This year many teenagers are likely to have a smartphone on their Christmas wish list - something that's going to strike fear into the hearts of parents when they see the sky high prices of premium handsets like the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3. Yet, Android smartphones prices have been falling and there are many cheap and cheerful handsets available that are ideal for first time smartphone users. Just in time for Christmas, Alcatel has set new benchmark for low prices with the Alcatel One Touch 903, an Android phone that's available for £40 on a Pay As You Go basis. Admittedly it's a very basic phone, but it's still a much better option than the feature phones which were previously the only options at this price point.
It may have a rock bottom asking price, but the Alcatel One Touch 903 actually looks fairly attractive. It's available in three colours – black, white and fuchsia – and each has chrome highlighting on the band running around the outer edge of the handset, as well as on the indent for the camera found on the rear battery cover.
The battery cover has a slightly rubberised feel and, in combination with its dimpled pattern, it makes it grippy to hold. The front has a more glossy finish, but the thick border around the screen does make it look a little bit dated. Nevertheless, it's interesting that Alcatel has used physical buttons, rather than touch buttons, for the home, search, menu and back functions. Initially they feel a bit old fashioned, but they're very responsive and we grew to like the tactile feedback of the click they make when pressed.
Naturally the Alcatel One Touch 903's screen isn’t going to win any awards for its quality or sharpness, but to be fair we've seen worse screens on Android phones that cost over £100. As a result, it's actually better than we expected for the price. Admittedly at only 2.8-inches it's one of the smallest you'll find on an Android phone and its resolution is also low at just 320 x 240 pixels. This means text on websites doesn't look anywhere near as refined as it does on mid-range phones, and often you have to zoom in quite far on paragraphs in news stories to be able to read them. You also find yourself doing a lot of scrolling around on pages just because not all that much information can be packed onto the screen in one go. Nevertheless, it's still very useable for all the normal stuff like checking emails, catching up on Facebook and browsing websites.