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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Review Alcatel OT320 or rebirth of LG B1200

Standard kit:

  • Phone
  • Travel adapter
  • User's guide
  • Handsfree

Not very often we give titles to reviews. Usually they are standard and not captivate. But in case of a new phone from Alcatel, namely Alcatel OneTouch 320, we would like to deviate from the rules. The company is positioned its phone as a successor of Alcatel 310; price policy is the other evident of this fact. Earlier we assumed that Alcatel 320 would be based on the old platform from Alcatel and have slight cosmetic changes (ithium-ion battery and some others). The reality is much more interesting. Alcatel 320 is ODM-phone, which is made in China by request. A famous company – GVC, which have already cooperated with several companies and supplied them with phones, is a contractor in this case. The choice of ODM-supplier is understandable, but it is not clear why so old platform was chosen as the base of the new handset.

We can speak with confidence in response to the age of this platform, because earlier it was used by LG B1200. This rather cheap low-end phone had middling sales and not debugged software, which became more or less satisfactory only in the end of the phone’s lifecycle. It is necessary to add that LG B1200 was launched more than one year ago and about half a year ago left the market. There were so many reclamations, that manufacturer refused to produce the next model, B1300. It couldn’t offer a firm guarantee of quality. The age of the platform has a positive influence on Alcatel, as many problems were already solved, the phone operates much better now and has improved screen fonts.

Exterior of the phone was a little bit changed. It has another shape and better quality of plastic. The keypad is made of rubber; all keys are closely spaced and not comfortable to type. They are hardly pressed. Keys have a green backlighting, all characters are clearly visible only at full dark. All characters are small and you should peer at them to distinguish.

The handset has compact dimensions (106х45х20 mm) and weight (80 grams). It allows to wear the phone wherever you like.

A graphical display also has a green backlighting, it contains up to 3 text lines and one service line (112x64 pixels). A displayed font is rather large and highly visible. On the one hand, it is convenient; on the other it causes some problems in SMS-mode, when you try to read a new message. Then, you need an automatic or manual scrolling. One can set a screensaver on the phone.

A system connector is placed on the bottom of the phone, portable handsfree is connected to the same slot. There is also a hole for the hand-strap on the top of the handset, it doesn’t include in the standard kit.

The phone has a reliable construction. There is no backlash of the rear cover. Alcatel 320 is equipped with lithium-ion battery of 700 mAh capacity. According to the manufacturer, it could work about 7 hours in the talking mode and up to 120 hours in the standby mode. Our field tests showed that the phone could provide up to 3 days of work in case of 20 minutes of talking and minimal using of other applications (about 15 minutes).

Menu

Press a vertical scroll key and you will see animated icons of the main menu. Each menu is consists of the list of functions, which you can choose. Shortcut number navigation is available; it makes the menu navigation much easier even taking into account that the menu of the phone is not long. You can assign each alphanumerical key to a phone number (to dial it quickly) or a command. The choice is up to you. One of the shortcomings is that number of menu items sometimes exceeds 9, so, it is not possible to use this fast navigation. For example, one can select a type of the ringing tone of the phone, more than 10 of them are available. Hence, one can quickly set one of 10, to set others you should list all previous items. Probably manufacturers intended to do full shortcut number navigation, because there are numbers near all ringing tones. The same problem repeats in the main menu. It’ s incredible but LG B1200 had the similar error. You can’t call any template of SMS with a help of this navigation; you can do it only manually.

Phonebook. Phone numbers from both memories (phone and SIM-card) are displayed in the total list. When you add a new contact, you can select where your phone numbers will be saved: either in SIM-card memory or in the phone memory, but they can’t display separately. It is a shortcoming for many users, as very often they double their phone numbers in SIM-card in case of dire need. Up to 100 phone numbers can be stored in the phone memory. Only one phone number can be added to one name. You indicate only a name and a phone number while adding a new entry. In edit mode it is also possible to assign one of the 5 caller groups. It is not very convenient, as you should do an extra operation and waste your time. A selected ringing tone and a picture (one can’t change it, only switch it off) are added to each caller group. There is a search by name and a possibility to copy all phone numbers in the phone memory and back. It is necessary to remember that modern SIM-cards enable to record up to 200 phone numbers, so, we recommend using this type of memory, as phone memory doesn’t have any preferences here except the only one. It allows to record up to 20 characters in a field, while the filed length in SIM-card is 14 characters. Think, is it so important for you.

Messages. SIM-card memory is used to store SMS messages. There are up to 5 groups of templates (10 messages in each). They differ, depending on the menu language. One can’t record new templates. Russian text input is not available, but the phone supports Russian menu and has a possibility to read Russian SMS messages. The handset doesn’t support EMS and T9. The user can create messages up to 160 characters long.

Profiles. All profiles are changeable. For example, you can set a special ringing tone in each profile. Totally, up to 15 8-tones polyphonic ringing tones are available in the phone.

Settings. One can adjust a display contrast, volume of the loudspeaker, auto keypad guide, welcome text message. So, all settings are very ascetic. There are also two alarm clocks here. It is necessary to input a text to set each of them. It is not understandable why we should do it, as alarm clock is not an organizer.

Calls. One can view duration of the last call and all calls. A total list of calls is also hidden here. It includes 20 records with date and time indication for each one. Calls, which have the same phone number, are not summarized, they are displayed as different records. For example, if you dial one number during ten minutes, most likely you’ll see only one number in this list. It is also a shortcoming of this phone.

Extra. A calculator is very scarce. A calendar has both monthly and daily view. To add a record, press a phonebook key. Totally up to 4 type of records are available: reminder, birthday, call and meeting. You can’t view the whole list of reminders, only by days. A usual signal tone or a sent SMS-message can be used as a reminder.

One can view world time in different cities of the world.

There are three games in the phone: Miner, Tetris, and Snatch. First two games are old PC games, which are well-known. In the third game your mission is catch a mouse, pressing a respective alphanumerical key. As for me, this game is not captivate.

Impressions

The phone has an average loudness of the ringing tone. The set of 15 available ringtones, mainly classical melodies, is rather nice. It is pleasant to listen to them, but you can miss the call when you go outside. A vibracall is also average, you can feel it if you wear the phone near in a belt.

Speakerphone function is well-realized. Just press a phonebook key during a talk to activate it.

Alcatel 320 has lesser bugs than its predecessor - LG B1200. But, nevertheless, many of these errors remain the same. The phone slowly reacts when you press reject key. The other shortcoming is that there is a noise in the loudspeaker of the phone. Sometimes it is not heard, but sometimes it is very strong.

This phone was made as a successor of Alcatel OT 310. Whether it is a successful replacement, we’ll know only after first sales. Alacel OT 320 will be available in the end of May, an expected price is about 75-80 USD. In Russia this phone will be demanded only in regions, where most users don’t need any special functions, just to make calls. This phone doesn’t have any possibilities for personalization. It even doesn’t support Wap to download new pictures and ringtones. The ideology of this handset is different from other Alcatel’s handsets. Taking into account that this model opens the line, it is not a problem. But we doubt that the users of this phone will continue to use phones form this manufacturer in future.

Alcatel OT 320 will have many rivals in the low price segment. This model doesn’t have any peculiarities, which can be advantages of this phone. So, it will be sold only thanks to low price. We can’t recommend buying this phone now; it is possible to do it only in few months when the price for this model will fall down. Besides, potential users of this handset have one more risk. Most reclamations for LG B1200 where connected with assemblage quality. Let’s wait and see, whether Alcatel solved this problem. Alcatel OT 310 is more attractive, as it has more capabilities and lower price. Its shortcoming is design and dimensions.

Here you can listen to some ringontes (450 Kb, mp3)

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