An Alcatel smartphone is something of a rarity at the Stuff offices but while the recently-arrived OneTouch Star wasn’t able to set the staffers abuzz it also isn’t something that can be written off as a bad investment. It just depends on who is doing the investing.
The OneTouch Star comes across as a beginner’s smartphone, a device that will be overlooked by anyone who has previously had their hands on some top-flight Android hardware. Once you’ve experienced a full-featured Android OS, there isn’t any going back. Just sideways, to either iOS, BlackBerry 10 or Windows Phone 8.
But, there are some people out there who have never used anything other than a feature phone and this OneTouch Star is aimed at those folks. This is mostly evident in the way that the Android Jelly Bean OS has been skinned. The phone uses a standard Android OS layout but it has been simplified. Icons are larger that usual and the pre-installed apps and options are designed to limit confusion with the OS.
Aside from featuring a more basic operating system, the 4-inch WVGA AMOLED also contributes to how the phone presents its software. The Star’s 800 x 450 display doesn’t give itself over to screen acreage but it does support vibrant colours and is about as clear as you’d expect from a R3K phone.
Alcatel’s OneTouch Star is also decently engineered, resulting in a sturdy phone that can take some abuse. The metal frame, assisted by the display, gives the Star a comfortable weight. Aside from the screen, which is always a risk factor for smartphones, the removable back plate is the weak point. Although it looks like brushed metal it is made from thin plastic and would be susceptible to cracking if the phone is dropped.
The internal hardware isn’t anywhere near the standards set by the bigger brands but the specs aren’t all that bad, especially if you consider the Star a beginner’s smartphone. It plays host to a 1GHz dual-core CPU, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage (around 2.5GB of which is available to the user). Not hefty but certainly enough for low-end usage and there is little to no lag, unless you’re multitasking.
The Star’s camera isn’t much to write home about when stacked against the big boys but the 5-megapixel shooter is perfectly capable of taking quick snaps on the game. It isn’t going to be doing any sports photography any time soon but you’ll be able to take a few memories home with you. Provided it isn’t too dark out.
The OneTouch Star from Alcatel is the sort of phone that the local smartphone scene hasn’t seen for a while, and not just because the brand has only recently re-entered the country. It’s ideal for anyone who may be thinking about making the jump from feature to smartphone while offering enough to get new users familiar with Android without feeling out of their dept. And, as popular as smartphones are these days, those feature phone users are still out in numbers and will be looking for an upgrade at some point. This is a decent place to start.