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Review of GSM-handset Alcatel OT-E260
In what form-factor most budget phones from different manufacturers are presented? Candy bar seems to be the most popular one in this class, clamshell models are not that popular, and slide-up type seems to be exotic. Alcatel (T&A Mobile Phones) offers us budget model Alcatel OT-E260, which is presented in the above mentioned slide-up form-factor. But in order to make this model more available, functionality had to be downgraded to minimum.
It seems that Alcatel had invested solid amount of money into developing design for this model, it indeed looks impressive. Phone’s construction is presented in a way that both of its sides are sort of separated from each other. Upper part is slightly smaller than lower one, there’s no monolith effect, which many of other manufacturers are trying to achieve, when they are producing slide-up models. Model looks smaller than it actually is, although its real dimensions are not that big either (45x87x25,5 mm 90 grams). The only issue is that handset is slightly thick, and it’s not that comfortable to carry it in pocket of your trousers, same goes for shirt’s pocket, although this probably depends on pocket size, perhaps you will find it being alright after all.
Black and silver flawless color combination was selected for case color. Internal part is silver and lower and upper ones are black, to be precise. Case is made of good plastic, assemblage quality is fine. Case’s surface looks more interesting; silver part is not, meanwhile causal surface is smooth. Black surface color (soft-touch) is even more interesting: it is slightly rough and pleasant to the touch, it reminds one used for Samsung D600. It’s not a common thing when you see such qualitative surface in a budget model. This surface also allows to hold handset steadily in your palm, phone will not slip away since it’s rough.
There’s nothing on left or right side, you will hole for strap on top side, and port for connecting charger as well as headset jack nearby on the bottom.
Let’s head back to design: phone has a very posh front panel. Main part is taken by glossy insertion, and as a matter of fact it gets soiled easily. In navigation block area you will see silver circle in which navigation buttons are implemented. Front panel totally catches your attention, distracting you from other handset’s elements.
Tiny cSTN display is located under that glossy insertion, its resolution is 102x80 pixels (27x22 mm), which can demonstrate up to 4 text lines and 1 service line, 4096 colors are supported. Display upsets by its quality, you initially hope to see something better when you see the phone for the first time. It turns pale when you are outdoors and information turns almost unreadable. This is due to technology used for this phone.
Navigation block is pretty, there’s no argue about that. But it is not convenient to use it. For example, two navigation keys and call/end call buttons are small and located closely to each other, which makes it even more complicated to work with. Two-positional navigation key is small as well, but it is more comfortable than others.
Auto-opening mechanism is present. Navigational rails are made of plastic, although this does not affect mechanism’s performance. Opening and closure of handset are precise, although the sound is not that pleasant, sort of muffled clap.
Once you open the phone you will be able to access keypad. What can I say here… With all the posh style of front panel, keypad looks obscene. You might get a feeling that keyboard comes from different model. But you can’t do anything about it, it’s a budget model, and in case you want something more – you have to pay more money. Despite external unattractiveness, keypad is doing fine with its main objective. Keys size is average, they are placed in horizontal rows right up to each other, meanwhile horizontal rows are divided with plastic insertions. They are convenient to work with, you will not get faulty key presses in most situations. As for keypad backlight, you will not get overexcited about it, color is green and it is not equally spread. Few keys are fully illuminated, meanwhile others only by half. It becomes hard to get a clue which symbols are printed on keys when there’s not enough light.
Back cover acts as battery cover as well. You have to be extremely careful when removing it in order not to break the latches. Cover is placed tightly, there’s no backlash. This model has li-ion battery with 650 mAh capacity. According to Alcatel, this phone can work up to 275 hours in stand by mode and up to 11.5 hours during phone calls. We tested this unit in Moscow and it worked for 5 days with 10 minutes spent for phone calls and up to 15 minutes spent for other functions. This is a truly impressive battery life, and users who don’t speak much will not be forced to charge up the phone too often. It takes around two hours for battery to become fully charged.
Main menu is presented as vertical list, each item has small thumbnail and title. You can see only four menu items at the same time. Sub-menus are also presented as vertical lists, but this time you can only see three items at a time since upper line is occupied by section’s title.
Main menu can be accessed by pressing left soft key in stand by mode. Pressing up or down in stand by mode will take you to Messages and Phonebook sections, correspondingly.
Localization for this handset is done at a good level, there are acronyms, but this is due small screen only. The only unpleasant situation is as follows: in Russian mode menu fonts and thinner, than in English, and this makes information worse readable. Handset has English and Russian T9 dictionaries, which can be added by your own words too.
Phone book. You can store up to 255 phone numbers in the memory. Each contact can be assigned with only one phone number. Search can be activated by number or by group. There are six groups in total, each of them is fully customizable by user, for each group you can enter title, setup ring tone and notification on SMS. Contacts can be displayed together (phone memory + SIM) or separately.
Phone book possibilities are minimal, but for users with small contact base they should be enough. We were disappointed by fact that you cannot search by name, you will have to list all contacts one by one, and in case there are more than 50 of those, operation becomes a problem.
Messages. This phone does not support EMS messages, all SMS messages are stored in SIM-card’s memory. As for positive aspects, we should highlight possibility of sending messages to several contacts at once, and you can also send a text message to email address (in case this function is supported by operator). Besides there are 8 text templates, that can be edited if you like.
Ring tones. Here you can select ring type. This can be either a ring tone, vibrator only, vibrator with ring tone, first vibrator, then ring tone; vibrator – ring tone – silent mode. Ring tone volume can be tuned here (5 levels), as well as ring tone for incoming SMS and other actions.
Display. You can select one of preinstalled pictures as wallpaper, choose one of available color schemes for Menu. Besides you can select one of images that will be shown when you turn on and turn off the handset, as well as screen contrast level.
Settings. Date and time, menu language, automatic turn on/turn off functions can be setup here. There is also T9 dictionary which can be added with your own words.
Calls. All settings related to network are stored in this section. Lists of dialed, received and missed calls are stored here too.
Games. There are only two games in this handset: Russia (well-known tetris) and Bricks (arcanoid).
Tools. There are four alarm clocks in the phone, for each you can setup only time. Alarm clock will get activated even if phone is turned off.
There is also simple calculator besides alarm clocks in this section.
Network reception quality is good, but saying that it is fair will be more correct. In places where signal is rather weak phone will still have connection with network, but it will be nearly impossible to have a phone call, you will face constant drop-outs, or even be unable to hear what the person you’re speaking to is saying. Speaker’s volume and microphone’s sensitivity are enough for most situations. Lack of volume control buttons is rather disappointing. Volume can be adjusted by using navigation keys. Handset is powered with 16-tone polyphonic ring tones, there are 20 preinstalled melodies, but their quality is poor. Vibrating alert power is weak, you won’t feel it most of the times.
What do we get in the end?! Inexpensive handset presented in slide-up form-factor with qualitative soft-touch surface, great battery life and attractive design. On other hand we have tiny cSTN display, minimal set of functions, inconvenient navigation block. Handset will be interesting for undemanding consumers, who are using their handset mostly for calls.
This model will be released in July 2006, its approximate price will be 100 USD.
Published 06 July 2006
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