Christmas is fast approaching and Carphone Warehouse has some interesting handsets that would make good stocking fillers for friends and family. One of the best looking is the Alcatel OT-799, a budget messaging phone that can be bought for as little as £40 on PAYG.
There are no prizes for guessing where the design inspiration for the OT-799 comes from, as this handset is a pretty straight forward Blackberry copy. It follows the traditional layout of devices like the Bold quite closely, with a landscape screen at the top, navigation buttons in-between, and a full qwerty keyboard at the bottom. Carphone Warehouse is offering it in either pink or black. We had the black model in for review and it's actually quite a good looking phone for a budget handset. We like the brushed metal effect used on the bezel around the screen and the dusky chrome added to the band that runs around the outer edge of the handset. The battery cover is made from rubberised plastic and is nicely rounded, helping it to sit comfortably in your hand. The whole thing feels very well made and robust enough to withstand a fair few knocks and scrapes, although it is a little bit on the thick side measuring 16mm deep.
Like older Blackberry models, this phone has a jog dial on the right hand edge that can be used for moving through various menu options or scrolling through pages in the web browser. Just above this you'll find the mini USB port which is used not just for charging the phone and syncing it with a PC, but also as the headphone jack. The latter is a bit annoying because it means you can't easily swap the included headphones for your own, and the ones supplied are pretty poor due to their hollow, brittle sound. The handset has just 70MB of memory on board, but there's a microSD card slot that's accessible via a flap on the left-hand side and this accepts cards of up to 8GB in size.
Unlike the Orange Rio II, this model doesn't have a touchscreen. Instead it's got a standard 2.2inch LCD display with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. As a result you'll need to use either the direction pad in the middle of the phone or the jog wheel to move through its various menus. Beneath the screen there are two soft keys for selecting various menu items and beneath these there are shortcut buttons to allow you to jump directly to the text messaging app and the camera.
Obviously one of the key features of this phone is its full QWERTY keyboard. Despite the low cost of the handset, the keyboard actually feels quite comfortable to type on. The keys have a pyramid-style profile, rising to a soft point at their crest and this makes them easy to press with your fingers and thumbs. The layout could be a little bit better, though, as we don’t like the way you have to use the Alt key to get at common punctuation marks, such as commas and full stops. Other than that, though, it's a pretty impressive effort.