- Review Price: £14.95
It has been a while since I last looked at a handset from Alcatel. Its forte is at the entry to mid-range end of the market where it produces some good value, functional and neatly designed mobiles.
The OT-S319 falls into the entry category coming in at under £15 on Pay As You Go from the Carphone Warehouse. It is nicely designed, but I am not sure Alcatel has made all the right decisions with regard to features.
A low cost handset like this is easy to shoot down in terms of what it does not do. I avoid that when reviewing low cost handsets preferring instead to concentrate on value for money at whatever price point they target. However, it is very difficult not to berate Alcatel for not including Bluetooth in the OT-S319. Bluetooth seems to me as essential as a screen or a keyboard. Every mobile phone should have it, and I can’t really forgive Alcatel for ignoring it.
Having got that major absence out of the way, let’s turn to design. This is a flip phone and it is teeny in the hand and pocket. The curved corners give it a contemporary look. It weighs 90g and measures a mere 90.5mm x 44.5mm x 18mm when closed. With the flip up, it becomes a shade over 120mm tall. The flip action is comfortable and the phone small enough that both opening and closing can be handled easily one-handed even by my small mitts.
Much of the outer shell has a black rubberised finish, but there is a band of shiny crimson that flows from front to back. On the front, this band houses three shortcut buttons. They look as though you should be able to use them when the OT-S319 is closed but in fact, they only work when the phone is opened up, although the middle button flashes to alert you to incoming calls and text messages.
When the phone is opened, this middle button opens an ‘events’ screen, which lists things like incoming text messages and missed calls. The leftmost button gives you a quick profile switch into ‘noises off, vibration on’ mode, and back out again. The third button takes you to the ‘directory’ – effectively the address book. You can organise contacts into groups – personal and professional – and have a favourites list. The phone has room for 800 directory entries, and you can of course use your SIM for storage too.
Flip open the OT-S319 and you’ll find that the crimson continues as a frame to the numberpad area while the screen surround is black. The CSTN screen is tiny at just 1.8in across, offering a meagre 128 x 160 pixels. You can see the individual pixels easily.
The numberpad is fairly well made. A seriously high lip beneath the 0 row makes it a little tricky to use this row’s keys at speed, but the keys are relatively large and well formed. The navigation pad is also a reasonable size and there are shortcuts on its left, right, up and down points, including to message creation and settings.
The Alcatel OT-S319 comes with four themes and as you switch between them, their pre-defined ringtone tootles away. None is very compelling, but they are all very different from each other.
A mini-USB slot on the bottom right edge of the phone caters for headset and mains power connection. Unfortunately, Alcatel does not provide a headset, so you’ll need to fork out for a USB one if you want hands-free calling. And with no Bluetooth or speakerphone, that is your only option for hands-free calls. There’s also no media player or radio, so a headset is for hands-free duty only.
In terms of network connectivity, this is a dual-band handset with GPRS. Given the connectivity support and the small screen it is obvious enough that the Internet is pretty much a no go area, though WAP is supported.
I’ve already mentioned the lack of Bluetooth. The other surprising omission is a camera. Most low-end mobiles have one these days, even if it’s just for taking shots to keep on the phone. However with no way of sharing data with another device here, you would be stuck with on-phone images only, but nonetheless I think that leaving a camera out is perhaps a cost-saving too far.
There is a reasonable calendar for organising your appointments, as well as five alarms, a calculator, unit converter, and a voice recorder. A couple of basic games won’t keep anyone older than five absorbed for very long. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is no mobile email support.
For storage, you get 2.4MB of integrated memory, but expanding upon this with removable flash memory (such as microSD) is not possible – understandable, considering that you won’t be taking photos or listening to music on this handset.
There is one feature of this handset which is absolutely outstanding and that is battery life. Alcatel suggests a talk-time of up to seven hours and a standby of 400 hours, from the 750mAh battery. With no music player on-board, I wasn’t able to do my standard rundown test, but I can say that I had the phone on my desk and in my pocket for an entire week before writing up this review, switched on all the time, including overnight. And after a few calls under its belt, the battery bar is still showing two of its three power bars.
Clearly, this handset has limited appeal. But it has outstanding battery life and the physical design is rather nice. It would function well for anyone who just wants a mobile for calls and texts and is happy with PAYG.
The OT-S319 might also be worth considering if you’re off on hols and want a simple, cheap phone that wouldn’t be missed too much if it were lost or stolen. The lack of camera and Bluetooth are real annoyances though.
Score in detail
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