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Phones

Alcatel OT-E201: A phone for three fivers

Okay, it might look like it fell out of a cheap Christmas cracker, but this tiny phone is big on value -- it's solidly built, makes calls and sends texts, all for £15

With expensive and powerful gadgets taking the lion's share of tech coverage, niche budget products often get left behind. Alcatel's new OT-E201 mini mobile phone might look like it came in a Christmas cracker -- and its features won't exactly wow your average tech lover -- but at £15, this is one amazingly cheap device.

So what do you get for your pocket money? The E201 is about as long as your palm and has most basic functions you'd expect from a mobile phone: colour screen, SMS messaging with predictive text, a couple of built-in games and polyphonic ringtones. That's about it, though. If you want Web access (even WAP pages), a camera, MMS messaging or music and video playback, look somewhere else.

If you need a short-term solution, the E201 is a decent option though. The 250-hour battery life will provide enough juice for a festival and the design is basic enough that it won't get nicked when you get it out.

If you're looking for a cheap phone to keep in touch with your kids, the basic OS will be easy for a child to get to grips with, while the well-built, sturdy casing should cope nicely with the rough and tumble of a few nights in a tent or being thrown about in the school playground.

The Alcatel OT-E201 is short on glamour but big on value and available now from Woolworths on Orange pay as you go. Amazingly, if you wait a few months it'll go down to £7.49. -Sam Bathe