If ever a phone were aimed at ladies, the Alcatel OT-808 is it. It's pink, it's shiny and it looks like a compact mirror. It's also "made for gossip", according to Alcatel, sporting a number of social-networking features that'll keep you updated about who wants to claw whose eyes out. Clearly, the OT-808 does a cracking job of patronising half of humankind, but is it any good otherwise?
The OT-808 is available for free on a £10 per month contract, or £100 SIM-free. It makes most sense, however, to pick it up for £50 on a pay as you go deal.
Mirror, mirror, on the phone
The square OT-808 looks unusual, but not entirely repellent, and we're sure someone, somewhere, will take a shine to it. The lid houses a 2-megapixel camera and a basic external display. You can take advantage of the lid's reflective surface to discreetly check up on the pulsating spot that's warping your entire face.
Flipping open the lid reveals an array of navigation buttons and a full Qwerty keyboard. Above those sits a fairly large, 62mm (2.4-inch) screen. On one side of the phone resides a mini-USB port for connecting the bundled headphones, and, on the other, there's a shortcut button for quick access to the music player.
The phone measures 71 by 21 by 71mm, so it's fairly chunky. Alcatel no doubt intends you to keep it in a pink furry handbag, but be warned regardless: it sits awkwardly in a pair of pantaloons. It does feel robust, though, so it'll survive a drop from a reasonable distance. That said, the lid's prone to scratching, so don't be alarmed if you see an unexpected gash on your reflected bonce.
The OT-808's keyboard is surprisingly good, given the phone's price. The keys don't offer the satisfying click of a BlackBerry's buttons, but they're fairly large and easy to press. It's easy to type quickly and accurately, and the predictive-text system works well. We encountered very few problems entering the choicest expletives from our salty vocabulary.
The navigation buttons are equally easy to press. Unfortunately, they're arranged in such a fashion that it's often unclear which one you need to press to navigate through the user interface, and the on-screen prompts don't particularly help matters.
Interface all over the place
Indeed, the OT-808's interface isn't very inspiring generally. The large grid of icons that constitutes the main menu is reminiscent of the interface seen on smart phones such as the and , only uglier. Using the four-way navigation pad to find your way around is also far less intuitive than using a touchscreen.
The dated-looking sub-menus that appear when you click on many of the icons aren't exactly a visual treat either. The phone frequently confronts you with long lists of options, many of which don't have an immediately obvious purpose.
At least the OT-808 attempts to supply a decent range of features beyond the staples of an alarm clock, calendar, calculator and so on. Most notably, the phone offers Facebook and Twitter apps for
spying on following your chums, the browser for speedy Web surfing, and a Palringo instant messaging client that brings together your IM contacts from various services. "Heavens," you might think, "that's a surefire recipe for online jollity, right there."