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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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Jessica Dolcourt
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Jessica Dolcourt Editorial Director / CNET Franchises, How-To, Performance Optimization

Jessica Dolcourt leads the CNET Franchises, How-To and Performance Optimization teams. Her career with CNET began in 2006, and spans reviews, reporting, analysis and commentary for desktop software; mobile software, including the very first Android and iPhone apps and operating systems; and mobile hardware, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of practical advice on expansive topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).

Expertise Team leadership, audience engagement, iPhone, Android, iOS, tips and FAQs.
2 min read
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.

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