Review: The Alcatel 3V Marries High-End Camera & Screen to Low-End Costs

Gadgets Products Reviews

The 3v is meant to be Alcatel’s hot new budget phone. When they say budget, they mean $150. That’s quite an insane price point. To really test the 3v, I put it in the hands of the most demanding tester I could think of: my 17 year-old daughter. A heavy photographer used to the dual-lens Honor 8x, how would she react to the first dual-lens budget phone. Would it meet her expectations?

Impressive at first glance.
Source: Alcatel.

First Glance
The daughter initially noted that the phone is sleek and smooth, and quite light. Almost too light. She felt like it was going to go flying out of her hands. She was excited to see the dual lenses, but less excited to find that the phone only had 16 GB of storage (you can add a MicroSD card). There’s a MicroUSB port for charging, which the daughter found to be very slow. No rapid charge at this price. She  also noted that the charge socket in our review unit was lose. She had to lay it in certain positions to get it to charge. This may have just been our unit, as I have seen no other reports of this.

The speakers are surprisingly decent, smoother than expected and she could hear music from more than a room away. She was very impressed with the headphone experience too. The V3 uses a traditional headphone jack (there’s also no notch) There’s no NFC, which is annoying for transferring your files and if you like using Google Pay.

There’s a great HD+ display for the price. Honestly, that alone should be the selling point. I do need to note that a crack developed after a month, and that there are no cases. 

Daily Use

Remember how I called it the hot new budget phone? Hot is the word. The daughter found that when using even simple apps like YouTube for a long time, the phone got warm. It also consumes battery a bit faster than other phones when using streaming apps. Once charged though, it lasts a bit.
Or as she puts it:

“The phone heated up way too fast when using YouTube. It was about the same temperature as my old MacBook pro gets when I use Photoshop for more than 2-3 hours

I decided to try an experiment: I played music on YouTube without using the phone for anything else, as I had previously. I used a timer to see how long it took for the phone to get to the point where one would need to put something under their laptop

8 minutes: top half of back of phone is a little warm

18 minutes: putting the front of the phone up to my ear, the top felt a little warm

28: about the same

38: about the same amount I listened to earlier. It only got a little hotter.

Note: Originally I had the phone laying in one spot on my bed. This time it was on a counter and being moved.

Even while starting to type this doc, the back of the phone was getting warmer than it should.

The 16GB of storage and 2 GB of RAM are a real obstacle. My daughter found apps opened slower than she was used to and that once she put all the ones she needs for school use on, she had almost filled it. Then add Social Media apps and you may as well not bother.

The daughter was frustrated that only 5 languages were included. Personally, with that little space, I am shocked they did that many by default. Still, loading languages is easy. As is loading a weather app, another feature they don’t  include out of the box. You know, I’m starting to think the fairly light Android skin isn’t an example of a maker trusting Google’s design, but Alcatel just knowing they don’t have the space.


She was really impressed with facial unlocking. Didn’t expect to see it on a phone this cheap. There is also a fingerprint scanner, if you’d rather.

The camera though, was where she could not stop kvelling. The child is a heavy photographer. The quality of images was great, especially for the price point. Color balance is off in a few, as you’ll see below. However, the slowness in loading apps sometimes meant the camera app did not load fast enough

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The daughter doesn’t like to call herself a power user, but she’s absolutely one. Heavy camera use, social media, scheduling, and homework means a student needs a phone that will work with them. The 3v fits a budget, but it does not fit her lifestyle.

So who is it for, if not her? This is the absolute perfect first smartphone for someone who needs an occasional smart phone and has an interest in photography. At the low price, I see this as a great holiday or birthday gift. Possibly for an older adult rather than a teen, though.

Just also bundle an SD card in for them.

Note: Alcatel sent the 3v to me for testing. I don’t think they expected this level of abuse.

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