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First Look: Alcatel One Touch Evolve review: At $99, you get what you pay for

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First Look: Alcatel One Touch Evolve review: At $99, you get what you pay for

2:41 /

The One Touch Evolve has a low-res screen, weak camera, and overall sluggish performance.

Hi. I'm Sarah Mitroff with CNET and this is a first look at the Alcatel One Touch Evolve. At $99 full out, the Evolve is an entry level smartphone available on T-Mobile. It's aimed at anyone still using a feature phone who's helping to make the leap to a smartphone without paying a lot of money. Despite it's low price, the phone doesn't look cheap with its matte back cover and silver accents. It's a tiny phone and just 4 inches tall, 2-1/2 inches wide and less than half an inch thick. It's easy to use one-handed and can slip into most pockets. Up top you'll find the standard power lock button and headphone jack. Along the right side, there's a volume rocker, on the left there's the micro USB port for charging. Behind the back cover, there's the battery. You'll have to remove it to get to the SD card and SIM card slots, which is a hassle. There are no physical buttons on the front of the evolved, just hot keys on the screen bezel. They only light up when you tap them which makes it hard to remember which key is which, at least until you get used to the phone. The 4-inch, 480 by 800 pixel screen look them even at max brightness. Text is ready to read but overall, the screen doesn't look sharp. It's also hard to read in direct sunlight and it picks up a lot of smudges. The evolve is running Android 4.1 and Alcatel added its own colorful overlay with custom icons and a custom notifications menu. There are also a few pre-installed apps from T-Mobile such as Visual Voicemail and mobile hotspot. There's a 5-megapixel back shooter and VGA front facing camera on the Evolve. I major knock against the main camera because it has a fix focus lens which means that any up close shots you take look blurry. Indoor photos from the camera had digital noise and lighting issues while outdoor shots looked much more natural. The camera captures video at 720p and a clip side shot was impressively clear. The Evolve runs on T-Mobile's network in the US that can only access 3G connections. That paired with a 1 GHz processor makes the phone sluggish when downloading apps or loading webpages. Mobile games like Temple Run 2 played without problems with the graphics didn't look as sharp as expected. As cliché as it sounds, there's nothing evolved about the Evolve. It's running an old version of Android, has a limited camera and it's slow. Yet for $99 flatout or $28 down and $3 monthly payments for 2 years with T-Mobile, it's one of the lowest cost phones on the carrier which is sure to lure bargain-hunting smartphone shoppers. You can read my full review on CNET.com. I'm Sarah Mitroff and this has been a first look at the Alcatel One Touch Evolve.

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