|Style & Handling|
|4G connectivity||Lower than average build quality|
|Low cost||Sub-par camera|
|Quad-core processor||Minimal built in storage|
Verdict: The Alcatel OneTouch Pop S3 is a low cost and colourful handset ideal for younger users but with enough features to suit anyone on a budget, just don’t expect it to wow you.
Not so long ago EE released the Kestrel, proudly proclaiming that it was the cheapest 4G smartphone available in the UK at just £99 on pay as you go. But it has a little bit of competition now as the Alcatel OneTouch Pop S3 is also 4G enabled and it’s also available from just £99. But is it any good? And how does it stand up to the Kestrel and other competition? Read on to find out.
The Alcatel OneTouch Pop S3 certainly isn’t much to look at. At 123 x 64.4 x 9.85mm it’s a little on the chunky side, but no more than you’d expect a low cost smartphone to be. However it’s also decidedly plastic and has large bezels around the screen, leaving it looking and feeling cheap and a little childish.
Then again, maybe it’s intentionally childish, as the swappable plastic back available in three different colours (white, yellow and slate) is definitely likely to appeal to younger users and along with the low price tag this could be a good fit for someone’s first smartphone.
Ultimately the design isn’t terrible, but swappable back aside it’s bland and cheap, then again that seems about right for £99.
The OneTouch Pop S3 has a 4.0 inch 480 x 800 display with a pixel density of 233 pixels per inch. A 4 inch screen is on the small side, but no smaller than the iPhone 5S and that’s certainly popular enough. The Pop S3’s resolution isn’t brilliant either, it’s not that bad but it’s certainly not one of the sharpest displays around, app icons and text for example aren’t as crisp as they could be, but it’s still perfectly useable.
As it’s just a TFT screen its colour reproduction isn’t great either and it’s not the brightest display you’ll ever see.
It’s also worth noting that it’s a step down in both size and resolution from the 4.5 inch 540 x 960 EE Kestrel, which serves as its main competition.
The Alcatel OneTouch Pop S3 fares better when it comes to power, as it has a 1.2GHz quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM. That’s identical to what the EE Kestrel is packing and it leaves it with more than enough power to glide around menus, interact with apps and browse the web with ease.
It can’t stand up to high end gaming quite so well, with the frame rate regularly taking a hit, but for most other things it’s fine.
It also benefits from 4G connectivity, which is one of its main selling points and allows it to stream and download data at high speed even when there’s no Wi-Fi connection available. That, again, makes it a match for the EE Kestrel, but both handsets are among the very cheapest 4G phones you can get.
There’s a 5 megapixel camera on the back of the Alcatel OneTouch Pop S3 and, well, it’s not really up to much. It’s not outright terrible and copes reasonably well in bright light, but as soon as there’s a bit of shade, the sun starts to set or you head in to a room that’s not set up with studio lighting it struggles to take good photos.
It does at least have an LED flash, but that doesn’t help matters much. On the front there’s a 0.3 megapixel camera which is almost useless, but about what we’d expected for a phone that costs under £100. Then again the EE Kestrel manages a 1 megapixel front facing snapper.
More positively the Pop S3 can at least shoot 1080p video (the Kestrel can only do 720p). The quality is good enough to show people it on the phone screen, but you’re not going to want to blow it up.
The OneTouch Pop S3 has a reasonably good interface, simply because it stays quite close to stock Android. It's largely clutter free and easy to navigate and Alcatel has even added a one finger zoom feature, which makes zooming a little easier and again points to it being aimed at younger users or those who’ve never had a smartphone before.
It is running a slightly outdated version of Android (4.3 to be precise), but that’s not bad for an entry level handset and this is one area where it arguably has an advantage over the EE Kestrel, which has a rather restrictive interface and lacks an app drawer.
The Alcatel OneTouch Pop S3’s 2000 mAh battery promises standby time of up to 400 hours or talk time of up to 12 hours and it seems to live up to those stats, not that they’re overly impressive to begin with. Really its life is pretty average, it will get through a day with moderate to heavy use but you’ll be charging it every night.
There’s only 4GB of storage built in, but it supports microSD cards of up to 32GB. The problem here is that with so little built in storage a microSD card is pretty much essential and buying one brings the price up. When the price is one of its main selling points that’s a bit of an issue, but at least microSD cards aren’t overly expensive.
Its other big selling point is of course 4G and as well as that the OneTouch Pop S3 also supports 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
The Alcatel OneTouch Pop S3 is a competent little smartphone and it’s impressively affordable given that it supports 4G. If the EE Kestrel didn’t exist we might be even more impressed, but that phone costs the same, also supports 4G and has a larger, better screen, a better front facing camera, more built in storage and similar performance.
Really the only reason to choose this over the Kestrel is for the interface, which we prefer as it’s closer to stock Android. That aside it’s still not a bad phone at all, but there are better out there for similar money.
|Alcatel OneTouch Pop S3 SpecificationDimensions : 123 x 64.4 x 9.85mm Weight: 130 grams Screen size: 4.0” TFT (480 x 800) Screen Resolution: 480 x 800 display resolution Pixels Per Inch (PPI) : 233 Processor: 1.2GHz Quad core application processor RAM: 1 GB On-board Memory: 4GB (microSD support) Camera: 5MP (rear) 0.3MP (front facing) Operating system: Android 4.3 Ultrafast / 3G / 4G LTE: Yes/ Yes/ Yes Bluetooth / NFC : Yes/ Yes Battery capacity: 2000mAh Colours: White, Yellow, Slate Launch Date: Out Now Price: £99|