuring 5.5 inches (3), 5.7 inches (3X), and 6 inches (3V). All three screens adopt the 18:9 aspect ratio. While the 3 and 3x use HD+ (1,440 by 720) resolution, the 3V jumps to full HD+ (2,160 by 1,080) resolution. All three phones share a number of features, such as 2.5D curved front glass, curved rear panels, dual cameras, and fingerprint sensors. Each includes Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, microUSB, memory card support, and LTE 4G. The 3 series phones share the same 5-megapixel selfie camera with LED flash, and each packs a 3,000mAh battery.

  • 3V: The largest of the three phones (pictured) includes a quad-core MediaTek processor clocked at 1.45 GHz with 2 GB of RAM and 16 or 32 GB of storage. The rear camera has a 12-megapixel main sensor and 2-megapixel secondary sensor for bokeh-style photos. Other camera features include HDR, panorama, EIS, filters, and video stabilization. It comes in black, gold, or blue, and runs Android 8 Oreo.
  • 3X: The mid-sized member of this pack has a quad-core MediaTek processor clocked at 1.28 GHz and it ships with with 2 or 3 GB of RAM and either 16 or 32 GB of storage, depending on the variant. Its dual-camera setup includes a 13-megapixel main sensor with HDR, two-tone LED flash, and EIS, accompanied by a 5-megapixel secondary sensor with wide-angle shooting. It comes in blue, black, or gold, and runs Android 7 Nougat.
  • 3: The smallest of the three phones has a quad-core MediaTek processor clocked at 1.28 GHz and it ships with with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The camera boasts a 13-megapixel sensor with EIS and HDR. The Alcatel 3 runs Android 8 Oreo and comes in blue, black, or gold.
TCL said the 3 Series handsets will go on sale in select markets starting in April. Pricing ranges from about $150 to about $225, depending on the configuration. The company didn't specify if or when these phones might be sold in the U.S.


Alcatel 1x to Be TCL's First Android Go Phone

Feb 24, 2018, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

TCL's Alcatel brand today announced the 1x, an entry-level Android device that runs Android 8.1 Oreo Go Edition. The phone is part of TCL's new lineup of Android handsets, all of which feature 18:9 displays. The 1x has a 5.3-inch screen with 960 by 480 resolution and it is powered by a quad-core MediaTek processor clocked at 1.28 GHz. The phone ships with 1 or 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor at f/2.0 with EIS and HDR, while the user-facing camera has an 8-megapixel sensor with selfie flash. Other hardware features include Cat 4 LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi; microUSB and memory card slot; and a 2,420mAh battery. Some variants of the phone will include a fingerprint reader. The phone is among a new wave of Android Go-based devices. It includes Go-optimized versions of core apps, including Google Assistant Go, Google Go, Files Go, Google Maps Go, YouTube Go, and Gmail Go, as well as performance optimizations to Chrome, Google Play, and Gboard. The Android Go platform is designed to run on low-spec'd hardware, particularly phones with 1 GB or less of RAM. The Alcatel 1x will go on sale in select markets in April. TCL didn't immediately say if or when the 1x might reach the U.S.


Alcatel Linkzone Hotspots Adopt Carrier Aggregation

Feb 24, 2018, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today announced two new mobile hotspots, the Linkzone Cat 12 and Linkzone Cat 7. The Cat 12 hotspot boasts a large 4,300mAh battery that delivers 15 hours of connected surfing for up to 32 devices. The Cat 12 LTE radio delivers download speeds up to 600 Mbps thanks to 3-channel carrier aggregation. The Cat 7 hotspot has a smaller 2,150mAh battery that delivers up to 8 hours of surfing time. The Cat 7 LTE radio supports download speeds up to 300 Mbps due to 2-channel carrier aggregation. Both devices support microSD memory cards up to 256 GB for connected storage. TCL says the Alcatel Linkzone Cat 12 and Linkzone Cat 7 all go on sale in select markets later this year. Pricing is about $200 for the Cat 12 and $125 for the Cat 7.


Android Messages with RCS to Reach More Phones On More Carriers

Feb 23, 2018, 10:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google says its Android Messages app is on the upswing thanks to new RCS-based tools and growing support from phone makers and wireless network operators. To start, brands now have more power to interact with consumers thanks to RCS business messaging. Google says brands can "send more useful and interactive messages" to their customers with photos, videos, and links for purchasing. A number of companies have been testing RCS business messaging via Google's Early Access Program. Some include 1-800 Contacts, 1-800-Flowers.com, Booking.com, SnapTravel, and Subway — all on Sprint in the U.S. Google says more businesses will be deploying richer messaging via the Android Messages app over the coming months. The Android Messages app has gained a lot of traction with phone makers and carriers, and more support is on the way. Moving forward, Alcatel, BlackBerry, Transsion, Blu, Positivo, Multilaser, Mobiwire, Azumi, and Essential will all preload Android Messages as the default SMS/messaging app. A number of phone makers already offer Android Messages, including Huawei, LG, HMD Global, HTC, Kyocera, Motorola, Sony, and ZTE. The app has a growing footprint with carriers, as well. Google says America Movil, AT&T in Mexico, Celcom Axiata Berhad, Freedom Mobile, Oi, Telia Company, and Telefonica have joined Deutsche Telekom, Globe Telecom, Orange, Rogers Communications, Sprint, and Telenor in their commitment to launch RCS messaging. Sprint is the lone U.S. carrier to go all-in with Google's RCS and Android Messages. AT&T and Verizon each offers its own RCS-based messaging client for Android handsets. Google believes this new momentum for RCS and Android Messages will eventually mean a better messaging experience between people, brands, and more.


Cricket Offering Free LG and Alcatel Phones to Switchers

Jan 18, 2018, 9:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today rolled out a new promotion that will give free phones to people who switch from another network. The phones on offer are the LG Fortune and the Alcatel Verso, entry-level Android handsets. People who switch can score the two free phones as well as two lines of unlimited service for $80 per month. Families of four can earn free phones, too, with a monthly service bill of just $100 for unlimited data. In this case, unlimited data is limited to 3 Mbps and video is limited to standard definition. Those who exceed 22 GB of data per month will see speeds slowed for the remainder of the billing period. The free phone promo is available through April 12 or while supplies last.


Cricket Wireless Scores the $30 Alcatel Verso

Jan 16, 2018, 4:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless recently added the Alcatel Verso, a minor upgrade to the Alcatel Ideal Xcite, to its lineup of entry-level Android handsets. This $30 smartphone offers low-end specs to keep the price down. It starts with a 5-inch FWVGA (854 x 480) display with scratch-resistant Dragontrail Glass. The phone is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core processor with 16 GB of storage and support for memory cards up to 128 GB. The main camera boasts a 5-megapixel sensor with flash and HD video capture while the front camera touts a 2-megapixel camera. Other specs include a 2,050mAh battery, LTE with HD voice and mobile hotspot, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, and WiFi. The Alcatel Verso runs Android 7 Nougat. The phone is available online from Cricket Wireless for $30 for new and existing customers.


Hands On with Alcatel's New 5, 3, and 1 Series Smartphones

Jan 9, 2018, 8:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel showed off new hardware at CES this week, though it stopped short of fully announcing any new phones. The 5 Series, 3 Series, and 1 Series devices will encompass its entire smartphone range moving forward. The company had several prototypes on hand for each and we took a look at this not-yet-final phones. Here are our initial impressions.

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TCL Revamps Alcatel Handsets with 5 Series, 3 Series and 1 Series

Jan 9, 2018, 8:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

TCL Communication today announced three new devices falling under the Alcatel brand. These phones are the first in a range of affordable devices that target different price points. For example, the 5 Series will have price points that fall under $300, while the 3 Series and 1 Series will have price points that fall under $200 and $100, respectively. The first three phones in the Series include the 5, the 3V, and the 1X. These will be joined by others throughout the 2018 calendar year. Of note, all three series adopt the modern 2:1 aspect ratio display, and all three series include fingerprint sensors. The Alcatel 5 has dual front cameras, while the 3V has dual rear cameras. TCL didn't provide any detailed specifications for these devices, which will be more formally introduced at the Mobile World Congress trade show in February. The company did explain that it will use a mix of Qualcomm and MediaTek processors, and is for the first time sourcing the smartphone screens from TCL Display. The company said these devices will be its focus moving forward, though older brands such as Idol and Pop will continue to be available for some time. More information about the new Alcatel 5 Series, 3 Series, and 1 Series will come to light next month.


Cricket to Sell Alcatel QuickFlip Feature Phone for $30

Nov 1, 2017, 8:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today announced the pending availability of the QuickFlip, a simple feature phone made by Alcatel. The QuickFlip is already being sold by AT&T as the Cingular Flip 2. It includes a 2.8-inch screen, 1,350mAh battery, Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor with 512 MB of memory and 4 GB of storage, and a 2-megapixel camera. The phone includes support for WiFi and LTE, and can make VoLTE-based HD Voice calls over Cricket's cellular network. Other features include a loud speakerphone, FM radio, productivity apps (calendar, calculator, email), GPS, Bluetooth, and color outer display. The Alcatel QuickFlip goes on sale November 10 for $30.


Hands On with the Alcatel Idol 5 for Cricket

Sep 28, 2017, 3:00 PM   by Rich Brome

The Alcatel Idol 5 is a $200 Android phone with a premium design carved from metal and curved glass. It has a few unique features like a reversible display and a theme creator that uses the colors the camera sees. It also has a few extras like stereo speakers, USB-C, and NFC. It's also designed to work with a new VR headset from Alcatel. We check it out in person and share our impressions in this hands-on.

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Alcatel Idol 5 Offers a Premium Design for $200

Sep 28, 2017, 3:00 PM   by Rich Brome

Alcatel today announced the Idol 5 for Cricket Wireless. The Idol 5 is a $200 Android phone with a premium design that marries a solid metal body with a curved glass front. Its hardware features include front-facing stereo speakers, NFC, a USB-C connector, and a customizable shortcut key. On the software side, it has several features that make the phone fun to use, such as a Color catcher app that automatically picks three colors from what the camera sees and generates a new interface theme based on those colors, including new wallpaper and icons. The 12-megapixel camera includes several creative modes, such as light trace, cinemagraph, and instant collage. It also works with Alcatel's new UNI 360 VR goggles. Alcatel's new VR Home app for the UNI 360 lets you run Google Cardboard VR apps with extra features like the ability to receive notifications and see the room around you without leaving VR mode. VR Home is exclusive to Alcatel Idol phones. The Idol 5 also has a 5.2-inch full-HD display, MediaTek Helio P20 processor, 2GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel front camera, Android 7, memory card slot, and a 3.5mm audio jack. It will go on sale with Cricket on October 27th.


FCC Reveals the Alcatel Idol 5

Aug 2, 2017, 6:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Documents recently published to the FCC web site show what is likely the Alcatel Idol 5, which has not yet been formally announced by TCL. A device with the model name 6058 was cleared by the FCC for operation in the U.S. The model number is very close to that of the Alcatel Idol 5S, which is the 6060. Further, the draft user manual included in the FCC documents refers to the device as the Idol 5. The photos clearly show a semi-premium device with glass panels and a metal frame, and the Idol brand is etched into the phone casing. A camera, flash, and fingerprint sensor are located on the rear of the phone, while a user-facing camera is plainly visible on front. Other aspects shown in the FCC's images include a 3.5mm headphone jack, SIM/memory card tray, and microUSB port. The draft manual suggests the phone runs the Android operating system, which is common to Alcatel phones, but does not reveal any other features of the phone. The FCC documents confirm the 6058 supports Bluetooth and WiFi, as well as several LTE bands used by U.S. carriers. Despite the branding, the 6058 does not appear to be a smaller version of the Alcatel Idol 5S. It doesn't include stereo speakers, nor the same design language as the Idol 5S. This breaks with Alcatel's device naming conventions over the last few years. TCL has not officially shared details concerning the 6058.


Cricket Offering 2 Lines of Unlimited Service for $80

Jul 20, 2017, 4:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today annouced new service and handset promotions meant to entice customers to sign up for the prepaid carrier. To start, Cricket is offering new and existing customers two lines of unlimited service for $80 per month. That includes unlimited mobile data, messaging, and voice calls. Cricket caps data speeds at 3 Mbps, and will throttle unlimited customers who exceed 22 GB of data per billing period. In addition to the new service promo, Cricket has a number of deals on smartphones. For example, the Alcatel PulseMix is $80 with a new activation, or just $30 with a port-in. Similarly, the LG x charge is $130 with a new activation or just $100 with a port-in. Other phones with available discounts include the ZTE Sonata 3 and Blade X Max; LG Fortune, Harmony, and Stylo 3; and the Samsung Galaxy Amp 2. Cricket said the promos are available for a limited time.


Sprint to Sell BlackBerry KEYone from July 14

Jul 13, 2017, 1:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said that the BlackBerry KEYone smartphone will go on sale July 14. It will initially be available online and via telesales. The phone won't reach stores until later this month. Sprint is charging $528 for the handset, or $22 per month on a payment plan. The KEYone, made by TCL, the parent company of Alcatel, combines a 4.5-inch touch screen with a physical QWERTY keyboard. Other features include a Snapdragon 625 processor, 12-megapixel camera, 3,505mAh battery, and Android 7.1 Nougat with BlackBerry's DTEK security suite.


Vertu to Close Up Shop

Jul 13, 2017, 12:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Vertu is through. The company plans to shutter its doors and jettison some 200 employees, according to the Financial Times. Vertu started out as the luxury arm of Nokia. It took Nokia handsets and dressed them up in fine materials, such as precious metals, leather, and jewels. Nokia sold the outfit in 2012 and it has bounced between a number of owners since. Vertu was most recently purchased by Turkish businessman Murat Hakan Uzan. Vertu has about $157 million in debt, though it recently signed a deal with Chinese phone maker (and Alcatel parent) TCL. The Financial Times did not say when Vertu might permanently close up shop. Vertu did not comment on the Financial Times' story.


Cricket to Sell Alcatel Pulsemix Starting July 21

Jun 28, 2017, 8:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today said it will carry the Alcatel Pulsemix beginning next month. The Pulsemix is a rebranded version of the Alcatel A5 LED / A50. The Pulsemix is unique because it is compatible with several modular, snap-on accessories called Snapbaks. The most interesting Snapbak features an LED-covered panel that can blink a few dozen LEDs with color. Other modular accessories include a snap-on stereo speaker and a snap-on battery pack. These Snapbak modules are sold separately. The Pulsemix has a quad-core MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM, 5.2-inch HD screen, 13-megapixel main camera, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. Other specs include Bluetooth, FM, GPS, and WiFi radios, and a 2,800mAh battery. It runs Android 7. Cricket is selling the Pulsemix for $80, though it will drop the price to $30 for those who port their number to Cricket. The phone reaches Cricket stores on July 21. Alcatel is selling the unlocked Pulsemix / A50 online via Amazon starting July 10.


Amazon Loads Up Its Roster of Prime Exclusive Phones

Jun 27, 2017, 9:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon today added a handful of handsets to is lineup of discounted Prime Exclusive devices. The Prime Exclusive program offers phones at lower prices so long as you subscribe to Amazon Prime (which costs $100 per year) and are willing to view advertisements on the lock screen of your smartphone. The new additions include the Nokia 6, which is discounted to $180; the Alcatel Idol 5S, which is discounted to $200; the Alcatel A50, which is discounted to $100; the Alcatel A30 Plus, which is discounted to $80; and the Motorola Moto E4, which is discounted to $100. All the phones can be preordered starting today. The E4 ships June 30 and the rest ship July 10.


Alcatel's A30 Plus Bumps Up the Screen, Processor, Camera and Battery

Jun 27, 2017, 9:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today announced the A30 Plus, an improved version of the A30 we saw earlier this year. This entry-level Android handset includes a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen (up from 5.0 inches) and a 1.5 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor (up from 1.1 GHz) with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone supports memory cards up to 32 GB. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor (up from 8mp) with time-lapse recording while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Alcatel says the phone's larger 3,000mAh battery (up from 2,460mAh) provides all-day life. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat and is sold with LTE for AT&T and T-Mobile via Bands 2, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, and 17. Alcatel is selling the phone for $130, but it is also available via Amazon's Prime Exclusive program for $80. The Prime version requires owners to view ads on the lock screen. The Alcatel A30 Plus ships July 10.


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