Alcatel 'Pops' into jumbo phones at CES with colorful C9 (hands-on)

The 5.5-inch supersize smartphone comes in five different colors.

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CES Video
Watch this: Alcatel Pop C9 is bright, budget, big

LAS VEGAS -- Smartphone maker Alcatel is diving into the trend of extralarge smartphones with its Alcatel Pop C9, a 5.5-inch Android 4.2 handset it introduced at CES.

Design-wise, the Pop C9 is fairly slim with rounded corners, and with a shape reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy S3. Seen together, the range of rich colors absolutely gleams: Bluish Black, Cherry Red, Hot Pink, Fresh Turquoise, and Full White.

The phones are cheery, but build quality wasn't a priority for the budget-seeker's handset. At 6.7 ounces, the C9 sounds heavier than it felt in my hand, though it certainly isn't as light as some its size.

Interestingly, the blue-black and red models are enrobed with color (and a soft-touch matte finish) from head to toe, while the rest parade their glossy pigment on the back only, a contrast to the bright white fronts.

The phone's feature set has plenty of high points, but some dips as well. You get a 1.3GHz quad-core chipset for one, an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture and playback, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera as well.

On the other hand, the 5.5-inch LCD screen only has a qHD resolution of 960x540 pixels for a pixel density of 200 pixels per inch. That's very low compared with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, say, which has a 386ppi on its 5.7-inch 1080p HD screen. The result? Less crisply defined images and text, and no support for HD video clips -- in short, the very things you'd seek out on a large-screen device.

Pops of color: Alcatel One Touch Pop C9 (pictures)

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In addition, there's very little internal storage: just 4GB, though the 32GB memory slot makes it feel roomier. There's 1GB of RAM.

The quad-band GSM handset supports HSPA+ speeds, but no LTE, which means you shouldn't look for the Pop C9 to pop up on top-tier US carriers. Despite a battery that should be large enough at 2,500mAh, Alcatel is reporting talk times of only 8 hours over 2G and 4 hours over 3G.

All of this adds up to a handset that's gunning for a competitor like the (much larger) 6.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Mega, but which will sell for around half its unlocked retail price, closer to $200 than to $400. The Pop C9 comes to parts of Asia and Brazil in Q1.