Well this is a blast from the past. Only it’s the now and yes, this is a feature phone gracing the Stuff Magazine website. Don’t be alarmed, everything is perfectly normal. We’re just playing with Alcatel’s OneTouch Tribe 30.03G handset, which is named like it belongs in a range of Winchester shotguns. Being a feature phone however, it’s not the same calibre as the type of smartphone that usual appears here.
Still, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s a feature phone, so you’re not looking at high-end hardware or a fantastic display but this little R300 phone has just about everything that you need. That is, assuming you don’t mind going a bit old-school when calling and texting. Think of it as a backup phone if you’re a smartphone fanatic, the kind of thing that you keep stashing in a drawer or in a car in case of emergencies. Or you can think of it as a budget alternative if you’re unable to shell out R10k (or even R2K) every time a new phone is released.
Putting our specs on
So what does R300 buy you if you’re not getting a smartphone out of it? A titchy little 260MHz processor, a whole 8MB of RAM and 16MB of onboard storage. You know, the kind of thing you were really excited about pre-iPhone Era. Alcatel’s OneTouch 30.03G has slipped in a QWERTY keyboard and this plus the whole form factor and design looks like a BlackBerry figured somewhere in its ancestry.
You’re going to be getting a 2-inch TFT display, with a resolution of 220 x 176. A 650mAh battery is doing service, thankfully without having to power anything too hefty, and the 30.03G supports either a 2GB or 4GB microSD card – this is a must if you’re looking at storing media on the phone. As far as the specs are concerned, you get what you pay for and in this case you’re paying for a feature phone. We just need to evaluate this one on its own merits, is all.
Alcatel’s little phone does pretty much everything you could need from an actual phone. A Twitter shortcut is baked in, as is Facebook but you’ll need to download the apps to a microSD to actually use it. There’s some minor internet access available but you’re not going to be streaming YouTube out of the box any time soon. An FM radio is part and parcel, the 30.03G’s camera… takes photos at 640 x 480 resolution. You’re not going to get much better than that on this one – it’ll store memories but they won’t be very detailed. It also shoots video but you’ll need a microSD to get that one working. There’s also an option to set up a fake phone call, we’d imagine to allow you to jump out of an unpleasant situation by pretending that something has come up. The feature has been around for a while but you can set the ringtone, a caller ID and a time for the faked call to come through, so that nothing looks suspicious. Why can’t our Androids do that?
Performance overall is good, since there’s not much of an operating system to ding your internals, so loading the minimal apps is fairly speedy. In short, it’ll do what you need it to do without complaints.
The 30.03G comes fitted inside a sturdy plastic shell, with a removable backplate that conceals the battery, SIM card and microSD. Around the edges Alcatel’s phone is very tough indeed, something that helped it to survive an impromptu drop test when we accidentally lobbed it across the room (actually it slid off a magazine as we swung around to put a stack of papers down, landing on a tiled floor).
The display should be relatively scratch-free but, like the average older BlackBerry, the OneTouch’s weak point lives in the trackpad and the keypad. While it hasn’t happened, the way that buttons and the middle navigation pad sink in, with a bit of unpleasant resistance, seems to indicate that you’re going to be looking for a replacement keyboard (or a replacement phone) if you’re using it for extended periods.
Look, the Alcatel OneTouch Tribe 30.03G isn’t going to set the technology world on fire any time soon but it is a very serviceable phone at a very affordable price. In South Africa, the second is often more important than the first so it’s great to see the two combined this way. If you’re looking for what amounts to a throwaway phone to augment your smartphone collection, the 30.03G is also a good go-to. Come on, this thing costs less than a single month’s instalment on a Galaxy S 5. Everyone should have one.