Alcatel OT-990 review: Alcatel OT-990

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good

Average User Rating

3.5 stars 6 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Large 3.5-inch screen; solid build quality; 5-megapixel autofocus camera.

The Bad Android 2.2 is slightly outdated; screen is unresponsive; no Flash support in browser.

The Bottom Line The Alcatel OT-990’s large screen, solid construction and 5-megapixel camera make it an attractive device for Android newcomers, but it’s stuck on Android 2.2 and the capacitive screen is less responsive than we’d like.

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The Alcatel OT-990 is a budget Android phone running version 2.2 of Google's popular operating system. It features a 5-megapixel camera and microSD storage expansion.

The OT-990 is exclusively available for £100 from UK network provider O2, on a pay as you go deal.

Should I buy the Alcatel OT-990?

Alcatel’s line of cheap and cheerful budget phones has always managed to stay on the right side of acceptable, and the OT-990 is no exception. For the asking price, it’s a decent enough proposition. The casing is surprisingly well-constructed, and it boasts a capacitive touchscreen as opposed to a cheaper resistive variant.

As positive as all this sounds, there’s no escaping the fact that corners have been cut to achieve that £100 price tag.

The OT-990’s touchscreen doesn’t respond as well as we’d like. And it’s running the slightly outdated Android 2.2 -- which is a little behind the times when you consider that rivals such as the Orange Monte Carlo and Huawei Blaze are pre-loaded with 2.3.

Also, with the recent announcement of the next version of the Android operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich , you can reasonably expect low-cost Android 4.0 handsets to appear early in 2012 -- which will make the OT-990 seem even more archaic.

Not so long ago, the OT-990 would have been a highly desirable device, but the game has changed in recent months. Budget Android phones are commonplace, with some rival handsets -- such as the bargain-basement Samsung Galaxy Europa -- selling for half the price of Alcatel’s challenger.

If you’re purchasing this for a young relative or smart phone newcomer, then there’s little danger of them being disappointed. Despite its faults, the OT-990 is a competent enough product for the price. The only problem is that it’s up against some stern competition and doesn't do enough to really differentiate itself.

Interface

The Alcatel OT-990 comes furnished not with the latest version of Google's mobile operating system, but with version 2.2 -- also known as Froyo. It's not alone in this regard, with several other low-cost Android devices, including the Samsung Galaxy Fit and Mini , sporting the same iteration of the software.

OT-990 main screen
Android 2.2 has been left reasonably unmolested, but there are unique elements here and there.

While die-hard Android fans will lament the lack of the 2.3 operating system, to the average person it will make very little impact. Froyo is a solid platform and boasts several cool features, such as the ability to save application data to your SD card, turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot and use attractive live wallpapers on your home screen.

OT-990 data widget
The data counter widget is a handy addition, allowing you to keep an eye on Web traffic.

Alcatel hasn't tinkered too much with the Android interface, aside from adding a few new widgets and changing the appearance of the dock at the bottom of the display. The most significant visual addition is the ability to select a theme for your home screen.

Design

Most sub-£100 handsets have the build quality and sturdiness of an Airfix kit put together using PVA glue, but we're pleased to report that the Alcatel OT-990 manages to fly in the face of tradition.

OT-990 battery covers
An alternative battery cover is included in the box, just in case you're feeling the urge to stand out in the crowd.

Although it's constructed entirely from plastic, the Alcatel OT-990 possesses a surprising amount of heft. The case is reassuringly solid, and you'll find no hint of creakiness when you hold it tightly in your palm. The only downside is that at 147 grams, it's quite heavy for a device of this class.

OT-990 front view
Despite its low price point, the OT-990 feels solid and well-made.

The back of the phone is fashioned from glossy plastic, which can make it tricky to grip when your hands are clammy. Thankfully, there's a bump at the bottom -- very much like the one seen on the Samsung Galaxy S -- which makes it easier to hold.

Another nice touch is that there’s an alternative battery cover included in the box, which gives you some visual variety should you find the default cover a little too boring.

OT-990 side view
The power and screen lock key is rather awkward to press, as it sits flush with the edge of the phone.

We're rather less keen on the placement of the OT-990's buttons and interfaces. The power key is located on the left-hand edge of the phone, and is awkward to press because it sits flush with the casing of the device.

A press is required to power-down the phone's screen, and it often takes several attempts to successfully locate the button. Thankfully, you can wake up the OT-990 by pressing the home button -- which, incidentally, is the only physical input on the front of the handset.

Touchscreen

At 3.5 inches, the Alcatel OT-990's capacitive touchscreen is slightly larger than those seen on rival budget devices, such as the LG Optimus One and Samsung Galaxy Mini . It can't quite compete with the 4.3-inch display on the gargantuan Orange Monte Carlo, however.

OT-990 screen
The 3.5-inch screen is large for a phone of this class, but the resolution is quite low.

With a resolution of 320x480 pixels and a palette of 256,000 colours, the OT-990's TFT (thin-film transistor) LCD panel isn't going to win any awards, even in the modest budget sector of the market. The screen is dull even when set to full brightness, with colours looking drab and washed-out.

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Where to Buy

Alcatel OT-990

Part Number: CNETAlcatel OT-990

Typical Price: £100.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

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