As you would expect at this price point, the Alcatel One Touch 903 specification is quite basic. The phone is built around a single core processor that's clocked at just 650MHz. There's only 150MB of built-in storage, and less than 50MB of this is available once the OS and native apps have taken their share. Nevertheless, Alcatel does include a 2GB microSD card, so there is enough room to store plenty of audio tracks or a couple of movies on the handset as soon as you've set it up.
It not surprising that the phone didn’t perform particularly well in benchmarks, given its lowly specification. For example, in BroswerMark V2.0 it only managed a score of 450, while it completed Sunspider in a leisurely 13788.4ms. Sadly it refused to return a score in GLBenchmark, but in Linpack it was only able to muster 4.5MFlops.
In use, the Alcatel One Touch 903 is fairly responsive when you're browsing through the menus, but it can be sluggish to call up the onscreen keyboard and switching between apps can be slow, especially compared to mid range phones.
Nevertheless, the fact that it runs on Android and gives you access to the Google Play store means you can download tons of apps for the phone, which is its major advantage over the likes of the Nokia Asha range, which has relatively few apps available.
Alcatel has understandably gone for the ageing Gingerbread (V2.3) version of Android, as it runs better than recent versions on more modest hardware. However, the company has added its own skin to the OS, so you get switches for stuff like Wi-Fi and GPS in the notifications menu, a new lock screen and some extra apps including a Battery Saver that lets you set up the phone so it disables data and turns down screen brightness when the battery is running low.
It's no surprise to find that the Alcatel OT-903's camera is a pretty rudimentary model. The sensor has a very low resolution of 2.0-megapixels, the lens if fixed focus, and there's no LED flash to help out in low light. On the plus side, there's pretty minimal shutter lag compared to the snappers on a lot of budget phones and colours don’t look too bad either. However, as you would expect, shots are short on detail, so edges in particular look quite blurry. It also mucks up the focus if you don’t hold the phone quite still while you're taking a shot.
Battery life isn’t too bad, as despite only having a 1300mAh removable battery, we found we could get a day out of it without too much bother from medium usage. Presumably this is because the modest processor and small screen limit the amount of drain on the battery. Call quality was very good on the whole. too.
The Alcatel One Touch 903 has its limitations –- the modest processor and small, low resolution screen, for example –- however it's just about the cheapest Android phone you can get right now and despite this it's still pretty fun to use. If you're looking for a low price phone as a present for a teenager or other first time smartphone user this Christmas, it's a pretty safe bet.