The cheap and cheerful Alcatel OT-990 smart phone will be exclusively on O2 from August. The network is making the budget Android blower available on pay as you go tariffs for £99 and also on pay monthly deals.

We took a look at the OT-990, along with Alcatel's other cheaper phone offerings, back in February. Dare we suggest it's a little like one of the older iPhones? Okay, it may not be quite as sleek, but it does have a 3.5-inch touchscreen with 320x480-pixel resolution (as per the iPhone 3GS), a 5-megapixel camera with video recording and LED flash, plus a front-facing camera.

It uses a 600MHz processor which, for a sub-£100 phone, is pretty good. Best of all, it runs Android. We're assured it will come with 2.3 Gingerbread by the time it launches. Alcatel preinstalls 20 apps, supposedly to save new users the hassle of negotiating the Android Market. You might call it bloatware.

The phone's back casing is a rubbery affair which may not be to everyone's taste. At least you'll keep a good grip on it. It will come in a range of colours, so you're not stuck with the regal purple of the phone we played with in the pictures above.

It seems the mobile networks are waking up to the fact that many people want a smart phone without being tied to a contract or making a hefty down payment. A recent JD Power satisfaction survey found that two in five pre-pay users now own a smart phone.

Earlier this month, Vodafone announced its own-brand Smart Android phone aimed at the same market.

While the OT-990 may not have you frothing at the mouth in anticipation for the next two and a half months, it has potential. It may not run your Android apps as smoothly as smart phones kitted out with dual and quad-core processors, but it'll have a damn good crack at it -- and be an awful lot less painful in your wallet. In the meantime, have a butchers' at our hands-on photos and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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