Alcatel OT-903

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/ Updated: 12 July 2012 11:48 am BST

I'm a big fan of cheap Android mobiles -- they're a great way of getting an ace operating system into the hands of first-time smart phone owners. There have been some great budget blowers emerging in recent months, but the Alcatel One Touch 903 aims to beat them on price.

This smart phone will cost just £40 if you buy it on pay as you go when it comes out in the autumn, available at Carphone Warehouse. That's staggeringly cheap, so let's see what you get for your money.

Design

The 903 is a very small mobile and will fit neatly into just about anyone's mitt. It's not especially slim at 12.35mm thick, but I thought it felt very light when I went hands-on. I saw pink and black options and was pleased with the soft-touch casing, which makes the 903 comfy to hold.

Alcatel OT-903 side
It's not especially slim and the buttons felt slightly wobbly.

There's an unusual button layout underneath the screen, with one large Home key sitting beneath ones for Menu, Search and Back. The big Home button is a good idea as it means you can zip back to the phone's home screen at any time.

I have a few concerns about build quality and those buttons felt a little  wobbly when I pressed them. Fingers crossed the units that arrive on shop shelves are sturdy enough to survive a vigorous poking.

Alcatel OT-903 controls
There's one big Home key and three other navigation controls.

The display measures 2.8 inches on the diagonal, which is very small, and boasts a paltry 240x320-pixel resolution. Don't expect the 903 to handle web browsing or hi-def video with much grace, but for messaging and perhaps a quick mobile game, this screen should serve you well enough.

Hardware

Stuck on the back of the 903's dappled casing is a 2-megapixel camera, which I'm not expecting much from in terms of image quality.

Alcatel OT-903 camera
The number of pixels on the camera is not very mega.

Meanwhile, there's a 650MHz processor on board. That's a seriously low clock speed so don't expect great performance from the 903 and you won't be disappointed. Graphically tough games will probably be well beyond this phone's capabilities but I'd wager the low-end chip plays its part in keeping the cost so low.

Software

The One Touch 903 is powered by Android 2.3 Gingerbread . That's not the latest version but it's still a great operating system that's powerful and flexible. It also gives you access to tonnes of apps via the Google Play shop, as well as the ability to customise your phone using home screen widgets.

Alcatel OT-903 back
The casing feels soft to the touch and there are pink and black options.

Google Play wasn't present on the 903 that I was messing about with, but I was assured that it would be accessible when the phone goes on sale.

Outlook

There's not much to the Alcatel One Touch 903 in terms of hardware but it's hard to argue with an Android 2.3 Gingerbread phone for £40. We'll have a full review as soon as possible, where we'll find out whether this bargain blower is worth four thousand pennies or if a decent smart phone with such a low price is too good to be true. Stay tuned.

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Where to Buy

Alcatel OT-903

Part Number: CNETAlcatel OT-903

Typical Price: £40.00

See manufacturer website for availability.