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Phones

New Alcatel 1X, 1C cost under $130 because not everyone has $1,000 for a phone

We went hands-on with these two cheapies at CES 2019.

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Angela Lang/CNET

In a year when smartphones are bound to get even more expensive than they already are, it's nice to know that someone is watching your cost-conscious back. The Alcatel 1X and 1C phones for 2019 seem as exciting as yesterday's toast, but these budget Android devices fulfill an important role for people who need a basic phone for around one-tenth of the price of the Galaxy S9 or iPhone XS

Although it may not have the name recognition of newer premium brands like Google's Pixel and even cult favorite OnePlus, Alcatel's achievement as a global phone brand that's quietly been selling entry-level phones for years is remarkable at a time when Chinese compatriots like Huawei and ZTE find themselves in the cross-hairs of a political predicament that threatens their ability to sell phones and networking equipment. Part of China's TCL, which is best known for its budget TV business, Alcatel only makes handsets rather than the telecommunications devices that elicit so much concern.

We went hands-on with the two new handsets at CES 2019 in Las Vegas. The Alcatel 1X is the slimmer, lighter and more advanced of the two. It has thin bezels in the 18:9 ratio seen on every high-end phone, and a no-slip backing that feels textured in the hand. It's not a beautiful phone, but it's also inoffensive, especially once you slap a case on it. The 1C is comparatively thicker and heavier, with wide bezels around a dull, low-resolution screen (remember, this also costs only 70 euros). The backing is unapologetically plastic, but I appreciate that Alcatel gave it a crosshatch design for a little zing.

While we don't have exact sale dates, we do know that both the Alcatel 1X and 1C will launch in Q1. The 1X, which is the relatively more advanced of the two devices, will cost $120 or 120 euros and will sell in select markets in North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Meanwhile, the bare-bones 1C -- which has a 70 euro price tag -- will sell in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe.

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Alcatel 1X specs

  • 5.5-inch screen with 1,440x720-pixel (HD) resolution
  • Dual 13-megapixel and 2-megapixel rear cameras with portrait mode
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • 1.5GHz MediaTek quad-core processor
  • 16GB onboard storage, 2GB of RAM; up to 128GB microSD storage
  • 3,000-mAh battery
  • Android 8.1 Oreo
  • Pebble blue, pebble black colors

Alcatel 1C specs

  • 5-inch screen with 960x480-pixel resolution
  • 5-megapixel rear camera
  • 2-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Spredtrum processor, up to 1.3GHz
  • 8GB onboard storage, 1GB of RAM; up to 32GB microSD storage
  • 2,000-mAh battery
  • Android 8.0 Oreo Go Edition
  • Colors: Volcano black, enamel blue, blush pink (Latin America)

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